Happy Birthday, USA
While its image fluttered over the California statehouse in Sacramento, the California Brown Bear was driven to extinction. The last one was shot in 1922. The UCLA Bruins are named for an extinct species. With the extinction of Ursus californicus, the flag of California has become a pathetic commentary on the mismanagement of our natural resources. With the Bald Eagle's removal from the list, America has dodged that particular humiliation.
Most people agree that Richard Nixon was, by nearly every measure, a terrible leader. In his domestic and foreign endeavors, he left a legacy of terrible failures. In foreign policy, Nixon's failures were numerous and severe :
- He escalated the war in Vietnam by secretly (and illegally) bombing Laos and Cambodia.
- He encouraged and aided the overthrow of Chile's government by Augusto Pinochet.
- He gave material support to Yahya Khan, the dictator of Pakistan, during Bangladesh's war of independence, putting America in a position of complicity in genocide.
But it isn't fair to remember Nixon simply for his failures and Pyrrhic victories. So, for today, let's remember Richard Nixon for his achievements on his watch. Among them, Nixon...
- indexed Social Security to inflation
- created the EPA
- proposed, signed and enforced the Endangered Species Act
- created the Supplemental Security Income
- created Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- helped create hundreds of state parks
- raised wages for federal employees
- implemented the first affirmative action program
For all his faults, Nixon's final act as president was to place his country before himself. He was in many respects a very poor president, but he still managed to leave behind a legacy important achievements. Every time you see a seal depicting the Bald Eagle, remember that it Richard Nixon helped save it. So, on this Forth of July, I'd like to salute Nixon's tarnished patriotism. Let his epitaph be, "In the end, he was a patriot."