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Filibusters Options
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 12:00:00 AM
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A filibuster is an obstructionist tactic used in legislative assemblies. It is particularly associated with the US Senate, where the tradition of unlimited debate is strong, and it has been used by conservatives and liberals for very different purposes. It was not until 1917 that the Senate provided for cloture—or ending of the debate—by a vote of two-thirds of the Senators present. Yet, despite many attempts, cloture has been applied only rarely. What is the etymology of the term "filibuster"? More...
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 3:12:35 AM

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Filibuster, from Pirates to American Politics

At first, “filibuster” referred to a “free booter” or “pirate”, who engaged in illegal activities for self gain; then it became “an endless discourse to impede the passage of an ‘unwanted’ congressional bill”.

Originally our current spelling of filibuster came to us from Dutch, vrijbuiter, a free booter (a “pirate” or “plunderer” a derivative of buit “loot,” to which English booty is related). According to The Oxford English Dictionary, in the 16th century, it was flibutor in English; then in the late 18th century, the French form, flibustier, was adopted into English. This form was used until after the middle of the 19th century. About 1850-54, English adopted the form filibuster, from Spanish filibustero and it was applied to certain adventurers who committed unsanctioned activities in the West Indies and Central America. “Filibuster” superseded the earlier flibustier even with reference to the history of the 17th century. The term was used to refer to 19th-century groups which were organized from the United States to illegally invade and revolutiionize certain Spanish-American territories. The best known of these filibusterers were those led by Narcisco Lopez against Cuba (1850-1851) and William Walker against Sonora (1853-1854).

Today “to filibuster” refers to members of a legislative group, especially of the U.S. Senate, who obstruct (or block) the passage, or vote, of a bill by making long speeches, introducing irrelevant issues, or introducing technicalities, etc. Filibustering techniques are done because those who participate in such actions don’t have enough votes to defeat an unwanted bill.

The earliest quotation about “filibuster” which was used in The Oxford English Dictionary, appeared in 1853 and the term is now chiefly used in the United States; but its use is not exclusive to American legislatures. Under Parnell, Irish Nationalists tied up the House of Commons for 26 hours in July, 1877.

In the January 4, 1853, issue of the Congressional Globe, there is the statement, “I saw my friend … filibustering, as I thought, against the United States.” The Congressional Record of February 11 states that, “A filibuster was indulged in which lasted … for nine continuous calendar days.”
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 11:48:03 AM
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prolong tactics
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 12:23:34 PM

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Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer during debate on rule change.

NY Times, November 21, 2013


WASHINGTON — The Senate approved the most fundamental alteration of its rules in more than a generation on Thursday, ending the minority party’s ability to filibuster most presidential nominees in response to the partisan gridlock that has plagued Congress for much of the Obama administration.

Furious Republicans accused Democrats of a power grab, warning them that they would deeply regret their action if they lost control of the Senate next year and the White House in years to come.

... Under the change, the Senate will be able to cut off debate on executive and judicial branch nominees with a simple majority rather than rounding up a supermajority of 60 votes. The new precedent established by the Senate on Thursday does not apply to Supreme Court nominations or legislation itself.
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 12:44:25 PM

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From: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939, starring James Stewart, directed by Frank Capra

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 film about a naive and idealistic man who is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

Script fragment from American Rhetoric Movie Speeches

"Smith: Thank you, sir. Well, I guess the Gentlemen were in a pretty tall hurry to get me out of here. The way the evidence is piled up against me, I can't say I blame them much. And I'm quite willing to go, sir, when they vote it that way. But before that happens, I've got a few things I want to say to this Body. I tried to say them once before, and I got stopped colder than a mackerel. Well, I'd like to get them said this time, sir. And as a matter of fact, I'm not goin' to leave this Body until I do get them said.

"Senator Paine: Mr. President will the Senator yield?

"Senate President: Will the Senator yield?

"Smith: No, sir, I'm afraid not. No, sir. I yielded the floor once before, if you can remember, and I was practically never heard of again. No, sir. And we might as well all get together on this yielding business right off that bat, now. I had some pretty good coaching last night, and I find that if I yield only for a question or a point of order or a personal privilege that I can hold this floor almost until doomsday. In other words, I've got a peace to speak and blow hot or cold, I'm going to speak it."
Barnacle Barney Bill
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 5:39:15 PM

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The filibuster should discontinued. The idea that one senator can hold 99 senators hostage is is asinine and unproductive.
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