Greg Gianforte: quiet on religion, still animated by ideas

Billionaire and maybe gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte—photo by Wolcott

Billionaire and maybe gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte—photo by Wolcott

Last time we checked in on Greg Gianforte, he had just cited the example of Noah, who was still working at age 600, to argue that “the concept of retirement is not biblical.” It was a pretty exciting quote, implying as it did that a man who had sold his own business for $1.5 billion A) regarded the Genesis story of Noah and the great flood as literally true, and B) wanted us to keep working until we died. The press had fun with it. It was kind of a shame, since this admittedly batty comment overshadowed Gianforte’s main policy idea, which was to encourage professionals who had left the state to “come home and bring their jobs with them” as telecommuters.

Montana has the second-lowest average wages of any state in the union. Unemployment is low, but pay is terrible. I was shocked, when I first arrived here for grad school, to find jobs for skilled carpenters advertising $8.50 an hour. Our per capita income is 38th, but that’s because of resource extraction, rental income, selling pieces of the ranch to Californians, et cetera. If you work for a living, Montana is a bad place to do it.

Gianforte’s focus on attracting high-paying jobs to the state therefore seems well-placed. Before he sold it to Oracle, the company he founded paid hundreds of employees around Bozeman an average wage of $92,000 a year. He is a tech guy, an engineer. He believes the problems in Montana’s employment system have solutions, and we can find them if we think carefully enough.

One cannot help but notice he has tweaked the system of his candidacy, as well. I sat down with Gianforte for about an hour last week, and he did not mention his religion until I asked about it. Even then, all he would say was that no one has the right to force their beliefs on anybody else. I found him likable and smart, and clearly excited by ideas—this time, classical economics instead of biblical creation. You can read all about our interview in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.

Religion v. the religious in public life

John F. Kennedy, who turned us all over to the papists.

Like Liberace’s dry cleaner, regular readers of Combat! blog may be at risk of Santorum fatigue. I feel your pain, but at the rate Santorum is producing stunning statements, he is either going to be out of the race soon or the most historically significant president of the modern era.  This weekend, the Penn State alum and holder of two postrgraduate degrees called President Obama “a snob” for saying that all Americans should be able to attend college. He also said that John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech on the separation between religion and politics made him want to throw up. Even if you can’t bear to hear any more about Santorum, the Times article is worth reading for the part where Mitt Romney bonds with fans at the Daytona 500 by mentioning that several of his friends own NASCAR teams.

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Okay, fine, Rick Santorum

The other Rick/other Santorum

Now that Combat! blog’s endorsement of Jon Huntsman has somehow failed to catapult him to front-runner status, we are forced to consider Rick Santorum. The former Senator and Very Good Boy from Pennsylvania is running third in the most recent Iowa poll, suggesting that he might conceivably win tomorrow’s caucuses. There is still no way he will become President. He won’t win the Republican nomination, either. The man who once compared gay marriage to sex with dogs and corpses will never win a national contest, for the historical reason that bigotry only works on the state level. And bigotry is Santorum’s whole damn raison d’etre.

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There sure are a lot of black people in this video


Monster metal props to Ben Gabriel for the link. For my money, this sort of video is where the mash-up culture of the internet most closely approaches art. You’ve got your juxtaposition of disparate elements—Slayer’s “Angel of Death” and footage from a bunch of Pentecostal churches where, presumably, they would not like Slayer—that evokes how sparate those elements really are. This sudden recognition of congruence is called beauty, or maybe just humor. I think this video is funny. The kid who goes hopping across the shot at :48—maybe not with total sincerity—is funny. The open headbanging at 2:25 is funny. The inadvertent lip synch at 2:53 is funny. And as skeptical and probably anti-religious as the tone is, it’s also a celebration of raw human energy, which is funny. My praise of this video would be unqualified, were I not so relieved every time a white person appeared onscreen.

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Canaries: Rep. Jack Kingston derides evolution on Maher

God blows on Rep. Jack Kingston (R–GA)

Before we get into this, I should say that I do not like Bill Maher. He is an outspoken atheist and a vaguely mean-spirited liberal, which means he inspires in me that vague discomfort that comes from watching a person you do not like say what you would say. Those of us who believe that sarcasm is not a form of argument do not enjoy watching Maher snicker his way through our deeply-held positions, which made his discussion of evolution with Representative Jack Kingston (R–GA, net worth $2.8 million, 2009 reported income $507 somehow) a real opportunity to see both sides of a coin of suck. Video after the jump.

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