Monday, January 23, 2012

Vanessa Deserves Half... Yeah I Said It!

The moment a celebrity divorce hits the airwaves, the speculation begins, “I wonder how much she’s going to get!” immediately followed by the debate on spousal support and alimony. “Why did Jordan’s wife get half? She didn’t win any championships!” Interestingly, the conversation isn’t even split along gender lines; many women believe that the wife doesn’t deserve half of the men’s earnings and many men believe that the husband should give the money up.

(By the way, I realize that sometimes, the woman is the breadwinner and in some rare cases ends up owing alimony to their ex husband. However this post will deal primarily with what happens the majority of the time; money-making husbands ceding half of their fiscal earnings to their ex-wife.)

In most cases, I’m inclined to believe that the ex-wife should get half of what was earned throughout the marriage. Before you slam your laptop/ipad/droid/flip phone down in disgust, let me explain the 3 fundamental reasons why I believe as such:

1. Marriage is an extremely serious (ideally) life-long commitment; there are no take-backs. Those vows are heavy and vital for a reason. You are committing to not only spend your entire life with someone, but to share it with that person. You share a home, you share germs, and you share important life decisions. In many cases, (as in Tiger and Elin, Kobe and Vanessa, Jay and Bey) you share what Jay called “[his] greatest creation”, children. Those vows mean that if you lose your job or a limb or if you gain a love handle, it doesn’t matter, you’re in it for the long haul. That’s a LOT to sign on to. And there’s no take backs. If you divorce someone, you don’t get to take back what you gave during the marriage. You already committed to sharing the kids, that tattoo on your arm and yes, the income. Obviously, if you can no longer be married and/or live together, some commitments (such as shared space in the bathroom) are tossed for practical reasons. However, money earned during a marriage is a relatively easy thing to split evenly. You made the commitment; now you gotta stick to it.

2. Marriage has a well-documented history of painful endings. Couples, particularly well-off couples, KNOW going into marriage that there’s a possibility of a costly divorce and an even more costly split. The details of Michael Jordan, Paul McCartney, Mel Gibson, Madonna, and many others’ divorces are public knowledge. You may be surprised to learn that your wife has a really nasty habit of picking her nose while sitting in traffic. But men DO know that if their marriage ends prematurely, especially through some fault of their own, they’re going to lose half of what was earned.
3. Opponents of wives receiving half fail to recognize the value added by the marriage. The public and those outside of a marriage will never know all the little (and big) things a wife did for her husband in that marriage. Speaking figuratively of course, the man brought home the bacon, but someone had to cook it! A few examples:
A. a large part of why Tiger Woods received so many endorsements was because of his All-American family appeal. Tiger Woods gave that public apology about his philandering with those women because the companies he endorsed felt he had sold a lie.  Whether you agree or disagree that he owed the public or his endorsers an apology, he was dropped by several endorsers not because he cheated on his wife; he was dropped because he failed to live up to the image that Gatorade slapped on their bottles. Elin helped him build that money-making image by being his wife.
B. Vanessa Bryant stuck by her husband after he slept with a promiscuous woman unprotected, exposing her to what could have been deathly or worrisome diseases. Furthermore, by jeopardizing his own health, he created the opportunity for Vanessa Bryant to become a widowed, single mother to their children. The world doesn’t know if it was the jewelry, hope, or the promises to do better that made her stay; all we know is that she stayed. I’d say that’s quite an investment that she deserves a return on.
C. There are countless other husbands, not so famous, who receive support and “added value” from their wives throughout their marriage. A wife often provides inspiration for her husband’s next project; a clean, welcoming home for her husband to return to; a smile and joke when her husband is feeling down; an ear for her husband’s problems; and a great partner in raising the kids (wiping their snot, buttoning their coats, attending parent-teacher conferences, reviewing their homework, admonishing them not to put their mouth on the water fountain, saying their prayers with them at night and it goes on). Husbands can go off to work assured that someone with a shared interest in his kids and home is taking care of it. You may say, “But that’s what she’s supposed to do; it’s her job as the wife and mother!” I agree, it is her job; and that’s why she needs to be paid for her services. A wife’s responsibility to her husband are an all-inclusive package with no hard costs. But when the marriage no longer exists, those costs have to be invoiced.
Here is where I usually ask you specific questions to get some feedback. But I have faith that my controversial statements are enough to get some of you to respond. Let’s go. What do YOU think?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is that "The Thirst" or Simply Genuine Interest?

A few days ago, someone I went to school with called to say Happy New Year. While I was appreciative of his well wishes, I was a little caught off guard. To give you some background, the last time I’d spoken to him was probably two homecomings ago. When we were in undergrad, we didn’t date or even hang out one on one. I’m still not sure how it came to be that we had each other’s number, but nevertheless, he had it. I said thanks and we entered into that “So What Have You Been Up To/Let’s Catch Up on the Major Stuff” convo. About 5 minutes in I said, “Thanks for the call; I appreciate you reaching out. Maybe I’ll see you when you’re in town!”

And then the texts began…

“So what are you doing right now?”

“You know I’ve always liked you, Crys.” (We doing nicknames now!?)

“Believe it or not, I actually have a massage license…”

and so forth.

I did nothing to encourage these texts. My responses primarily consisted of “lol” “oh yeah?” “cool.” I thought maybe he was drunk so I didn’t think much of it. But the texts and calls continued in to the next day and night. And the next day. I even got the notorious good morning texts.  
I know you think I’m leaving key elements out of this story. I’m not. This solicitation came up out of the blue. He hasn’t really said anything inappropriate; the comments are just strangely intimate considering the nature of our very platonic and shallow relationship.
So here’s the question… is this interest or is this what is commonly referred to as “#thethirst”? Has this gentleman crossed the line from appropriate courting to overbearing panhandling?

We (humans, men and women) often complain about a lack of effort put forth by the gender we’re interested in. Women in particular, often wish that men would communicate more. And here this guy is expressing what could be genuine interest, consistently, and 90% respectfully. (I mean, really… why do I need to know that you allegedly have a massage license?)  
We could come up with all kinds of formulas for what makes something an indication of romantic interest or what makes it an indication of thirst, but I think generally speaking, it all boils down to 2 key things:

1. Your own preconceived notions of personal space and how frequent communication should occur. Some people like talking on the phone, some don’t. You may think he’s thirsty because he texts you to say “Good morning; have a great day at work” but he thinks he’s just letting you know that you were on his mind for at least a few moments.

And more importantly....

2. Your interest in the individual pursuing you. If you like the person giving you attention, then you tell your friends, “Awww, girl, he texted me good morning. *insert Rihanna voice* He da one!” But if you don’t like him, then you jump onto social media or text your friends and say. “Girl, I don’t even KNOW him, why he all in my space? #thethirst.” Guys are the same way. When a girl you like calls and says, “Hey I just happened to be cooking dinner, and I'm going to be in your neighborhood soon, want a plate?”, she’s wifey material. But if she’s not your type, you’re conjuring up images of Lynn Whitfield in Thin Line. Note to men: Most women don’t randomly offer meals, favors, tickets, etc just because we’re nice. Just like men, we have a motive. We almost always like you. So don’t make it a habit to accept a lot of free stuff from women or else she’ll think you’re leading her on.

I’ll give you an example: The longest relationship I’ve ever been in started when the guy started showing up at my job around the end of my shift and offering me a ride home. He made it a little less creepy by saying, “I just happened to be in the area.” (Lies! Lol!) At first, he showed up maybe once a week; then before I knew it, he was there every day at my quitting time, offering me a ride home. And you know what? It worked, because I liked him, and I thought it was sweet. (And I really didn’t like riding the metro late at night. Lol.) But if I didn’t like him, I’d have thought he was a stalker and considered a restraining order.

To be fair, some things are probably going to be considered in the Thirst Category regardless of how much you like the guy or gal. (Like… friending someone’s entire family on Facebook after one date.) Most things though are relative.

What do you think? Is my theory a little off or dead on? Got any funny examples of #thethirst or “awwwww” moments of genuine interest?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

GOP: 2012's Humpty Dumpty (Part II)

In my last post, I outlined why Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich, 3 GOP presidential hopefuls would fail to win the overall election. At the time of that writing I thought I had at least 4 more candidates to discuss, but it seems that after a lackluster showing in Iowa, Michelle Bachmann has bowed out.  It’s a shame; she was probably going to be the easiest paragraph to type.
But anyway, moving onward and upward, let’s get right to it. What are the major flaws of Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum that will prevent them from the ultimate success?
Let’s start with the candidate I respect most:

Governor Huntsman.
Mr. Huntsman was elected as governor of Utah twice, and in 2009, resigned to accept President Obama’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China. He’s served in the Reagan and Bush administrations as well. While he is certainly conservative, he’s not so far right that liberals and moderates have difficulty finding common ground with his beliefs. He's a Mormon but he believes in evolution and his work in both Democratic and Republican administrations is evidence that he knows how to work with all kinds of people. Ironically… this is his Achilles heel.
His Flaw: Governor Huntsman can’t beat a moderate President by being moderate. The conservative and disenchanted who aren’t so enamored with President’s Obama administration aren’t going to replace him with someone who used to work for him. Similarly to 2008, a lot of folks are looking for change and Huntsman can’t (or won’t) do that. Huntsman is consistently at the bottom of all the polls so don’t look to see him in a presidency near you, however, feel free to view his (hilarious) appearance on the Colbert Show.

 Rick Santorum
Next up is Rick Santorum. When I first started writing these pieces, I tried not to say anything particularly mean-spirited, ugly or petty about any of the candidates, but Santorum makes it hard. I don’t know if it’s the arrogant smirk, or his absurd campaign slogan “The Courage to Fight for America” (is America under siege?!), but whatever it is, this guy is a joke. Seriously, I don’t even know where to start with his flaws, so I’ll be concise.

His Flaw: His views really pissed off Dan Savage, popular writer and pundit. So Mr. Savage created a website redefining “santorum.”  I’d call it ratchet if I used that word. I won’t type out the actual website, but you can click on it here. (If you’re 18.) As long as this site is up, Santorum doesn’t stand a chance. By the way, if you Google "Santorum", this is the first site that comes up. What a shame.
 Mitt Romney
Finally, we’ve come to the candidate who most recently emerged (quite narrowly I might add) victorious in the Iowa primary, Mr. Mitt Romney. From the beginning, he’s been the “safest” Republican choice. He’s got a strong history of conservative values, he’s the child of a Michigan governor, he’s got a big presidential smile, and seems to make people at ease with the idea of a Mormon president. But he effed up and we all know where:
His Flaw: Years before the health care reform supported by President Obama, Mitt Romney successfully supported and initiatied a similar health care plan for the state of Massachusetts. There is one thing almost all conservatives (and some indepedents) agree on: the health care reform initiated by the Obama administration is a socialist, evil plan to make health care more affordable, efficient, and accessible to all Americans. Wait… that's evil? I digress… While Romney has a particularly great knack for talking about how horrible the Obama admin has been for our country, it’s a little hard to pull off when it seems as if you two are on the same page about Obama's most controversial piece of legislation. Sorry Romney; if only you’d known that caring about the residents of Massachusetts would come back to bite you in the rear. By the way, I highly recommend reading the article hyperlinked in this paragraph twice. Very informative.
So there you have it. Romney, Santorum, and Huntsman, nice try, but no cigar.

Am I underestimating Romney’s ability to unseat Obama or Huntsman’s ability to be the come back kid? Or is this a pretty good assessment of the remaining 3 GOP candidates? Let me know what you think. I'm always willing to learn.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

GOP: 2012's Humpty Dumpty (Part 1)

Whether it’s the NBA Finals, my Aunts’ Pound Cake Cookoff, or a Brandy vs Monica track, there’s  nothing like seeing great entities compete… which is why I’m almost sad about the current campaign for Election 2012.

I know several folks believe reelecting Barack Obama is the end of life as we know it. Unfortunately for those people, no one on the other side has a campaign that has proved that they are any better. Each candidate has a flickering moment as the top contender in the lime light and then falters; the “New Car Scent” emanating from the tree dangling from my rear view mirror lasts longer than any of the GOP hopefuls reign over their competitors. Why?

  • That’s always how it is this far out. Remember when Hilary and our current Pres -and every now and then John Edwards- were shuffling spots in the Dem primaries? As the voters learn more about the candidates, their votes shift.
  • It’s pretty hard to unseat an incumbent President (there’s only been 3 one-term presidents since WWII.) Read more about incumbents who’ve lost ---> here.
  • Every single GOP candidate has at least one inescapable flaw that makes it difficult for the American voter base to accept them as president.
Let’s start with my 2nd favorite Republican.

Ron Paul
We all know a Ron Paul. He’s the great uncle in everyone’s family who says something outrageous or maybe something we all want to say, but have the tact to keep to ourselves. I’ll give it to the guy; he’s consistent. He’s so opposed to governmental payments that he won’t accept the pension he earns as a Congress member. He’s so conservative that he’s libertarian (see what I did there); he’s opposed to the U.S.’s participation in the United Nations, NATO, the War on Drugs, abortion, affirmative action and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But...

His Flaws: 
  • You invite your great uncle to the BBQ because you have to, but that doesn’t mean you’d VOTE for him. Ron Paul is 76 years old. He’s old, a little cranky, and can’t handle the pressure of being a President. He nearly flipped on a journalist who asked him a question, while he was eating breakfast quite publicly in a hotel lobby. Dude… you’re running for office; if you want to avoid people, get room service.
  • While his ideas often seem like simple concepts that make sense, they often require a dramatic and radical change in thinking that people aren’t ready for. People (self included) just aren’t ready to sign up for ideas like the decriminalization of cocaine. Nah… not yet.
Side Serving of Flaw: He also has his name on some racist newsletters.

 Newt Gingrich
Someone I really respect said that Newt Gingrich was really smart. This may be true; I just haven’t seen it. I think the best way to really paint a picture of why Gingrich won’t make it the Oval Office is an examination of a recent controversial position/idea he has for “poor kids.” To paraphrase, Gingrich believes that the government should change child labor laws and allow poor children who “don’t see adults working” to gain a work ethic by cleaning toilets and mopping floors. “The families could use the extra money anyway.” 

His Flaws: 
  • He’s not diplomatic enough to be president. When you come up with a solution that requires us to “relax child labor laws” you've lost a good chunk of your audience. When your solution involves putting mop handles in poor kids’ hands Annie-style, you’ve lost even more. (Wonder why he didn’t suggest giving them office or administrative experience? They can’t learn work ethic by running copies; only by being janitors huh?)  Furthermore, when your solution suggests that poor folks have no work ethic, people hear “Gingrich must think that rich people work harder.” Anyone that’s ever worked at at Kmart the day before Christmas knows that isn’t true. I’d argue that in many cases, the work ethic of poor children rivals that of some rich children who inherit trust funds, are given a car on their 16th birthday and who don’t know what Tide is for.  
  • He changes religions and wives like high school students change their Facebook status. He’s been married 3 times, was originally a Lutheran, then a Southern Baptist in grad school, and in 08 confirmed for sure that he was now Catholic. A liberal audience might be ok with this, but the conservative base that he hopes to propel him to the Presidency? Naaaah.
Rick Perry 
I’ll give him this; this guy has guts. He stood before a conservative audience in one of the early debates and stood behind his plan to provide in state tuition for undocumented citizens working to get their legal citizenship. And attendees of these Republican debates happen to be professional booers. Kudos to you Mr. Perry. But you’re not the answer. 

His Flaws: 
  • He’s got no stage presence, or as the urban crowd calls it, “swag.” The guy practically writes entire SNL sketches every other time he speaks. We're all familiar with his HUGE gaffe that made the cover of the Washington Post where he was unable to name the three agencies of government he wanted to eliminate. (By the way, whoever heard of nixing the Department of Education?!? Is he ridiculous!?) But if you need more examples of silly statements, read here.
  • He’s more of a Texan than an American leader, and people can feel it. Back in 09, Perry suggested that Texas could secede and become its own country. He's just not ready for the Big Leagues. 
I’ll address Huntsman, Romney, Santorum, and Bachmann next week in Part Two.

The GOP Hopefuls have something I certainly don’t have: the courage to run for president of a pretty powerful country. But they all have something else in common: an inevitable loss ahead. I’d put my niece’s college trust fund on it. 

What are your thoughts? Do you see any other flaws in Perry, Gingrich or Ron Paul? Are the flaws overstated? Do you think they have a chance?  Let’s talk about it. (Happy New Year!!)