is tight to produce a worthy US
dream By Pepe Escobar
LOS ANGELES - It's tight. It's awfully
tight. But way beyond demented pollmania
permeating every nook and cranny of the
multibillionaire election circus - coupled with
the torrential vomiting of the Spin Machine scary
monsters and super freaks - these are the stark
To become the next president of the
United States (POTUS), Mitt Romney's got to win
Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and Arizona.
As it stands, hours before the foreign
policy debate this Monday in Boca Raton, Florida,
Barack Obama maintains a slight lead, 3 to 2
(Ohio, Colorado and Arizona versus Virginia and
Florida where, until recently, he was also
leading; now, according to Nate
Silver's projections, Romney's chance of winning
Florida are at 66%).
Still, Obama is
relatively comfy on top in Iowa (66%), New
Hampshire (63%), Nevada (73%), Pennsylvania (89%)
and Wisconsin (80%).
The Obama slide had
been relentless, non-stop, ever since the first
debate; it was only barely reversed for the past
three days. Even so, Romney must win all these
swing states if he can't swing Ohio, which is
leaning towards Obama by 70%.
"Binders Full of Women" will come out all (Libyan)
guns blazing at the last debate because he cannot
afford to lose anywhere. Ultimately, if he doesn't
swing those undecided Ohio ladies, the fat lady
herself will sing.
Sing what? It could be
anything from The Star Spangled Banner -
the Jimi Hendrix version - to We Shall
Overcome. Well, here in California, it's more
like Booker T and the MG's Time Is Tight.
That's the Roving Eyemobile's official theme song
- as our made in Detroit noir car, a grey Mustang
(supporting US jobs) crisscrosses Southern
California in search of what's left of the
LA noir Los
Angeles, LA, Hollywood, whatever you wanna call
it, this is a town that lies for a living - not a
bad metaphor of both the US government and Mitt
"Binders Full of Women". Come up with the
appropriate soundstage, set design and a few
catchy lines - plot is just a detail - and
Hollywood will lie till it dies, or rather till it
survives endless tequila sunrise shots.
The LA Weekly is running a tournament to
elect the best LA novel ever, which has to be a
noir masterpiece. (See here.)
The Roving Eye - a former Hollywood
resident and perennial literature fanatic - takes
no sides; I would vote for anything from Thomas
Pynchon's psychedelic Inherent Vice to
Raymond Chandler's black as hell The Big
Sleep, passing through Scott Fitzgerald's
The Last Tycoon and anything by James
Ellroy, especially The Black Dahlia.
Of course, there's always the possibility
of interpreting Obama vs Mitt as a noirish saga of
love lost, betrayal and crime (financial,
military, imperial and otherwise). Leave that to a
disaster movie screenplay-to-be.
reality. To paraphrase the late great Ginsberg, I
have seen the best and worst minds of past
generations starving, silent, practically naked -
or even respectably clothed - plowing LA's mean
streets at night looking not for an angry fix, but
for a soup kitchen.
To check out on the
bottom end of the 47%, I just had to drive by
night to downtown LA, further down Los Angeles
street, and then follow the dark clouds coming
down all across the Los Angeles river.
That did not prevent me from finding a
decently attired 55-year-old Air Force veteran
begging near UCLA in upscale Brentwood. I gave him
some help, asked "Why?" and he answered, "Check
with the US government". The gleaming outposts of
the industrial-military complex - from Boeing to
Lockheed Martin - are not that far away, around
In the world according to Mitt
Romney, this Air Force vet doesn't pay enough
taxes, is a victim, and doesn't take personal
responsibility for his life. By the way, in
Mittworld the vet is joined by US soldiers in
combat, firefighters, steelworkers, security
guards, police officers and, yes, high school
teachers - who draw an average wage of US$54,000,
usually their only source of income to support a
family of four or five.
I also followed
the surf trail from Laguna Beach to Dana Point and
San Clemente - where small enterprises still
deliver sweatshop-free, first class
made-in-the-USA manufactured products, which threw
me back to my teenage years when every hip kid
wanted a Hobie cat, a Gordon & Smith
skateboard and a Dewey Weber surfboard.
When I went for a couple of sweatshirts I
bought American - James Perse, a new, chic, LA
clothing company successfully competing with
delocalized corporate behemoths. It's quite a
shock to see that label Made in USA instead of -
well, it's inevitable - Made in China.
of course, is as much in Asia as in America. My
dry cleaner is Cantonese; my local bakery in
Brentwood is Korean; my Thai curry fix is still
there in Thai town. But I was particularly keen on
meeting Asia's 1/10th of the 1%, for whom
California remains The Promised Land, essentially
thanks to Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
And then I found him, Mr 1% China, on
Rodeo Drive, gleefully photographing a spectacular
black-and-yellow Bugatti Veyron 16.4 along with
his quite extended family.
He was a
successful businessman from Xiamen, sporting a
Hollywood baseball cap and carrying a black
crocodile Chanel bag worth the entire GDP of
northern Syria (which, by the way, is sending
prospective political refugees to California in
I asked Mr 1% China
about Mitt's announced currency/trade war against
the Middle Kingdom. His laughter boomed all the
way to the canyons and way deep into the Pacific.
Rodeo, Beverly and Canon Drive are living
demonstrations of the top 1/10th of 1% rolling in
dough. They are back to 25% of the US's total
income; that includes a sizeable lot of
Tehrangeles - the Iranian-American diaspora.
Tax rates for the 1/10th of the 1% are
lower than ever; so let's party like it's ...
2007. At least in California, the overwhelming
majority - following Hollywood's dictate - votes
Obama. Translation, Thai-style: same same but
It's pivoting time
Crisscrossing Southern California, one
suspects Mitt Romney may have employed a secret
Hollywood hustler as ghost adviser; after all he's
essentially paying his nearly $5
trillion-in-tax-cuts plan with a platinum card.
Sounds like those Hollywood projects which are
forever "in development".
A Tax Policy
Center (TPC) nonpartisan study
has revealed that Romney's way to make his 20%
below George W Bush-era levels tax cut plan
"revenue neutral" - which would be to cap
deductions at $17,000 - would raise just $1.7
trillion over 10 years.
The TPC had to
apologize for Mitt's trademark lack of specifics
on just about everything regarding his plan,
stressing that that makes the analysis imperfect.
After Asia Times Online reported it last
Thursday (see Mitt
the Binder, Asia Times Online, October 19,
2012) the New York Times and other US websites are
up to Mitt's economic hit man, Glenn Hubbard.
It's never enough to remember that
professor Hubbard was key in justifying the
humongous mortgage derivatives bubble at the heart
of the Dubya-sanctioned Great Recession; call him
the Toxic Derivative King. Palpable consequences
include an astronomic $7 trillion - and counting -
depreciation of home values, the over $700 billion
bailout of Wall Street, and perennial high
unemployment, which the Romney campaign describes,
with a straight face, as an Obama concoction.
And yes; Hubbard was the ultimate
architect of the Bush tax cuts. In terms of
getting a cut himself, he is no slouch; only in
2011 he pocketed a cool $785,000 for sitting on
three different corporate boards and as a
consultant to Freddie Mac, Bank of America,
JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
imagine Hubbard as Mitt's Secretary of the
Treasury. Couple his financial weapons of mass
destruction (WMDs) with Iran's non-existent WMDs
as the pretext for the next US Middle East war,
plus this three-month-old Los Angeles Times bombshell
about Romney financing Bain Capital with shady
foreign funds and boasting returns worthy of a
major crime syndicate, and we got the perfect plot
advancement for our LA noir screenplay.
counter so much darkness, the Roving Eyemobile
extended its trail - with a glance at Camp
Pendleton where Marines get ready for that
"pivoting" towards Asia-Pacific - all the way to
the quintessential industrial-military complex
town, San Diego, for a long, uplifting
conversation with a blessed soul; Tom Feeley, the
founder and editor of Information
Clearing House - one of a select few,
absolutely indispensable websites to learn about
assorted Empire business.
is now reaching 79,000 global daily readers - and
counting, a great deal of them US expats quite
familiar with Empire shenanigans. It doesn't take
a James Joyce to truly appreciate an Irishman's
conversation; ours, in a word, was priceless. We
agreed that the whole geopolitical groove as it's
moving increasingly resembles a Beckett play,
minus the hieratic elegance.
I ended this
Southern California swing back "home" - as in the
Frolic Room, Hollywood's ultimate dive, among
drifters, punks and instant philosophers of the
47% variety. It certainly beats reading a RAND
The Frolic Room - with
its superb neon sign - is where the real Black
Dahlia used to sip her martinis in the 1940s,
before she was delivered her Big Sleep,
tragically, horrendously murdered. And now we wait
- not for death, which is a certainty, but for
Obama and Mitt to show us at least the glimpse of
a worthy vision, a palpable dream.
it; a Hollywood lie is all we're gonna get.