Look at Republicans to understand why you need to vote for Clinton
Much to my amazement, the Republican Party has put forth Donald Trump as their choice to represent their party in the next presidential election.
As I consider this, I don’t know why I should be surprised by this outcome. After all, this is the same party that gave us George W. Bush, one of the most unqualified, disastrous presidents in our country's history.
During his first year in office, President Bush managed to reverse the three years of Democratic budget surpluses into a deficit. He followed that inept accomplishment up by lying to the Congress, the American people and the world about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That illegal war resulted in the loss of 4,500 American lives, with thousands more maimed and wounded. It cost us over a trillion dollars and began a destabilization of the Middle East that continues today. “Mission Accomplished.”
He finished off his presidency by tanking the American economy, resulting in a stock market crash and the near collapse of our banking system and the American automobile industry. As another Republican attempt at trickle-down economics drove the unemployment rate to over 10 percent and the continuing loss of 100,000 U.S. jobs a month, we said good-bye and good riddance to this terrible president.
The mess that President Obama inherited presented an astronomical uphill climb if we were to avoid a continuing economic collapse and a full depression. You would think that Republican lawmakers would want to pitch in and help their fellow Americans get back on their feet. Even before President Obama had been in office for two years, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated to his fellow Republicans: “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deprive President Obama a second term.”
That is exactly what they attempted to accomplish by becoming the most obstructionist Congress ever, refusing to compromise on any of President Obama's proposals or accept invitations to the White House to meet with the president.
Instead of providing viable proposals to help our country recover, they concentrated on any action to block economic recovery so they could blame it on President Obama and thwart his re-election.
In 2013 Ted Cruz even led a government shutdown that deprived 2 million Americans of their paychecks for over three weeks.
Despite all the efforts of the opposition party, President Obama has turned our economy around with an unemployment rate of less than 5 percent and the longest period of job growth ever seen in the United States. The Republicans would like you to ignore the 200,000 new jobs being created every month and instead claim that the steady decline of the unemployment rate is due to people leaving the job market.
I, for one, cannot ignore the most prolific hiring push of engineers, scientists, steamfitters, technicians, administrative assistants, etc. that I have personally witnessed at my place of employment in the 30 years that I’ve worked there.
And now the Republican Party offers us Donald Trump as its nominee for president of our great country. A man who is such a brazen liar that he mocks a handicapped reporter on stage in front of millions of people and then denies he did so. A man, who during a televised debate has an exchange with a rival about the size of his manhood. A man who states that he will become more presidential once the general election gets on the way and then continues to insult his rivals in a sophomoric, reality show manner. While he and his supporters continually attempt to label Hillary Clinton as a liar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning publication “Politifact,” which tracks the truthfulness of candidate statements, tells us that Donald Trump is being untruthful during his rallies and interviews 77 percent of the time.
The short story is that this man cares nothing about our country and its people and is the most unqualified person ever to be nominated by a major American political party. He is defiantly a man without a plan.
Despite all this information and much more, the leaders of the Republican Party are so morally bankrupt that one by one they are willing to risk the future of our country by lining up to support their racist, unqualified candidate. This snake oil salesman never lets the facts get in the way of a truth. Those of us who still recognize the difference between a con artist and a qualified presidential candidate must get out and vote for Hillary Clinton in droves come November. Failure to do so would result in a disaster beyond anything you could possibly imagine.
We still have a long way to go to finish our recovery, but we have made unbelievable progress. We must not allow Donald Trump to make us the laughingstock of the world as he pursues his real goal — increasing the value of the “Donald Trump” brand.
Stop kids from using drugs through peers
The New York State Senate Joint Task Force on heroin and opioid addiction recently released its report and recommendations for legislative action to address what is being perceived as a heroin/opioid addiction crisis.
The report’s recommendations are grouped in four categories — prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement. This is a welcome change after several decades of a drug addiction policy that has been uninformed, unimaginative, profoundly uncharitable and racist. Most recommendations are embodied in legislative proposals that are already in print. I must comment on one of the prevention proposals in particular.
The task force addresses the need for prevention programs targeting youth with a bill mandating instruction on mental health, alcohol, drug and tobacco use in junior and senior high schools.
Senate Bill No. 5546A would require the commissioner of education to make recommendations to the Board of Regents relating to the adoption of instruction curriculum in mental health for junior and senior high school students and to provide school districts with current information on drug abuse issues.
The bill’s stated purpose is to ensure that “students be taught about mental health illness and stop the stigma that goes along with a diagnosis.
By ensuring that our young people are educated about mental health, the connections these illnesses can have to alcohol, drug and abuse, we can increase the likelihood that they will be able to more effectively recognize signs in themselves and others.”
All well and good. But we should would ask that the Legislature go further and mandate that our education policy-makers identify programs that will actually influence high school-aged kids to make right choices.
It is increasingly clear that the most effective messengers to get this idea into the heads of teens is their peers, not a lot of bureaucratically generated didactic material on which they can be easily tested and graded. We owe our kids so much more.
In 2010, I was introduced to Mentor International, a respected youth drug abuse prevention program founded in 1994 by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Mentor had just established a presence in the United States.
Mentor’s mission is to prevent drug abuse among youth while helping them identify and pursue their lifelong goals. Its approach is a combination of peer-to-peer communication and peer-driven community service. It partners with the business community, government agencies, schools, and parents to create healthy and productive pathways for youth. Since 1994, Mentor International has reached millions of kids in 80 nations.
With funding from the Rip Van Winkle Foundation, Mentor debuted in New York in recent months at three public high schools in Columbia County and one in Manhattan, the latter in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Silvia. Gunilla Girardo, chairman and CEO of Mentor Foundation USA, and her team have been working assiduously to line up private sponsorship for an expansion of Mentor to schools throughout the state. More recently, I have been introducing Mentor to elected officials, policymakers and community leaders here in Albany.
Mentor fills a yawning gap in our panoply of prevention programs for young people. In many places in the state, the DARE program, which employs police officers as its messengers, has been reaching elementary school kids since we launched it two decades ago. We have not had, however, an evidence based program that has as its target kids of high school age.
As found and reported by a recent heroin/opioid task force by the Assembly Republican Conference, the most effective way to influence this demographic is to recruit as messengers the only people that teenaged kids will listen to — their peers. Mentor offers just that approach.
The writer is the director of The Constantine Institute, Inc.