“The Best Policy for Montanans Amgen”


“What is the best policy for Montanans and people across the country lies at the heart of every decision Chairman Baucus makes,” said Meaghan Smith, a spokeswoman for Mr. Baucus. “It’s as simple as that.”


I’m not going to dissect this story. What with all the hoopla over at Pogie’s Place, and Pete’s article below, it seems that there is a crack in the dem distortion field that protects incumbent, yet corrupt, politicians from the scrutiny they deserve.

In this case, Senator Baucus once again has been caught with his pants down, getting serviced by the health care industry — this time by Amgen and its lobbyists. It’s the usual story of revolving door crony capitalism: former Baucus Chief of Staff goes back to work in the industry, lobbies his former boss and plies him with campaign contributions, then manages to insert last minute provision benefiting company into the ram-rodded fiscal cliff bill with Sen. Amgen’s Baucus’ approval.

The story originated with investigative reporters at the NY Times, and has spread all over (half a million hits for “Baucus + Amgen” at google already) the internet, but as Mark over at PoM notes, “All corruption that has ever been reported on Montana office holders has originated out-of-state, and local media like Lee newspapers ignore it unless it gains s national traction.”

Yawn, just another day at the local Baucus corruption media newsline, relegated to a LTE submission.

In any case, if dems were really concerned about their politician’s corruption, they’d take quick notice, and begin casting a wide net for a replacement for Max (with all due respect for Ellie Hill’s distancing herself from the race). While Max’s last election victory (a 73%-27% shellacking of Bob Kelleher–one of his campaign managers called it “the easiest job I’ve ever had”) was basically a “gimmie” that the republicans ceded by not putting up a candidate, one can be assured that they smell blood on the water this time ’round.

And Baucus’ revolving door, that is emblematic of everything wrong with Congress, is certain to be his achilles heel. Acquiescence (i.e. lesser of two evil arguments) is acceptance at this point. Dems who willingly support Baucus will have to explain how they can overlook his corruption. The cognitive dissonance  MT Dems are going to experience over Max is going to be the single-most interesting part of the primaries lead-up, and the election should he make it to the generals.

I’ll leave you all with a small clip from Bill Moyers talking with a Congressman about this issue:

and a snippet from Moyers’ story:

“So the trail winds deeper into the sordid swamp beneath that great Capitol dome, a sinkhole where shame has all but disappeared. As reporters Lipton and Sack remind us, just weeks before this backroom betrayal of the public interest by elected officials and the mercenaries they have mentored, Amgen pleaded guilty to fraud. Look it up: fraud means trickery, cheating and duplicity. Amgen agreed to pay $762 million in criminal and civil penalties; the company had been caught illegally marketing another one of its drugs.

The fact that their puppet master had been the subject of fines and a massive federal investigation mattered not to its servile pawns in the Senate, where pomp and circumstance are but masks for the brute power of money.”

I guess there’s more than one way to pay a three-quarter billion dollar fine: buy a Senator or two or three, and get them to drop a little provision in a last minute bill that isn’t going to be scrutinized until the dirty work is done, and the prez has signed off on it.  

Maybe Pete’s question should be reframed: “Do dems want to do better?” instead of “can we do better?” Really, can dems find no better candidate? Or must all mention of it always be preceded with the disclaimer: “but we’ll vote for Max anyways” that assures him there is no real dissent in the ranks, or harm in continuing with his corrupt ways?

  1. larry kurtz

    Just to be clear: Rep. Hill is right on. Until Max says otherwise I have no choice but to back his efforts to ensure Montana’s progress from red to blue stays on track.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t let him know we are disappointed with his tactics; yet, your choice, JC, to present us as automatons if we agree with most of what he represents looks like just another excuse for a blog post.

    Few hate Big Pharma as much as i do and if Senator Baucus believes these efforts were necessary to build a bridge, he’s just as likely to help amend ObamaCare to make it single-payer.

    • JC

      So, you don’t think that Max’s behavior as outlined above qualifies as corruption?

      Or you are ok with his corruption because you “back his efforts to ensure Montana’s progress from red to blue stays?”

      This is what “cognitive dissonance” looks like, btw.

      And Max might “help amend ObamaCare to make it single-payer?” Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!

    • Steve W

      Baucus knows you are un-American, Larrry, because single payer is un-American, according to Baucus.

      i refuse to vote for Baucus. I didn’t vote for him in 2002, or in 2008, and I’m not going to vote for him in 2014. I pick the not- voting-for-Baucus-no-matter-what lane.

      I can write you in, if you want Larry.

  2. lizard19

    in this low-wage western state, I’m sure Max has spread his “political” capital in a manner that ensures he’s got the nomination if he wants it.

    it does make it a little less credible for MT dems to be complaining about ALEC legislation if they refuse to hold Max accountable for his obvious shilling for parasites like Big PhRMA, an industry, it should be noted, responsible for the death of MILLIONS of Africans.

    • JC

      Quick… follow the bunny!

      Even MT Cowgirl gets down on Baucus for his CU bill:

      “Baucus simply has no business complaining about corporate money in our political system. It is simply beyond the pale. It is an insult to all Montana progressives, and you deserve and apology for it.”

      Here’s what LitW has to say about it:

      “Even if it passed, would this fix anything? No. Would it stop somebody from being as corrupt as Max Baucus? Of course not. Is it a transparent attempt to co-opt the real reform movement with fake reform? Yup. Should you be offended he thinks you’re so dumb you’ll fall for it? Indeed.”

      Deploy a little critical thinking, Kurtz. Here’s what California Progress Report has to say about Baucus’ bill (and others like it):

      “The amendments introduced by Edwards, Baucus, and Kaptur have no automatic impact on the financing of American elections; they simply authorize Congress and the States to pass campaign finance laws without fear that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstitutional. This is a moderate approach, aiming to revive the reform legislation passed during the forty years before Citizens United.” [and they do nothing for the notion of “corporate personhood.”]

      Try again… you help to make the point!

      • larry kurtz

        Everything east of the Divide is North Dakota, right, Missoula? Produce a candidate or shut the fuck up.

        • Steve W

          I don’t have to produce a candidate and I don’t have to vote for the corrupt Max Baucus. I’m writing you in, Larry.

        • petetalbot

          We’re working on it, Larry.

        • lizard19

          larry, your angry ultimatum is childish. grow up. the reality is if Max runs, lots of folks won’t vote for him because of his obvious corruption, and that increases the chance of Max actually losing to an “earth hater”. I think there are plenty of MT dems who understand this, but because money = viability in American politics, Max is a powerful figure that political climbers won’t openly cross.

          if MT dems won’t hold their own accountable because they simply want to hold on to whatever power Max has accumulated by being a lapdog for corporate special interests, then anything they have to say about GOP corruption is shit.

  3. larry kurtz

    Rodolfo Villarreal, Juan Palacios, Keith Parker and Lilian Calderon carried out the study, “Gene inflammatory expression profiling in right versus left ventricles in young urbanites: What is the long-term impact of myocardial inflammation in the setting of air pollution?” The researchers are from the University of Montana (Palacios, Parker, Calderon), the Instituto Nacional de Pediatria in Mexico City (Calderon) and the Big Sky High School in Missoula, Montana (Villarreal).

    Missoula has a long history of wood-burning stoves and air stagnation alerts. Here is the really creepy part: these toxins are affecting the blood/brain barrier allowing bacteria from mice and dog feces to infect the hearts and brains of children in Mexico City. Higher dog concentrations led to increased rates of infection. The researchers concluded that:

    •polluted air can create inflammation, even in the hearts of young individuals
    •the right ventricle responds differently than the left
    •endotoxins play a role in the inflammation


    • JC

      What’s this got to do with the topic at hand? Besides that, your commentary isn’t supported by the study you cite.

      If your opinion is that Missoulian’s brains are infected with dirt and rat shit, well, then why don’t you just say that?

      In any case, I’m glad I don’t live in the Missoula valley.

  4. If Baucus is removed from office, next in Finance seniority is Rockefeller (who is not running for re-election). The next in line after that is Kerry (who is leaving for Sec State). Next up is Wyden, who joined the senate 18 years fresher than Max Baucus. That’s the time it take a newborn to be able to vote. That’s huge progress.

    But it all requires getting rid of Baucus. Otherwise the Rockefeller and Kerry moves don’t matter.

    • larry kurtz

      Tweet me the phone number of your dope dealer, Bob: you’re clearly smoking better weed than I am.

      • Those are just facts. If Baucus is re-elected and we retain control, he Chairs finance no matter how many corruption scandals. If he is finally removed from office (after 40 years), next in line for the next congress will be a progressive chair who has been polluted by the senate half as many years.

        Democrats are better off with Max losing. Period. Primary, general, doesn’t matter. He just needs to lose.

  5. larry kurtz

    about that log in yer own eye: put down the magnum, dudes: “…heavy water users” sought for Frenchtown site.


    you assholes.

  6. Central MT DEM

    But Max Baucus’ spokesperson has patently denied these charges? Who are we to question the integrity of Chairman Baucus of the Powerful Finance Committee? When John S. Adams questioned him about the same kind of pharma peddling during after the infamous removal of single payer advocates from the negotiation hearings, Baucus said he ALWAYS puts the interests of MONTANANS first? How can we question him? What do we know? After all, we’re just rubes out here back home, we don’t know nuthin bout what goes on in DC.

    In all seriousness, even if Baucus gets beat by Brian in a primary, or if he continues on with his senile babbling and shakey cagey interviews for another term, the joke is on us. Whenever he leaves office, he’ll know he’ll never have to be accountable for how badly he’s screwed the country and Montana. The actual amount of profit he’s created for his pet industries will likely never even be known for same reasons we will never know the exact number of water droplets in all the world’s oceans. Again, joke’s on us.

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