Thomas Calabrese – You might ask yourself what a ‘Doom Loop’ is, here is one explanation; it is a term that describes an economic situation in which a negative occurrence leads to another negative occurrence, resulting in a downward spiral or cycle characterized by worsened situations. It is often described as a self-reinforcing downward spiral fueled by a series of negative economic conditions.
Tony Mancuso was part of a very large Italian family. His mother had four sisters and two brothers and his father had three sisters and three brothers so he had a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins. In his immediate family, he was the youngest of four brothers. His great-grandparents came to San Francisco from Sicily in the 1920’s and established a hotel and restaurant. Most of his family still lived in the Bay Area and it seemed that some member of the extended Mancuso family was involved in law enforcement, firefighting, commercial and residential real estate, fishing and the hospitality industry. The Mancusos were a vital part of San Francisco’s Italian culture that included the established families of Giannini, Coppola, Dimaggio, Alioto and Musio.
The Mancuso family were fiercely patriotic Americans who believed that the United States was a great country that offered wonderful opportunities for anybody that was willing to work hard. That feeling evolved into a fact as it was passed down from generation to generation. The patriarch of the family was Tony’s grandfather, Pete Mancuso, the strongest advocate of the work ethic and personal responsibility code. If any member of the Mancuso clan did their best and ran into a problem or a situation they couldn’t handle they could always come to him for help, but they better make sure that they weren’t just looking for the easy way out because they were lazy or scared to do it on their own.
Pete owned a restaurant in North Beach called Mancuso’s, a regular hangout for many of the locals of the neighborhood, some of which were organized crime figures and law enforcement officers. The Italians worked harmoniously with the Chinese in Chinatown to protect their neighborhoods and hoodlums and thugs knew what awaited them if they got out of line in these areas of the city. Pete told his grandson, “You either worked hard or became a criminal, those were the only two options when I was growing up. There was no sympathy for those who blamed everybody else for their problems. If you wanted to be a ‘wise guy’, there was still rules you had to follow and the first one was that leave hard-working men and women alone. It wasn’t just that way for the Italians, but for everybody. The cowardly men who preyed on the weak died a slow and painful death when they were caught. There was no mercy for the merciless. The term ‘Neighborhood Watch’ back in my days was a lot more than just watching and reporting, we took a hands on approach to dealing with the bad guys. I admit it wasn’t a perfect system, but a woman could walk down the street feeling very confident that she wouldn’t be mugged or assaulted. This is part of this city and your family heritage so you can take it for what’s it worth. Should I continue?”
“Absolutely, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, those that fail to learn from history are stubborn fools,” Tony said, “I respect and love you too much not to listen when you tell me something.”
Pete continued, “My father was struggling to make a living in the mid-1930’s and didn’t want to join a gang so when he heard that they were hiring workers to build the Golden Gate Bridge he signed up. With his lack of experience, it didn’t take long before he became a member of the ‘Half Way to Hell Club.”
“What was that?” Tony asked.
The club was created by the workers who had the dubious distinction of tumbling off the metal girders into safety nets stretched beneath the bridge which stopped them from falling all the way to their deaths. And if that wasn’t strange enough, on the day after each fall, Antonio Mancuso was back on the job. I don’t think it even entered his mind to clear his mind or calm his nerves. That’s the kind of man he was, hard, tough and self- reliant. When he’d fall, he would pick himself up and keep going. I learned valuable lessons from my father that have served me well and I’ve done my best to pass them along. Four years later, our country was in World War II and your great-grandfather was fighting with the Marines against a fanatical enemy in the South Pacific. He was wounded twice and captured by the Japanese on Saipan. Surviving all that, he came back to San Francisco and started working on a fishing boat and never mentioned his time in combat. Not once did I ever hear him complain about how tough he had it. The men and women of that time in our country’s history earned the right to be called the ‘Greatest Generation’ by shedding their blood on foreign soil and making sacrifices that defied the law of self- preservation.”
Tony was rightfully impressed. “Great-grandfather set the bar very high for the rest of us. I’m very aware of that.”
“What are you planning on doing with your life?” Pete asked.
“I’m going to join the Marines and see where that leads me,” Tony answered.
Pete said, “I’m proud of you. In my humble opinion, you seldom go wrong by deciding to serve your country.”
The following years passed much too quickly as Tony Mancuso often reminisced about that conversation with his grandfather. He eventually became part of an elite unit that was comprised of special operators from all branches of service. Tony was captured by enemy forces in Yemen while on an intelligence gathering mission and held for six months in a six by eight foot cell. He eventually saw an opportunity to escape when his guard got sick and laid down on the floor with severe abdominal cramps and passed out from the pain. Tony was able to reach through the metal bars and take the keys to the padlock off the guard’s belt and free himself. He looked down at the guard and thought seriously about killing him, but decided against it because the man would be in enough trouble trying to explain how his prisoner escaped. Tony tied him up with his own belt and went up the stairs.
If he fired off a round, it would alert the other terrorists, but if he waited too long, they would eventually notice he was not in his cage and come looking for him. Tony still had the element of surprise on his side, but that wasn’t going to last. Sometimes in life there are no good options, just some which are less bad. This was one of those times.
What was the worst that could happen, he could get killed, but that was a risk that he had accepted for years, but he could make sure that he wouldn’t die alone. When Tony heard yelling, he assumed that his captors realized he had escaped. The element of surprise was off the table. It was now or never so he charged at the two guards in the courtyard while firing and killed both of them before they had a chance to return fire. Tony dropped his empty weapon and grabbed the two loaded ones from the dead terrorists and found the nearest defensible position to engage his captors. Strange how the mind works when all seemed lost, a familiar memory flashed through Tony’s mind to comfort him. Once again, it was that memorable conversation that he had with his grandfather about his heritage. Tony vowed not to disgrace his ancestors by leaving this world without a fight.
Tony kept his weapon’s selector switch on semi-automatic to conserve ammunition and was extremely judicious with his target selection. He kept the terrorists pinned down until he was down to his last full magazine. It looked hopeless until two UH- 60 Blackhawk helicopters came cruising in from the west. Each aircraft was carrying 11 fully armed troops and the Americans were out of the choppers before the wheels touched down. They wasted no time engaging and killing the terrorists. When team leader Gunnery Sergeant Manuel Quintero approached Tony, he commented, “I bet you were wondering if we were ever going to show up.”
“It never crossed my mind, I just figured you were just waiting for the right time to make a grand entrance,” Tony extended his hand to show his appreciation.
Tony first priority was to visit his family in San Francisco after his leave was approved. It had\ been 18 months since he had been back to the ‘city by the bay’. During his absence several of his cousins moved to Hendersonville, Nevada near Las Vegas and five of his older relatives relocated to St. George, Utah. This caught the retired Marine by surprise and he commented to his family, “I didn’t think that they would ever leave, what’s going on around here?”
Louie Mancuso, Tony’s father answered, “We’ve got a new mayor called Paris Adams and she immediately instituted radical policies that have sent this city into a tail spin and a doom loop. Businesses are leaving the city, crime is rampant and homelessness and drug use are at the highest levels in the history of the city. Some neighborhoods look more like war zones than residential areas. As people continue to leave the city the people left behind are going to suffer more because they have to pick up the slack.”
Pete said, “We’ve been able to protect North Beach and the Chinese always do a good job of taking care of Chinatown, but the Tenderloin, Hunters Point, Mission District and the Western Addition are getting worse with each day and the financial district is full of vacant buildings.”
“We can kill every criminal that comes into our neighborhood, but that only solves part of the problem,” Louis said, “We’re watching the city that we love circle the drain and we need new leadership.”
“You know what I found out in my travels around the world dealing with all types of government?” Tony asked.
“What’s that?” Louie inquired.
Tony continued, “Self-serving moronic politicians quickly develop a whole new perspective when their decisions negatively affect them,” Tony said.
“Sounds like you got a plan, grandson,” Pete said.
“Everybody needs a mission, especially a retired Marine,” Tony smiled, “I’m glad to take this on if you want me to?”
Over the next few weeks, Tony compiled a list of all the politicians and bureaucrats from San Diego to San Francisco who were in favor of reducing penalties for career criminals and instituting laws that curtailed law abiding citizens’ abilities to protect themselves.
On one sunny morning, Tony found a concealed location on a hill that was nine hundred yards from the fenced in residential compound of Governor Sherwood Brown. He took careful aim at Governor Brown’s official limousine parked inside the fenced compound and pumped a dozen armor piercing rounds shots into the vehicle. Before the week had ended, Tony made several visits to judges with a documented history of lenient sentencing policies and left them messages that they were not immune from lawlessness.. In one case, after a judge had released a habitual shoplifter with a long criminal records, he came out of the court house to see his new Cadillac being towed away from his private parking place. He screamed at the driver to stop, but Tony pulled his baseball cap low on his forehead, waved and kept driving. When the vehicle was found a group of drug users were living in it.
Governor Brown’s office was inundated with irate phone calls from members of his own party to pull back on some of his more controversial mandates, but the stubborn politician refused to compromise, “These are just isolated incidents. I’ve got my best people working to find out who’s behind them. Now is not the time to run scared, it’s the time to double down.”
The politician proposed a sales tax hike and more useless regulations on the trucking and railroad industries. The Mancusos watched Governor Brown on television boast about his intention to transition California away from capitalism to socialism, “In a progressive state, one per cent of the taxpayers pay fifty per cent of the taxes and five per cent pay 90 per cent. It is important for people in California to accept the fact realize that there is a high cost for the privilege of living in a trend setting environment.. We set the standard for the rest of the country and that is a noble responsibility that we cannot and will not relinquish.”
Pete said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Louie added, “Arrogant politicians always figure that they are the exceptions to the rule. The only things that exceeds their ignorance is their arrogance and greed.”
“We might have to implement the scorched earth philosophy,” Tony suggested..
“I know what that means, but how does that pertain in this case?” Pete asked..
Tony said, “A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by our adversaries is a potential targeted. Our message to Brown hasn’t been strong enough,” Tony turned to his father, “Are you still friends with Sam Saluto?”
“He moved to Costa Rica last year, but we still keep in touch,” Louie said.
Tony said, “If I remember right, he’s a forensic auditor with the Department of Justice.”
“He retired last year,” Louie said.
“Do you trust him?” Tony asked.
“Only with my life.”
“Then I’ll trust him with mine,” Tony said, “I need to talk with him.”
Tony called Sam Saluto, “I need everything you can find on Governor Brown’s real estate, bank accounts, investments, etc.”
“I’m on it,” Sam said, “Tell you dad that I’ll call him in a couple days.”
“Roger that,” Tony said.
One by one, Governor Brown’s properties were targeted and burned to the ground. At first the career politician was enraged, screaming at his staff about their failures to protect his ill-gotten wealth. His anger eventually turned to bone chilling fear when he found a note tied to a dead rattlesnake inside the top drawer of his desk with these words, ‘You can retire from politics or I can retire you from life, Signed, The Doom Looper.
The next press conference by California’s top executive had a more somber tone, “After careful consideration, I have decided to leave public office so I can spend more time with my family. It has been my pleasure to serve the people of California and my record speaks for itself. I will be tendering my resignation today and leaving office in 60 days. That should be more than enough time for an orderly transition of transfer of power to the lieutenant governor.”
Tony didn’t even consider running for political office until his family and some influential citizens of the state approached him with the idea. His grandfather smiled, “Sometimes you choose your battles and sometimes the battle chooses you. San Francisco and the state of California needs you.”
“When you put it that way…let’s lock and load,” Tony said.
The entrenched political machine kicked into high gear and circled the wagons to protect itself, but Tony Mancuso was a difficult target to attack. His family helped build San Francisco and he was an American patriot. Besides, law abiding and good hearted Californians were ready a change so they took a chance on Anthony Mancuso. After he was elected, Tony became the ultimate outsider because he posed a significant threat to the status quo. He came to realize that the evilness and corruption in his own government was as bad as anything he had ever witnessed during his time in the Marine Corps. He was an American warrior and considered the unbridled hate of his enemies as a compliment. Their insults, false accusations and hollow threats only emboldened him to fulfill his mission to protect his country and his fellow Americans. Tony recruited decent honorable people, many of which were combat veterans to be on his staff and his two most trusted advisors were his father and grandfather. He remembered Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy about speaking softly and carrying a big stick and didn’t hesitate to use his special operator skills whenever the situation was warranted
Tony decided that Reaganomics was the best answer to bring California back to financial prosperity from years of wanton corruption and gross mismanagement. Reaganomics had four simple principles: Lower marginal tax rates, less regulation, restrained government spending, noninflationary monetary policy. He also knew that to keep businesses and people from leaving California, there had to be law and order, not chaos, confusion and anarchy so he never missed an opportunity to support the men and women in blue who put their lives on the line every day to fulfill their oath.
He was able to do something that many people thought was impossible, he brought San Francisco out of its doom loop. With the assistance and support of American patriots and his fellow Special Operators, he covertly implemented an exit policy for the hardcore violent criminal element that had infested the state. It was quite simple; here were their choices, comply with the law, leave the state or become food for the worms.
After every speech during his tenure as Governor, Tony Mancuso reminded his constituents of his personal code and firmly held beliefs with these solemn words, “God Bless California and God Bless America. I will never forget that when the government fears the people, there is liberty, when the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”