Time is Tight to Produce a Worthy US Dream
By Pepe Escobar
October 22, 2012 "Asia
Times" -- 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 facts.
To become the next president of the United States (POTUS), Mitt
Romney's got to win Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and
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
Silver's projections, Romney's chance of winning Florida are at
Still, Obama is relatively comfy on top in Iowa (66%), New
Hampshire (63%), Nevada (73%), Pennsylvania (89%) and Wisconsin
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%.
Mitt "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 American dream.
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
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.
Back to 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
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 LAX.
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
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.
LA, 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 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 different.
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 also
waking 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.
Now 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
To counter so much darkness, the Roving Eyemobile extended its
trail - with a glance at
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
Clearing House - one of a select few, absolutely
indispensable websites to learn about assorted Empire business.
Tom's newsletter 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
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 corporation report.
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.
Forget it; a Hollywood lie is all we're gonna get.
Pepe Escobar is the author of
Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid
War (Nimble Books, 2007) and
Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His
most recent book is
Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at
Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights
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