Discover more from Public Enemy Number 1
How to reduce kings to petrified stone
A tiny hobbit tries to explain to the marble majesty of America's Sheriff Grady Judd and Publix owner Barney Barnett that they're just two more libs to own.
These articles are useful background, but not mandatory, for this article, which is mostly national in scope, although grounded in a local reality.
Partial Publix owner Barney Barnett and Polk Sheriff Grady Judd are Polk County’s apex of “soft” economic/capital power and “hard” law enforcement power, respectively. In shorthand, I use “organized capital” and “organized guns” or “Big Capital” and “Big Guns.”
Thus, Grady and Barney, as individuals, stand astride the flow of our county’s society, like Big Capital and Big Guns does everywhere. Moreover, the sheer scale of their personal capital and public profile means that both men punch far, far above the typical weight of local power. They’re like the epic king statues from Lord of the Rings — the Argonath, for my fellow nerds.
Grady and Barney have aggressively involved themselves in elected and non-elected politics and power distribution for years at all levels — from local to state to federal to killing transit and medical marijuana referenda to who runs the United Way.
[Full disclosure: Barney Barnett spent tens of thousands of dollars of his spare change in my 2020 Polk County School Board race to try to convince voters I am a racist who threatens Trump voters and hates Civics. Really, he did. Bygones. That fact has proved quite useful for the public goals I set out to accomplish and public voice I use to advocate for them. Don’t sweat it. It all worked out fine for me.]
I’m much more interested today by how quiet and/or flummoxed both of these titans are when faced with the racial rantings and lies of recent Lakeland immigrant Saga Stevin, who is splitting the Lakeland Republican Party and unifying every other citizen in community self-defense as she runs for mayor.
Barney is nowhere to be found — although his son, Wesley, is stepping up, much to his credit. And Grady, well, Saga is stripping Grady of his dignity and singular voice every day. It’s almost painful to watch.
So, from the point-of-view of a mere hobbit floating his tiny boat beneath their giant feet, I want take a moment to look upward and talk directly to Barney and Grady about why a woman who hasn’t lived in Lakeland for 40-something years and can’t tell the truth about anything has the capacity to reduce them to inanimate stone.
Dear Grady and Barney: this is why you’re paralyzed
As the apex of Big Capital and Big Guns, you both sit atop an order coalition you share with me and people like me, who are law-abiding, productive, honest citizens. But your politics publicly casts people like me as your arch political, civic, and economic enemies.
You don’t really want us as allies or peers. You often find us useful to demonize culturally and economically. After all, Publix funds Mo Brooks’ Capitol Lynch Mob incitement with my BoGo and PubSub money. Mrs. Fancelli, I’m sorry to say, paid for a big chunk of the “Stop the Steal” rally that led to the the Capitol Lynch Mob. And Barney, you personally and directly cast me as a racist who threatens Trump voters and hates Civics in 2020. This was, of course, a lie, which you knew.
By contrast, Saga Stevin and what I call the “National Murder/Suicide faction” of the Republican Party (and, yes, Donald Trump) do not share an order coalition with either of you. They share a cultural, political, Fox News, and sometimes an economic coalition with you. (The economic coalition question is complicated. Another time.) They share a lib-owning coalition with you. They have kept you in power atop your order. But they’re kinda done with that order now.
So understand this: any American authority today that tries to tell Saga-ism — or Trumpism — no on anything in public becomes a “lib” authority and subject to violent rejection by the national Murder/Suicide faction of your Republican Party. Saga-ism and the full Republican embrace of the cop-killing Capitol Lynch Mob make that brutally clear. You. are. libs. too, Grady and Barney — if you don’t surrender to them. And if you do surrender, you’re not kings anymore. You’re statues.
Here is Donald Trump, your 2024 presidential nominee, who you will both vote for and support, demanding vengeance this week for a supposed martyr of the Capitol Lynch Mob, who was vitally and righteously killed by a brave and heroic police officer, who also happened to be black. Full documentation of that here. I dare you to either agree with or denounce Trump in public. LOL.
As powerful symbols of authority, I think you can feel the complete rejection of your authority by your key sources of political and social power, but can’t quite articulate it yet. I’m here to help.
Own the libs vs. your social order
All those supposed libs to own, like me, make the order atop which you sit function on a day-to-day basis, as best we can, for better and worse.
You depend on us never to shoot the hostage of decency or order in any situation and always to submit to government-by-blackmail (i.e. debt ceiling, withholding school funding, threatening to fire teachers, etc.) because we care about the public good. You never stop using our decency against us. Ever.
Yet, you also depend on us to fight and hold off the face-eating leopards and spend our money and deliver our talents to sustain the order that enables your enterprise, power, and lifestyles. We do this through the stuff we build, the services we provide, the morality we advocate, the sick we tend, the children we teach, the vulnerable we protect, the citizenship we model, the neighborhoods in which we volunteer, the taxes we pay, or the groceries we buy.
You need the Murder/Suiciders to keep you in power; but you need us to make power worth having. That’s an American tension that isn’t going anywhere. It puts the core employee and customer ad taxpayer base of Big Capital and Big Guns at great citizenship and work peril from the Murder/Suiciders. Forget “democracy,” whatever that even is in America, this tension puts the very order you sit atop in great peril.
You have as much to lose as we do, arguably more — because we’re long accustomed to swimming amongst and caring for people who want to “own” us. That is the fate of the lib.
We also know this order you sit atop, that we enable, is neither just, nor very democratic, nor particularly developmental of national capacity or greatness. Its outcomes are determined mostly by who gets to inherit or marry into capital. The order you sit atop does not serve the development of human lives or the pursuit of happiness very well at scale for anyone not born into its royalty or gentry.
So I understand why people of all “political” perceptions would like to see the order radically remade — “left,” “right,” and “center,” if any of those words actually had any meaning. I also know that we libs lack the power to overthrow it outright and replace it with our fantasy worlds. We’ll never have that power. That is also the fate of the lib. We have to chip away at it over time as best we can.
Trump-ism and Saga-ism also recognize the fundamental injustice and moral corruption of your order. But unlike us, they want an even more unjust order — particularly for those lacking access to capital — and a completely corrupt order. They seek to channel discontent with the order you sit atop into lib-owning disorder — as illustrated by the Capitol Lynch Mob and endless lying and demonization of the human beings most socially and racially vulnerable in your order.
Lib-owning disorder wants to gain the power to define its own order, which, as Trump demonstrated once already, is nothing but corrupt disorder itself. They want disorder for the sake of disorder and personal grift for a personally “loyal” few. That grift-enabling disorder, the rejection of any authority, is the point of Saga-ism and Trump-ism. Just like the cruelty is the point. It’s a source of community for its adherents. You might still do well in that order, Grady and Barney. But it won’t be your order, and you’ll always be subject to punishment and indignity.
That’s precisely why you’re impotently letting Saga Stevin dance all over your faces right now. You’re afraid to make real choices between the order coalition and the lib-owning coalition. (Again, Wesley’s not. Props dude. Respect.)
In the order coalition you sit atop today, we’re all libs now, Barney and Grady, whether you realize it or not. Ask any of the titans of Big Capital and Big Guns who thought they could co-opt Trump and got emasculated and humiliated in the process. Ask Rex Tillerson and Gen. James Mattis, who represented much Bigger Capital and Bigger Guns than you’ll ever be, how well their co-opt strategy worked for them as people with dignity and status.
Surrendering to or attempting to quietly co-opt the Republican Murder/Suicide faction — as you are right now — erodes your authority and your quality of life. Perhaps yours erodes more slowly than others because you are very large statues — but your dignity erodes faster. It doesn’t take much erosion to make a giant king statue into a sad, weak ruin.
After all, it’s not my lib face Saga’s dancing on; in fact, I’m dancing on hers, whether she wins or loses. But that’s because I’m just a hobbit, not a giant stone king standing astride the river of America with no peers to engage, only unruly subjects.
What disorder looks like
If you doubt me, here’s a simple test: are you two having as much fun today on the throne of Polk County society and American life and the Republican Party as you were five years ago? Are you as proud to call yourself “conservative” Republicans? Be honest.
Are you excited to claim this disorder as your Republican party? If so, if you want to claim this, you ought to both be man enough to do it in public — loudly. Let’s take a pictorial tour of the Murder/Suicide faction (literal in one case) and how it connects to our shared home.
Now, it is true that I’m on the record urging all the various Publix heirs to take a break from politics after the events of 2020. So if Barney’s silence and closed local wallet is just his first step in becoming Barney Emeritus, then fine. That’s fair.
But it’s very unfortunate he decided to start his non-involvement with Saga-ism and Murder/Suicidism, of all things. Mrs. Fancelli ignored my recommendation; and I’m glad Wesley did too.
You cannot avoid choices — even as powerful as you are
Grady and Barney, if this isn’t what you want from the party and cultural coalition and national order you dominate, you have some tough choices to make. All of this will only get worse — for you and for the libs — until you face up to a pretty stark reality:
To appease and co-opt the Murder/Suiciders, in the years to come, you’re going to have to fully embrace them and make millions and millions and millions of good, law-abiding citizens and customers and employees like me into Myanmar-style dissidents to violently punish on behalf of Q-Anon and the Proud Boys. Where do you think “owning the libs” for the Capitol Lynch Mob and Jonathan Pollock ends? Firing the libs; lynching the libs; executing the libs. Listen to them. The logistical capacity and firepower exists for all those things to happen; it’s only the will of power and citizenship that prevent it.
Or — you’re going to have to confront the Murder/Suiciders with the rest of us before they consume the coalition of order that makes you who you are. To do that, you’ll probably need to remake the order you sit atop so it becomes a bit more just and developmental. Your party will call that “socialism.” It calls literally everything a lib does “socialism.” Other people will call it “capital investment in human development comparable to what you Boomers got.” I don’t care what you call it. But I’ll help if you’re interested. And you’ll still sit on top of that order. I can’t throw you off. I’m just a hobbit, not a giant stone king.
Either way, you have to choose. There isn’t much, if any, middle ground where you can wait it out in silence as other people fight it out and suffer for you.
I think a good argument can be made that the Biden administration is actually the last hope your order has to work in a halfway sustainable way. If Sinema and Manchin kill it; all bets are off. I do not particularly care if your order survives, on its own merits. It’s not a great national order. And in truth, your order is doing almost nothing to address any serious challenge the country as a whole faces. So it’s no great loss if it goes down.
But I do marginally prefer your order to a fending off an active National Murder/Suicide attempt. So I’m rooting for Biden and the Democrats (I’m not a Democrat) to succeed in nudging your order in a somewhat improved direction.
What — and who — are you rooting for? You should say it out loud.
As you decide, consider whether abject surrender to national Murder/Suicide would be great for sales or supply chains or murder rates.
Then pick a side: the Capitol Police and the FBI or the Capitol Lynch Mob and Jonathan Pollock. Pick a coalition: just order or lib-owning. Pick a person: me or Saga. The fact that these choices seem really really really hard for you to make says a lot about you both.
An object lesson: how Saga owned Grady
Back to a general audience now. Let’s watch Grady live this dynamic in nearly real time. Saga Stevin has completely owned the “tell-it-like-it-is” sheriff with Soros-gate and Endorsement-gate — like I’ve never seen anybody own him.
Saga has been speaking openly for Grady on the campaign trail, identifying him as her source for George Soros/Marixist delusions and lies. It’s on video.
And her campaign materials imply so strongly that Grady endorses her that it’s clearly a functional lie. Watch this hilarity unfold in the images below
Read the little part at the top on the first image: “Saga has support from our Polk County Sheriff Department…”
The Ledger had quite a good article about this a few days ago. Here’s a passage from it about how Grady jumped on sitting Republican Congressman Ross Spano a couple years back for the same fake endorsement issue.
In 2018, Judd took offense when Republican Ross Spano sent a mailer while campaigning for Congress that featured an image of him with the sheriff that implied Judd's endorsement. At the time, Judd said use of his photo was "misleading the voters, misleading the community."
Judd did not offer any such criticism of Stevin's flyer. When asked by The Ledger what differences there are between Spano and Stevin's actions, the Sheriff's Office did not respond.
“Did not respond.” Lol. And then see this absolute dagger from Saga from the same article:
Stevin denied to The Ledger that her mailer was designed in a way to imply Judd's endorsement, either by the included text or photo of the sheriff.
"People are drawing their own inferences, if they were following me, they would know better," she said. "If Grady Judd wanted to call me up and tell me not to do it, I wouldn't do it."
LOL. Yup, Saga’s got Grady’s number. [I kinda love her.]
Grady actually ignored my “clarifying” questions for days. And then he finally relented and sent The Ledger a milquetoast email, which is every bit as weak as his silence on Jonathan Pollock and the Cop-killing Capitol Lynch Mob.
All this contortion because Grady Judd — “Mr. Tell-it-like-is” — is too terrified to publicly rebuke a bonkers “back the blue” local mayoral candidate, like he did for a sitting U.S. Congressman in 2018. That’s how powerful the Murder/Suiciders are in Grady’s psychology and sense of himself.
He can’t hold a press conference and say: “I did not endorse Saga Stevin. I do not endorse her. I did not tell her anything about “Marxists” in Lakeland. She’s lying. She needs to keep my name out of her mouth now and publicly apologize for the functional lies of her mailer today — or I will endorse Bill Mutz, even though I supposedly don’t want to endorse in municipal races. And Lakeland’s police and fire unions have embarrassed law enforcement by signing on to her lies.”
Nor can he hold a press conference and declare: “Hell yeah, I support Saga and all her crazy racist lies; and yeah I told her about George Soros; and hell yeah, I’m rooting for cop-abusing Capitol Lynch Mob participant Jonathan Pollock. He’s a patriot! What are you gonna do about it? Saga forever, man. Make Lakeland great again.”
For the record, in the sheriff’s place, I would do the first press conference, not the second. But he is not me. And I would actually have more respect for his behavior if he did the second rather than did nothing.
Understand this, sheriff: your lack of a press conference is a press conference. You are speaking publicly right now with your abject, terrified silence. You’re telling the public Saga Stevin — like Jonathan Pollock and the Capitol Lynch Mob — owns you more than she owns any lib.
She’s taking liberties with the sanctity of your public person to advance herself politically with your meekest assent. If she’s willing to do that with you, think what she’s willing to do with everyday Lakelanders.
There is no chance you would indulge me with silence if I was lying on the campaign trail about things you told me or your positions related to me. Nor would I expect you to. I respect everyone’s humanity too much to lie about them, including yours.
It was one thing to get owned by the NRA’s all powerful Marion Hammer; but you’re gonna let Saga Stevin own you? Really? I can only LOL at that darkly. But it’s not that funny.
A dead end for everyone
The Republican Party’s national Murder/Suicide faction offers nothing constructive. It can’t replace the America it claims to hate with anything but national decline and disorder. Nothing but suicide. Lib-owning is not an ideology that creates anything but grift and pain and opioid death. Unfortunately, Barney and Grady’s current order has also created those things; and it doesn’t have any constructive answers to them, either, beyond more tax cuts for Barney and more guns for Grady Indeed, their order attacks any real efforts to address those real challenges as so much libbery.
As a mayor, Bill Mutz is actually trying to do some local things to address symptoms of the failure of Barney and Grady’s national order. That’s why I positively support him, rather than just target Saga. If Bill Mutz’s humanity and ideology and expansive view of citizenship and loving Christianity — not Barney Barnett’s and Grady Judd’s — represented America’s median Republican leader, America would be a much better place than it is. And I would probably not feel the need to annoy you with my public commentary.
Like Barney and Grady’s order, the Murder/Suicide faction dismisses Mutz’s concern for community well-being as so much libbery to own. And, of course, it has no actual ideas at all for how to approach any developmental or systemic challenge Lakeland or America faces except to pretend it doesn’t exist until the pain becomes too overwhelming to ignore and/or wipes us all out. And when the wipe out happens, the Murder/Suiciders will blame the libs with their dying breath. The pandemic shows that quite clearly.
The Murder/Suicide faction offers nothing but a digital community for the angry and the bonkers and the cruel — and some occasional venues to scream at people trying to be decent citizens in a difficult time.
So Saga Stevin can’t win anything even if she becomes Lakeland mayor because she has no goals. She won’t even tell me if she wants to bring the Confederate monument back. She just wants to publicly whine that the community removed it as its centerpiece. It’s her whole rationale for running. “Waaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I’m aggrieved by you libs. I’m so aggrieved, vote for me.” She wants retribution against a city she knows nothing about because time stubbornly moved forward in a linear way since her childhood.
But the faction she whines for can kill and destroy, figuratively and literally. They can “win” the national Murder/Suicide attempt simply by killing the America they claim to hate and then committing national suicide. I think the pandemic also shows this quite clearly at both the personal and macro-political levels.
Don’t kid yourself: the Republican Murder/Suicide faction will absolutely try to steal the 2024 presidential election if it can’t win outright — and probably the 2022 midterms. It is currently putting the state and local election officials in place to allow them to do both. If it wins outright, which it may well do, it will absolutely try to make sure there is never another fair election that Murder/Suicide Republicans are capable of losing. Just listen and observe and be honest with yourselves. Barney and Grady would play along with that, I suspect. But it won’t be their order anymore.
Indeed, the traditional leaders of America Big Capital and Big Guns are essentially cowering politically and morally before the organized, nihilistic governing disorder of this time. In part, that’s because a significant, but unclear, portion of individual law enforcement officers and owners of capital sympathize openly with the Murder/Suicide faction.
Police and the wealthy were very well represented in the police-brutalizing Capitol Lynch Mob, after all. A Publix heir helped fund the rally that spawned it. Grady Judd had to arrest one of his own guys because of his threats to the public and Capitol Lynch Mob sympathy. LPD’s and LFD’s unions endorsed Saga. It’s hard to both lead and purge that at the same time.
As illustration, just look at “tell-it-like-it-is” Grady Judd, who rolled tanks and police infantry into LPD’s jurisdiction at Memorial and South Florida and then invented a “riot” on paper when a few kids tangled dangerously with a car; who became Ron DeSantis’ go-to uniformed tough guy; who ran to cameras to promote a white supremacist hoax the day after the “riot” that didn't exist; who was the biggest destructive mouth on the Marjorie Stoneman Douglass Commission; who never ever met a camera he wouldn’t engage to own the libs.
Watch that guy now publicly cower before police-brutalizing Capitol Lynch Mob participant Jonathan Pollock and small-time agi-grifters like Saga and Hannah Peterson and Jimmy Nelson.
Reality check for old power
Watching Grady and Barney tells me that the Republican Murder/Suicide faction has a very good chance of succeeding in taking national power undemocratically in the short-term even if it loses elections.
Grady and Barney’s actions — or lack of them — show me scant evidence that traditional Big Capital and Big Guns will do or say anything to help protect its own order and stop open electoral theft or coup in 2022 or 2024. I lament this as I write it. I wish it was otherwise. But I don’t wish long. I try not to delude myself or live in paralyzing dread. I have only one life; and it’s rushing toward conclusion.
And “success” is a curious word for a national Murder/Suicide movement that lacks any actual goals beyond mayhem and lib-owning and grifting. Calling a petulant time out on American representative government would unleash extremely powerful and unpredictable civic and commercial forces. Some of those forces might prove powerfully beneficial to building a better American order. It is extremely difficult for anyone to predict.
Elections are not even close to the sum total of politics or power struggle or basic social order. And America’s really only been anything you might call a representative democracy for maybe 50 years. We’ve never had even that without the giant asterisk of mass incarceration.
In a future article, I’ll explore how we libs — Barney and Grady, too, if they want to help — might survive a National Murder/Suicide attempt and create a better order than we have now, which is basically National Murder/Suicide-lite anyway.
That survival and rebuilding will depend on what we libs who suffer for the common good contribute to American life every day and the weakness of the people who mooch that civic work and want to “own us” while begging for our approval and help at the same time.
In the meantime, America’s halting 50 years of multi-racial-ish, representative-ish Democratic-ish created an economic and social order that worked out pretty damn well for the Barney Barnetts and Grady Judds of America. They sit atop it today quietly counting their money and guns while the country flounders for a just order that existing power doesn’t want and will not help build.
I suspect, deep down, this is what silent titans of Big Capital and Big Guns mostly think about all this today:
We’ll use the Murder/Suicide faction to protect our funding and our tiny tax burden relative to the capital we own and our personal arsenals of assault weapons. And we’ll eventually re-establish our version of order and put down the Murder/Suicide faction when we need to.
We’ll see. I have doubts. I think the Murder/Suiciders are onto them.
And if they can’t even stand up to Saga Stevin in their own home to protect their own order, the duty to save America from itself will likely fall to us libs and hobbits. Like it always does.