I recently started reading James A. Michener's Poland from my paperback collection. In the chapter portraying the events of the mid-1600's, Michener describes the dysfunction of the government created by the liberum veto. The liberum veto was used by the parliamentary body called the Sejm in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Any of the members of the Sejm could stop any legislative effort by simply shouting "Nie pozwalam" (Polish for "I do not allow!").
Just as the minority paralyzed the Sjem in 17th century Poland, Ted Cruz and his Tea Party colleagues of the GOP are using this old and failed tactic in the current debt ceiling debacle.