Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama Liveblogging

 

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Kind of neat.

9:04 Softball tonight kept me away from some of the convention. I heard Biden bring the house down on the radio, though. He sounds really good on the radio. He’s got that ol’ timey confidentiality, even when he’s shouting. He pulls you in. And there is no one who sounds more sincere than he does when saying he can’t believe that Donald Trump has a shot at being the next President.  Man, I love Joe Biden. I’m glad he didn’t run, though. He deserved to go out beloved, not losing to Hillary.

Kaine’s here. More after jump.

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Cool Stuff if You Like Chicago, Or Labor History, Or Just Cool Old Stuff

And who doesn’t?

 

The Chicago River is very pleasant now. That…that wasn’t always the case. 

 

It’s often remarked that Chicago doesn’t make anything anymore. The city, in addition to being the “hog butcher to the world” and lumber hub between east and west, was throughout its history a major industrial city, drawing workers from around the world to its factories and warehouse, creation dotting the riverfront and radiating into the neighborhoods. Now we’re more known for finance and startups and the normal “transforming city” type businesses. And that’s fine. It’s imperfect, and even cruel, as the city’s new wealth is incredibly uneven. But to say that Chicago is not better off than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, after old man Daley did everything he could to keep Chicago from adjusting to new realities, would be a lie.

That said, there does feel like something has been lost. Into that void comes the Made In Chicago Museum, a new site exploring the things that Chicago used to make. Full disclosure: the site’s creator and collector, Andrew Clayman, is a very good friend of mine, who introduced me to my wife, and who is the best damn shortstop a softball pitcher could hope to have behind him. But I’m promoting this because it is awesome. My friends do a lot of stupid shit that I never write about. It’s a celebration of industry, both high and low, from the most useful to the most ephemeral and whimsical.

Even that stuff, though, stands out because it is long-lasting.  Clayman doesn’t just collect and take pictures of old ice skates, clocks, scales, tins, and other gee-gaws and doo-dads. He celebrates a history of manufacturing. On each page there is a history of the company tht made these items, and as much as possible, the people that worked there.

Let’s take this Ice Skater Sharpener, made by FW Planert and Sons in 1910.

Patented in 1910, this metal clamping device was used to keep an ice skate secure while its blade was sharpened. The manufacturer, F.W. Planert & Sons, was one of the “The Big 3” in the Chicago-dominated ice skate industry of the early 20th century. The other two, family rivals Nestor Johnson and Alfred Johnson, were also headquartered on the Northwest side.

Did you know that Chicago used to dominate the ice-skating industry? Or that there was rivalrous Big 3? I certainly didn’t! Throughout the piece, Clayman talks about Planert, his business, and the people that worked there. He’s dug up archival pictures from newspapers, because, throughout the life of a city, nearly everything has been covered.

One of the cooler parts is that for every manufacturing plant, he tells what is there now (in the case of Planert, it is the trendy Cotton Duck, a restaurant in the extremely hip and foodie-oriented Ukranian Village neighborhood.

It’s sort of elegiac. I’m old enough to remember when Ukranian Village felt sort of rough. It wasn’t, but comparable to the neighborhoods we usually hung out in, it had some hard edges that gave you a glimpsed hint of the city before the great transformations of the 90s and 2000s, of the hard city of Algren and Terkel. Even now, the huge gilded churches remind you that the neighborhood has a history, that it isn’t just a name, that it is where an ethnic group found comfort and solace and work in a new and confusing country.

That works has faded, and the neighborhood is entirely disconnected from the idea of being “Ukranian” in any real sense. Most residents probably barely connect it with the Ukraine, the place. It’s just a name. And that’s fine: cities change. The toil that consumed lives fades into blurry pictures and hardly-understood designations. Factories that defined whole existences become transient restaurants waiting for the next food trend to shut them down.

Into that comes Clayman’s project, which reminds us that these neighborhoods, these streets, these cities, and yes, these anachronistic and old-looking products were all created by people, who devoted some or all of their one short and difficult live to make them. It isn’t romantic; these were hard lives. But they were real lives. There is a weight on every page, a lived weight, which in its own way is a cry against the weightless nature of our new disconnected economy.

 

Julian Assange Casts His Vote

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His vote will ultimately be worth more than yours.

When you’re thinking free and open society, you’re thinking Donald Trump, right?

Six weeks before the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks published an archive of hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the Democratic convention, the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, foreshadowed the release — and made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency.

(The Times immortally invaluable Charlie Savage put this all together)

So, one could have initially, if one ignored the Russian angle cast this as an attempt to throw a corrupt and evil “democracy”, the world’s great evil and enemy of freedom, into a state of real higgedly-piggedly. But that’s clearly not the case.

Mr. Assange replied that what Mr. Trump would do as president was “completely unpredictable.” By contrast, he thought it was predictable that Mrs. Clinton would wield power in two ways he found problematic.

First, citing his “personal perspective,” Mr. Assange accused Mrs. Clinton of having been among those pushing to indict him after WikiLeaks disseminated a quarter of a million diplomatic cables during her tenure as secretary of state.

“We do see her as a bit of a problem for freedom of the press more generally,” Mr. Assange said.

I’m going to ignore the middle part, where he is mad at Mrs. Clinton for moving to indict him after, you know, breaking the law. I get why he sees her as an enemy, but did that really come as a surprise? Regardless of what you think of the justice or efficacy of the Wikileaks diplomatic dump (and I think they are a different type than Snowden’s heroism), it stands to reason that the US government would be miffed. I get why Assange sees her as an enemy, but really, shouldn’t take it so personally.

It’s the first and third bits that are either idiotically naive or completely sinister, depending on where you stand on Assange. Seeing Clinton as “a bit of a problem for freedom of the press” is fair: the Obama Administration has a terrible track record on press freedom, and Hillary has never been known for her openness, exactly. I think being peeved at the cable dumping, in which legitimate diplomatic communication was exposed and lives were put in danger, doesn’t in and of itself mark her as an enemy. But I get it.

However, the contrast is, and was known at the time Assange made these statements (about six weeks ago) Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Donald Trump. He’s made it…very clear where he stance on the media, the role of antagonistic journalism, and the role of the press in a free society, which is: fuck the press. If they aren’t subservient to him, they are useless. He’s shown it in his willingness to excommunicate anyone who is “unfair” (by which we mean fair) to him.  He’s shown it on his ravaging Twitter feed, where he demonstrates that trying to keep the media in line is a bigger goal than talking about policy or anything else. This tweet— “I was at and met Juan Williams in passing. He asked if he could have pictures taken with me. I said fine. He then trashes on air!”– is a perfect example of his childish authoritarianism.

Not all his authoritarianism is childish and petulant (though really, aren’t those the emotions at the heart of tyranny?). He has made it very clear that he intends to, or at least wants to, “open up libel laws” so that he can sue unfriendly press out of existence. He’s been trying to do that for decades. One could argue the pursuit of this power is one of the driving goals of his Presidency. So even he won’t be able to open up libel laws, as that wouldn’t come close to holding up in court, he’s clearly a man who wants to quash press freedom, either de facto or de jure, in order to burnish his own heroic image. Not exactly an ally of an open society.

So when Assange says Trump is “completely unpredictable”, he’s lying, or else he’s not paying any attention, which doesn’t strike me as plausible. Trump has made it very clear he’s a huge fan of waterboarding, and of even more torture. He’s been clear about that his entire run. That Assange chooses to ignore that, and, worse, accommodate it, raises a few questions about motivations.

The charitable interpretation here is that Trump is an agent of chaos, will rattle America, will end the neoliberal agreement that is underpinning much of the world’s immorality. He’s ignorant about who Trump actually is, and underestimates the racism and nativism that undergirds the campaign, focusing on globalization and isolationism.

That’s actually dovetailed with the uncharitable interpretation, which is that Assange sees the US/EU as the real enemies, and any of their enemies– including the ruthless and literal-press-murdering Putin regime– as his friends. That’s pretty sinister, but when someone sets himself against one party, in this case the war-mongering, trade-hawking, and press-stifling US (and all these are legitimate charges!), he tends to cling to any port in the storm.

You are free to question if he is pro-freedom, merely anti-West and pro-Russia, pro-authoritarianism if it’s the right person, or anywhere in between. I don’t think there is a cut-and-dry answer, though I lean toward him being a bit of an authoritarian creep with libertarian clothes. All I know for sure is that with friends like these, freedom doesn’t need the many enemies it already has.