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The Corner

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An Open Letter to Sen. Lincoln Chafee



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This morning I posted an Open Letter to Sen. Lincoln Chafee on the Rhode Island blog site Anchor Rising. A shorter version will appear in the Newport Daily News. Nothing in it will surprise anyone who has been following the issue on The Corner or elsewhere on NRO. It won’t change anything of course, but at least some people who read it might see that Chafee’s all wet on the issue—but he is on so many other as well.

Does anyone know for sure the origins of the use of the word “filibuster” to describe tying up legislation in the Senate? The word, which comes from the Spanish for “freebooter” or “pirate,” was regularly applied in the ante-bellum period to pro-slavery Southern adventurers who raised expeditions to overthrow Latin American governments in an attempt to bring more slave states into the Union—Cuba, Nicaragua, etc. I am just guessing here, but I assume that it was simply extended to encompass the tactic of using the Senate’s rule of “unanimous consent” to protect slave interests, as John c. Calhoun did in 1841.



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