Archive for the ‘American History’ Category

Does the Constitution Give the President the Legal Authority to Attack Syria?

Posted By Levi

September 11th, 2013 8:00pm

President Obama has asked Congress to approve a military strike on Syria. However, it appears that Congress will not give its approval. Nevertheless, Administration officials have insisted that the president have the legal right to attack Syria even if Congress refused to give its approval. Does the Constitution give the president the legal authority to make war on another country? No, it doesn’t. Yet many Americans hold the view that the President can take the country to war without approval from Congress. I simply cannot understand that view. The Constitution could not be clearer on this point. The power to declare war is found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution: [Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water. The language of the Constitution is absolutely clear – only Congress can declare war, not the president. It is true that the Constitution also says the President Read More

The Inspiring History of the Song ‘We Shall Overcome’

Posted By Levi

August 28th, 2013 7:40pm

From NPR’s All Things Considered: It is not a marching song. It is not necessarily defiant. It is a promise: “We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe.” It has been a civil rights song for 50 years now, heard not just in the U.S. but in North Korea, in Beirut, in Tiananmen Square, in South Africa’s Soweto Township. But “We Shall Overcome” began as a folk song, a work song. Slaves in the fields would sing, ‘I’ll be all right someday.’ It became known in the churches. A Methodist minister, Charles Albert Tindley, published a version in 1901: “I’ll Overcome Someday.” The first political use came in 1945 in Charleston, S.C. There was a strike against the American Tobacco Co. The workers wanted a raise; they were making 45 cents an hour. They marched and sang together on the picket line, “We will overcome, and we will win our rights someday.” . . . On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon Johnso Read More

The Story behind the most Iconic Photograph of Lynching in America!

Posted By Levi

August 26th, 2013 7:34pm


Over the years I have seen this photograph many, many times and I am sure, so have you. It represents the barbarity of racism in the United States during the Jim Crow period. The two young African American men were lynched in Marion, Indiana after they were accused of killing a white factory worker. However, I wasn’t aware of the full story behind the photograph until I came upon this NPR story that was aired a few years ago. (Thanks to Adam Serwer for tweeting the link)  Here is the story. Strange Fruit: Anniversary Of A Lynching by RADIO DIARIES August 06, 2010 4:30 PM Eighty years ago, two young African-American men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, were lynched in the town center of Marion, Ind. The night before, on Aug. 6, 1930, they had been arrested and charged with the armed robbery and murder of a white factory worker, Claude Deeter, and the rape of his companion, Mary Ball. That evening, local police were unable to stop a mob of thousands from breaking into the jail with Read More

The Hypocrisy of the Right on President Obama’s Birth

Posted By Levi

March 25th, 2013 1:52pm

Writing in Forbes, Rick Ungar alerted us to a blatant case of hypocrisy from the Right at their annual Conservative Political Action Conference last week. For the past few years, certain elements within the conservative movement have become obsessed with the false idea that President Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is unqualified to be the president. Ungar writes: “Shortly after Sarah Palin finished cooing over the introduction she had received from Senator Ted Cruz—during which the half-term governor reminded us that we need more people like the Texas Senator in Washington—Palin turned her attention to President Obama’s support for background checks for those who wish to purchase a gun. “More background checks?” Palin asked. “Dandy idea, Mr. President -should’ve started with yours.” Of course, to much laughter from the crowd. The hypocrisy stems from the fact that the man who introduced Palin, US Senator Ted Cruz, is seen by many in the Republic Read More

After 148 years, Mississippi finally ratifies 13th Amendment, which banned slavery!

Posted By Levi

February 18th, 2013 5:14pm

From CBS News: The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, was ratified in 1865. Lawmakers in Mississippi, however, only got around to officially ratifying the amendment last month — 148 years later — thanks to the movie “Lincoln.” The state’s historical oversight came to light after Mississippi resident Ranjan Batra saw the Steven Spielberg-directed film last November, the Clarion-Ledger reports. After watching the film, which depicts the political fight to pass the 13th Amendment, Batra did some research. He learned that the amendment was ratified after three-fourths of the states backed it in December 1865. Four remaining states all eventually ratified the amendment — except for Mississippi. Mississippi voted to ratify the amendment in 1995 but failed to make it official by notifying the U.S. Archivist. Batra spoke to another Mississippi resident, Ken Sullivan, who contacted Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann abou Read More

The US Senate Makes History: Now Has Its Highest Number of Black Senators Ever – Just Two

Posted By Levi

January 31st, 2013 7:52pm

The United States Senate has traditionally being a white man’s club. Of recent time, women have made some gains – there are now 20 women senators. But even at this number, women are still under-represented as they now make up the majority of the US population (50.7). The story is not the same with African-Americans. Throughout its long history, the Senate has never had more than one Black senator at any one time. But it has now made history by having two Black senators – William Cowan from Massachusetts and Tim Scott from North Carolina. In total, there has been only eight Black Senators. One of the eight being Senator Barack Obama. Here is the list. But don’t start rejoicing just yet as this history making might be short-lived. Both Senator Cowan and Senator Scott were not elected. Scott was appointed by the Governor of South Carolina recently to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Senator Jim DeMint. Similarly, Cowan was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts Read More

President Jimmy Carter – A True Leader

Posted By Levi

January 27th, 2013 11:56am

Jimmy Cater’s four years as president may not have been an effective one yet over the years since he left office my admiration for the man has grown enormously. Here is a former president who, since he left the White House, could have spent his time raking in millions of dollars giving speeches to think tanks and special interests groups. Instead, he has dedicated his life working for the poor throughout the world. One of the many areas that he concentrated on over the years is the eradication of diseases in poor countries. His latest victory is the elimination of guinea worm, a rare tropical disease. According to this CNN report, when the former president started the drive to eradicate this disease in 1986, there were 3.5 million known cases of the disease. Today, thanks to his effort, there are now only 542 known cases of Guinea worm left worldwide as of 2012. What a remarkable success. FollowShare Share this:EmailTweetShare on TumblrPrintMoreLike this Read More

A Few Words about “Lincoln,” the Movie

Posted By Levi

December 13th, 2012 7:32pm

I have not yet seen the film “Lincoln,” but plan to do so shortly. But many of my friends have done so and most of them believed that it is indeed a great film. The movie deals with President Lincoln’s efforts to push the 13th Amendment thought the House of Representatives in January 1865.  The Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States, had already passed the Senate a year earlier but passage in the House was uncertain. So Lincoln had to use all the methods at his disposal to get the bill through the House. The Emancipation Proclamation setting slaves free on January 1st 1863 was regarded by Lincoln as a temporary measure that would be ignored by the Confederate states after the War. The Proclamation declared freedom only for those slaves living in the states that were in rebellion; it did not apply to the slaves in the Border States. To end slavery once and for all, the 13th Amendment was therefore necessary. However, I would like to point out that several histor Read More

Will Presidient Obama Win a Second Term?

Posted By Levi

October 24th, 2012 8:14pm

I have been receiving a few calls and emails from friends who are strong supporters of President Obama and some of them are in near panic over the president’s chance of reelection. As one of them said to me, the next two weeks are going to be nerve-racking for him. I suspect this is the situation for many Democrats as they watch the race which is now a virtual dead heat with just two weeks to go. Some of them wanted assurance that the president will be reelected. Predicting who will win the election can be hazardous to your health. Voting is done by human beings and predicting human behavior is very difficult to do. Just ask some of the professional pollsters. I am just a humble teacher with some knowledge of the electoral process and based on my own knowledge I do believe President Obama will win a second term. In the national polls, Governor Romney currently leads President Obama by 3 to 7 percent depending on which set of polls you look at. But you need to keep in mind that to s Read More

What Happens if there is a Tie in the Electoral College

Posted By Levi

October 14th, 2012 2:23pm

A reader asked if it is possible to have a tie in the Electoral College and if we do, what happens. Because the Electoral College is such an anachronistic institution some weird things can happen.  Yes it is possible to have a tie. This already happened twice in the past – in 1800 and 1824. Because there are 538 electoral votes, both President Obama and Governor Romney could conceivable get 269 votes each. In fact, some experts think that this could be a possibility in the November elections. Here is a recent NY Times story, New Polls Raise Chance of Electoral College Tie, and CNN’s Electoral College tie possible in Obama-Romney race. If there is a tie in the Electoral College, the Constitution gives the job of picking the president to the House of Representatives. However, in this situation, each state has only one vote. A tie in November could mean that Romney could be elected the new president. Why? Because, Republicans now control the House and are likely to do so after the No Read More