The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Fallows: McCain has accepted defeat

Atlantic reporter James Fallows blogged this morning that McCain appearing on Saturday Night Live means, unmistakably, that he's given up:

[I]f McCain really thought he had a chance of catching up, he wouldn't have wasted time on an audience that might repair his reputation among liberals and journalists but does him no good with the crucial swing votes. And if he thought he were secretly ahead, he wouldn't comport himself this way. He would be more like the stiff character we saw in the debates.

Polls open in 35 hours.

Porsche: tight in corners

I just read a fascinating story in The Economist that would have probably gotten more attention in the U.S. but for our recent distractions. It seems Porsche made possibly €12 billion on the Deutsche Bourse by cornering the market in Volkswagen shares:

Porsche’s gambit was as old as finance itself. For about three years it had been steadily increasing its stake in VW, a much larger yet less profitable carmaker with which it shares a little production. Its buying had driven up the price of VW’s shares to above the level at which it would make any economic sense for Porsche to buy VW. Seeing this, hedge funds sold shares in VW that they did not own. One strategy was a bet that VW’s share price would fall. Some also bought shares in Porsche, in a wager that shares of both would converge.

...

[O]n October 26th it executed a handbrake turn, saying that it owned nearly 43% of VW’s shares outright and had derivative contracts on nearly 32% more. That meant it had tied up almost all of the freely available shares (the rest are held by the state government and index funds). Hedge funds quickly did the maths, concluding that they could be caught in an “infinite squeeze” in which they were forced to buy shares at any price.

Huh. Sucks to own a hedge fund right now.

Two stunners from the Economist

First, if you know anything about Chicago, you'll understand why I nearly passed out to see this week's Economist in my mailbox this week. Since I moved into this neighborhood I think I've gotten it once on Saturday, and the rest of the time on Monday or Tuesday. So, wow.

Second, even more stunning if you know anything about the the Economist: they've endorsed Obama for President:

The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

Third, not a stunner at all, I had a good flight this morning, from which I'll post a Google Earth track tomorrow morning.

Finally, friend-of-a-friend Jerry Fields has a new website as "a truth oasis in these truth-thirsty political times."

Polls open in 3 days, 8 hours, and 12 minutes...

Pumpkins for Change

Via Evanston Now:

Evanston real estate broker Alan May says he's put a new twist on an old family tradition this year.

With help from an online site called YesWeCarve.com, he's turned the annual carving of the family jack-o-lantern into the creation of a Barack O'Lantern -- suitable for display on many a liberal-leaning Evanston front porch this year.

Another endorsement, but less surprising

After the Chicago Tribune's endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in history, the New York Times following suit surprises no one, but it's still welcome:

As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.

...

Mr. Obama has withstood some of the toughest campaign attacks ever mounted against a candidate. He’s been called un-American and accused of hiding a secret Islamic faith. The Republicans have linked him to domestic terrorists and questioned his wife’s love of her country. Ms. Palin has also questioned millions of Americans’ patriotism, calling Republican-leaning states “pro-America.”

This politics of fear, division and character assassination helped Mr. Bush drive Mr. McCain from the 2000 Republican primaries and defeat Senator John Kerry in 2004. It has been the dominant theme of his failed presidency.

The nation’s problems are simply too grave to be reduced to slashing “robo-calls” and negative ads. This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.

Polls open in a little more than 8 days and 15 hours.

You could be in trouble when...

...the FDIC moves into your neighborhood (via Calculated Risk):

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. plans soon to sign a major lease of office space in Orange County, probably in Irvine, where as many as 600 people would liquidate the assets of troubled banks and thrifts based in California and other Western states.

The agency needs 200,000 square feet of space and has looked at locations across Southern California, FDIC spokesman David Barr said.

"It's a temporary office—three to five years is what we're looking at," Barr said Tuesday. "We hope to find the space within the next few weeks."

Three to five years. "Short term." Heavens.

First time in Chicago history

The Chicago Tribune today endorsed the Democratic candidate for President, for the first time in its 160-year history:

The Tribune in its earliest days took up the abolition of slavery and linked itself to a powerful force for that cause--the Republican Party. The Tribune's first great leader, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the GOP. The editorial page has been a proponent of conservative principles. It believes that government has to serve people honestly and efficiently.

With that in mind, in 1872 we endorsed Horace Greeley, who ran as an independent against the corrupt administration of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. (Greeley was later endorsed by the Democrats.) In 1912 we endorsed Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as the Progressive Party candidate against Republican President William Howard Taft.

The Tribune's decisions then were driven by outrage at inept and corrupt business and political leaders.

We see parallels today.

Possibly some of this has to do with Sam Zell, but possibly it has to do with the 45-year slide of the Republican Party into, well, whatever it's become today.

Fossil adds more evidence that fish walked on land

Another gap in the fossil record has gotten filled:

In a new study of a fossil fish that lived 375 million years ago, scientists are finding striking evidence of the intermediate steps by which some marine vertebrates evolved into animals that walked on land.

The scientists said in a report being published Thursday in the journal Nature that the research exposed delicate details of the creature's head and neck, confirming and elaborating on its evolutionary position as "an important stage in the origin of terrestrial vertebrates."

There seem to be two possibilities here, depending on whether you're voting for Barack Obama or that other one. In the reality-based world, one would say that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; this fossil, being entirely consistent with the prevailing explanation of how life evolved on earth, just adds one more bit in favor of it.

Senator McCain's running mate, on the other hand, would say either the scientists made it up, or God did, leaving unanswered the obvious question: why bother? I've never understood that.

Slo-mo debate blogging

OK, I'm a little behind here, being overcome by Hofstra Pride, being from the class of...uh...a while ago. (I've actually been poking other HU alumni on Facebook.)

20:10 CT: McCain sounds a little like Rain Man tonight. Seriously, is he repeating himself? Repeating? Himself? A lot?

20:17: McCain remembers the Depression-era program first-hand, no doubt.

20:19: Enough about the damn planetarium!

20:23: "If I've mistaken your polices for George Bush's policies...is because you're proposing eight more years of the same thing."

20:26: "Look each other in the face..." Yeah, that was coming.

20:33: John, some, not too many, but some, of the people at your rallies are scary. Deal with it. That's what Obama is saying.

20:39: This isn't about McCain winning the election. It's about him setting up the loss. McCain's goal seems to be trying to take a future President Obama's legs out from under him, so the 2012 campaign can be about how the 2008 election "got stoled from us."

20:42: Palin is a role model to women? Like, "Be careful or you'll end up like her?"

20:48: I hate to say, we're going to import oil for more than 10 years, and we won't have any control over its origin.

20:52: Obama "has never traveled south of our border?" Isn't Indonesia pretty far south? Or did he mean our border with Antarctica?

21:16: Did McCain just make air-quotes?

21:27: McCain looks hurt and angry.

What a cute curmudgeon

Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers sued God, had the case dismissed (God wasn't properly served, you see), and may appeal on the grounds that an omiscient God by definition has adequate notice of the suit. I think he may not be entirely serious, though:

Chambers filed the lawsuit last year seeking a permanent injunction against God. He said God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents in Omaha, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

Chambers has said he filed the lawsuit to make the point that everyone should have access to the courts regardless of whether they are rich or poor.

One skeptic to another, dude: your tactics may not be the most effective of those available to you. (It's worth noting the legislator has served for 38 years.)