I have this friend who in the last five years spent three of them living in France. The relationship he moved there for fell apart, and he moved back. He bought a house out of tax foreclosure in a working-class suburb, and is living there now. He said one of the biggest shocks, readjusting to Michigan life, is going to one of the many big-box grocery/everything stores here — Walmart, Meijer, etc. — and seeing a certain sort of man.
“They’re big guys, overweight by 60 pounds or more. They wear these long shorts year-round. They have mullets, or their hair is shaved close on the side but long on the top and back. And they all have the same beard.”
Oh, like…maybe these guys?
Or these guys?
Or maybe these guys?
Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg pic.twitter.com/voOZpPYWOs
— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) April 30, 2020
Of the four guys in that pic, Nos. 1 and 3 from left to right were among the crowd of 13 arrested in the plot to kidnap the governor and/or the plot to storm the Capitol and start a civil war. As well as all the others whose photos are above.
Someone asked me to explain what’s happening in Michigan. The best I can come up with is a timeline of sorts. Contraction of manufacturing economy > loss of well-paying jobs > population exodus > social safety net gets holes > state falls from top-10 median income in U.S. to something like 37 > more population loss. Etc. etc. One day you look up and all that’s left are these guys. They work, sure — those guns and “tactical gear” they all hoard aren’t cheap. But something went wrong in their heads, or in the social contract, or somewhere. Mike Pence would say they’ve lost touch with God. Someone else would say it’s video games. I think maybe it has something to do with the cheese powder and artificial coloring that makes Cheetos flamin’ hot and Mountain Dew Red Zone. Some of them must have wives and girlfriends; do they not get enough sex? Or is the culture they found such a comfortable home in simply irretrievably broken?
After the incident described in the senator’s tweet above, the Michigan Capitol Commission took up the matter of weapons in the state’s Capitol building. (They set the building rules.) After months of wrangling, they punted to the legislature. Which has done nothing, as it’s dominated and led by rural Republicans for whom the right to take an enormous rifle capable of killing an elephant up into the visitors’ gallery of a legislative chamber is sacrosanct, and Sen. Polehanki ought to put on her big-girl panties.
The fact is, Michigan is two states. There are the urban areas, where there’s work and culture and the things that draw people. And there are the rural areas, where it’s beautiful and wild and the jobs continue to trickle away. Although these guys weren’t country boys, necessarily. Fox, the ringleader of sorts, was from Grand Rapids. He’s the one who had everyone meet in the basement of his (unnamed) business, “which was accessed through a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor.” This lunatic was really champing at the bit, too: “On June 25, 2020, Fox live-streamed a video to a private Facebook group that included (an informant), in which he complained about the judicial system and the State of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms. Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as ‘this tyrant bitch,’ and stated, ‘I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.'”
As for the rest of it, well, you can read the news. So many details. As my editor said today, it’s like these guys thought the governor answers her own door at her second home. Like they can watch her open that door, grab her, somehow make their escape via water (they were looking into getting a boat, somehow). They thought 200 good men could help them storm the Capitol, take it, and start a civil war. And they thought they could get a Realtor to show them around the gov’s summer-home neighborhood, for reconnaissance purposes. Anyone who has even looked for a $200,000 house knows you don’t get a Realtor’s time without pre-approval for financing, and now imagine in the gov’s summer-home district, in Elk Rapids, where summer homes cost half a mil or more. Looking like one of those idiots.
In other words, they’d had too many Red Bulls and flamin’ hot snacks and reverted to type.
What a crazy goddamn day. So what’s happening in Michigan? Simple: We’ve gone mad with the rest of the country. Your state’s day will come, too. This one was ours.