Empire's New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power

Routledge
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As Obama nears the middle of his first-term as president Paul Street assesses his performance against the expectations of his supporters. While mainstream journalists have noted discrepancies between Obama's original vision and reality, Paul Street uniquely measures Obama's record against the expectations of the truly progressive agenda many of his supporters expected him to follow. Taken together, the list of Obama's weakened policies is startling: his business-friendly measures with the economy, the lack of support for the growing mass of unemployed and poor, the dilution of his health reform agenda, the passage of a record-setting Pentagon budget, and escalation of US military violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Street's account reveals these and many other indications of how deeply beholden Obama is to existing dominant domestic and global hierarchies and doctrines.
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About the author

Paul Street is an independent journalist, policy adviser, and historian. Formerly he was Vice President for Research and Planning at the Chicago Urban League. Among his recent books are "Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics" (Paradigm, 2008), "Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), and "Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in Post-Civil Rights America" (Routledge, 2005). His many articles have appeared in the "Chicago Tribune"; "In These Times; Dissent; Z Magazine; Black Commentator; Monthly Review, Journal of American Ethnic History; Journal of Social History", and other publications.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Dec 3, 2015
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781317260547
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"This is an impressive collection: well-informed, well-written, covering highly important topics over an impressive range, with no hesitation about taking an honest stand that gets right to the heart of the matter in case after case." Noam Chomsky A frequent columnist in Z magazine, Black Commentator, and other magazines, Paul Street has closely monitored the deterioration of civil liberties since 9/11. In his new book, Street challenges the widely accepted notion that 'everything changed' on 9/11. The event of 9/11 changed the lives of thousands of people in tragic and lasting ways, but some things it did not drastically alter were the long-term goals of the Bush administration. Rather, the terrorist attacks offered a way for them to fully realize these goals, through waging war against fictional enemies abroad and against civil liberties at home. By pointing out rampant injustices in society and doggedly pursuing the blatant contradictions in current government policies, Street reveals a very different America than the government or media portray. Empire and Inequality shows how the jetliner attacks provided a windfall opportunity to accelerate pre-existing trends towards greater global and domestic hierarchy, inequality, and repression. Street shows how the elites of American government and business used classic propaganda mechanisms in pursuit of this regressive and authoritarian agenda in the "post-9/11 era." Street offers a cogent critique of the myth of the powerless state, showing that U.S. government's cup runs over when it comes to serving the wealthy and privileged few and is empty only when it comes to meeting the needs of the non-affluent majority. Empire and Inequality is a powerful reflection on the inseparable, deepening, and mutually reinforcing relationships that exist between empire abroad and inequality and repression at home in the "post 9/11 era."
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

Many Americans believe Barak Obama represents a hopeful future for America. But does he also reflect the American politics of the past? This book offers the broadest and best-informed understanding on the meaning of the "Obama phenomenon" to date. Paul Street was on the ground throughout the Iowa campaign, and his stories of the rising Obama phenomenon are poignant. Yet the author's background in American political history allows him to explore the deeper meanings of Obama's remarkable political career. He looks at Obama in relation to contemporary issues of class, race, war, and empire. He considers Obama in the context of our nation's political history, with comparisons to FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton, and other leaders. Street finds that the Obama persona, crafted by campaign consultants and filtered through dominant media trends, masks the "change" candidate's adherence to long-prevailing power structures and party doctrines. He shows how American political culture has produced misperceptions by the electorate of Obama's positions and values. Obama is no magical exception to the narrow-spectrum electoral system and ideological culture that have done so much to define and limit the American political tradition. Yet the author suggests key ways in which Obama potentially advances democratic transformation. Street makes recommendations on how citizens can productively respond to and act upon Obama's influence and the broader historical and social forces that have produced his celebrity and relevance. He also lays out a real agenda for change for the new presidential administration, one that addresses the recent failures of democratic politics.
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