Crazy in the hinterlands.

In my perambulations here and there yesterday, I ran across this, linked to a link to a link I was following. I don’t know how I missed it in 2008. Titled “The First Time I Heard of Barack,” it’s a gem. Ahem:

During the period of roughly February 1992 to mid 1994, I was making frequent trips to Moscow, Russia, in the process of starting a software development joint-venture company with some people from the Russian scientific community. One of the men in charge on the Russian side was named V. M.; he had a wife named T.M.

V. was a level-headed scientist while his wife was rather deeply committed to the losing Communist cause – a cause she obviously was not abandoning.

You already see where this is going, don’t you?

Bitter, bitter T. has one too many vodkas and lets the truth slip!

“Yes, it is true. This is not some idle talk. He is already born and he is educated and being groomed to be president right now. You will be impressed to know that he has gone to the best schools of Presidents. He is what you call “Ivy League”. You don’t believe me, but he is real and I even know his name. His name is Barack. His mother is white and American and his father is black from Africa. That’s right, a chocolate baby! And he’s going to be your President.”

I waited for V. to wrestle her to the ground, cut out her chatty tongue or otherwise show concern for such treasonous blabbing. No. He lets his wife go on and on:

She rattled off a complete litany. He was from Hawaii. He went to school in California. He lived in Chicago. He was soon to be elected to the legislature. “Have no doubt: he is one of us, a Soviet.”

Note to “Tom Fife,” the author of this gem: When rewriting “The Manchurian Candidate” for dissemination to Free Republic-like websites, don’t stick too close to the original. It was brilliant to have Angela Lansbury be the ultimate bad guy in the original, but it’s OK to mix it up a little for the remake. Otherwise people call you derivative.

Funny that I should run across it yesterday, when the local news was full of stories about the Hutaree, whose name I’m still not clear on pronouncing — I think it’s Hoo-TAR-ee, and for what it’s worth, I don’t find them especially alarming, although maybe if I were in law enforcement, I might not be so blasé. But I think they’re a perfect example of what we started discussing low in the comments yesterday, representatives of a certain kind of rural hopelessness. Reading the Free Press and News stories about the group’s rural Michigan stomping ground was a short course in class signifiers:

He lived in two rusty trailers in Clayton on a messy yard strewn with toy guns, a flagpole and a Porta-John.

…Spurgeon attended the wedding of Joshua Stone earlier this month at the church and said he was surprised when the groom and other male attendees wore military-type uniforms.

…Donna Spurgeon said all the Stone children were home-schooled. They were smart, polite and artistic but socially awkward, she said.

Two generations ago, the Stone clan would have lived in a ranch house down the block from the Dairy Barn. The menfolk would have worked in light industry, as mechanics at the farm-implement dealer, maybe even as insurance agents or store owners. Everyone would hunt and go to the Methodist, Presbyterian or Lutheran churches in town. No one would be home-schooled. But something went wrong. What went wrong? Daddy hurt his back, and the insurance company just wants him to take his Oxycontin and shut up. Junior went up to Detroit to see the Bob Seger show and got carjacked; he won’t make that mistake again. Shelley got a job down at the wire-harness factory, but they closed a few years back, sent the whole shootin’ match down to Juarez. And now here we are, and the kids are getting married in camo. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

The News story has photos of the camo wedding, as well as the trailer.

As part of my research for this book I’m working on, I ran across this account of the New Bethel Church shooting case, c. 1969 in Detroit. You may notice many parallel elements with the Hutarees. Separatism, violence. Old wine, new bottles.

Some may point out that you know you’re crazy when the Michigan Militia is helping the police track you down, because you give their kind of crazy a bad name. All I’m saying is, it’s out there. And who knows what they’re reading on the internet.

Bloggage? I guess I have a little:

I was intrigued to see David Brooks’ column hed today: The Sandra Bullock trade. I was not surprised to learn it had nothing to do with Sandra Bullock, beyond a vague sort of anecdotal connection. That’s Brooks, however. And that’s why we have Gawker.

Ricky Martin came out of the closet. It sounds classier in Spanish: Hoy ACEPTO MI HOMOSEXUALIDAD como un regalo que me da la vida.

And now I’m off to the gym. Where are you off to?

Posted at 9:50 am in Current events |

36 responses to “Crazy in the hinterlands.”

  1. coozledad said on March 30, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Tom Fife sounds like a pen name for Scooter Libby. Is there any Bear on White Russian prostitute action?

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  2. harrison said on March 30, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Is Tom Fife any relation to Barney Fife?

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  3. ROgirl said on March 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    When I was reading the accounts of the “Christian militia” group I also thought about the parallels (and differences) with militant black groups in the 60’s, as well as Timothy McVeigh, who hoped to whip up a revolt against the government. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that he made his move during the last Democratic administration.

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  4. moe99 said on March 30, 2010 at 11:11 am

    ROgirl, that gives me chills. Especially as the anniversary is coming up.

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  5. Jeff Borden said on March 30, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I believe the teabaggers are planning significant marches on the anniversary of Waco. There was a poignant letter written by someone from Oklahoma City, who found the idea of anti-government protesters marching through the streets there a horrific image given the devastation of the Murrah Building wrought by anti-government zealot and racist shitbag Timothy McVeigh, who used “The Turner Diaries” as his inspiration.

    Regarding the Hutarees: Since they are religious fanatics eager to bring down the government of the United States, not unlike al Queda and its ilk, should these folks be waterboarded like Khalid Sheik Mohammed? Should they be placed in solitary confinement in a military brig for a few years, without access to lawyers, family or even the Red Cross, until their brains eventually turn to Jell-O, like Jose Padilla? Should they be sent to Gitmo or Bagram? Should they be tried before a military tribunal?

    I’d be anxious to see how the right-wingers who loathe due process when it applies to dark-hued men of Islam would react if the same tactics are used on white-skinned Christians.

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  6. Sue said on March 30, 2010 at 11:28 am

    moe99, you have reason to be chilly:

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  7. coozledad said on March 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    “The Obscure Origins of Barack Hussein Obama” would be a good group literary project, like “Best Erotic Fiction Alabama ’68”.
    Got to be better than all those Gram Parsons tribute albums. I’m honestly surprised no one’s taken this angle:
    “I was in a small music club on the Upper East Side in ’79 when I saw John Lennon sitting in a booth. I told him I admired his work and handed him a joint I’d just rolled from some shit my neighbor brought back from Hawaii. I didn’t expect him to say anything, but he was remarkably friendly. “You like Charlie Rich?” he asked.
    The next thing I knew we were sitting in his appartment with Yoko and the kid listening to Roger Miller on this really sweet stereo system.
    “We really fucked up, the Beatles. We knew there was no way we were going to top this shit. Almost sacrelige what happened, really. I’m gonna make up for it though. For peace…
    Me and Yoko have this all worked out. It’s all there if you listen to “Don’t Worry Kyoko, Mommie’s Only Looking For a Hand in the Snow” from “Live Peace in Toronto” backwards with the polarity on the speakers reversed. You know, the part where Yoko sounds like someone’s poured scalding water on a pair of fucking cats. I’d play it for you, but I’m too stoned to find it.
    I’m gonna fake my death and be the first Black President of the US , man. Partly to get back at that cunt John Mitchell. I already had Paulie ring up Michael Jackson’s face team, to see if they could reverse the process. It’s not gonna be cheap, and I’m gonna have to go to law school…”

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  8. nancy said on March 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

    My faves are the details: “Moscow, Russia” (I guess because this will be read by so many in Idaho); “the best schools of Presidents…what you call ‘Ivy League'”; “that’s right, a chocolate baby!” It’s like Boris and Natasha.

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  9. Dorothy said on March 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    for what it’s worth, I don’t find them espe­cially alarm­ing, although maybe if I were in law enforce­ment, I might not be so blasé.

    I did find it alarming because some time in the next year or so my son will probably be a city of Columbus police officer. He passed his written test and the physical, and he’s fairly confident he’ll sail through the rest of the process and enter the Academy later this year. He’s the first one I thought of when I read about those creeps (and you are pronouncing it correctly – I heard Brian Williams say it last night). They’re the kind of group that will give me nightmares when Josh becomes a police officer.

    ROgirl, your bringing up Timothy McVeigh made me think of where I was when I heard about the bombing that day. Josh had just turned 10 years old, and was feeling a little under the weather that morning, so I let him stay home from school. He went with me when I had to get a battery for a cordless phone and while we were at Radio Shack, they had televisions turned on. Live news coverage was all over the channels, but the kid working at the store didn’t know what it was. I thought it had happened overseas, and was stunned to find out it happened right here in the States.

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  10. paddyo' said on March 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Boris and Natasha, indeed, except without phonetic spelling of the thick Bolshevik accents, KOHM-rahhds.

    Not to besmirch the writing of Nelson DeMille, but when I read this Fife crap I immediately hearkened back to last month’s read in my book group. We had dipped back 20-some years ago for “The Charm School,” a rollicking, if now somewhat-dated, late-Cold-War thriller about a fictional secret KGB camp in the forest outside Moscow. Inside its fences, long-missing American POWs from Vietnam were the “faculty” who trained thousands of almost perfectly Americanized Russians to infiltrate U.S. society in advance of a bloodless “Red Dawn” takeover.

    Too bad Komrade Obama is “chocolate,” or I’m sure a “Boys From Brazil” scenario could’ve been cooked up — yeah, that’s it, the cloned spawn of Stalin.

    Where do these ‘Bagger Bozos find the time to dream this shit up?

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  11. Jason T. said on March 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I wasn’t surprised to see that the “Tom Fife” article was from, which is a website both bat-shit insane and completely fascinating. It’s like Newsmax as written by Hunter S. Thompson.

    Jeff Rense’s father was a well-known sportswriter, and his brother, Rip, is a music writer and producer who wrote one of the best newspaper novels I’ve ever read, called The Last Byline.

    Sometimes I wonder if is actually a giant performance piece, because it’s hard to believe that anyone could take seriously 1/10th of the crap that’s posted there. And if Jeff Rense is related to Art Rense and Rip Rense, maybe is just an elaborate hoax.

    At other times I wonder if genius runs in families, and whether it’s true that the line between genius and insanity is just very, very thin.

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  12. Deborah said on March 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    You are not going to believe this. As I’m sitting here at my desk at work typing this, a film crew is measuring my desk and all around me. They are shooting a pilot TV show on Sunday, April 11. AND THEY ARE USING MY DESK AND SURROUNDING AREA in the shot!!!! They say it’s a cop show called Rider’s Something or other, that is being shot here in Chicago. Who knows if it will ever make it on TV. They are trying to make our architecture office look like a contractors office for this segment they’re filming. I just had a short conversation with the art director of the crew. I would love to have his job. My desk is along the windows, it’s all open office, huge windows that look out over State Street (this is in the former Carson, Pirie, Scott department store). Our office looks really cool, I can see why they want to use it.

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  13. LAMary said on March 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    The show Miami Medical, which I think starts next week, is filmed here at my place of employment. My desk isn’t in it, but my door probably is.

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  14. nancy said on March 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    The art director for our little challenge films does a great job, and has worked a bit in real movies, as well. He and the other women who work with him are real artists, and total perfectionists. For example, in the eating scene from our last film, we bought some mismatched dollar-store plates, but they didn’t look beat-up enough. So they broke them with hammers and then glued them back together. I don’t think there was a single closeup of the table; they just did it for their own satisfaction. I love people who care that much about the details.

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  15. Deborah said on March 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    The name of the show being filmed here is “Ridealong” (one word or two? hard to tell from what I’m finding online). Jennifer Beals (Flashdance) is the lead and some guy named Jason Clarke plays a beat cop (I never heard of him). Beals will play Chicago’s new chief of police. It’s by “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan (I’ve never seen or heard of it or him). I don’t know if Beals or any of these folks will actually be in the scenes they shoot here. I never watch regular TV, but I’ll have to watch this if it makes it. It’s going to be on FOX. Yuck.

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  16. Dorothy said on March 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I met a guy who owned a jewelry store inside a mall in Greenville SC (more of a jewelry repair shop and he had some jewelry to sell, too) whose sister is the art director for Law & Order. He told me she had used photographs of him on occasion when she needed background photos in certain scenes. I just thought that was about the coolest thing I’d heard that year when he told me that! I felt like bribing him to have his sister put a picture of my husband somewhere in a scene – he loves to watch L&O.

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  17. Dexter said on March 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    in case you may be interested in the faces of insanity…

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  18. Joe Kobiela said on March 30, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Jeff B @ #7,
    hell yes,I also thought they should have shot the guy who thru the shoe at Pres Bush and should have executed the undie bomber on the tarmac in Detroit. Sorry but the first thing I thought of when the sniper got the guy in Waterloo was good, now we don’t have to pay to keep this slime in the prison system. Does this make me a bad guy? I don’t think so but Iam getting tired of it all. you break the law you pay for it. I don’t want to hear how abused you were or what alla told you in a dream or any other b.S. due the crime due the time. Period
    Pilot Joe

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  19. Dexter said on March 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Jeff Borden, #5 comment, bringin’ it.

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  20. Julie Robinson. said on March 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Dorothy, is this the National Guard son? I know some police families and have seen how hard it is for them when their guy goes out on a call. Blessings to him for being willing to take on such a dangerous, difficult and underpaid job. I’m so grateful for those who are serving selflessly. Especially with all the crazies around. You must be proud and holding your breath at the same time.

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  21. Sue said on March 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Well, this is pretty damn disgusting. Freedom of speech has just been protected in a pretty twisted way.

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  22. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Deborah, I once waited four hours to see Santa Claus in the basement of your building (back when it was still CPS). Good times, good times.

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  23. Dorothy said on March 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Yes Julie, Josh is in the Guard. He hasn’t done his OCS yet. He was there last June but broke his hand. He’ll get there eventually. The longer it takes him to become an officer, the longer it’ll be before he’s deployed (I think) so I don’t mind him dragging his feet on going to OCS. And yes, very proud but awfully nervous at the same time. Right now he’s a parole officer and he shares stories about clients from time to time. Like the guy he arrested last week, who, as soon as the cuffs came out and he was informed he was being put under arrest for a violation, announced nervously: THESE AREN’T MY PANTS! He found about 1/8 oz. of marijuana on him. Then he asked Josh “Hey man, do you have any advice for me about now?!” Sheesh.

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  24. rfs said on March 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I think that the Russians would be smart enough to pick a Conservative Republican for their mole – I can see W as the Manchurian candidate, with Barbara Bush in the Angela Lansbury role. Where was W really at when he was skipping out of the Texas Air National Guard ? Moscow ? He certainly did enough damage to be a Russian agent.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on March 30, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I had to look up OCS:officer candidate school. Don’t really know any military lingo.

    Meanwhile, I hope my gravatar finally shows up!

    edit: rats!

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  26. Dorothy said on March 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I think the Gravatars have a mind of their own and show up only when THEY want to, and not necessarily when we want them to! And also odd, at home when I open this web page, my previous Gravatar still shows up. But here today my new doggy one is showing up. jcburns – any theories?

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  27. jcburns said on March 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Yes. My theory is you’re way way way too fixated on the gravatars. See those words to the left, the..uh..comments? That’s the interesting stuff.

    No, uh, but seriously, served up webpages are cached at the server, images are cached in your browser, there’s a whole lot of cache-ing going on at any web site. All of this caching is for your benefit (performance-wise) but if you’re not conscious of when you’re hitting that versus live content, it can be a surprise.

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  28. Julie Robinson said on March 30, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    But, they’re shiny and new!

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  29. Deborah said on March 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    A woman who works in my office has an actor brother who lives in LA. He’s been in a lot of TV shows and some movies. She told me about one movie he was in, a very dark story about a drug addict. They used an old family photo of his in a shot of him snorting cocaine off of it. The photo showed the woman I work with and her whole family when she and her brother were youngsters. What a way to be famous for 15 seconds.

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  30. Dorothy said on March 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Well I’ve never been in a movie, but I did go see Letterman at NBC in 1987. Over the weekend I found the old video tape of that episode, so we popped it into the dusty VCR. He used to do this thing with an overhead camera zooming over the audience, and I knew it was coming during this one segment, so I turned around to look up towards the camera. We paused the tape and backed it up a few times to get the exact frame where you could SORT OF see me. My smart ass son got his cell phone out, took a picture of the t.v. screen, and put it on Facebook. His friends have been endlessly amused by it!

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  31. brian stouder said on March 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Dorothy – funny stuff!

    For most of the past two decades, we’ve lived right next to our local CBS affiliate, and this has gotten one or the other of us onto TV several times – which does make for funny videos in the drawer.

    When Senator Obama and his family came to Fort Wayne one Sunday during the primary race, I came within one very tall man of being a face in the crowd on national tv, but that’s about it.

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  32. Dexter said on March 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I rode the bus to San Francisco , up from Monterey. I had a day off, but I had worked all night in the hospital, so I was really tired. It was a very nice sunny day, so I stretched out on the grass in Aquatic Park and when I awoke the production crew of a movie named “Fools” was setting up for a scene…or maybe they were finished…I never did find out if I was a background actor by accident. The movie starred Jason Robards and Katherine Ross, but I never saw it.
    Then last year I saw the entire NCAA championship game of 1976 when IU beat UM.
    I was at that game and I was the first fan to greet Bob Knight after the game. Before, when I saw the tapes, I was cropped out. But, after 33 years, I finally saw the whole scene just as my friends and family saw it in 1976. I had about a hundred people tell me they had seen me on TV. No wonder. Knight did not appreciate my gesture, and called me “you god damn son of a bitch.” Oh well. I got over it really quickly.
    I had been on TV before that with my VVAW activities anyway, so it was no big deal.

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  33. Dexter said on March 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Twenty-nine years ago today Reagan was shot. I remember, I was in Philly for the NCAA tourney that year, too, same as in ’76. I remember it was a beautiful day. The NCAA took a lot of crap because they played the game…but maybe if Reagan had died, would they have cancelled? Maybe. They said they would have, but it was just in bad taste to play that day. The reason was this: They had 18,000 people there, all of them out-of-towners , most with plane reservations , most with hotel reservations about to expire. They decided to play the game and get the basketball show out of town. I think The Spectrum was booked for Tuesday, also. And Ronald Reagan was none the worse.

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  34. brian stouder said on March 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Dexter – I remember that controversy, now that you mention it.

    I was a big RR guy, back in the day, and nonetheless thought that it would have been ridiculous to have postponed the game. What would it have accomplished? As on any evening after a huge news event, the talkers had long since run out of things to say – and indeed, it did seem that the president was going to live.

    ‘Course, I had only just turned 20 then – so wadaya gonna do, eh?

    But really, I think that ‘when in doubt – go forward’. If the president had been dead or permanently incapacitated, and there was a transition of power taking place, then of course such things as the game would need to be postponed.

    But those were strange days, yes? In many ways, taking that bullet really made the Reagan presidency. He came back with gusto, gave a huge speech to a joint session of congress, and later that year fired all the air traffic controllers – which made him look 10 feet tall. Even the sputtering economy in those days, and the debacle in Beirut, didn’t really hurt RR….whereas getting Marines slaughtered like that – for no discernible reason at all – and then “cutting and running” would get our current president impeached.

    Strange days, indeed

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  35. Dexter said on March 31, 2010 at 1:15 am

    brianstouder: I’ll never forget one aspect of Solidarity Day in D.C. , 1981.
    It was September 18, 1981. I rode the longest passenger train since WWII from Cincinnati to D.C. for the huge union-sponsored protest against Reagan. We all rode the trains , nobody flew ,in support of P.A.T.C.O.
    At one point I stood right beside this huge contingent of P.A.T.C.O. workers, all of them fired by Reagan. It was s long vigil. Simple. One guy had a snare drum…”bum bum bum…bum bum bum… … patco” After a while it became mesmerizing. I still can hear it. Oh, how we hated Reagan.
    I am in this picture somewhere, but don’t strain your eyes!

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  36. Bob (not Greene) said on March 31, 2010 at 9:05 am


    Classic Bobby Knight — asshole supreme. I never did get what spell he had over Indiana folk.

    “Bobby, congrats on the biggest win ever!”
    “Fuck you, parasite.”

    Yep, that’s Bobby Knight. All he needed to do was grab you by the throat and the tableau would have been complete.

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