Monday, June 16, 2008


Several times a year, early and often as the machine pols would say, I make my way to Chicago. The Windy City is an incomparable place, home to some of America's greatest architecture--including Frank Lloyd Wright's most important houses and the exquisite Monadnock Building, an early skyscraper built with load-bearing masonry walls. Chicago is also one of America's most diverse cities: it has a white minority, a large African American population still concentrated in some of America's most segregated neighborhoods, a rapidly-growing Hispanic population--mainly Mexican--and sizable enclaves of immigrants from South and East Asia. Chicago is a gritty place, despite the glitz of the Loop, the Miracle Mile, and the luxury apartments of Lakeshore Drive. Its economy was ravaged by deindustrialization and the remnants of its once-mighty past as the workshop of the world can be found hulking over the South and West Sides. Chicago has staggeringly high rates of poverty and unemployment, especially among its African American population. It's a city that embodies the contradictions at the heart of modern American society: wrenching poverty amidst great wealth, racial segregation and extraordinary diversity, disinvestment and conspicuous consumption.

The Windy City--or a little section of it--is the subject of a cloying article in the current Weekly Standard. Andrew Ferguson jetted into Chicago to visit Barack Obama's neighborhood, Hyde Park, assiduously gathering material to offer another version of the tired but endlessly recycled conservative argument that the Democratic presidential candidate is an out-of-touch elitist. In Ferguson's telling, Hyde Park is a weird place peopled by an "alarmingly high number of men wandering about looking like NPR announcers--the wispy beards and wire rims, the pressed jeans and unscuffed sneakers, the backpacks and the bikes." (I don't know many NPR announcers, but my guess is that there isn't a dress code there. And who wears pressed jeans?) "The place seems unrooted," continues Ferguson, in a stream of blather that I won't keep quoting.

Although Hyde Park is one of the few racially diverse neighborhoods in the country, Ferguson finds even that problematic. Ferguson substitutes coffee shop ethnography for real research and points out that: "It's not often noted that the neighborhood's diversity has its limits. 'In Hyde Park,' a resident told me, '"integration" means white people and black people." The nation's fastest growing ethnic group, Hispanics, is scarcely represented at all; same for Asians." Rustbelt Intellectual Standard Warning No. 1: Andrew, data is not the sum of anecdote. Hyde Park, as one of its more rigorous social scientists and sharp-tongued bloggers reminds us, has a sizable Asian population and some Hispanic residents. It's also class heterogeneous in a way that most American neighborhoods are not.

To highlight Hyde Park's "isolation," Ferguson drives the half hour from Obama's "mansion" to Trinity UCC, Obama's former church, which is in a blue-collar, African American neighborhood--to Ferguson further evidence of Obama's out-of-touch lifestyle. Should Obama be living in a little, rundown bungalow instead of Hyde Park? Then, somehow, he would be one of the people.

In his prattle about Hyde Park's "isolation," Ferguson misses a very important point. Hyde Park is a distinctive place that contrasts with the surrounding, mostly poor and working-class black neighborhoods that dominate Chicago's South Side. But Hyde Parkers, unlike residents of America's truly isolated suburban communities, are part of a polity that is economically, socially, racially, and ethnically diverse. They pay their taxes to Chicago--rather than skipping across city lines and, in the process, avoiding responsibility for the city, its poor and elderly populations, and the social services that they require. They are called to serve on juries whose composition reflects, to some extent at least, the diversity of their city. In other words, Hyde Parkers are not in the slightest bit isolated politically.

The real elitists are people like John and Cindy McCain who live in a $4.72 million luxury condo in Phoenix. Or George W. Bush, who pretends to be 'jes folks, but lived in lily white, upscale Highland Park, Texas before he made it to the White House and spends his spare time at the "Western White House," usually described as a humble ranch, but which includes two 4000 square foot houses, one custom built for the Bushes, a large swimming pool and more--all on a property of more than 1100 acres. Bush is still a member of the posh Highland Park Methodist Church, in one of Dallas' richest suburbs. He doesn't see little bungalows on his way to worship. His God dwells in the land where yes, the camel and the rich man can both find their way through the eye of the needle and make it to heaven. McCain and Bush are the true, out of touch elitists. To them: get real: move to Hyde Park.


Hesperis said...

It surely seems highly contradictory that in the land of opportunity, a man should be critisized for his mansion, even if it is smaller than McCain's and Bush's, when he did not have it given to him, but worked for it, even if the nature of the work was not something to which many people could aspire. Where did George get his dough? John? Marrying Cindy sure didn't hurt.

P.S. I wish I could sign in without using my old gmail account which directs you to an old and now unused blog. I'd feel more ... connected. I'm hysperia,

Jess said...

It shouldn't be necessary to, er, whitewash Hyde Park in order to counter the Weekly Standard. I think the WS article quotes the Mike Nichols/Elaine May lyrics about HP, "Black and White Together, Against the Lower Classes." There's truth to that.

But the fact of the matter -- and here I think I am disagreeing with another part of your argument -- is that HP is indeed, for better or worse, a liberal community, like Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Manhattan's Upper West Side, etc. They consistently elect liberals who wouldn't stand a chance elsewhere. Obama ran from there as a liberal, and has since turned his back on all the liberal/left connections that he had. People who adore him will have a rude awakening when he continues the wars (perhaps escalating in Afghanistan), bombs Pakistan, presents a fraudulent health care program, and -- to return to Hyde Park -- implements economic policies that orginated with Friedman's "Chicago Boys." O just loves the market.

Jesse Lemisch
former Hyde Park resident

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A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse

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Anyone have a bad colonoscopy experience?
had my first screening colonoscopy this past friday...was led to believe that would be given something to relax me and make me sleepy....which led me to believe I was getting some sort of pain management...what I got instead, and all that I got was does nothing for pain, all it does is produce a short term amnesia so you don;t remember anything afterwards..and the key word is afterwards...this was never explained to me...had to find out afterward.
I am no wuss...had four children with no meds...the pain during the procedure was intense....I moaned the whole one point the dr said 'Hold on, we're almost done'....after I was brought into the cover bay I asked if I was given anything at all. the nurse loooked suprised and said 'Yes, Versed'....I said "Well it didn't do ****."

It wasn;t till after when I found out about Versed I realised my question suprised the nurse because I wasn;t supposed to remember..and I did ..because the Versed didn't work.

* 5 months ago

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5 months ago
It's not the pain so much as the not being honest in the beginning, and thinking it's okay for a patient to experience that kinda pain 'cause they won't remember afterwards...well I sure as hell next screening is in 10 years and those people will not get my colon as I;m telling my Doc when I see him...he had better send me else where or I refuse the exam...and will certainly refuse written consent fro for the next colonoscopy will NO CONSCIOUS SEDATION-NO VERSED-PAIN MANAGEMENT ONLY written on it and if they don't like too damn bad....the Hippocratic oath says Do No Harm...well they didn't harm my body...what about my trust? Anyone else? Boy, is my Doc gonna get an earful when I see him next lol....

5 months ago
Thanks Kelsey W...after such a rotten experience I went on and versedbusters were most informative....
....when I got home I alled my Mom, as I had promised to, because she wanted to know the results (no polyps...clear & healthy colon lol)...I told her in vivid detail the entire thing..she's had two colonoscopies & her doc gave her something to make her sleep during it...ditto all her siblings and my BIL who also had his first recently...she said she was shocked I wasn't given pain relief and the fact that I could relate what I went thru in such detail and with such clarity shows it didn't work..and advised me not to have those people do my next procedure...which I won't. It's not the pain that pisses me off but the deception ..they only good thing about it is I'm aware of what may be pulled on me next time so I'll head 'em off at the pass....and that I can tolerate the procedure without pain meds...IF I CHOOSE...see, that's the whole point.

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Kelsey by Kelsey

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I have not personally, but I know a lot of people share in your concerns!!

Another yahoo answers user, "Lois J" seems to definitely have an opinion on this topic, and she puts it into words quite well here:

Also, she says to go to this site for information/ testimonials like yours:

From what I've heard of Versed, it most definitely defies the morals and pledge of doctors, and degrades their status as trustworthy professionals within society. Especially the part about not making you fully aware beforehand of the plan to use this drug!! That is ultimately a breach in patient advocacy!! And so blatantly, in fact!--which makes me concerned that no one has taken further action to get this drug and others like it out of use in cases like this! Unbelievable!

You could definitely take further action regarding the injustice that has occurred in your case. It's infuriating to me--and I wasn't even the one enduring such unnecessary pain! Even without knowing all that much about this drug, I can safely say that this is absolutely unacceptable, and SHOULD NOT be happening in any case, let alone a medical atmosphere--one in which the patient is inherently vulnerable and putting their trust into medical professionals' hands.
I'm sorry this happened to you, and especially sorry about the general injustice within the respected medical field that has occurred because of this drug and the insensible professionals who administer it incorrectly.

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totally agree...use of the stuff should be banned as it encourages the drs' to ignore the patient's pain, or be less than as gentle as possible with them, 'cause the patient won't remember afterward, so they can GET AWAY WITH IT and not answer for their behaviors....scary.

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LucaPacioli1492 by LucaPaci...

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I woke up during the procedure to hear the doctor saying "Go get Dr. Goldberg. I can't stop the bleeding." Needless to say, the next time I had a colonoscopy, I started with Dr. Goldberg.
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Jesse Lemisch
Former Hyde Park Resident

Tom S said...

Thanks for the comments hesperis and Jesse. Alas, the land of opportunity is rife with contradictions. The size of Obama's Chicago home is frequently mentioned, as if there is something suspicious about a Democrat (especially a black one) who lives comfortably. McCain's luxury condo, by contrast, scarcely warrants a mention. And the Bush ranch gets mentioned in an "aw shucks" way, as if it is nothing more than the humble abode of Tom Joad. Jesse: I agree with you that Hyde Park is not, by any means, a perfect place. But it does stand as one of the rare racially integrated neighborhoods in a country where people talk the "colorblind" talk, but hardly ever walk the walk. Yes indeed the University of Chicago (like nearly every big city university in the period) tried to turn its neighborhood upscale through redevelopment and renewal. Arnold Hirsch tells the story well in his definitive history, Making the Second Ghetto. Whether Obama has jettisoned his HP left-liberalism in his aspiration for national office remains to be seen. But as I've written elsewhere on this blog, it's going to be important for the left wing of the possible to keep him honest if he's in the White House. In any case, come November, I'll gladly vote erstwhile Hyde Parkism over swaggering Phoenix Republicanism.

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