To finish with Berwick-blogging and start in on meta-Berwick blogging, today's recess appointment shows yet again that the rampant use of the filibuster doesn't lead to gridlock so much as government-by-loophole (Keith Hennessey seems to think that the filibuster wasn't the issue here, as Republicans hadn't filibustered yet and were clearly just preparing to filibuster instead, but that's not my understanding).
Recess appointments bypass Senate hearings and they expire at the end of the next congressional term -- in this case, through 2011 -- if they're not ratified by the Senate. Which is all to say that like the reconciliation process, and devolving tough problems to outside committees, and letting the executive branch handle more issues autonomously, recess appointments have a lot of drawbacks, but they're not subject to the predictable and endless filibusters that now characterize modern legislative life. As I've said before, it would make a lot more sense for us to either decide that everything requires 60 votes and there are no options for evasion, or that everything requires 51 votes and there are few options for obstruction. But the current scenario of parliamentary one-upmanship is a nutty way to run a country.
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