5 Weird Things Done During Filibusters

On June 15, 2016, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor and launched a filibuster. His goal, according to Politico, was "to pressure Republicans to accept legislation that would deny suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms and require universal background checks."

“I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way,” Murphy said. The filibuster is being livestreamed; you can watch it here.

The filibuster has been a controversial maneuver for well over a century. Both Henry Clay and Woodrow Wilson were vocal critics of the filibuster, with the latter claiming that it often rendered the government “helpless and contemptible.” Say what you will about the parliamentary procedure, but American filibusters have certainly produced some unusual moments, including these.

1. ASSAULT WITH A SPITTOON // MARCH 4, 1917

Robert La Follette was an antiwar Republican from Wisconsin who orchestrated a joint filibuster divided between a dozen sympathetic senators, which began on March 3 and stretched into the next day, incensing their colleagues. At one point, La Follette lost his temper and had to be physically restrained from hurling a brass spittoon at Arkansas’ Joseph Robinson.

2. SOUTHERN COOKING 101 // JUNE 12, 1935

“I have prepared recipes for many celebrated Louisiana dishes … people up in this part of the country never have learned to fry oysters as well as we have done down our way,” Huey Long said on June 12, 1935. Dreading the possibility that his political rivals might land lucrative New Deal jobs, the Bayou State Democrat prattled on well into the next day, providing detailed instructions for cooking gulf coast delicacies in the process. His filibuster ended when he had to go to the bathroom.

3. PREPARING A PEE BUCKET // AUGUST 28, 1957

The longest filibuster in the history of the U.S. senate was delivered by then-Democrat Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. What was it that he so vehemently opposed for over 24 straight hours? The Civil Rights Bill of 1957. And if you think your internship is underpaid, get a load of this: After a procedural trick was used at 1 a.m. to allow Thurmond a few minutes for a bathroom break, his supporters were determined that this wouldn’t happen again. Instead, his staff had an intern hold a bucket inside a nearby cloakroom so Thurmond could urinate, if necessary, while keeping one foot on the Senate floor. The bill passed anyway, but Thurmond’s technique was imitated during a St. Louis city hall filibuster in 2001. When nature called mid-filibuster, Alderwoman Irene Smith’s assistants covered her with a sheet as she peed into a garbage can.

4. READING THE PHONE BOOK // OCTOBER 17, 1986

Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) nearly broke Thurmond’s record while stalling a military appropriations bill in 1986. Struggling to fill 23 and a half hours of speaking time, he resorted to reading aloud from the District of Columbia telephone book.

5. SINGING “SOUTH OF THE BORDER” // OCTOBER 5, 1992

Filibusters can be boring, so why not throw in a musical number? Six years after his first filibuster, D’Amato was at it again and chose to break out into song when he took the floor to denounce a proposed tax plan. This one only lasted a measly 15 hours and 14 minutes (at that time, the House adjourned for the year, and the tax bill that the filibuster was targeting died), but an eye-opening digression came when the Republican began singing “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)” to satirize the outsourcing of American jobs.

BONUS: READING DR. SEUSS // SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

Technically, Cruz’s lengthy tirade in 2013 wasn’t an actual filibuster because it had no procedural impact on the vote at hand. But the Texas Republican made headlines when he read Green Eggs and Ham during his 21-hour critique of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

11 Inspiring Facts About Eleanor Roosevelt

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On October 11, 1884, Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City. Her lifetime achievements are almost too numerous to list, but these amazing facts should remind you why she’s still celebrated as one of America’s finest first ladies and diplomats.

1. ELEANOR WAS HER MIDDLE NAME.

From a very young age, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt much preferred her middle name and would usually introduce herself by it as she grew older. For the record, Roosevelt wasn’t wild about her childhood nickname either: Her mother, Anna Hall Roosevelt, found the girl comically old-fashioned and often referred to her as "Granny."

2. SHE WAS ORPHANED AT A VERY YOUNG AGE.

Eleanor Roosevelt as a young girl
Getty Images

When Anna Roosevelt passed away in 1892, her husband Elliott, who struggled with alcoholism, was exiled from the family. Following these tragic events, 8-year-old Eleanor was left in the care of her maternal grandmother, Valentine Hall. Unable to shake his demons, Elliott (Teddy Roosevelt’s younger brother) attempted suicide by jumping out of a window in 1894. Despite surviving this fall, he suffered a seizure shortly thereafter and died on August 14, 1894—leaving his children parentless.

3. SHE LOVED FIELD HOCKEY.

What did Roosevelt consider the happiest day of her life? The day she made her private school’s field hockey team.

4. ON HER WEDDING DAY, THEN-PRESIDENT TEDDY ROOSEVELT WALKED HER DOWN THE AISLE.

FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt
Getty Images

“I am as fond of Eleanor as if she were my daughter,” Teddy Roosevelt once wrote of his niece. On March 17, 1905—just a few months into his second term—the Bull Moose had the honor of giving Eleanor away on her wedding day. “Well, Franklin,” the commander-in-chief later joked to her new spouse, and his cousin, “there’s nothing like keeping the name in the family.”  

5. SHE ORGANIZED SEVERAL WOMEN-ONLY WHITE HOUSE PRESS CONFERENCES.

At the time FDR was first elected president, female journalists had traditionally been excluded from serious media events at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Eleanor helped to somewhat level the playing field by hosting a series of ladies-only press conferences, which pressured papers into hiring more women reporters and helped Eleanor win over female voters on behalf of her husband. 

6. SHE ONCE WENT FLYING WITH AMELIA EARHART.

The courageous aviator inspired Eleanor to apply for her very own piloting license and even took the First Lady out for an airborne spin from D.C. to Baltimore in 1933. Years later, after Earhart unexpectedly vanished, a grief-stricken Roosevelt told the press “I am sure Amelia’s last words were ‘I have no regrets.’”

7. SHE WROTE A SYNDICATED NEWSPAPER COLUMN FOR 27 YEARS.

Eleanor Roosevelt gives a speech
Getty Images

From 1935 to 1962, Eleanor composed six weekly articles about her political views and personal life. Simply entitled “My Day,” the column featured Roosevelt’s musings on such topics as Prohibition, Pearl Harbor, and Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt. A disciplined professional, Eleanor missed only a single week’s worth of material, following her husband’s untimely death in 1945.   

8. SHE DEFIED BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA'S SEGREGATION LAWS IN A POWERFUL PROTEST.

In 1938, the Southern Conference for Human Welfare held its inaugural meeting in Alabama’s “Magic City.” Upon her arrival, Roosevelt sat directly beside an African American associate, ignoring the designated whites-only section en route. After being told that Birmingham’s segregationist policies prohibited whites and blacks from sitting together at public functions, the First Lady asked for a ruler.

“Now measure the distance between this chair and that one,” she said after somebody produced one. Upon examining this gap separating the white and black seating areas, the first lady placed her chair directly in its center. There she defiantly sat, in a racial no-man’s land, until the meeting concluded. “They were afraid to arrest her,” one witness claimed.

9. SHE STARRED IN A MARGARINE COMMERCIAL.

In fact, Roosevelt advertised a range of products—from mattresses to hot dogs. Her appearance in the 1959 TV spot above helped establish margarine as one of America’s favorite spreads. This appearance netted the former first lady $35,000, which she used to purchase 6000 care packages for impoverished families.

10. SHE HELPED DRAFT THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.

Harry S. Truman appointed Roosevelt as a United Nations delegate in 1946. In this role, she became a driving force behind the U.N.’s Declaration of Human Rights, which over 50 member-states eventually worked together to compose.

11. SHE EARNED 35 HONORARY DEGREES.

FDR, meanwhile, only received 31 Among the institutions which bestowed degrees upon the First Lady-turned diplomat were Russell Sage College, the John Marshall College of Law, and Oxford University.

This article originally ran in 2014.

Uber Is Offering Voters Free Rides to the Polls on Election Day

iStock.com/YinYang
iStock.com/YinYang

Thanks to Uber, you have one less excuse for not voting this Election Day. On November 6, the ride-hailing service will waive the fare on trips made to your polling place, Thrillist reports.

Transportation problems ranks among the top 10 reasons registered voters gave for not voting in 2016. This year, whether you don't have a car of your own or just don't feel like spending the gas money, Uber will bring you where you need to go to cast your vote.

Uber will also do the work of looking up your polling location for you. When you open the app on Tuesday, November 6, you will automatically be shown a "Get to the Polls" button. From there, you can find your polling place based on your home address and book a free ride there.

Uber is also teaming up with the nonprofits #VoteTogether and Democracy Works in the weeks leading up to Election Day to encourage as many people to vote as possible. At the beginning of October, Uber began rolling out tools within the app to guide users through the voter registration process before their state's deadline. The company is also sharing information on how to register to vote with drivers and delivery partners as well as hosting registration drives at dozens of its employee resource centers.

If you aren't sure how to vote in your state, you can kick off the process by watching our video on the subject.

[h/t Thrillist]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER