US President Obama's health care reform saga has filled the media outlets of the world for the last year or so.
The extraordinarily long drawn out process of moving his bill through the two chambers, Congress and Senate (not necessarily in that order), has had a horrid fascination for anyone not well acquainted with the US way of legislating.
Even more fascinating, though less horrid, are the terms used to describe the various manoeuvrings on the journey.
In the end, as I understand it, the Democrats had the numbers in both houses but the Republicans had a final option of filibustering, the threat of which gave sufficient grounds, or perhaps motivation, for the Democrats to initiate a reconciliation.
The filibuster is a means of preventing a bill being passed by making an extremely long speech which delays a vote being taken. The idea includes the technical triggers which allow even more long speeches to be made. A determined filibuster can delay the progress of a bill by months.
What's intriguing is where the word filibuster comes from. Apparently it's borrowed from Spanish word filibustero and, when you look that one up, its synonyms include corsairo, bucanero and pirata, which gives you a fair idea of what are considered to be the intentions of the filibustering parties. It's a lovely thought that the filbusteros might attend a sitting costumed as Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. I live in hope...
The reconciliation which, on the other hand, forces a vote to be taken before a fixed deadline, seems to relate to the idea of becoming reconciled, ie being made to accept something inevitable but distasteful. From all reports it had little to do with reconciliation as 'restoration of friendly relations'.
And freebooting? Well, that's a direct translation of the Dutch word from which the Spanish, via the French, got filibuster in the first place. Nothing to do with shoes, just abundant booty. Arrr!'
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