Discover more from Public Enemy Number 1
Florida "Wolverines" can save America, then Florida, from Florida
Go ahead and laugh; but you'll learn more about Florida's looming invasion of America -- and how to sabotage it -- from "Red Dawn" than from any chin-scratching NPR or New York Times think piece.
This article was going to be part 2 of my “Education-by-gangster” series. See part 1 below. But it evolved into more of a spin-off than a sequel. Think Rogue 1 versus the Star Wars trilogy, which is fitting because Andor also makes an appearance in this article. There are a number of clips and images that may cause this essay to truncate in email. So click through to the online article if you need to.
As a Florida-based guerrilla trying to undermine Florida’s 2024 political and civic invasion of America, I always saw new Polk County School Board Member Rick “T.I.T.S.” Nolte as a potent behind-enemy-lines weakness to exploit.
That weakness grew significantly when Ron DeSantis endorsed Nolte, a self-declared campaign felon and generally creepy buffoon, over the summer. It grew further when Nolte narrowly won his primary, making him the very gross “1” in a 6-1 board.
This kind of gross.
We, the normal people of Polk County, then weaponized Nolte’s self-declared criminality, “T.I.T.S.” manifestos, and general gross behavior against book-banning and educational DeSantis-ism in the November general election. We thrashed Nolte’s book-banning allies and kept Nolte as the gross, powerless, DeSantis-endorsed “1” on a 6-1 board — in a diverse, DeSantis-voting county of roughly 700,000 people.
Now Florida’s tiny emperor is afraid to claim or disavow Nolte — the guy who embodies him in Polk County. This silent paralysis telegraphs DeSantis’ fundamental personal weakness as a man.
In fact, DeSantis is afraid to say much of anything to Polk County, which — more than any other Florida county — has openly rejected his book-banning absurdities in official School Board action and on the ballot, across the political spectrum.
Nolte’s existence was a big help in doing that. And that’s why I have been publicly toying with Nolte since his election, like the proverbial cat with a mouse — and publicly taunting DeSantis with him. And that’s why I will continue.
“T.I.T.S.” Nolte renders DeSantis silent; and I like to attack and exploit what renders DeSantis — and his minions — silent. A quiet DeSantis is a losing DeSantis.
So please don’t remove Nolte, Ron. After all, he is you.
The information war to define “the Florida blueprint”
The country needs Florida insurgents armed with weapons like T.I.T.S. Nolte.
The same Florida state “government” of gangsters that destroyed the Florida state education system will invade the United States of America in 2024. Whoever wins this civil war-as-referendum — the gangsters or the country — will control the U.S. Military and federal law enforcement power.
We don’t know who will command Florida’s invasion yet — tiny Emperor Ron DeSantis (with his pseudo VP Jeb Bush) or Florida-ism’s Pope Donald Trump. But it makes no difference. Whoever wins their gross song of ice and fire will then lead Florida’s army of the dead right toward Colorado and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Florida’s political and cultural invasion of the country should be laughable. The Florida “blueprint” has made us a hollowed out shell of a state — pleasantly livable for people with capital (like me) because a few big private interests team up to “govern” our warm spaces enjoyably for customers who can pay. And a few cities, like mine (Lakeland), which is blessed with a money-belching socialist power utility, create a nice and warm urban experience.
But as a state, rather than a vacation destination, retirement home, or temporary crash pad for remote workers and tech bros, we are: extremely high cost, extremely low wage, extremely corrupt, high inflation, nation’s worst education “learning rate,” bad public service, high crime, low birth rate, high and spiking abortion rate, and very very old. (I will detail all this, yet again, in a subsequent essay.)
If America fully grasps that Florida Blueprint by 2024, I feel quite certain that we will repulse this absurd invasion-by-mafia. The referendum on Florida should not be a close run affair.
But our worst American billionaires and mouthiest showboating sheriffs like hollowed out states; and they far prefer mafias to unions or citizens mobilized politically around public good.
Florida is their model state for decadent capital cut free from any public oversight, public good, or sense of shared citizenship. And they will try to impose that Florida on everybody else by pretending that Florida is not Florida. Anti-civic capital is often dumb. But it’s heavily armed; and it has great sway — although not total away — over what the public is told.
Crushing Florida’s invasion — explicitly rejecting the failed “Florida Blueprint” at the national level — is crucial to any effort to reform Florida at home. The Florida Blueprint must culminate, in the military sense, as an expansive political force. That’s the sine qua non of Florida’s future.
And that requires revealing and relentlessly repeating the truth about life in Florida and the people who run it in a way that puts them on the defensive nationally.
We *can* disrupt Florida’s invasion-by-gangster effectively
I have no illusion that tormenting Rick Nolte with his own existence will single-handedly bring down Ron DeSantis or define “the Florida Blueprint;” but it’s a weakness for him and for it.
And if we insurgents can string together enough weaknesses across our hollowed out shell of a state, it will damage the Florida invasion effort and help defeat it.
I know this from experience, not theory.
In the last two years or so (and even before) my loosely organized allies and I have effectively fought a figurative, intense, localized insurgent war against the gangsters who run our state and its education system. This war is based primarily in (pretty large I-4) Polk and (tiny northwest) Jefferson counties, both of which are DeSantis/Trump voting counties.
And yet, Polk and Jefferson counties, today, are far more protected from state education gangsters than most Florida counties because of this insurgent war. Jefferson County dealt Florida education privatizers their greatest defeat ever — just last year — at a time when they’re supposed to be ascendant.
Here’s what our aggressive moral confrontation — our insurgency — has put on the scoreboard:
Won my 2016 election 60-40 in red Polk County, in which our movement ran openly against and defeated Florida’s education and government gangsterism. (My narrow re-election loss actually proves the point. It made me more influential and “Public Enemy Number 1”; but that’s a longer discussion.)
Post COVID, we crushed Polk County’s J6er and book banners/DeSantis followers at the ballot in 2021 and 2022. We’ve gone 3 for 4, with the lone loss (Nolte) actually more damaging for DeSantis-ism than our wins.
Rendered the so-called County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF), Polk County’s version of Moms-4-Liberty, politically and socially toxic and impotent.
Helped pry Jefferson County public schools from the cold dead fingers of Richard Corcoran, Ralph Arza, and Manny Diaz’s charter privatization grift. Then we helped deny Corcoran any real university president job.
Denied Jacob Oliva, former Florida K-12 chancellor and key Jefferson scandal player, the Miami-Dade superintendent job. Oliva slinked away to ineptly run the Arkansas schools for Sarah Huckabee.
Made serial felon, GOP operative, and influential Texas education figure James Dunn famous and toxic in Florida. Sent him scurrying back home to Texas, where he should be famous and toxic and a major liability for Greg Abbott.
Created more political operating space for Polk’s pretty good school superintendent than any other decent superintendent has in his godforsaken shit show of a state education system by rejecting book-banning DeSantis-ism on the ballot in November.
Turned the right wing, “own-the-libs” takeover narrative of New College into a blatant and laughable corruption story — with DeSantis and Chris Rufo paying grifter Richard Corcoran $400K more than the previous president to fake indoctrinate 670 kids.
Perhaps most lethal, potentially, to the 2024 Florida invasion, we’ve begun to make Florida’s “Great Regression” — our nation’s worst collapse in student performance after 4th grade — a mainstream narrative about what the Florida blueprint delivers. If you want your kids to collapse educationally post 4-grade, vote Florida — Vote JebTrumpSantis. Here is the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin quoting me at length in a column about how bad Florida’s education system is.
We accomplished all that — openly and without any real retaliation — as just a tiny band of insurgents in two or three counties and a smallish public platform. We did it with moral aggression, by taking the fight to the gangsters — not waiting for them in dread and lamenting impotently why anyone could be so awful.
They are that awful; let’s stipulate to it. So what do we do about it?
We chose to engage.
And we won battles by hitting the gangsters where they are weak and unwilling to fight: at their corruption, their incompetence, their dishonesty, and their unpopularity. We do not fear them; we attack them. We laugh at their mediocrity and we hang them around other people’s necks.
Attack the DeSilences
You most likely don’t know any of this because Ron DeSantis (and/or Florida’s gangster ruling class) never acknowledges that anyone shuts him up, or forces him to change direction or surrender.
Florida media — legitimate and transactional — never even tries to force him to acknowledge anything. (More on that in a subsequent piece.) Here is a massive squandered opportunity to do that.
That refusal-to-acknowledge dynamic is DeSantis’ chief political asset; and local media and opposition politicians are unwilling or unable to crack his sense of inevitable march. But he’s not inevitable. He can be stopped. He’s just a man — a weak man with no strength that doesn’t come purely from access to the official power he uses for personal benefit without honor or remorse when no one makes it painful for him.
We make it painful.
When it hurts, DeSantis shuts up. So what shuts DeSantis up — what shuts the median Florida GOP official up — is far more illuminating than their bubble-encased gangster trash talk.
It demonstrates that when you want the fight, they don’t.
That’s also why Trump has taken the lead back from DeSantis in their primary and will probably beat him. And that’s why I have been publicly toying with Rick “T.I.T.S.” Nolte since his election.
Another absurd invasion fueled by hubris and bad billionaires
If the hubris of hollow Florida’s figurative invasion of America conjures the hubris of hollow Russia’s real invasion of Ukraine, it should. DeSantis is every bit as high on his own supply as Putin was a year ago. And Trump is Trump.
Unfortunately, as Trump and DeSantis have proved, it’s a lot easier to win a figurative invasion and then corrupt the institutions of real power for personal use than it is to forcibly take and hold land from a country unwilling to surrender it.
Ukrainians are far more willing to die and kill than Republicans are willing to do anything at all to avoid kneeling to a gangster dictatorship.
That’s why DeSantis and Trump want Russia — the rank colonial aggressor — to roll into Kyiv and murder as many people as possible. It’s Florida-ism made flesh. A win for Russia’s real invasion of Ukraine is a win for Florida’s figurative invasion of America — a victory for power without morality or decency or restraint.
Unlike Putin’s Russia, Trump/DeSantis Florida doesn’t need actual hard power to capture actual hard power. It just needs to bullshit enough of the country into becoming like Florida and Russia, hollowed out states built for the entertainment of bad billionaires and crypto bros.
In that effort, they will get endless help from bad billionaires — and from institutional media that wants to stay in their good graces for self-preservation.
“Red Dawn” as Florida invasion allegory
In recognizing, preparing for, and fighting the emerging Battle of Bullshit, I find myself drawn to an entirely different version of Russia — Red Dawn’s understanding of the 1984 Soviet Union.
Go ahead and laugh. I get it. I’ll laugh with you.
But you can learn more, in more different ways, about Florida’s attempted invasion of America — and how to repulse it — from Red Dawn than from a billion banal NYT or 538 horserace stories.
The 1984 Soviet Union — just like 2023 Florida — was a hollowed out shell of an empire failing its citizens and running rapidly to destruction. But it commanded a 2023 Florida-like hold on the American public’s imagination, across the ideological spectrum. It tapped into American fears and fantasies about facing aggressive hostile expansion.
Red Dawn’s premise is a right wing masturbatory fantasy about the weakness of American founding ideals. It’s very similar, as a premise, to well-known man’s man Ted Cruz lusting after fake Russian soldier porn. That was right before American “wokeness” helped Ukraine kill 140,000-ish and counting of those manly Russian soldiers — without even using our air power.
Like a proto-Cruz, Red Dawn imagines a 1984 America so weak and a Soviet Bloc so strong that:
America is incapable of detecting or responding to a massive Russian airborne attack that crosses Alaska and Canada and then all of the American northwest before hitting the strategically vital town of Calumet, Colorado.
That “the Nicaraguan and Cuban armies” — the Nicaraguan and Cuban armies, lol — could invade, overrun, and occupy Texas and the Great Plains from Wyoming to Kansas City after an open march through Mexico.
Seriously, listen to the great Powers Boothe sell the hilarity of Red Dawn’s Soviet Bloc war plan. He should have won an Oscar.
Red Dawn opens, literally, with a mass Russian assault on a Colorado public school. The first casualty comes from the Russian murder of an unarmed history teacher, who is black. Then the Russian troops fire automatic weapons into his classroom.
From 2023, when AR-15 mass MAGA shooters are a militia in the Republican Party’s war against normal American people, Red Dawn’s opening scenes feel like allegory of Florida’s invasion of the country.
“Remember this: try”
But then Red Dawn takes a turn.
If one understands the historical realities of American power, Red Dawn has always been an accidental “left-wing” movie, in that it’s about underdogs chipping away at overwhelming and brutal occupying power.
That’s why it appealed to me as 12-ish year-old. It’s why I still kinda love it.
But the actual human beings who chipped away at brutal armed official power on American soil in American history are not white dudes with expensive high-powered hunting rifles. In fact, white dudes with expensive high-powered hunting rifles need to invent the dumbest military scenario in cinema history to even imagine themselves scrappy underdogs. Sound familiar?
Allowing for that conceit (and some of the silly battle scenes), Red Dawn manages to say some pretty smart and moving things about insurgency against overwhelming power — its tactics, its costs, its mindset, and its strategic effectiveness.
Red Dawn is not Andor, which is, I think, the best work of popular art ever made about insurgency and resistance (Battle of Algiers included); but it shares some potent DNA with it.
Indeed, the spectacular Rebel manifesto in Andor fits right in with the Wolverines of Red Dawn — and Patrick Swayze’s “let it turn to something else” ethos. Note the parts in bold from Andor; and then watch it performed.
There will be times when the struggle seems impossible. I know this already. Alone, unsure, dwarfed by the scale of the enemy. Remember this. Freedom is a pure idea. It occurs spontaneously and without instruction. Random acts of insurrection are occurring constantly throughout the galaxy. There are whole armies, battalions that have no idea that they've already enlisted in the cause. Remember that the frontier of the Rebellion is everywhere. And even the smallest act of insurrection pushes our lines forward. And then remember this. The Imperial need for control is so desperate because it is so unnatural. Tyranny requires constant effort. It breaks, it leaks. Authority is brittle. Oppression is the mask of fear. Remember that. And know this, the day will come when all these skirmishes and battles, these moments of defiance will have flooded the banks of the Empire's authority and then there will be one too many. One single thing will break the siege. Remember this. Try.
The parts in bold hit me particularly hard because of all the time and effort I’ve spent fighting the behemoth that is Florida’s system of education gangsterism, with actual human beings — children and caring adults alike — as the stakes.
There are times when the struggle feels impossible for a decent, normal person in Florida. It’s OK to feel that way — for moments. But then, if you care about the outcome of the struggle and the health of your community, you have to “let it turn to something else.”
That’s how we’ve produced our victories against brittle authority.
They all emerged from nothing more than trying, really trying, in a serious and committed and confrontational way. As I’ve said many times, in this war, we can afford to lose more battles more than Florida’s gangsters can. That’s why they try so hard to avoid fighting them.
And remember that America is a much much larger and more constructive behemoth than Florida, which is a paper tiger of a state incapable of doing or accomplishing anything real as a state but selling sunshine to dumb or inherited capital and crypto bros, which are the same thing.
Any wound we decent Floridians — who really live here, for whom Florida is home (since 1884, for my family) — can inflict on our governing gangsters makes it that much harder for this Red Dawn-style Potemkin power to bullshit the people in Wisconsin into surrendering real American power to Florida’s racket.
Weaponize corruption, crazies, and Corcorans — don’t dread or lament them
Unlike almost anybody else, I wanted the book-banning fight in Polk County. And that made all the difference. I knew we could and would win it — if we fought it. I never doubted that for a second. See below.
And I saw its potential as a weapon for what I want to accomplish beyond Polk County— just like I did Saga Stevin’s J6 campaign for Lakeland mayor. I wasted no time or energy on dread or lamentation. My allies and I went offense, immediately. Offense is vital; you can’t win anything meaningful on defense.
The DeSantis book-banning education “movement” is peopled with gross crazies that nobody normal likes in real life. But somehow, this menagerie of gross, fake Christian grifters have managed put normal people on defense, politically and socially.
It’s actually quite easy to reverse that dynamic at the local/community level through sustained confrontation and weaponization of these people. But you have to want to. If you want to, here are some weaponization ideas for some specific counties:
Collier County: Larry Wilcoxson and the great Byron/Erika Donalds v. Lichter civil war of GOP grifters
The thing about gangsters is they’re always looking to muscle in on each other. Playing one side off the other is one of my favorite pastimes.
There is endless material for doing this in ruby red Collier County that able saboteurs can put to use. Start with this article I wrote; and make Byron or Erika Donalds account for their relationships with Larry Wilcoxson. Get it on an iPhone camera. Talk about it in a School Board meeting. Weaponize it however you can think to. You’re in Collier County, not me, so you know better than I do how to practically do that. But here’s the weaponry. Now create the battle they don’t want.
Sarasota County: “Proud Bridget” and Richard Corcoran’s looting of New College
Proud Bridget. Proud Bridget. Proud Bridget. Print up shirts for her and her grifter supporters, LOL. Make her whine. Make Proud Boys painful again.
You can further attach Ziegler to the hilarious Sarasota-based New College grift through Richard Corcoran. Make them own each other. They’re allies.
Start a “Richard Corcoran watch” about how he spends the DeSantis/Rufo grifter money that will flow for a year or two. I suspect he’ll find a way to put his notorious charter school enforcer and convicted witness tamperer buddy Ralph Arza on the payroll to do … something (LOL). Corcoran and Arza are an inseparable package. When that happens, use this against him.
As a weapon for undermining the export of the Florida Blueprint, Richard Corcoran is Rick Nolte on steroids. A spectacular combination of lazy, incompetent, and grifter. He will generate endless material if you pay attention to it in Sarasota.
Anywhere: weaponize the Florida Legislature’s buried 2017 study about why Florida’s state education system sucks — and “lib” states are so much better
You can read all about that in the article below. Florida’s government knows how bad our state education system is — and has known for a long time. They commissioned a study about it. Then they buried it. Rather than fixing the appallingly bad Florida state system, public and private alike, Florida’s gangsters want to forcibly export its total dysfunction to Massachusetts.
Demand that your School Board address and implement the findings of this study. Make them acknowledge its existence.
These are just my ideas. Your instincts, in your communities, are probably better than mine. Follow them. If you’re down for the insurgency, if you want to be a Florida Wolverine, we take all comers without command and control. There is no time clock. You fight when and how you can.
For what it’s worth, here are my most general personal principles of Florida insurgency:
Everything is personal. Weaken the avatars of Florida personally.
Trash talk their mythology.
Force them into silence or make them engage. And then make either choice painful.
Create content and narrative that other people can easily repeat.
Manufacture discomfort through creative (obviously, non-violent and non-threatening) person-to-person confrontation. Questions work very well when you can corner people who don’t want to answer them.
Enjoy yourself. Laugh at them. They can’t stand to be laughed at. They crave your sadness and are repulsed by your joy. It provokes them into errors — like Putn-style “blogger registration.” LOL.
Always be on offense.
Not done with you, Rick
I never stop scanning these people for weaknesses. It’s like passive sonar at this point. So I have all sorts of spontaneously occurring ideas and targets of opportunity.
But here’s one you can bank on happening.
At my leisure, at a time of my choosing, I will show up at a Polk School Board meeting and read Rick Nolte’s homage to small “T.I.T.S.” that “needed to be more developed” for video and the record. I’ll ask Nolte to comment.
He won’t comment.
And I will laugh at Ron DeSantis and Sheriff Grady Judd and State Attorney Brian Haas, by name, and all those supposedly anti-“groomer” GOP/Rufo bros who are fine with “T.I.T.S.” Nolte roaming the halls of your daughter’s middle school.
Then I’ll ask Nolte how he managed to report giving himself a felony $5200 cash campaign contribution — and how he still hasn’t explained it, despite the expensive help of a high-powered GOP campaign finance crime lawyer.
He won’t answer. And then I’ll laugh again at the silence.
Maybe I’ll do this next meeting. Maybe over the summer. Maybe October. It doesn’t matter. I have time and I have weaponry. And now Nolte gets to think about it every meeting until it happens.
State media — legitimate and transactional “bloggers” alike — will continue to ignore the ever so furtive DeSantis/Nolte bromance before and after this happens.
But the silence will keep carving out local political space for our pretty good superintendent Fred Heid to keep working as best he can at the local end of the corrupt and failed state education system.
Because we live here
Rick “T.I.T.S.” Nolte is a figurative Molotov cocktail I can toss whenever I want to — at whatever Florida gangster I choose. I conceive of him entirely as a weapon. My weapon. I own him even more than DeSantis does.
Someone I know and respect thinks I’m too hard on Nolte. My aggression makes him uncomfortable. To be honest, it makes me uncomfortable, too. I wish I didn’t have to do it. But I didn’t start a war on human decency using a small army of “T.I.T.S.” Noltes. I can only choose to fight or not fight it. Those are the options available to me. And him. And you.
You can hear a little bit of Red Dawn in that reality, too:
We live here. These are our communities that have been invaded; and our communities fought off those invaders in Polk and Jefferson. What if more come? What if toying with his guy Nolte provokes DeSantis?
I want DeSantis to come back into Polk and try to remove or defeat the board members who defied him and Grady Judd over book-banning. I want him to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his boy “T.I.T.S.” and talk about banning Beloved. I’ll be there taking pictures.
Polk County’s political capital and GOP leaders like the woke-ish new superintendent I gave them while they were whining about the fact that I actually did and said meaningful stuff as an elected School Board member.
So I’d love to watch them react now to DeSantis invading their guy — and making them choose between Fred Heid and “T.I.T.S.” Nolte. I can already imagine the possibilities to exploit in that dynamic. I am here for it.
So come out and play, Ron.
The Wolverines are waiting for you — and the rest of the Florida blueprint.