Frank’s Place: Best of 2011

Frank’s Place got rolling late in 2011 but we’ve made good use of our time.  Not every post has been golden.  Honestly some were real stinkers, but a few really stood out and got some attention.  So below is a list of links, each with a quick review, that will take you directly to the posts that got the most attention this year.  It will also serve as a little review of the original posts for some of you that have not been with us from the beginning when we were at that den of thieves site also known as google blogger.  Not surprisingly the Diary posts are most popular.  They are in order of popularity based on how many hits or visits each received.

I See a Second Heartbeat    No doubt the most popular post on the site.  It got 159 hits on December 7th.  A new baby on the way is always a big hit, 2 babies at the same time, well that just takes the cake.

The Pool, Soccer Moms, and the Co-eds  This was an early one and really got the site rolling.  Nothing like conflict and implants to get a conversation started.  Perverts =P

State of the Union Speech take down  This one baffles me a little bit.  Almost devoid of humor and full of me ranting about the shameful behavior of congress during state of the union speeches, it still ranks 3rd all time for hits/views.  You people are weird.

Franks takes on Occupy Wall Street  The most recent post and my first hybrid.  It mixed some politics in with a Diary entry.  It also hit a nerve.  It got 105 hits over a two day period.  Also most comments on a non-baby announcement post so far.

The Kroger Lady   The second post on the site, an oldie but a goodie.  This was part of the first chapter I ever wrote for the book and really became the flicker that stoked the flame for the blog.

Frank vs. the Presbyterians  Thought I may get excommunicated with this one.  It became a hit, 80 views in one day.

Down Goes Cain!  The only other political post to make the list, I think more for my thrashing of Cain campaign manager Mark “blockhead” Block than anything else.

Honorable Mention – or bragging, or, …whatever:

Buddy Roemer  This one gets a mention because of the one and only response to it.  A dude running for congress in California commented on it with a spamming of his campaign message.  I left the comment there.  Somehow that vaulted this particular post to 2nd on Bing’s search engine list when Buddy Roemer’s name is entered.  From that a member of Roemer’s campaign staff read the blog post and now Roemer’s campaign staff is following me on Twitter.   That’s pretty cool, you know, in a nerd cool kind of way.  HUGE UPDATE: has taken the top spot on Bing’s search engine when using the phrase ‘buddy roemer blocked from debates’.

It”s been a great year at Frank’s Place.  We’ve had a lot of fun.  2012 looks promising if only because of frik and frack, the twins due in June.  I imagine we’ll have proper names for them by the time they get here.  Needless to say they should provide a lot more material for Frank’s Place.  Not sure when I’ll have time to write it but that’s a bridge too far at the moment.  We still have a ton of material from the last few years yet to make it to print.  Of course the political scene will be heating up so we’ll definitely have much to say about that.  For those wondering, we will not be re-naming the site upon the arrival of Tom and Larry.  Frank’s life will change enough when Laurel and Hardy are born, his blog site will not.

So Happy New Year y’all!  Thanks for reading my nonsense and making this so much fun.  See you in 2012.

Frank’s Place

Sorry Dick Clark, I got to blog in the morning. Time to get some shuteye! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: Wealth Re-Distribution and the Cookie Exchange explained …… by Frank

So does all this talk about Occupy Wall Street (OWS), wealth re-distribution, class warfare business have you confused?  I thought I had a handle on it.  I’ve not read much about it other than what major news sources are putting out.  I mean OWS looks like a bunch of hippies smoking dope, banging on drums, not bathing, and clamoring for free college tuition.  Watch this for a very small sample Hard to believe.  To the last point and the kid in the interview, I will offer this: you can get free tuition, just get a hair-cut, raise your right hand and serve.  Well, just raise your right hand, the military will provide the haircut.  The point being, I received a BA degree in history from the University of Maryland’s distance learning program and didn’t pay one nickel, the tax payers did.  Sounds like a great solution all the way around.   Fear The Turtle!

As far as class warfare and wealth re-distribution, my 2yr old Frank put it best when he said THESE ARE MINE!  So I guess he yelled actually.

At Grammy’s house in Lexington Kentucky, Frank received a cookie play set.  Some wood, some velcro, a pan and spatula and the kid is making cookies with icing.  Of course he didn’t make them, some chinese kid in the Hunan provence, working out of a sweatshop owned by Kim and the rest of the Kardashians, actually made it, Frank was just simulating the baking of said pre-made wooden cookie-toys.  Anyway using his new toy Frank artfully cleared up this whole entitlement – OWS nonsense for me.  He has in fact converted me.  I am now a “what’s mine is mine and the rest of you can get bent” capitalist.

Frank fired up a batch of his wooden cookies.  Now the kid does have some real skills.  He can flip his own french toast, put in a hot dog and start the micro-wave if I hold him up, and load the dishwasher.  The last one is important.  I don’t care if you’re a head chef or flipping burgers at Mel’s Diner, if you can’t clean up after yourself as you’re cooking you are just taking up space and wasting someone else’s air.  Frank is learning and will continue to learn the rules of engagement in a properly run kitchen.  After the required cooling time for the cookies Frank, complete with oven mitt and wood spatula, begins to disperse them, 12 in total.  One for daddy, one for Frank, two for daddy, two for Frank.  You get the idea.  At some point he gave me the old Abbott & Costello routine of “three for daddy and one, two, three for Frank”.  He ended up with 7 while I only had 5.

After he was done surveying this display of confections he had just laid out on the carpet he urged me to mangiare or mangia – eat in Italian.  Did I mention I’m hitting him with Italian flash cards randomly during the day?  Well I protested this great injustice and refused to eat my measly 5 cookies while he had a robust 7 cookies.  He kept on, exhorting me to eat.  I said “no way bro.  Daddy only has five, how many does Frank have?”  We also speak in third person during NBA season, in case you were wondering.  Frank counted them out, “Frank have seven cookies.” (keep in mind he’s only 2)   I said good job, now how many does daddy have?  “Daddy have 5 cookies.”  ” Now eat daddy!”  I retorted with name calling, “Hold on henry, daddy only has five and Frank has seven.  Frank has to give me one and we’ll both have six.”  He simply said “No”.  At first I thought he may have been stunned by my immediate algebraic calculation in solving that little word problem without benefit of google, calculator, or even paper and pen.  Nope, turns out he was just being 2.  When I kept after him to give me one because it was not fair that he have 7 and I have 5 he said “NO THESE ARE MINE I MADE THEM.”  As my brother would point out, all caps is nerd speak for yelling, and Frank was yelling alright.

That Frank is 2 years old is key to his understanding of all this OWS nonsense and the misunderstanding of most “adults” banging the drums.  As we have already explored, Frank didn’t “make them” but he did pretend make them, labored over them to a finished product and then offered me some. It was an offer he was under no obligation to make.  When I demanded he give me another one so we would each have the same amount, there-by making it “fair” he had no way to compute that.  So he yelled the obvious as if volume can defeat stupidity.  I MADE THEM.  He’s right of course.  I have every right as a free man in America to demand that he make it “fair” and give me one more so I would have six.  Even though I never earned the initial five let alone the final one cookie I was demanding.  Frank also has the right to deny that demand, which he so eloquently did.  THESE ARE MINE I MADE THEM.

How is it fair that we should have the same when I did nothing to contribute to the making of the cookies?  Why should he be forced to give me some of his because I don’t have as much?  Here is some nuance for you.  He shared 5 of his 12 with me without me asking.  He made 5 cookies for his daddy for no reason at all.  My demand that he give me more then made him appear like a greedy little kid.  But that’s really not true is it.  The reality of it is my demand for one more revealed the truth.  I was ungrateful for what I was freely offered and made a generous kid sound like a brat.

Force those that have more give to those who have less?  Force them?  Enact laws that require it?  It may have sounded good on its face, and it really doesn’t, but scrape off the icing bro and go make your own cookies.  Frank has had it with hippies and drum circles.

I’m sure some superior intellect will disassemble the simplistic rantings written here.  Who cares, we got our 12 cookies.

Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

So one of the more interesting lessons, among the myriad of lessons I have learned as a stay-at-home dad, is that service companies, home inspectors, and contractors, still try and take advantage of stay-at-homes.  I thought that practice went out with the Brady Bunch and pop rocks.  Some of my own experiences along with stories from some friends leads me to believe the fleecing of stay-at-homes is alive and well.

The combination of some great trainers in the Air Force and a real fixer upper first house has given me a better than average working knowledge of just about everything in and around the house.  I was an aircraft electrician, which is wildly different than residential electricity but the theory is the same.  Add to that experience several of the guys who trained me and I worked with for ten years did residential and even some commercial electrical work on the side.  The skill, efficiency, and seriousness these guys displayed working on the F-16 fighter completely transferred over when they worked on everything from houses to satellite dish installs, even tinting car windows.  Just like on the flight line they all had different methods and philosophies, but the end result was the same, a safe, highly functioning end product.  I make that last statement because I have seen some home repair types who have no interest in a job done properly or even safety for that matter. The payday was their only goal.  While aircraft maintenance and methodology is much different from residential maintenance, one thing remains the same, both can be deadly when done poorly.

Ironically the one thing I never learned from any of the guys I worked with is pricing.  You know, like how much stuff costs, what do you charge to put up a ceiling fan, fix an outlet, etc…   I have learned quickly.  From doing odd jobs for friends, whether it was plumbing, electrical, mounting TV’s, etc…  I have learned what materials actually cost versus what is charged when a “professional” shows up to fix something.  As for me, I don’t charge for things I do because I only do work for friends and by extension, their families.  A 3 piece original and a biscuit from KFC, or an equivalent food item, normally covers all charges.  Although recently I was able to secure tickets to a local sporting event; largely  due to the generosity of the guy I did the work for.  So while it has been interesting watching and interacting with the guys and gals who work on our houses during the day, a few events in particular convince me the service industry is still taking advantage of the homeowner, or at least trying to.

A friend of mine, for the sake of anonymity I’ll call her Barbara, asked me to take a look at a punch list she had received from a home inspector.  I’ll try to be civil to home inspectors if I can.  Sufficed to say, what they used to call organized crime is now called the home inspector industry.  Anyway, my friends were selling their house and the buyer sent in a hit-man, or “home inspector”.  We go over the list and it’s basically broken down into things that must be fixed, and stuff that would be great if  fixed but it won’t be a deal breaker.  I noticed one item on the already fixed list and it said, “pool outlet cover” – $90.  Had to ask.  Barb tells me that the cover for the electrical box out at the pool had gone missing.  The home inspector estimated the job at $90.  The next day the cover was back on.  Apparently the guy who cleans the pool saw the cover laying on the ground, NEXT TO THE ELECTRICAL BOX, and put it back on with the one screw that holds it in place.  He didn’t charge her, didn’t call in the nuclear regulatory commission, he just pulled out a screwdriver, #2 phillips if I had to guess, and put it back on.  Time elapsed, 38 seconds, cost to all involved, zero American dollars.  It was so insignificant the pool guy never told her he did it, he just did it.  What a concept.  Yet the home inspector dude wanted $90.  The pool guy was apparently unaware of the fortune sitting at his feet, either that or he’s just an honest guy trying to make a living not a killing.

Now keep in mind my northern union types, we don’t play that down here.  No unions required.  I know on a job site in the north the plumber could not have put that cover on, he would have had to call the electrician.  Yeah, not so below the Mason-Dixon line.

The list went on.  It was a lot of nit picky stuff but two items really jabbed me in the shorts.  One item showed complete incompetence on the home inspectors part, the other item: price gauging, as if the pool issue wasn’t already evidence of that.

The first issue was a cover missing from an electrical junction box in the crawl space.  Pain in the back of my front already.  So me and the hubby, I’ll call him Malachi, me and Mal head down to the crawl space.  The picture taken by the home inspector shows a junction box in a corner somewhere.  Well the first wall me and Mal look at has a junction box without a cover.  Cool, that was easy, put on the cover, 2 screws and I just saved Mal about 38 thousand dollars or whatever the dude was going to charge for that.  Safe to say it was not anywhere in the ball park of the $1.69 the cover actually costs, screws included.  Well Mal gets to eyeballing the picture and he says, this is not the jucntion box in the picture.  He was right.  We found the junction box in the picture and it was in fact missing the cover, as were the other two junction boxes we found on this snipe hunt.  The funny part was the box in the picture was in the farthest corner of the crawl space.  To see it the guy had to crawl under, I say again, under the main air condition duct and past 3 other junction boxes, all 3 without covers and he never mentioned them.  I forget what he was going to charge them for that but as I said earlier, it was no where close to what it would have cost him to do it, and that includes accounting for his time for a job that was not even necessary in the first place.

In the garage the guy wanted all outlets to be GFI or ground fault interrupted.  Shock protection basically.  If something causes a spark or shock the outlet trips off the power.  Great idea, great invention, especially for types like my boy “Mal” who might get himself into trouble with stuff that uses electricity.  But the request shows the home inspector is a moron and a thief.  First off he wanted $180 to do the job.  GFI outlets go for $9; $12 for higher end stuff and the job takes 20 minutes.  Even at $80 an hour, and they will stick you for the full hour even if it takes 10 minutes, that job would cost $92.  Now they have to make some money or what would be the point.  We all can’t live on a 3-piece original and a biscuit but that’s some mark up.  Second, the instructions on the box of a GFI outlet explicitly warn the installer not to put more than one GFI on a circuit.  In fact the way GFI outlets have to be wired, putting more than one GFI on a circuit normally renders them useless.  Exciting stuff I know but it clearly demonstrates the idiocy and price gouging of the home inspector/general contractor types.  Both should know better, but both only see the following: a woman, a sale sign, moving boxes, and a to do list a mile long.  The gamble being Barb has way to much going on to keep track of this stuff, and even if she could or wanted to keep up she wouldn’t know anything about it anyway.  I have bought and sold 3 houses so I could go on forever but I’ll spare you.  To me home inspectors are nothing but Tramps and Thieves.  Now for the Gypsies.

The tornados that ripped through the south, (the storms that destroyed parts of Georgia and Alabama), earlier this year set the stage for the resurgence of the gypsy population.  And when I say Gypsies I of course mean all the insurance salesmen and newly minted contractors who chase storm damage.  I believe Knoxville reported some 2000 roofing licenses issued in the weeks after the deadly storms.  Read here – Storm Stats

After the storms passed and damaged starting being assessed it became clear in the Knoxville area that roofing, siding, and guttering would be in high demand.  Now my insurance company was johnny on the spot.  The guy came in, did an estimate, and sent me a check within a few weeks.  He also said that he believed the estimate would probably have to be adjusted a few times and to just send in the work orders and they would send more money.  Awesome, what a relief.  It was however, up to me to find someone to do the work.  Enter the gypsies.

A dude knocks on my door and wants to talk roofing and siding.  One whole side of our house was destroyed and the roof was decimated which made it very obvious from the street that we would need work done.  So I let old boy in and we get to “chattin”.  Thick appalachia accent on this one.  He spoke plainly, was very straightforward and got right to the point.  We went out to do a quick assessment.   Back in the house to talk numbers and all of a sudden he’s a politician.  I asked how much and he countered with “How much did you get?”  I said why does that matter, tell me how much it is.  He says “it ain’t workin that a way”.  I replied that in this kitchen it most assuredly is “workin that a way.”  Appalachia Guy or AG said he would have to work with my insurance company.  Me – No need I already have the check.  AG – Well how much is it fer?  Me – Don’t worry about it, what’s the job going to cost?  AG – It don’t work that a way.  Yeah this was a heinous rendition of Abbot and Costello’s Who’s On First routine.  Yes look it up. Or go here.  Oldie but a goodie.

That went on for a bit.  He then said he couldn’t give me a price if he wanted to because he has to put the numbers into his computer program.  He said that in an elongated style as if it was a foreign language.  I asked him how long he’s been doing roofing.  He replies, Oh I don’t do roofing, I just got the job 2 weeks ago to go around a sign people up then The Company comes in a does the work.  Me – Really?  The company eh?  Who might that be?  AG – A roofer in Pittsburgh.  Me- So he trucks guys all the way from Pittsburgh eh?  That must cost a lot?  AG – Oh no he hires them from the guys on the corner downtown.  Me – Ok, time to go my man, nice “chattin wit ya.”  He was completely befuddled as to why I wasn’t hiring him.

Gypsy #2 knocks on the door about 3 days later.  I let him in because it was lunch time and I like entertainment when I eat. I normally have a two year old for that but Frank took himself upstairs for an early nap.  Anyway, Tracy had decided to come home for lunch and came in right when Gypsy #2 was asking how much my insurance check was “fer” and I was telling him to get the hell out of my house.  I wasn’t that hungry anyway.

We eventually found a local guy to do the job and he turned the tables on me.  When we sat down to talk I opened with “If you want to see the insurance settlement you might as well go home, you’re wasting your time.”  He shoots back, “bro I don’t need to see that.  My estimate is accurate to within a few dollars.  If your check is lower than my estimate, they lied to ya.  If it’s higher, then you made out.”  My kind of guy.  His estimate was lower by $90 when all was said an done.  We got lucky. Not on the price but on the honesty and integrity of the guy who fixed our roof, siding, and gutters.  Another guy just trying to make a living, not a killing.

Gypsy #3 came by about 6 months later.  Walked right into the back yard where me and Frank were hitting golf balls.  Never looked up, never glanced around.  Just walked up and asked to sign us up to get our roof fixed.  Frank looked up at me and I swear the look on his face was “Are you serious bro?”  I asked if I was his first customer.  He looked at me funny.  I said you ain’t no roofer boy.  Frank walked away.  Gypsy 3# started to mumble something.  I asked how he could look at that roof and think it needed repair, could you not see the new shingles?  He said he never even looked at it.  I said well you can take a good look on your way back out to the street.  Away he went.

The next ball I hit was a glancing blow off Frank’s head.  It was a whiffle ball so everyone take a breath.  Frank’s look at me after the ball hit him in his mellon – “Don’t golf angry bro, they’re just gypsies, tramps, and thieves.”

That kid is a lot smarter than I am.


For the original song Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves by Cher – go here  Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: I see a second heartbeat!

So we were in the doc’s office for an ultra-sound.  Tracy was 8 weeks pregnant at the time, she is currently at 10 weeks.  For those of you that have been through the experience, ultra-sounds are not high-def televisions.  It’s grainy at best.  But Tracy has had some issues so we have been through a lot of these.  I’m not an expert but I have an idea what to look for.  So when the doc starts the procedure, she says “I see two sacs.”  Immediately Tracy shoots a look at me, and I’m thinking, can’t be.  The doc tones things down telling us that is not uncommon for a sac of blood to occur or even a sac of the early remains of a fetus to still be present at 8 weeks but the body would take care of that in it’s own sweet time.  Just for the heck of it she labels one sac baby A and one sac baby B.  She focuses on baby A, as she still believes B is some anomaly.

Baby A tale of the tape

Baby A is center stage.  His module, pod, sac, whatever is in front so to speak so he is easy to see.  Yes I’m saying ‘he’ for ease of writing and wishful thinking.  With Frank so taken with golf and exhibiting a great swing already at the age of 2, another son will make a nice friday foursome with my buddy John.  Baby A has a good heartbeat.  If you’ve seen these things before it’s hard but not impossible to spot.  Generally the blood flows left and right across the screen and looks like a lot of elongated static.  The heartbeat breaks up those lines in the form of pulses.  Baby A looks like a huge shrimp but with a prominent heartbeat.  He tapes out at 6 weeks and 4 days, with a +/_ error of 4 days.  He is so small at this point it’s really hard to get a precise measurement.  The doc is basically putting the pipper on what she can identify as the head and feet of baby A and taking a reading.  OK so we have stared at baby A for quite some time, he looks good, all is progressing well.  On to blood sac/baby B.

Baby B’s sac is smaller and obscured by baby A, so what was going to be a tough task has become even tougher.  There appears to be a noticeable blob, to me anyway.  The doc tries to measure it and comes up with 6

Baby B tale of the tape

weeks 2 days.  Now it’s starting to get interesting.  She is hanging on to the “it’s probably a blood sac” theory, and of course she has to.  I could tell she was getting a little perturbed at my over analyzing of the situation.  She clearly wanted to utter that phrase made famous by renowned Ghostbuster Doctor Peter Veckman, “back off man I’m a scientist.”  Link here, memory lane.  She pressed on and tried to find a heartbeat.  I noticed a faint disruption of the right to left lines in what was the upper left corner of baby B’s sac.  Sensing the tension from the doc I say nothing.  The more she moves the little wand around the more obvious it becomes to me.  It’s a heartbeat.  Again, I’m a mute.  I don’t complain at the drive-through because they will spit in your food, this was a little more serious.

Minutes have passed, no exaggeration.  No one is saying anything, but the heartbeat is now as clear to me as baby A’s.  The left to right lines of blood flow are clearly being interrupted by a rhythmic pulse of some sort.  Silent no more I say, “hey isn’t that a heartbeat in the upper left corner of baby B’s sac?”  “Well there is a lot of blood flowing, so hard to tell”, was her reply.  I came back with, “That’s why you’re over there with the equipment and I’m sitting here, I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin, I see a second heartbeat.”  That sounded a lot better in my head but on reflection it seemed a little aggressive on my part.  The doc, she took that as a challenge.  She has entered the zone, intent on identifying baby B for sure.  She was dialed in man.  Her gaze never left the monitor and she didn’t blink for what felt like 15 minutes, but was really only 5.  I’m not even sure she was aware Tracy and I were still in the room.  When she looked up she came to a conclusion, it’s a second baby.  Baby B is alive and has a strong heartbeat to prove it.

So yeah, twins.  Fraternal, one each.  Not identical, meaning separate eggs, not one egg that split.  Not sure who will be affected the most but they are due within a week or two of Frank’s third birthday so I imagine he’ll feel the ripple of this a little more.  So I have my own foursome now, for those days when my buddy John, a minister, actually has to work.  No doubt I’ll need his counsel more than ever at some point. Or I might just start drinking, haven’t decided yet. As one of my five sisters pointed out, girls can golf too.  True enough, but I’m hoping for boys anyway.  I’m not sure how I would handle my 12 year old daughter driving the ball 30 yards past me from the tee.

The pictures are from today, 7 December 2011.  We’re a day from the 11 week mark and the babies are taping at 10 weeks 6 days, so right on schedule.  You can see the 10w6d +/- 4d algebra at the bottom of the pictures, that’s their current ages.  Again on schedule and actually a little bigger than the doc thought.  Also good news.  It shows a June 20 2012 delivery date but we are told to disregard that as twins will come early almost every time.

Brace yourself Frank, your May birthday might get a bit more exciting.

Next Door Neighbors

Down Goes Cain! Down Goes Cain!

And then there were…. well there’s still a bunch, but one less than a bunch.  Herman Cain has “suspended” his campaign for President.  His camp made an announcement last night that there would be an announcement today.  Yeah, efficiency is not their strong suit, more on that later.  It was an odd scene in Atlanta, where Cain made the announcement.  The backdrop of the stage was a huge black curtain obviously concealing something.  The suspense was mildly irritating.  One early clue that the long awaited announcement to drop out might have been premature was the bus.  Cain rolled in on his campaign bus but it had a new paint scheme.  Gone was the I am an American and in it’s place was a big “Road to Redemption” slogan complete with a big road and a 999 road sign.  Another strange issue, the place where Cain was making the announcement was in front of a new campaign office.  He was supposed to unveil his new Atlanta campaign HQ.  So this had all the makings of a “bite me, I’m still running” speech.

Turns out he was quitting after all.  His body language and past tense verbiage made that clear as the speech went on, and on, and on.  He cited the toll on his family the stories about the numerous issues he’s had with women have caused.  I don’t imagine for a second it had anything to do with the actual issues, just the stories about the issues.  The bus and the mysterious backdrop covering a picture of a web site were all about a new web site,, that he was starting.  Of course, or should I say par for the course, the web site was not working at the time of this writing.  It will be his vehicle to get the 999 plan in front of congress.  Not kidding on that.  As Cain said, “they can run me out of the race but they can’t silence me.  I will still have a voice.”  Well as Keith Olberman said, “suspension is temporary, irrelevance is forever.”  Not a big Olberman fan anymore but I think he nailed this one.  We might get one round of Sunday morning shows of Cain’s goodbye tour and then you won’t see him much.  Cain sealed that fate when he went on a little 15 minute diatribe against the media, who he faults for his campaign suspension.  That damn media.  They have the most amazing powers.  They can leap a half governors intellect in a single question, elevate a black man to the presidency due to a lack of questions, and they can suspend another black man’s presidential run with, wait for it, more questions. So I don’t foresee too many media outlets lining up to get Cain on the record after this week is out.  Now let’s talk about the real reason Herman Cain is no longer running for president.

Mark Block.  That’s it.  That’s the only name you need to know.  He is/was Cain’s campaign manager and quite possibly the dumbest man at the top of a front running national campaign in the history of front running national campaigns.  How can you fail to prepare your candidate for these questions about harassment allegations, when the candidate told you about the issues when he ran for the senate years earlier?  Second, how can you leave your candidate so unprepared on the issues of national security and foreign policy?  The line that Cain used early on in the campaign, “I don’t have to know all the info, I’ll have brilliant people to help me with that, I’ll make decisions on that information,” was great.  No need to be an expert, but when you’re 6 months into the campaign and you’re the front runner you have to have a better answer than, “when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know.”  That was a horrible moment for him, of course it was the media’s fault so no problem really.  His debate performance on these issues never improved.  He either stayed silent or waited for others to answer then jumped in with some inane piggyback answer amounting to nothing.

Then when the allegations came about the women, instead of admitting that there had been monetary settlements to 2 women for sexual harassment, Block let Cain go out there and act like he never heard of any of this before.  Yet 2 women received an entire year’s salary, agreed to a gag order, and left the organization Cain was running all as part of a settlement for sexual harassment claims.  The next day Cain admits to “his memory coming back” and how some things might have been “misconstrued.”  Brilliant and by that I meant amazingly stupid.  There was still time to put out the fire, but Block kept pouring gas on it.  Block then blamed the Perry camp for leaking these stories.  Well Mark, if it’s all made up how could Perry have leaked it?  Why are you worrying about who leaked it, the stories are out bro time for damage control.  It was not the time for the “if I close my eyes the issues aren’t there” strategy.

Block then discovers a reporter who worked at Politico, the news outlet breaking the story, had the same last name as one of the women in the settlement.  Does Block investigate the possible tie between the woman and the reporter?  Nope.  Block instead goes on  Hannity’s Fox program and says “well the reporter is the son of one of the accusers so of course the story is fake.”  Hannity has a lucid moment of journalism and says “you confirmed this?”  Block says, “Oh yeah, all confirmed.”  If by “Oh yeah, all confirmed ” he meant “no not one bit” then Block was telling the truth.  As it happens, with one google search anyone, I repeat ANYONE, would have found that the reporter in question has not worked for Politico in over a year, was not the reporter who wrote the story, and while he has the same last name as woman accuser #1, he is in no way related to her.  No response from Block about any of this.

The coup de gras was the woman who came forward alleging the 13 year affair.  Immediate denial by Cain, just a friendship he says.  I text a lot of people all the time, I call a lot of people all the time, he says.  Then Cain goes on TV the day after he says all this to admit he had been giving this women money without his wife’s knowledge for how long?  Oh don’t tell me, no, no, no, wait I’ll get it.  I’ll guess, “What is 13 years” Alex?  Correct, tell him what he’s won Johnny.  Well Alex, Herman Cain has just won the home version of Who’s the dumbest campaign manager in the history of modern American politics and a life time supply of Mark Block mouthwash for those days when you just can’t get the stupid out of your mouth.  Awesome, I was running low on that.  That damn media, you guys are just so media-ish.

Lets be clear, the allegations drove Cain out of the race but they were ultimately survivable.  Newt is the strong front runner and he had his first wife sign divorce papers from her hospice bed where she was DYING FROM CANCER.  Of course by the grace of God she survived.  One person’s grace is another Newt’s bad break.  But had Block prepared Cain on the national security issues, the foreign policy issues, and had Herm go out there and say “yes these allegations happened, it was 20yrs ago this is what the settlement was,” he might still be the front runner.  The woman alleging the 13 year affair said she came forward because the Cain camp treated the other women, 5 in all, like the perpetrators not the victims.

Had he been penitent on the harassment issues and knew who the hell the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan was, (Islam Karimov, since 1990 by the way) he might still be fighting it out with Mitt for the nomination.  So unless the media hired Mark Block to be embarrassingly bad at his job, I’m having a hard time pinning the blame on them.

Good Bye Herm, we hardly knew ye.

Oh yeah, Fox held a candidate forum tonight.  Each candidate on stage one at a time for the same amount of time.  They were not allowed to mention the other candidates by name when they answered.  I was going to blog about it but the first questions I heard went to Rick Santorum and went something like this.  Moderator: “well senator you are so awesome, tell us what does it feel like to be so awesome.”  Santorum: “Well moderator that is a great question.”  No Rick, no it’s not a great question.  That about summed it up.

Here are a few links from conservative blogger Erick Erickson that speak to the Cain issues.

Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: Frank vs the Presbyterians

So I mentioned that I grew up in the Catholic Church.  Born Italian Catholic, a true Roman like Paul, I was christened Catholic, and served as an altar boy from 4th to 8th grade, made my conformation in 7th grade, and survived 8yrs of Catholic school.  Well I go to a Presbyterian church now.  Check reruns of Oprah, you might catch my testimony.  The Presbyterian church is just like the Catholic Church in a lot of ways, the order of service and the Liturgy are the same. Presbyterian sermons are 3x as long as the Catholic version, but that’s another discussion.  In the Presbyterian church you just don’t have to work as hard for the great beyond.  Another similarity is the lack of outward emotion shown during the Mass or service.  You won’t hear a lot of “amen’s” during the service from either congregation, you also don’t generally see a lot of hand raising during hymns or prayers, although our Presbyterian church has been moving in that direction.  My brother, who won the religion pin in his glory days at St. Vincent De Paul Elementary, may weigh in at some point to correct my Catholic theological memory.  In any event to boil it down, church on Sunday is pretty much a reserved, look forward, sing, pray, go home event.  Bringing Frank into that has been a lot of fun.

Frank likes to sing.  God cries when I sing so I’m not really qualified to judge, but I’m going to anyway.  For a two year old he’s not …. well he’s not good.  Also Frank is not generally concerned with what song or music is playing at the time.  He prefers Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi or More Than a Feeling by Boston but he’ll roll with most songs.  He is especially amazed and mesmerized buy the guitar player on Sunday mornings.  Matt also is the pastor in charge of music, not just the guitar player but Frank’s not hung up on titles, he just digs a good axe.  Matt is very talented, he gets Frank’s undivided attention while he’s playing.  In fact the first time Frank saw Matt playing he got extremely upset when the song ended.  So upset was Frank, he was inconsolable and had to be taken out.   Now to my Jersey friends and family “taken out” means moved to the lobby not the definition you may be used to.  Anyway it wasn’t that much of a commotion as commotions go but just enough to embarrass Tracy for a few seconds.  It was however, a prelude for things to come.

It was a Sunday I missed church, must have been a natural disaster or world wide emergency, I can’t remember but Tracy and Frank went to church for the first time without me.  Of all the times I missed, again due to some catastrophic issue, this was not a good day to do so.  Presbyterians take communion every Sunday just like the Catholic Church, well at least these Presbyterians do.   Each pew goes up when called and go semi-circle around the pastor who then passes a dish with bread and then a dish with little plastic cups of wine or grape juice.  Since I was not there and I don’t think we were putting Frank in the church nursery yet, Tracy took Frank up to communion with her.  He was cool until Tracy went to hand the cup back.  Nope.  Frank wanted it.  He had her too.  Sitting in a pew at the back crying because Matt wasn’t playing anymore was one thing, standing at the front of the church in view of the entire congregation was a whole different story. I’m not sure Frank was aware of his opportunity.  He could have had anything he wanted, well probably anything and everything he wanted.  I’m sure he’ll regret that later in life when it comes up during therapy but for that moment when the world was at his finger tips in the arms of his mother who would give him anything not to make a scene all he wanted was the plastic communion cup.  Had this been the Catholic Church where the bread and wine is turned to the body and blood of Jesus, Frank wanting the cup would make sense.  I mean it would have some value.  In this case it was just some Hi-C or The Kroger brand grape juice.  I prefer kool-aid mind you but Jim Jones ruined that for everybody, look it up Kraslawsky.  Anyway Frank made his play and got the plastic cup.  But he’s not a one trick pony, he had an agenda.

Frank had his cup and Tracy turned and marched back to the pew.  She was roughly in one of the last 3 pews, my sources tell me.  Apparently I’m not the only back pew driver in the family.  Anyway Tracy and Frank are back there with or behind a large contingent of University of Tennessee students who make up a bulk of our congregation.  I believe the incedent occurred during the benidiction or final blessing that signals it’s time to leave.  It is the one time most of the congregation will raise their hands.  Frank digs that.  When the benediction was done Frank raises his hands, thrusts his plastic communion cup heaven-ward and utters something akin to an Italian toast of “Salute” – during the most quiet moment in the service next to the call for silent prayer.  Now the front of the church save a few, like an off duty pastor and former athletic director I know, would not laugh at Frank’s top of his lungs toast.  The college kids in the back rows on the other hand… well safe to say they were in stitches.  Little side note here: I have noticed that in a protestant church it is much easier to stop laughing than it is in a Catholic church.  For some reason when you are in a Catholic church things only get funnier as you try to stop laughing; not the case in buildings born out of Martin Luther’s note that shocked the world.  So the college kids quieted down pretty quick.  Can’t believe I missed that.  I have great sources but Frank has to be experienced live.

I happened to be present for the next incident.  We were at a rare away game at a Presbyterian church in Lexington Kentucky.  My brother-in-law Brad, a campus minister at Kentucky and a member of this church at the time, and Rachel his wife, were having their daughter baptized.  No back pew for this, we were front and center, Frank included.  He was great too, as he normally is in church.  We have never had an issue where he acted up just to act up.  He usually is responding to something.  First Brad and I got Frank going unwittingly.  When the pastor of the church reached for some water to sprinkle on my niece’s head the sleeve of his robe dipped into the bowl of water and literally scooped all the water out like a giant funnel.  The dude is a pro though and went on like nothing happened.  I saw it and started to suppress a laugh until I saw Brad who also noticed it and was biting back a smirk.  Frank looked at me then at Brad and let out a quick ha ha ha.  He quieted down pretty fast though.  The kid spends his days with me, his funny bone is a lot more refined than to lose it over a simple thing like some water up the sleeve.

The funny part was provided by the pastor.  As I said this guy moved on as if nothing happened even though a crap-ton* of water went right up his sleeve as he raised the baby up.  Well he goes into his little verbiage about baptism and says some words about Brad and Rachel and then about Anna-Kate – I think I spelled that right Rachel.?.?  After a while it becomes clear this will not be a short speech but is quickly turning into a mini-sermon.  I’m a Roman so what do I know but that was way too long to talk when baptizing a baby only a few months old.  Plus Frank’s antsy meter is staring to redline.  But I love that kid and the following is one of the reasons why.  As the pastor is rounding the bend towards the finish line of this monolog Frank stands up.  As the guy finishes and turns to walk back to the altar, or pulpit I guess, when all is extremely quiet, Frank yells “yeah” and starts to clap; just like they teach you in Little Gym when a kid does something for the first time.  My only thought – he’s expressing what the rest of us sinners in here are thinking, “Thank God he’s done”.  You could feel the awesome.

Frank was born into a Presbyterian house but he may just be a Roman at heart.

*crap-ton – Local phraseology meaning slightly more than a metric ton.  Commonly used to describe an extreme amount and normally uttered with appropriate verbal and physical exasperation whilst embellishing a story.

Living on a Prayer - left handed no less