Friday, May 26, 2017


The Gianfortes

This Gianforte incident in which he put the moves on a reporter tempts me to do a lot of reflecting and investigating.  Is this the first time a reporter, particularly a youngish, liberal, bespectacled, unbulked young man has been thrown to the ground?  NOT.

“Last year, perhaps most infamously, a TIME photographer got choke-slammed by the Secret Service at a Donald Trump campaign event. A few weeks ago, a reporter in West Virginia was arrested inside the State Capitol for trying to ask Health Secretary Tom Price about the healthcare bill he supports. And Democrats in the US Senate just last week raised questions about why a reporter was "manhandled" for asking about a recent FCC vote on net neutrality, a.k.a. a free and open internet.”

What the heck is a “body slam” anyway?  It turns out to be a formal “move” used in exhibition wrestling.  It works for a big guy to take down a little guy.  The term and strategy are well enough known to be a movie title.

(Wikipedia quotes follow):

“A chokeslam is a type of body slam in professional wrestling, in which a wrestler grasps an opponent's neck, lifts them up, and slams them to the mat.” 

“Two-handed chokeslam
This move sees a wrestler first grasp an opponent's neck with both hands, then lifting them up and choking them before then throwing the opponent back down to the mat usually after choking out his opponent.“

What’s a “Body Slam” ?  Oklahoma Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who is a former mixed martial arts fighter was interviewed by Tom LoBianco.  He said it’s a range of phenomena from being pushed down to being picked up and thrown down.  He didn’t want to get specific because he didn’t see what happened and because he’s a Republican (he didn’t SAY that) but one witness just outside the door to the room saw the reporter’s feet fly up in the air which suggests more than just a push.

In fact, there were three elements to this assault: choking, throwing down, and “pummelling” — that is, striking with fists.  There’s no discussion of what made Gianforte stop, nor is there any evident trigger, since being questioned by reporters is too common to be surprising.  Gianforte was evidently "spring-loaded" and just snapped after only a question or two.

So that raises a string of questions.  What would make a politician snap when he was almost sure to win the election?  Why do it at that point in time, an event meant to thank volunteers and reward them with a barbecue?  Why do it in front of a reporter and camera crew who were obviously trained observers?  Why just leave quickly instead of making sure the victim was okay?  If the point was to grab the reporter’s recorder, why didn’t he do it while the man was prone on the floor, stunned?  What just happened earlier in the day?  How much was it linked to the fortunes of Trump?  A pending subpoena?  

As a former animal control officer, I know that the most dangerous dogs are “fear-biters” — animals that try to defend themselves disproportionally early and hard because they see everything as a threat.  Gianforte evidently sees reporters as a threat.  He fears them.  But where did he learn a formal wrestling move and why did he use it?  (We could ask Jesse Ventura.  But why are we electing professional wrestlers to what is supposed to be a dignified and deliberate status?)  Why not just shove the reporter back out the door, the way Trump shoved his fellow statesman out of the way, shaking his “plumage” afterwards like any rooster?

There’s an interesting omission in some repeated on air playings of the tape the reporter had.  Gianforte’s repeated bellowing of “Get the hell out of here!” is left in.  The reporter’s half-prayers exclaiming “Jesus!” and “Jesus Christ!” are edited out in some versions.  Luckily the Fox camera crew and reporter confirm everything on the tape, though they were “gob-smacked” with astonishment themselves.  But why leave in "hell" and remove "Jesus"?

CNN says we know two things for sure:

1. Gianforte will appear in court sometime between now and June 7 to find out whether he will be convicted on a misdemeanor assault charge.
2. Republicans, even if they wanted to, couldn't refuse to seat him. This was litigated in the late 1960s in a case involving Rep. Adam Clayton Powell.

So now we’re once more faced with getting what we asked for.  I can’t believe Rob Quist is heart-broken.  At least he’ll put the publicity to good use and maybe he even made a little money.  At this point he looks better as a candidate than he ever did before the election.

Tidbits about Gianforte, mostly from Wikipedia:

Gianforte and his wife founded RightNow Technologies, a customer relationship management software company.  He obtained a B.E. in electrical engineering and an M.S. degree in computer science from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1983.

“Gianforte co-founded Brightwork Development Inc., a software company, in 1986; he and his partners sold the company to McAfee Associates for $10 million in 1994.  He then moved to Bozeman, Montana.

"Gianforte founded RightNow Technologies in 1997. The company went public in 2004 and was sold to Oracle Corporation for $1.5 billion in 2011. Before the sale, RightNow Technologies employed about 500 people at its headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, and over 1000 people in total.

"Gianforte is a board member of FICOand chair of the board at Petra Academy, a Bozeman, Montana, Christian school."

On January 20, 2016, Gianforte announced his candidacy for the Republican Party's nomination for governor of Montana in the 2016 election.  He had a political practices complaint filed alleging he started campaigning before registering.   The complaint was dismissed.

In a campaign speech that year, Gianforte stated that he had been involved in discussions with Facebook about bringing a new call center to Montana, but that Facebook had declined because of that state's business equipment tax.  A Facebook spokesman disputed Gianforte's claims, saying that no discussions with Gianforte took place and that the tax was not the reason the company decided not to locate a call center in Montana. Gianforte stood by his statement saying that he had spoken with a Facebook executive the previous fall.

Publicly subsidized call centers in Great Falls left as soon as their advantage expired.

The following story, which first surfaced in April, was picked up by Quist.

Greg Gianforte, who is the GOP standard bearer in the upcoming special election in Montana, owns just under $250,000 in shares in two index funds that are invested in the Russian economy to match its overall performance.
Russia 'targeted Trump adviser in bid to infiltrate campaign'

“According to a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, the Montana tech mogul owns almost $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund. Both are indexed to the Russian equities market and have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that came under US sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the Crimea.”  

Gianforte has pledged to put all his assets in a blind trust if elected.  It remains to be seen whether he’ll actually do this, as he is closely associated with Trump who has creative interpretations of ethics practices. To put this in perspective, the Independent Record reports:

“The Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration includes Russian investments in a Developing Markets Fund managed by Oppenheimer Funds. Among the listed companies targeted by the 2014 international sanctions are Sperbank of Russia and Magnit PJSC, which has a supermarket chain. Magnit PJSC is also part of the Dodge & Cox International Stock Fund, another funding source for state employee retirement funds.

“The Montana University System Retirement Program includes the TIAA-CREF Emerging Markets Equity Fund, which lists Sberbank Russia among it's top 10 holdings.”

Whoooeeeeee!  These folks want to go back to the Cold War, but this time they are on the side of Russia!  And it remains to be seen whether Gianforte will be an asset for the Republicans.

No comments: