This Day in History — Nixon Expands Social Security and Medicare Benefits for Seniors

On October 30, 1969 Richard Nixon signed landmark social security and Medicare legislation increasing much needed benefits to widowed seniors who now receive 100 percent of their deceased spouses Social Security benefits, and extended medical coverage to 1.5 million beneficiaries. The following is Nixon’s radio address broadcast the same day the legislation was passed:

Good afternoon:

A President signs many bills, but one that I signed today gave me special satisfaction because of the enormous impact it can have on the lives of millions of individual Americans.

I refer to the legislation known as H.R. 1–and especially to its provisions for helping, older Americans. Many of these provisions grew out of recommendations which I have been urging the Congress to act on for several years.

Let’s look at some of the things H.R. 1 will do:

First, nearly 4 million widows and widowers will get larger social security benefits–the full 100 percent of what was payable to the individual’s late husband or wife. This will mean more than $1 billion in additional income for these deserving people in the next fiscal year.

Second, over a million and a half older Americans who are now working can earn more income without having their benefits reduced.

Until today, if you were receiving social security, every dollar you earned above $1,680 cost you 50 cents in benefits–and every dollar you earned above $2,880 cost you a full dollar. But under the new provision-which I have advocated for years–you can earn up to $2,100 without losing a cent of social security, and every dollar you earn above that $2,100–no matter how many–will cost you only 50 cents in benefits. This will encourage more older Americans to work–helping them and helping the country. (Continue Reading)

On that same note, as baby boomers are reaching retirement age, extending these same benefits adequately is an ongoing subject of debate especially with America’s dwindling population replacement levels.

John Fout of thestreet.com wants to see sparks fly on Social Security and Medicare solvency tonight at the Democratic debate:

After the Sept. 26 Democratic debate in New Hampshire, I criticized moderator Tim Russert for the way he addressed entitlements. Not only did he obscure the issue for the public, he also tried to force the candidates to accept a solution: raise taxes. Russert and Clinton’s challengers need to improve their discussion on entitlements tonight.

Social Security and Medicare share a strain from aging baby boomers, but there’s an immediate crisis in Medicare. The trustees for Medicare say it will run out of money in 2019 — just 12 short years from now.

This Day in History — The Supreme Court Orders School Integration

schoolintegration10.jpgOn October 29, 1969, The United States Supreme Court ordered that all school segregation must be done at once, overturning the enforcing doctrine established in 1954 of conducting the order in “all deliberate speed.”

Before this issue came before the court in Alexander vs. Holmes Board County of Education, President Nixon had ordered a delay on lower court orders until each of the 33 districts in question had a plan to implement desegregation. Chief Justice Earl Warren disagreed, declaring that eliminating the obstacles to this delayed principle superseded a deliberative solution.

The issue of federal oversight of school districts continues to be an issue in the United States. In Arkansas Pulaski School District (Ak) is seeking to remove itself from the restriction of court approval in its decision making. Arguing that the district has reached unitary status (full integration), the plaintiffs also want to be free of school desegregation legal bills.

A judge who oversaw the first several years of the case ordered such a merger, but that ruling was overturned by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis, which said merging the three districts would be too drastic a solution. Instead, boundaries of the Little Rock and Pulaski County districts were adjusted, moving some schools from the Pulaski County district to the Little Rock district, while the court kept oversight of all operations in all three districts that affected integration.

In February, Wilson declared the 26,600-student Little Rock district unitary, freeing the state’s largest school system from court monitoring. But that ruling was appealed by a group of black parents called the Joshua Intervenors who are a party to the suit. Settlement talks between the intervenors and district officials are underway in an effort to get the appeal dropped.

The North Little Rock School District asked the court in September to declare unitary status for the 9,800-student district. That request is pending.

Also controversial to this case is the premise of unitary status. It seems the goal among positivists is to attain a balanced racial composition reflecting the district’s jurisdiction, in June, however, the Robert’s court ruled 5-4, against the constitutionality of reassigning students to achieve this template, affectively declaring that race can’t be used for the goal of campus diversity.

This Day in History — Rev. Billy Graham Launches Ministry

graham.jpgOn October 15, 1949, American icon and evangelist Billy Graham was improbably launched onto the national stage after what began as a quiet crusade in Los Angeles for his Youth for Christ Movement became a shared national experience that lasted eight weeks through Autumn of that same year.

Thrust by the hand of infamous newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, Graham became an instantly recognizable religious figure whose hopeful message would resonate to millions over the course of his career. More importantly, Graham’s brand of Christian revivalism transformed modern protestantism and tailored evangelicalism into the conscience of mainstream America.

Graham’s national appeal would also lead to long standing relationships with many of America’s leaders as he became a spiritual adviser to many of the nation’s Presidents beginning with Dwight Eisenhower.

Graham was particularly fond of Richard Nixon, who he believed was destined to become President.

Below is an excerpt of Grahams eulogy of Nixon at his funeral on April 27, 1994:

The great king of ancient Israel, David, said on the death of Saul, who had been a bitter enemy: “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel.” Today, we remember that with the death of Richard Nixon, a great man has fallen. We have heard that the world has lost a great citizen, and America has lost a great statesman. And those of us that knew him have lost a personal friend.

This Day in History — Arafat, Rabin, and Peres receive Nobel Peace Prize

180px-rabin_at_peace_talks.jpgOn October 14, 1994 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and PLO leader Yasser Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize after a series of negotiations that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords. Mediated by President Bill Clinton, the negotiated settlement granted self-rule to Palestinians in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and Israel agreed that it would remove its forces from these areas once elections had occurred. Peace efforts failed, however, when Arafat rejected a series of proposals at the Camp David Summit in 2000 that would insure greater security for Israel and territorial sovereignty for a Palestinian state. In a coordinated plan that coincided with then opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, Palestinians orchestrated violence against Israeli forces, giving way to a second Palestinian Intifada that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people on both sides of the conflict.

Today, the conflict remains all but solved, especially as politics have become more radicalized in Palestinian territories with Hamas in control of parliament. In November, a Peace Summit lead by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Annapolis, Maryland will seek to ameliorate this preceding fall-out from the Camp David Summit and outline a course for a two state solution.

Mathew Lee of the AP Writes:

On her flight from Russia, Rice said she did not believe her visit would produce the joint Israel-Palestinian statement or bring it to a point where invitations for the conference could be issued.

“I don’t expect out of these meetings that there will be any particular outcome in the sense of breakthroughs on the document,” she told reporters on her plane.

At the same time, she urged Israel not to do anything that could threaten the conference. The warning came after Israel’s renewal of a road plan that Palestinians fear is intended to tighten Israeli control over strategic West Bank areas near Jerusalem.

Israel says the project is not imminent and is meant to ease Palestinian movement. But those assertions did little to ease concerns.

“We have to be very careful as we are trying to move toward the establishment of a Palestinian state of actions and statements that erode confidence in the parties’ commitment to a two-state solution,” Rice said.

As long as she seeks to tie the hands of Israel for retaliation against its aggressors to meet this objective, it will only allow its enemies to exploit the peace for the prolonged political objective of violent jihad.

Iran sees the conference as an attempt to rescue the failing Zionist regime.

Meanwhile, Syria will be boycotting the summit.

This Day in History — France Forms 4th Republic

degaulle_bidault.gifOn October 13, 1946 France adopted its 4th Constitution following the destabilizing episodes that daunted the country during World War II. While attempts were made to hedge the volatility of parliamentary coalitions and decrease cabinet turnover, France fell victim to 26 government changes during the 12 years of the 4th Republic.

During this period of unstable government, France was also daunted by diffulties in their colonial adminstration as Algeria was vying for independence. The government’s failure to support the French Army as it struggled against pesky Algiers forces nearly lead to a military junta against the parliament’s three party coalition. Gaullists within the French Army, including General Jacques Massu threatened an invasion of France if Charles De Gaulle wasn’t placed in charge as head of government. Their wishes came true. De Gaulle returned to power in 1958, centralizing and increasing the authority of executive power as the first President under France’s 5th Republic.

One potential downfall of the power arrangement of the 5th republic are periods of executive paralysis brought about from cohabitation of the nation’s two executives. With a Prime Minister accountable to parliament and a President elected through universal suffrage, the designation of a governmental head from the opposite party possesses the propensity of wavering uncertainy and confusion of the elecotorate to who should be held responsible for the political consequences of bad governance.   

With Nicolas Sarkozy rapidly making political and social reforms, will the dual executive finally meet its an end? Institut d’études politiques professor Raphaël Hadas-Lebel says no. But look for Sarkozy to make the necessary reforms within the 5th Republic to fit his compelling agenda. 

This Day in History — Chamberlain, Dadalier Appease Hitler at Munich.

250px-peace_sign.jpgOn October 10, 1938 the Munich Agreement whose signatories included Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy finally ceded to Hiter’s demands possession of the ethnically German Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. In exchange Hitler made a commitment to non-aggression and dropped his petitions for additional territories.

When the agreement was first decided, Chamberlain stood outside 10 Downing Street and declared:

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

Unfortunately for Chamberlain his purported great foreign policy achievement became of the greatest gaffes in diplomatic history. His passive approach in dealing with a tyrant placated his constituency to meet his short-term goals of artificial peace, but paved the way for a German invasion of Czechoslovakia proper by March, then Poland by September of the next year, and soon much of Europe.

Edmund Burke characterized this type of passivity best:

All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

This Day in History — Khmer Republic Takes Power in Cambodia

744px-flag_of_the_khmer_republic_svg.jpgOn October 9, 1970, the Khmer Republic (1970-1975) was established as an emergency government by Prime Minister Lon Nol following the abdication of then Prince Sinhaouk.

The Sinhaouk government, legally neutral yet very corrupt, became very unstable and fell prey to internal political factions. The Khmer Rouge and Lon Nol’s army both attempted coups against the governent with Nol finally seizing power.

The Khmer Republic’s tenure, however, would be short lived as the US Congress reduced Nixon’s requested military aid by more than one billion dollars, abandoning Pho Pem to Pol Pot, whose 4 years in power can be characterized as nothing less than a mass homicide claiming over 1 million lives.

Henry Kissinger explains:

Cambodia was cut off altogether, with the argument that it would help save lives- a euphemism for abandonment, and a grim joke in light of the genocide that followed. In 1975, Cambodia and South Vietnam were overrun by the communists within two weeks of each other, putting an end to America’s emotional misery but not to Indochina’s.

Doesn’t that sound familiar? Today, Salon’s Camille Paglia disagreed, calling an Iraq comparison “a paranoid withdrawal fantasy.”

She even questions the ruthlessness of the Khmer Rouge:

We will never know how many horrific deaths can be traced to the ruthless dictator Pol Pot (it could have been half the number you cite), but they were not always due to “slaughter” per se. Hundreds of thousands of peasants died from starvation and untreated illness in Pol Pot’s madly unrealistic plan to turn Cambodia virtually overnight into an agrarian communist utopia.

Meanwhile in real life, leaders of the Khmer Rouge are getting ready to answer for their war crimes.