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The 48 Theses on Florida's Child Welfare Services.

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It is national election season again and all the pundits and politicians are bellowing about jobs, jobs, jobs. I don’t have a job. I am looking for one but to no avail. I live in Florida,  a strange land where people expect to have a robust job market when half of the population are about to push up daisies. Plus most of the minorities are either locked up, ex-felons or illegal immigrants. But yet politicians want a rosy job market. Say, we get a large number of people back to work. Would that solve anything? I don’t believe for one second that fix would solve the under-lining problem most Americans have. They spend money they don’t have, they want quick money without expending the energy to earn it, and they are flat-out lethargic workers. Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might, a wise man once said.
When was the last time you walked away thoroughly pleased from a place of business in the service industry? I can’t honestly remember. I find customer service workers  in Florida to be ghastly and ill-tempered. Their bad mood is very viral. People can have access to jobs but are we seriously going to believe that will bring happiness, peace and satisfaction? When will politicians understand that a steady job does not guarantee happiness. Most people who have jobs struggle to feel content with them. They barely do their jobs with all their might. One would think receiving a paycheck and having a steady job would galvanize people to work harder and better. But it does not.
I find it fruitless for people clamoring for more jobs. I don’t have a job but I am content with my life. I am still alive. I spend time with my family. Money is low but I still eat decent meals and I find time to enjoy myself. I find that I appreciate the little things in life better. I believe whichever job I get now, I will work hard and try to do my best because I am content with myself long before I start working. I will work not because I am receiving a pay check.  That is not my motivation. I will work and do my utmost best because I want to leave a good impression each day. Whatever you find yourself doing work-wise, do it to the best of your ability. America needs more content people who are willing to work not because of their paychecks but because they are more interested in excellent service, job satisfaction and massive productivity. Isn’t it ironic the politicians who are bellowing about jobs aren’t doing theirs?

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Several years ago, I took a HIV test in order to fulfill an annoying job requirement in South Korea. My results came in but not from the doctor to me but from the doctor’s office straight to the front desk of my-soon-to-be-workplace. Then after the paper work came through the fax machine, a secretary handed it to the director, who proceeded to blurt out the status of said results: Bryan, your HIV result-uh is negative–good job!

Please, can someone show me which window did my privacy rights went through? It is ludicrous. I was mortified when the director broadcasted my business. Suppose the results were positive? I guess then, I’d just smile wryly and then swallow my fate. Not only that, he thought he would provide an impromptu English listening exercise at my expense, for the students waiting at the front desk.

I am begging the Ministry of Health (MH) in South Korea to move the country forward and make patients privacy rights paramount in the ensuing months. I wish the example above was the only embarrassing moment but it most certainly is not. On another visit to a different doctor’s office for a drug test, some nurses came inside to converse with me in broken English, after a while, the doctor and they were talking about my business above normal, conversing, decibel levels. They even did a brief Q & A to some nosy patients asking about my nationality and reasons for being at the doctor’s office.  I feel sorry for patients with super-private medical conditions. They go to some doctors thinking their privacy rights exist but they don’t. Frankly, many Koreans and expat residents visit medical offices at their own peril.

Privacy rights are very important but not in Korea. These medical folks take this saying too literally: Sharing is caring. One can’t help but cringe to go to doctors here. I’m afraid of going because certain conditions carry weighty stigmas. No wonder most Korean women don’t know what birth controls do  nor do they take them, for fear their community will assume they are slack. These folks take collectivism to a whole new level. Just recently, The Jeonju Hub ran an ad for a doctor who promises to respect his patient’s privacy concerns. To whom does he extend his open arms? Expat clients. Clearly, Koreans don’t share those concerns. I wonder if it is even a cultural value. Said doctor promised there is nothing to worry about. Phew! But how many clinics and hospitals can say the same? Not a lot. So get to work Mr. Minister of Health. There are some expats who refuse to declare their medical conditions or prescriptions to their superiors. Why? Most Koreans stigmatize certain complex medical issues. And doctors being Korean too, fall prey to that shortcoming. What’s their solution? Add to the patient’s trauma by broadcasting his condition or treating him or her like shit.  I am just saying  MH get it together.

Recently, a well-disliked government entity became a ubiquitous re-occurring story in the news. The news capture at least one story a week in which someone has had with the chummy fingers of  those who work for the great Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA (a great bastion against terrorists) was George Bush Jr’s brainchild straight from the loins of the parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.

Never has America had an agency brazenly all up on its citizens. Most people can’t evade the inevitable rendezvous with them because those of us familiar with the geography of America, know far too well it is unwise not to travel by plane from point A to B.

Maybe traveling by plane in the US is not so bad. There are a group of people who’d disagree with me. They know they have to go through security checkpoints and be screened too. Yet, most travelers strongly believe TSA agents are over-zealous. They are too quick to pat down and “grope” people. Most people who endured this treatment feel violated. I tend to side with the victim in most situations and I have just the remedy for them. This act would take courage. And having a strong sense of oneself. It doesn’t need any razor-sharp words to slice through bullshit. Nor would it need any over-the-top action to make a statement against the TSA staff. All one needs is to let his body do what it does best.

There are some unlucky individuals who can’t stand the unsavory behavior they experienced at various airports across America. Their stories are similar: a-drunk-on-power-TSA-agent violated their privacy. Take Jacob Wisnik a ten year old boy and a diabetic. For his troubles, he has to wear a special pump. While at the airport, the pump triggered the alarm and the TSA agent descended on the poor lad. Of course he pat down the harmless lad. But not just the standard one but he fondled the poor kid all over his body. The kid thought he was getting ready to go to prison. For most of his life, he was told not to allow anyone to go near his private parts but the TSA worker was making sure he was working to keep the lad safe.

Critics cried foul again about the time another TSA agent patted down a three-year old boy in a wheel chair with a leg cast. Or what about the lady who sobbed while she was getting her “Airport security massage.” Better yet, a man wanting to take a stand (literally butt naked) did so in front of god and everyone. John Brennan who comes from Oregon thought he’d remind America why his state is the Hippie capital.

Next, a recent article featured Henry Kissinger the former Secretary of State given a full pat down at Laguardia airport. The poor fools did not even recognize the 88-year-old. So much for being a-world-renowned-elder-statesman. It goes to show no one is immune from the prying clutches of the defenders of our freedom. I was not lucky to escape either. Yours truly have also been “violated” too. One day while traveling  from Washington D.C, I was about to go through the new and improved body scanner and the staff person said, “You don’t have to go through the scanner, it is optional.” So I exercised my right to choose and said I will opt out.

Damn! Who told me to decline? It is as if I had threatened the poor man’s life. He reached for his radio and screeched: “Opt out, opt out…we’ve got a opt out.” I was quickly guided to a swarthy-unkempt TSA staff (a bloke–super lame should have been a damsel) to receive my mandated “Airport security massage.” Let’s just say, if there was ever a time I really wanted to do something harmless to defend myself, that particular situation would have been perfect. Later upon reflection I thought about what could I have done that would ‘pack a punch’ and be harmless simultaneously. That is when it hit me, I need to exhibit my displeasure in such a way, it doesn’t land me in jail but it makes a solid point. Not only that, it has to be funny too, an action that almost anyone can do and he or she will feel triumphant (That is if one can easily discard some rules of etiquette). Plus, is it repulsive?

I’d like to encourage travelers to do this the next time they are going to travel especially if they vehemently dislike over-zealousness TSA workers. A sinister but effective way to get back at them while they are patting you down is to do the unthinkable in public–let out a massive and ghastly fart in their presence. Can you imagine someone patting you down while you are letting them rip? On top of that, it’s stinky and revolting too and he or she has to be around you. What is he or she going to say? You are guilty of releasing gas in public? I think not! Clearly, there aren’t any laws against farting. I say we should put aside our proper manners and let ’em rip. In fact, eat that food item that causes you to have the worst smelling farts.  When you arrive at the airport save them for the right moment. Remember, your fight is not with other passengers, save your farts for the TSA staffers. So let’s get rid of our fear of offending and break wind at the airport when the next TSA worker seeks to get chummy with us. The naysayers, the prim and proper can say my recommendation is grotesque and uncouth; I don’t care. After all we all fart and I am simply creating a rallying cry and purpose behind farting. I’ll close with this: Beans, beans they’re good for your heart, the more you eat them, the more you fart. Don’t strip naked, weep uncontrollably, pursue lawsuits or physically resist TSA staffers; just cut some cheese and let them rip.

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Go home or go to the hospital, but not here!

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And you only thought women wear panties huh?

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When you figure what’s going on please let me know, okay?

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So piss off!

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I am not addressing anyone really just speaking in generalities.

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Yeah that’s right! Don’t let me say it twice.

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I think I am going to pass on this.

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I hope after reading this you’ll conclude, we care about you.

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…who struggle to help themselves. It’s a bit harder to use an able-bodied person. Stick to those people.

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It makes sense.

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All the crap on the menu is pretty good.

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Those of you who live in South Korea know this is not far from the truth yeah.

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I’ll just have a drink please.

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Who needs Viagra when you’ve got a team of professionals waiting to help?

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…West Vilginia.

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Come with me do the How to English Dance!

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Yeah, it is like that, you know!

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As opposed to an illegitimate barbecue?

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So far, women are the only ones experiencing PMS. Guys can attest to the significant changes they see. If women are experiencing PMS so should men too, right?

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Thispersoneitherdoesn’tknowthepowerofspacesbetweenwords or she really takes a back-door-approach-to learning. If I were a parent, I wouldn’t send my child there at all.

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I can’t imagine holding this cup every time I am drinking a cup of Joe or Hot Chocolate. But hey whatever gets the owner of this cup by right?

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Yeah I am talking to you b****. I might be old but I ain’t no b****.

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That’s right folks.Do you want that special shade of tan? Then make your way over to Blacky the hyper tanning studio guaranteed to make you very dark. Where are revisionists when you need them?

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Ladies and gentlemen, Captain Condom will ensure your safety. Captain Condom is not concerned with his strength, he is all about the loving, in fact he guarantees 4 times the loving. Don’t believe me? Read the lady’s comment.

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It is confirmed! Only special people need restaurants in airports.

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You don’t say! You could’ve fooled me. On second thought, as soon as I saw the shirt it cleared it up for me. Now, I really can tell you are indeed.

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So why do you need my input?

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Let me see, how can I drive home this point without an obvious pun? Oops! I already did.

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Lawd have mercy! The News reports say China is swift to execute people. I didn’t realize public bathrooms are makeshift places for execution.

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Are you tired from driving such long distances? Do you feel uneasy from sitting in the same spot for a while? We have a stop coming up for getting off.

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Little girl: Gimme the weed, the good ganja weed.

Mom: Now that’s my girl.

Onlookers: Wtf!

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L / R sound the same right? Let’s see ( I love eating rice) ( I love eating lice). Hmmm!

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Please go out of your way to fall in the water okay? We have lifeguards, oh no, on second thought, we don’t. So if you are going to fall into the water take care okay?

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You hear you perv!

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I don’t get it. Is it break or beat?

Author Viviana Zelizer persistently hammered these points in her work entitled: Pricing the Priceless Child: The Social Value of Children, the United States made sweeping changes in ensuring the safety of children at the dawn of the twentieth century. A child’s life became sacred. No longer would street car drivers run over unsuspecting children playing in the streets without retribution,  states had to revamp and enforce their child labor laws and the government made the staggering infant mortality rate a national focus (p.26-27).

America went from looking at children as a nuisance, one easily replaceable to feeling, the death of child was the greatest loss parents could experience. Early American parents did not mourn for their children when they died. The mother would  just pop another one out to replace him or her. Zelizer wrote, “The new sensitivity toward child loss was part of a broader transformation in the  cultural response to death.” She went on to say, ” The death of a young child was the worst loss of all…extreme  grief at the death of a child…was now a convention and a psychological reality” (p.26). She further added, “The establishment of the United States Children’s Bureau of 1912  officially certified the conservation of child life as a national concern” (p.29). As a result of these bold initiatives, the US health and hygiene department managed well or eradicated many communicable diseases, it decreased the infant mortality rate and saw the proper stewardship of the children’s welfare.

But of course, it seems nothing last forever; it didn’t take long before an anonymous and wise opportunist learned how to benefit from the country’s new-found fascination with children. The author argued that children were once ‘worthless’ and ‘useless’ in America. That dynamic changed after the American government abruptly tackled the low regard for kids and created a pseudo-child-worship-social-consciousness. Now we have a gigantic bureaucracy all over the country in every state ready to aid parents in raising their children. But if said parents should stumble, the same bureaucratic entities will sweep in and enact changes and programs to show they are better at raising their children. This action reeks with hubris because the government relies on its past efforts in championing the advancement of children but it has very little to show now.

Children in America were no longer a nuisance; they became priceless. Parents who deal with the government know it only sees dollar signs when it sees their children. Yes, America has come a long way. But we need to admit the government is far from the agent of change it once was. It is now the agent-of-sit-on-one’s-ass-and-do-nothing. One entity that comes to mind (to which I can say unequivocally) does not care nor value children is the respective child-welfare system across the nation. Anyone who deals directly with them does not have to wait too long before he hears this vile admission: “The system is broken.” I am sure those who are swift to say this, they don’t really value what they do nor do they value the children in their care.  I don’t cringe saying this. It’s my understanding that the word value  is not an abstract term. If the care of kids is of the greatest importance, then it ought to continue that way. Child-welfare workers who flippantly say, “The system is broken,” they are intellectual and moral sloths. They aren’t deserving of the awesome responsibility of taking care of our nation’s abused children.

We shouldn’t make excuses for them. If they aren’t saying the system is broken, you can bet the next nonsense they’d say is “We need more money.” I am more sympathetic to the latter. One cannot blame someone for wanting a decent wage and guarantees of career and economic upward mobility. Inflation and living conditions change over time so I am all about staying afloat financially. But what about this anecdotal reference? Many Christian missionaries changed societies with very little money or none at all. All they had, and still do, were an intense desire to fulfill their duties. They believed they were called to do their duty. They persisted despite numerous impediments because they hoped for a brighter tomorrow and their conscience reminded them they were doing good in the world.

After hearing about the grotesque abuses that go on within the system, the lackadaisical approach caseworkers bring to their work and the low retention rate among staffers. One can’t help but conclude, that our child-welfare system lacks discipline, vision, a tried-and-true mission, transparency and accountability. If a state (Like Florida) laboriously spends most of its tax  dollars to bolster its image in the media and to appease a skeptical public then something is wrong.

All I am asking for is someone to stop, think and then act. If the engineers and personnel who are tasked to oversee our nation’s nuclear arsenal, do their jobs effectively and flawlessly, why can’t the child-welfare system do the same? Oh I see! Nuclear weapons can annihilate folks so great care is a must. But the systematic ruining of the lives of already disadvantaged kids, though a tragic reality, we should just live with it, right? They are indirectly saying kids are disposable. I can’t fathom how the same  system that’s supposed to take care of  kids, it ends up transforming the majority of them into criminals.

We can’t keep overlooking the staggering reality: “Kids aging out of the foster-care system are more likely to be high-school dropouts, impoverished, imprisoned or homeless” (The Orlando Sentinel). And how can I forget accounts of kids given back to violent and unfit parents who end up killing or maiming them? And also the unscrupulous foster caregivers who use their ties with the governmental agencies to bully parents and the kids in their care.

I will stop having scathing remarks about the child-welfare system when states like Florida, seriously prevent the intentional killing of kids like the Barahona child. Florida’s child-welfare leadership team fumbled to pin point the people responsibility for allowing such a senseless murder to occur on their watch. Like I said in my title, They Don’t Value Us, the United States must admit to moral failure in taking care of abused, neglected and disadvantaged kids. The problem is not a state’s one. The federal government must intervene like it did back in the day. Until then, we’ll continue to hear horror stories.  If the federal government values children they’ve got to intervene.

The Elephant in America’s Room is the Republican Party..

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I have heard it said, “I can’t see how black people can vote Republican.” Well, a few names pop up: Alan Keyes, Allen West, Herman Cain and Michael Steele. These distinguished public figures are somewhat of a laughing-stock because the public rarely takes them seriously when they decide to run for a high office in government. They are  successful in their own way but they also come off as a token black Republican to pander to black voters.

The Republican party once had a lot of clout and social relevance. I am black and I would vote Republican if the party wasn’t so irrelevant today. A trip back in the past would show, they were ardent abolitionists. Historically, the Republican party saw slavery as a great scourge to society they had to eradicate (Paraphrased Wikipedia).

But fast forward to now and one can’t help but see scores of bone heads hijacking the Republican party. The Republican party was once a party of big ideas. Now they grovel around looking for bits of  their former self. They are just keeping up appearances.They used to believe the role of government shouldn’t stifle the populace but rather it should engender a robust populace free to amplify the benefits of this democratic experiment. The Republican party has become one filled with a bunch of whiners who are always quick to cry foul. They are like that little kid playing baseball who gets upset because he can’t hit the ball far or at all.

How did this happen? It happened gradually after the Republican party chose to adjust its progressive thinking, hard work ethic, its true pro-liberty and pro business roots to join hands with the religious right-wing groups in America, who championed Prohibition and fought against other so-called ghastly social vices.  How significant was this shift? Well they lost the black vote after they showed very little interest in the Civil Rights Act. I have a problem with those who seek to attribute intelligence or intrinsic worth to skin color. That is a clear sign he or she is bat shit ludicrous. Slavery has been around forever. It is just a matter of fact that the conqueror usually will lord over the conquered, but in America’s case that wasn’t the play. Most states supported the systematic enslavement of black people for wage free labor. If America had went to fight wars in Africa and they lost a lot and in their victory, they collected the ‘spoils’ as  payment for their troubles, that’s what previous winning sides did during and after warfare. I still don’t get it. Why did the Republican party do a 180 from their roots and ultimately became the party of God who joined hands with said right-wing groups to campaign to legislate morality?

I agree, slavery is a moral evil.  In the US, a war erupted over it. The Civil War would not have happened if blacks were free and they received wages. The war erupted in defense of the constitution. The constitution granted general liberty to all within the boundaries of the United States. The legislation that followed to abolish slavery was just, the Democratic party then, consisted of moral sloths and intellectual knaves. I can’t speak with authority for the enslaved but as for me, I wouldn’t want to do the bidding of others without my say so. So there aren’t any clear correlation between slavery and other social vices like drinking alcohol. He who drank then did so for his own personal consumption, I can argue he wasn’t hurting anyone but himself, save for the poor wife or mistress to whom he took it out on. But holding another human being against his will is down right shameful. Moral legislation should never infringed on another person’s pursuit to do what he pleases as long as he is not harming anyone. Moral legislation is quite simple if you kill someone or injure him you will be held responsible. Your behavior shouldn’t put another soul at risk. Why did the Republicans depart from this?

The Republican party made its shameful departure from standing up for the downtrodden to joining hands with the ever-increasing act-like-the-puritans, fringe groups in American society. Said groups desired to impose the sensitivities of their conscience on others and they were keen on dictating how a person must conduct himself both in public and private. The party now felt it was their solemn duty to argue for a biblical-inspired totalitarian view that the government has something to say about every facet of its citizen’s social life. How did they end up there? Thomas  Jefferson promulgated the idea of republicanism which is best demonstrated by the devotion to one’s civic duties and to fight against cronyism or any kind of aristocratic self entitlement bullshit (Paraphrased Wikipedia).

So here we go again. The Republican party has lost their way so much . They make feeble attempts to court minority voters. Their efforts look pathetic and out of touch. They rally around big corporations not in support of American businesses but rather to shore up support for their political efforts.  It is obvious they are an irrelevant party. They support stupid gun laws like Stand Your Ground. They shout out in maddening unison about one’s right to bear arms. The right is not solely to bear arms for the sake of it, but to protect one’s property and family. They stir up so much noise about contraceptives and sexual promiscuity. Opponents aren’t saying they completely disagree. They are just saying look people have to live with their choices and Republicans sure as hell can’t offer vicarious redemption. If Republicans can cover a multitude of ‘sins’ and can do X,Y & Z fine! But other than that, People should decide what’s right for them. Personal liberty was a major tenet in Republicanism. But not so anymore. Most republicans are serfs of their own ideologies. Just look at their recent soon-to-be presidential nominee. The guy has not even been given the official stamp of approval. He doesn’t fit that ‘true’ Republican standard. Therefore they don’t trust him.

The sad thing is the Republican party failed to produce a viable candidate against Obama. Absolutely sad. The candidates who came forward were laughable. The women candidates don’t have a frontal lobe. The men were all predictable-idealistic-wanna-be-pedagogical-windbags. The one remaining candidate to emerge is Romney; a man for all season except spring. Like summer he is unbearable most of time and the only positive note to the sun I can muster is that he is always looking good and he beams bright with wealth. Like fall, he is the harbinger for the worst that is yet to come–winter. And of course like winter, he is cold, rigid and most people can’t tolerate him. He is not a winsome character. He is like a stiff corpse or more like an awkward white guy at a hip hop party. His religion is creepy, it sends chills up the spine  like that cold winter breeze in Massachusetts. Romney is no spring. He will not breathe life into the party. Winter is here again and it’s here to stay Republicans.

Republicans lost their mojo alright. They have certainly disappointed the Godfather Mr. Honest Abe. He was the one who heralded and projected the party to prominence. But sadly he was later gunned down. I guess in all fairness his death shook up the party. Maybe the Republicans experienced disarray because they didn’t recuperate properly after Lincoln’s death. They completely lost their identity. It seems the Democratic South the once backward and useless  party inverted their role and exchanged it with the theirs. The Democrats bulldozed America’s political landscape with their champion Mr. F. Roosevelt; the new lovable face of America after Lincoln. After Lincoln’s untimely tenure, the Republicans  have searched for their King Arthur. Eisenhower and Nixon certainly weren’t him. They completely screwed their chances. And of course we fast forward to Mr. Reagan. An old man who spent his latter days in the White House trying to open jars. By the way, was he Lincoln’s replacement? I hope not. Some Republican pundits seem to get a boner just talking about Reagan’s legacy but they claim ignorance about the Iran-Contra fiasco.

Dare I chant my title again, the elephant in America’s room is the Republican party for they lost their identity. As a result, they’ve begun the quest to find that one right candidate to mirror the life of Abraham Lincoln.  The Democrats despite their ghastly beginnings  pulled it off in Franklin Roosevelt, Harry-the if you can’t stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen-Truman, JFK and Bill Clinton. With that list aside back to the Republican party. If what the pundits are saying is true about Romney that he is a flip flopper. Maybe they ought to change his nickname to chameleon.  Should he win the election the Republican party shouldn’t worry. He must now morph into the ideal candidate. Romney must know what kind of president the Republican party wants and he must stay that way.

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