Election Day, 2012 – Two Hundred Million on Romney

It took me three days to add this to my journal. It was Election night, 2012 and Tom Gorman called me into his office at around 6. I was trying to get out so that Jane and I could go to a local Democratic Club meeting to watch the election results because  in Indiana, if you’re a Democrat, you want to get there early because you never stay late.

Tom was drinking his regular, Isle of Jura single malt Scotch, neat, and I think he was stoned, too. He stared at me, unblinking, when his secretary Marsha let me in, and then seemed startled before motioning for me to sit on his garish, Roman settee by the wall beside his desk. beside his desk. I sat for awkward minutes waiting but he just  worked his scotch for every taste while staring out at the production facilities below that funded his empire. He wasn’t looking at me when he finally spoke at I startled.

“Do you know how much two hundred million dollars is, Bernie?”

At first, I thought he was talking to himself. When Tom is stoned, sometimes he does that. He even argues with himself sometimes. He’s really good at it, too. I often find myself changing my mind with each argument he makes.  “Of course, Tom,” I said, “it’s about a quarter’s profit before interest and taxes, why?”

“How long would it take you to make that kind of money?”

I considered it. The Toms were forever asking the oddest questions, as if they knew something that I didn’t, which of course they did, but it was like they were offering hints about something I could never quite figure out. I needed more information.  ” That depends, Tom.”

Tom turned to me, his wide open, unblinking  Irish green eyes were almost iridescent against his bloodshot whites.  “That’s no fucking answer.” He almost growled it. “How long would it take?”

In the short time that I’ve been CEO here, I have found that there are only wrong answers whenever either Tom asks an innocuous sounding question. Gorman, in particular, likes to embarrass me by probing with some obscure yet soon to be appropriate subject. He would press for the answer that he had already identified as the one he wanted and then he’d  laugh at me as he peppered me with questions until I finally satisfied him with the answer he wanted. I don’t know how he managed it, I know it was exhausting for me. I had to be sharp today because stoned was a horse of a different color. I had never been through Tom Gorman’s inquisitions when he was stoned.

“Well? Bernie, How long would it take? You’re our miracle numbers man, how long would it take you to generate that kind of capital?”

“That depends on how much capital I had to start with, what was available out there, and how much risk you would be willing to take or option out.”

“If you were like us, Bernie, I’d tell you that you were starting out with nothing, zilch. But you’re not like us, you’re a working stiff so to make it easier, you have what you currently have at Angs to work with in to generate the two hundred million. What do you say now?”

“Why do you want to know, Tom?”

“I don’t really want to know.  If Romney loses in a few hours, I just blew two hundred million and if that happens, I’d like to get it back. If the Governor wins, I stand to double my money.”

I almost choked. “You will double your money?”

“And how much is that, Bernie? Don’t use a calculator, just tell me boy.”

“Two hundred million dollars overnight.”

“Can you do it that fast?”

I tried not to smile. “No, sir, I can’t make two hundred million dollars that fast. How do you double your money if he wins?”

He took an extended taste and his eyes briefly rolled up but he recovered and refocused on me. “The money is the least of my concerns, I have more than enough. Don’t go gossiping that to your Kenyan president because I also plan to keep it that way. Time, time is the world’s one true currency. Time is the only thing real in this world. You can’t buy it, it’s that precious, but someday, the best of us will be able to buy time. Until then, using time extraordinarily well is the most important thing in my life because I want to remain one of the best of us until time can be bought. ”

I had no response for that and I was relieved when he turned back toward the picture window to  stare out over his lands . His head nodded once or twice, but his glass of scotch remained safely upright and in his hand. With his eyes still closed, he continued. “Bernie, if we lose and I tell you to earn me back the two hundred million I spent on Governor Romney, you can’t tell Tom and whatever number Tom lost, I don’t want to know. Just tell me long will it take for you to earn it back? You have whatever you need. We’ need you, Bern, we need you…but only if our Bain gamut fails.”

“Do you think he’ll lose tomorrow?”

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the brown and blacks from voting for their Muslim hero. Where we couldn’t change the State laws because there wasn’t enough time or we screwed up and the case went to the wrong court, we’ve been doing what we can. We reduced hours and locations, and convenience to a bare minimum. We’re counting on a lazy president having lazy constituents. But all we have are tricks that the Democrats will make us pay for in some future election if we don’t win today. It’s so much easier if you’re the incumbent. We will just have to wait and see.”

“Tom, this is a free country. What do you expect those people to do if they are denied the opportunity to vote?”

“I know what I would do, but I’m a true Americans, I’d riot until I got my vote. But these are lazy shits, they won’t do that. Oh, maybe some will, isolated, unhappy welfare kings and queens, that type. I hate those fuckers, but sometimes, they do stand up. If I were directing them I’d have them burn down the fucking polling places but they’re comfortable with having their rights violated so I expect little difficulty.”

“Do you really think there will be r…riots?”

“Only in the swing states, maybe Minnesota, but it won’t matter. We’re prepared to win this election all the way to the Supreme Court.”

“You’re certain Governor Romney is going to win.”

“No, not certain. We have a puncher’s chance. Running from behind is tough, even against such inferior talent. We should win, but the Democrats have some pretty smart turds working for them, too, so nothing is ever certain. That’s where the joy of victory begins. That’s why there is so much glory after you win.

“Bernie, you’re going to vote for Hussein Obama and his Muslim Brotherhood tomorrow. That’s okay, it’s Indiana and a Democrat vote is a wasted vote. But let me assure you that Tom and I want you to be part of our family, part of our community. As a family, what we say, stays with the family.

” Romney will win. And with him inside, we’ll do whatever it takes to give him eight good years. The Chambers of Commerce around the country have all agreed to do everything possible to turn the economy around. When that happens, we have the Reagan model that we can market the shit out of until people believe about President Romney what they remember believing about President Reagan. Bernie, we have the  ability to do that.

“But if Romney doesn’t win, we lost a hell of a lot of money but we gained something equally valuable, experience. We will be a hell of a lot smarter than we were. Citizens United is new, we’re working it. If we don’t win this time, it’s back to the drawing board for some critical touch up.

“We’ve already learned something. Next time, we won’t let Bachman and Santorum or some local Perry types get in early and force our candidate to play to the base. And we’ll shut down the Libertarians until we can actually use them. That libertarian menagerie out there is what  caused the primaries to go out of control in the first place. It caused the Governor to tack back to the center to late and it was too obvious. Sorry stuff, but won’t happen again.

“The presidency is a business and the damn hubris of the conservative and libertarian branches of our party almost destroyed our chances for the Presidency. That will never happen again.”

I was relieved when Gorman continued because I couldn’t think of a thing to say.

“Two hundred million is what I need. Have a proposal on my desk by Thursday. Now go.”

So I left.


Indianapolis, November, 2044 – A long time ago, when I was with Jane at home, maybe in the gazebo by the lake, we talked about the Toms and my work. I burdened her unnecessarily and I take that sadness with me to my grave. We  argued sometimes and she never argues. She claimed that  once men were no longer the undisputed leaders of the United States, once women had gained more control, things would improve. Women would make America less win-lose, more nurturing and, she claimed, the world would calm down. She she’d become so insistent that I’d just smile.

My time with the Toms gave me a far different perspective. When women finally achieved what Jane knew they could, when they took what power they could, they were evolved women who had been extruded through the very same cruel but fair process that had extruded men for all time. Yes, some women would be different from men, but worse, I don’t think so.

As amoral as President Andy Crelli was, he was never as frighteningly crazy like the current Chairwoman of the Board, Tanya Brandt.

What Jane never realized was that since men ruled, at the very beginning of recorded time, they have worked tirelessly to evolve a way to give value to life. The system that they created is called capitalism, Darwinian survival of the most economically fit.  Over time, the entrepreneurs, the capitalists, the high priests of capitalism, they proselytized the world in the name of the great god, capitalism. America’s wild success made it adaptable for more and more cultures until frontiers disappeared, resources became scarce, and competition, the heart of capitalism, became far too intense and unyielding. It had gotten so intense that for most modern men and women, capitalism was like trying to ride this wild bull that no one could break.   Berne Thau


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What is the Joad Cycle

The Joad Cycle is a series of dystopian speculative fiction novels set in our America from 2032-2084 after a Constitutional Coup has brought to power an extreme Right Wing, Christian, Libertarian Entrepreneur who is the leader of the new Entrepreneur Party. In this America, business interests rule, government has been marginalized. and the poor and the middle class no longer exist, the result of a massive economic genocide. To survive, every citizen lives to create wealth and should living cost more than they can generate in value to the economy, they are executed. Mostly, this is an Anti-capitalist Love Story.

$$$ How to Read this Site $$$

This site is mostly fictional and it supports the novels, providing backstory and additional related short stories that take place within the world of the Joad Cycle.

The site offers a Blog and Journal from the perspective of one main character, the hero of the first book, The Golden Rule . This character, Bernie Rosenthal who is very liberal politically, works as Chief Financial Officer for U.S. Angs, a multinational multibillion dollar private corporation owned by Tom Gorman and Tom Morgan, the Toms, who represent ultra Conservative Koch brother types. Bernie is humbled by the tyrannical Toms during the day and finds a release journaling his job frustration. Meanwhile, Bernie's future self, Berne Thau, adds to the blog entries with his perspective, more than 30 years in the future, after money, greed, and the Right Wing revolution end the American Republic .

We are living in trying times. According to Berne Thau, they will get much more difficult.

Why this curmudgeon wrote this story

Every generation, parents tell their children that life was better back when they were young… and the children always scoff.

But now that I have qualified to pass judgment on that age-old warning, now that I’ve been both young and old, I have come to realize that the old have it right and children scoff at their peril though in the ways that American society has been taught to measures success, every generation since maybe the turn of the twentieth century anyway, has had it better.

But with age, and career experience, I have learned that those ways are deceptive and worse, they are wrong. Success is measured based on wealth, conveniences, and life expectancy issues when it should be evaluated on what we hope to be as individuals and what we become as people—the expectancy of life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been successful enough. For most of my baby boomer life I was comfortable middle class interspersed with a few years of unfortunate decline towards impoverishment, never quite getting there before bootstrapping back to comfort.

For a time, I was a certified member of the 1%—in income though not in wealth. The 1% is a class of people who rule their part of the world and have a lot of confidence that somebody they know rules the rest of it. I wasn’t a one-percenter for many years, but it was a good life until my associations made me believe that I just didn’t want it anymore. I apologize to my family for what I had become and these novels are my penance.

People congratulated me for the success I’d earned as if those less and least successful earned that lack as well. And with the memory of a manufacturing facility in a small, rural, one-employer town in out-of-the-way Northern Maine near the Canadian border closed to improve a bottom line somewhere else, with an American town murdered for earnings per share, I signed off and began to write the The Joad Cycle.

In my research, I came to fear for my family that grew from the narrowest and shallowest possible family tree to three generations deep and two wide. My family is important and so I wrote these novels for them, for their future, for what I dread we have taken from them and will continue to take, long after we are dead.

I live in the Midwest and my friends are good people and I value them. They are conservative and most are Christians and somehow, we argue over unions as if union members aren’t patriotic Americans, too, and besides, what is to be gained by condemning workers in a country of workers. And we disagree on the poor? Social Safety Nets may not be working as well as they could (But how would we know if these Safety Nets are working? It is not as if some brave politician will stand up and precisely define what a win looks like in the freest, richest country in the history of history—and seriously, doesn’t free-form Capitalism deserve the bulk of the blame with its all-encompassing goal of creating winning humans and losing humans).

And discussions on life and death with my conservative friends, life at the very beginning and the very end, and guns and gods…forget about it. But unlike politicians and the media, we are friends so we work around the discomfort and the dislike for the greater good.

My friends are the current version of the salt of the earth and all of us abide by family values above all, even if we can’t agree on them. Good people like us accept a society where too many of our children are handled by strangers during the critical formative years. And in the twilight years too many parents and grandparents are handled by strangers until their money runs out, like sand in an hourglass, their lives extended only so far as Government security or private insurance will grant.

And when Americans finally expire after insufferable pain and embarrassment and to the sighs of sad but relieved loved ones, it reveals the immaturity of the vast majority of the American people who won’t resolve; once and for all, when God’s reason ends life and so they leave that to for-profit resolution. Can’t it just be in the fading twinkle of an ancient woman’s eyes?

But all of this pales to the legacy of GREED! Greed, that race for wealth that is ingrained in us all from television at a too early age that drives us to become economically viable so that with something extra in our paychecks at the end of the week, we can indulge ourselves with gifts, with palliatives, to relieve the pain and discomfort that we feel for doing what we must do to earn what wealth we cab. Greed is the satisfying of artificial and constant cravings.

And those who are considered the best of us, majority stockholders, officers of corporations, politicians, and celebrities all at the top of their respective food chains, they earn their way into the 1% and possessing this true wealth, they gift themselves truly extraordinary palliatives in order to compensate for something deeply unsatisfying within that was once more human, what they lost in the dog-eat-dog world that we all live in.

This is the world that we pass on to our children and our grandchildren. This world is what will own them someday like it owns us today. They are truly greed’s legacy. That too is the basis for my cautionary tale of America’s future, The Joad Cycle.

But I still idealize my youth. I remember what it felt like when I was a boy and so I wrote a grand love story, too.


Gary Levey