Countdown: Broken Government

(co-blogged with Heather)

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With the news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering not letting the Senate out for holiday recess to prevent Bush from making recess appointments of egregious candidates like Dr. James Holsinger for Surgeon General, Keith continues his series of interviews with John Dean, author of Broken Government exploring the themes of his recent book.

Partial transcript below the fold:

Olbermann: Tomorrow the Senate goes on Holiday recess to celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday officially established by Abraham Lincoln to give thanks for finding a land of bounty in which they found freedom from King George.

RollCall.com reporting that Senator Harry Reid is considering making some Senators stay behind in DC Thanksgiving time to prevent President Bush from ramming through what are called recess appointments bypassing the Senate, because they're out of town and installing his own choices for key positions without a single vote in the Senate. Congress is already busy digging up and dealing with the deeds of previous Bush appointees like State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard whose stunning Blackwater testimony we told you about yesterday and about whom more in a moment. Now Senator Reid has his eyes on potential appointees such as James Holsinger Mr. Bush's choice for Surgeon General under fire for anti-gay positions in his church work and still yet to answer written questions from the Senate. We learn now from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that Mr. Holsinger resigned from a seminary board on Monday anticipating that Mr. Bush will circumvent the confirmation process with a recess appointment to the Surgeon General position over Thanksgiving.

Senator Reid deploying a token force of Senators in the Capital sort of a watch guard to block recess appointments from the President. How rare is this and what does it say about the status of our government?

Dean: Well it's very rare. It's clearly an exercise in process where the Democrats are at last trying to counter what the Republicans have been doing for years, is to use and abuse and manipulate the process. What he's doing is preventing the Senate from actually going out of session so that there can be no recess appointments when there was no session and... really has just enough to keep it legally within the bounds of a session. Uh, I think it's uh...I hope he does it. I hope he does it for Thanksgiving and I hope he does it for Christmas because not only the names you mentioned but there are a slew of radical judges that uh would also be affected, that he couldn't slide into the court.


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What Congress must do and they've done it in a few instances is write laws that do not let them do this. Give them a very limited period in which they can stay in that acting post then they're out. They need to do this government wide because the Bush administration has broken all records to prior predecessors in doing this and using this ploy.

Olbermann: This is the ethics watchdog. What do you do about the ethics watchdog when he apparently has no ethics or no memory?

Dean: Well actually he has a very impressive resume but the problem with the resume is that he has zero government experience. And since Bush I Keith they've been trying to use, to appoint the least qualified person to these Inspector General posts as they can, and
they have succeeded and I think this is a classic case of that very kind of action and it's become sort of a theory of how to downgrade this post.

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