SHUTTING DOWN THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS (AGAIN)…. About a month ago, Sen. Richard Shelby, a far-right Republican from Alabama, decided to place a blanket hold on all pending administration nominees, including officials related to national security. Shelby said he’d lift the holds just as soon as his state was rewarded with billions of dollars in earmarks. Even for today’s GOP, it was an audacious, corrupt gambit, with no modern American precedent.

Shelby eventually backed down (a little), and lifted some of his holds. Two weeks later, the Senate approved 27 high-level nominees.

Now, the blanket hold on all pending administration nominees is reportedly back. Take a wild guess who’s behind it.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), says that Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) has placed a hold on all pending nominations now before the Senate. He says there are now “several dozen” nominations on the Senate calendar.

It’s unclear, at least at this point, exactly why the apparently unstable Kentuckian is blocking several dozen nominations. With Shelby, it was obvious — he was holding them hostage until he was paid off with cash. With Bunning, we don’t yet know the motivation.

Regardless, Josh Marshall’s reaction struck the appropriate tone.

First Shelby. Now Bunning. I don’t know what the pithy way to phrase it is. But somehow the Democrats need to capture for people that the true horror of Republican rule would be every couple weeks having some cranky, seventy-something guy from the South pulling a freak out, screaming at the country to get off his lawn and shutting down the government until the veins in his forehead de-bulge.

It’s additional evidence, as if more was needed, that congressional Republicans are simply out of control.

In about a month, there will be another recess. If President Obama fails to take advantage of it, making a series of recess appointments, he’ll be making a mistake.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.