In: Max Baucus. Montana Democrat Senator Max Baucus' rib-busting ox strength derives from his Chairmanship of the All-Powerful Senate Finance Committee. And President Obama -- learning from the failures of the Clinton Health Plan -- is letting Congressional Committee heads do the heavy lifting. This makes Baucus even more hideously powerful. Even as the President sets forth to deliver a push for his health care reform plan, Baucus is at the center, in many ways more powerful -- on the Hill, on this issue -- than the Obama. From NPR:
"Paul Blumenthal, a writer for the nonpartisan watchdog, the Sunlight Foundation, mapped Baucus's network of influence.
"'We have Max Baucus, who represents a single node as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee,' Blumenthal explains. On his computer screen, lines radiate from Baucus to five of his former Senate staffers. Two of them served as chief of staff to Baucus, the top job in his Senate office.
"All five now lobby Congress for various interests. Among their clients: the big drug-makers Wyeth, Merck, Amgen and AstraZeneca, plus the third largest corporation in the world, Wal-Mart.
"'In Washington, relationships are part of the huge game of influence,' Blumenthal says. 'If you don't have a relationship with someone on the Hill, then you aren't going to have the kind of access that you need for your client.' And so, he says, these lobbyists — and their clients — have a unique brand of access to one man at the center of the health care debate."
How does he feel about all this political power? From the NyTimes: "'It’s a lot of fun,' Baucus told me recently, which is something you don’t often hear a senator say."
In: National Geographic's "Locked Up Abroad." Have you ever seen this show? It is such fucking genius. Cautionary tales so as not to be a knucklehead and lose years of your life. They should show this to all incoming college students during orientation. It is a show that captures young Westerners making terrible mistakes and getting imprisoned in third world countries.
The show is an hour but it passes like seconds. This show should be shown on NBC during prime time it is so brilliant and needs to be seen by a larger audience. This blogger's personal fave is Locked Up Abroad: Columbia.