Grey Eyed Man of Destiny

Today when Americans hear the term filibuster, they think of an attempt by senators to block legislation in the Senate by taking a bill to death.  The term comes from filibustero meaning pirate or buccaneer in spanish.  In the 19th century the term filibuster was applied to individuals who sought to take over various nations in Latin America through military force, usually involving a revolution or a coup.  Usually the foreign filibusters would have the help of some native disgruntled faction within the target nation.  The 1850’s were the heighday of filibustering in the United States, propelled by the strong desire of pro-slavery advocates in the South to conquer new territory to form new slave Republics that would eventually be annexed by the United States as states.  Generally the filibusterers were hailed as heroes in the South and denounced as brigands in the South.  The most famous, and successful, of the filibusterers was William Walker, who admirers referred to as the Grey Eyed Man of Destiny.

Born on May 8, 1824 in Nashville, Walker was something of a child prodigy, graduating summa cum laude from the University of Nashville at the age of 14.  He went on to study medicine at the Universities of Edinburgh, Paris, Heidelberg and Gottingen.  The violence and romance of the revolutions of 1848 while he was studying in Europe had an immense impact on him as he witnessed how relatively small revolutionary movements could topple governments.  Eventually he earned a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  He practiced in Philadelphia briefly before moving to New Orleans to study law.  From law he leaped to journalism, becoming part owner of the New Orleans Crescent.  A restless spirit, he moved to San Francisco in 1849 where he worked as a journalist and fought three duels.

It was here that he decided his life’s work was to help carve out slave states in Latin America.  In 1853 he seized with 45 men the sparsely populated capital of Baja California and proclaimed the Republic of Lower California, and promulgated the laws of the state of Louisiana for the new republic, legalizing slavery in the process.  After attempts to conquer Sonora failed, Walker, running low on supplies retreated to California.  He was put on trial under the Neutrality Act of 1794 for waging an illegal war.  Walker was considered a hero in the South and the West, and the jury took all of eight minutes to acquit him.

An opportunity now dropped in Walker’s lap.  A civil war was raging in Nicaragua between the Conservative party based in Granada and the Liberal party based in Leon.  Democrat President Franciso Castellon worked out an agreement for Walker to brin 300 mercenaries to Nicaragua under the guise of being settlers.  Walker landed in Nicaragua in May of 1855 with only 60 men, but 170 locals and 100 Americans quickly flocked to serve under him.  On September 4, he and his small force defeated the Conservative army at the battle of La Virgen.  On October 13, 1855 he conquered the Conservative capital of Granda and was in effective control of the country.

Walker initially ruled the country through a puppet president Patricio Rivas.  President Franklin Pierce, ever eager to serve the demands of Southern fire brands, recognized the Walker regime on May 20, 1856.

Walker was riding high, but he made the fatal error of crossing Cornelius Vanderbilt.  In cahoots with C.K. Garrison and Charles Morgan, agents of Vanderbilt, who supplied logistical and monetary support to his government, Walker seized the assets of Vanderbilt’s Accessory Transit Company and turned them over to Garrison and Morgan.  Outraged at this treachery, Vanderbilt dispatched two agents to Costa Rica to give the Costa Ricans assistance in ousting Walker. The Costa Ricans had become alarmed by Walker’s talk of conquering all of Central America and declared war on him. Continue Reading


Nuke Them Till They Glow


The Democrats have decided to filibuster the nomination by President Trump of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.  There never has been the use of a filibuster to block a Supreme Court nomination in our nation’s history except for the case of LBJ who nominated Justice Abe Fortas, former Johnson mouthpiece, to be the Chief Justice in 1968.  His nomination fell to a bipartisan filibuster after it became known that Fortas, while on the Court, served as a Johnson adviser and, in effect, as an unofficial member of Johnson’s cabinet.  It didn’t help that, as in the case of the man who nominated him, Fortas was suspected of being a crook, a suspicion which was proved in 1969 when public outcry forced Fortas to resign from the Supreme Court.

The filibuster is a creature of the Senate rules, and like any rule in the Senate may be changed by simple majority vote.  Ridding the Senate of the filibuster is called the nuclear option.  The Senate went nuclear on November 21, 2013 when former Majority Leader Harry Reid, tiring of Republicans filibustering Obama’s lower court nominees, as the Democrats had the lower court nominees of Bush, pulled the nuclear trigger on November 21, 2013 to get rid of the filibuster in regard to lower court appointees. Continue Reading


March 8, 1917: Senate Introduces Cloture

Woodrow Wilson was no fan of Senate filibusters:

The Democrats controlled the Senate from 1913-1919 and Wilson hated the way that Republicans could bottle up his proposed legislation through the filibuster.  To mollify him, the Senate Democrats passed a rule change one hundred years ago that allowed the termination of debate on a two-thirds vote to invoke cloture.  Even after cloture each Senator could speak for an additional hour on the matter under consideration before a vote was taken.  Cloture existed more in theory than in practice.  Over the next 46 years the Senate would vote for cloture only five times.  There are several reasons why this was the case.

Filibusters added a touch of drama and comedy to otherwise dry proceedings.  The public generally enjoyed them as did more than a few Senators.  Many Senators prided themselves upon belonging to what they called the greatest deliberative body, and thought that the filibuster played an essential role in what made the Senate the Senate.  Southern Democrats, relying on the filibuster to stop civil rights legislation, were fervent supporters of the filibuster.  Many Senators realized that shifting political fortunes could turn a majority into a minority over night, and that the filibuster was the strongest tool of a minority.  Continue Reading


War Then

But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the people, towards a political system which betrays so many marks of infirmity, and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes. No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.

James Madison, Federalist 62

Harry Reid carried through on his threat yesterday to invoke the so-called nuclear option and take away the right of filibuster in regard to federal appointments except for the Supreme Court.  The vote was 52-48 with three Democrats voting in opposition along with all Republicans.  In effect the vote kills the filibuster since the majority may get rid of it completely at any time the majority wishes.  That this throws out some 225 years of Senate tradition meant less than nothing to Reid and his colleagues, desperate to turn attention away from the disaster called ObamaCare and eager to implement Obama’s scheme to pack the federal appellate courts, especially the DC Circuit, with judges who will uphold the actions of this administration.

The Majority in the Senate always hates the filibuster and the Minority always loves it.  There have been many threats by majorities to take away the filibuster, but until yesterday such threats were never carried out.  Why?  Majorities in the past always realized that one day they would be in the minority, fear of retaliation by the minority in obstructing  the work of the Senate and also a realization that the filibuster normally forced the majority and the minority to work together to some extent, unlike the House.  Such reasons held no weight with the Democrats yesterday, apparently the senators with Ds after their names, with three exceptions, lacking any concern with what the morrow will bring. Continue Reading


Rand Paul Defends the Bill of Rights

“I have allowed the president to pick his political appointees…But I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution.” — Senator Rand Paul (go here for more quotes)

Update: Senator Ted Cruz reads tweets supporting Rand Paul on the Senate floor.

Rand Paul has been filibustering the nomination of Obama’s pick to head the CIA, John Brennan. He is doing so because of a consistent refusal of Obama, Brennan, Holder and other administration higher-ups to clearly and unambiguously reject policies that violate the Constitutional rights of American citizens, including the right to due process prior to the deprivation of life, liberty or property.

I’ve been skeptical of Rand Paul for some time. I didn’t mind his endorsement of Romney, but I did mind his statements pledging unconditional defense of Israel in the event they are attacked. I don’t think this country should pledge unconditional defense of any country, least of all one with a nuclear arsenal of its own. His position on immigration isn’t quite what I would like either. I want it slowed to crawl and troop deployment on the border. He’s still playing the desperate “do anything to get Latino votes” game, a losing game for the GOP no matter what they propose. But I digress.

At this moment, there is no other prospective candidate for 2016 I would even consider supporting. Though there is still time for another acceptable candidate to emerge, today’s filibuster earns him major points in my book. It may be a largely symbolic gesture, but it is a necessary one. It lets the people of this country know that those of us who still value the Bill of Rights and view those rights as sacrosanct have an advocate at the higher levels of government. The value of this can’t be overstated.

I wish him all the best and my prayers are with him.

Oh, and read my latest post at Catholic Stand 🙂


Stevens to Retire

Get ready for Obama appointment, Round 2.

Supreme Court Justice Stevens announces he will retire in the summer.

Not sure how the timing will work on this, especially as Obama and the Democrats try to avoid being too contentious right before the November elections. That might play in our favor as far as getting a more moderate nominee. It will also be interesting to see if the GOP can or will delay the nominee as they have the 41 votes to filibuster.

The names being thrown around are the same ones being thrown around before; we’ll see where he goes with this pick. Time to start praying again.