Thank heavens for the Internet; it's put the surprise back in October Surprise.
Here is the latest big-picture conspiracy theory, which has been gathering strength on the blogosphere the way a hurricane feeds on Caribbean waters: It is widely believed, both online and, increasingly, offline, that the Bush administration intends to declare martial law and postpone next month's elections. To prevent Barack Obama's inevitable ascension to the Oval Office, obviously.
This theory/rumor/delusion dates back almost a year and a half, with the appearance on the White House website of National Security Presidential Directive 51, which outlined a policy for "continuity of government" in the event of a national emergency. Such emergency is defined as "any incident . . . that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."