Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't let lesser issues pass you by

This first published October 23, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” was less than hysterical.

In fact, it was downright eerie — that is the striking resemblance of Palin and Tina Fey is eerie.

Her cameo did lend itself to blasting SNL’s ratings to their highest numbers in 14 years. But Alec Baldwin’s line about Palin being hotter in person was belittling.

In any case, Palin has yet to convince me she is vice presidential material and, more importantly, presidential material. I haven’t, however, completely made up my mind about which ticket to vote for.

Because I’m undecided, I repeat what I’ve stated since the inception of early voting in Nevada: I’m really leery of the idea because so much can happen in the last days of a campaign that could determine how people vote.

Why, if I had voted for McCain on Saturday and then on Monday a great American patriot like Colin Powell endorses Obama, I might feel regret. Actually, this race may have been more interesting had Colin Powell been running.

With that said, I must admit early voting can be convenient with busy schedules in a community that operates 24 hours a day. And in many cases it probably doesn’t matter whether people vote early or not.

I say this because many of the Democrats and Republicans I have discussed the election with would vote for their party’s candidate no matter what might possibly happen. It’s amusing how members of each party rattle off their party’s talking points or negative campaign rhetoric without regard to the facts or truth.

Democrats usually recite advertisement copy or news accounts, and Republicans recite the talking points of conservative spinners such as Limbaugh, Hanity and Levine. Being a talk radio junkie, I listen to these three spin doctors throughout the day, challenging the loosely weaved fabric they spin.

Politics is a tricky river to navigate because there is no perfect candidate who could possibly align with every issue you may consider important.

For instance, I know people who abhor abortion yet fervently defend the death penalty.

There is a businessman who complains about the debatable economic drain and increased cost of health care created by undocumented immigrants, then in the very same breath expresses how important they are to the survival of business in Las Vegas and this country.

Whatever your hot-button issue might be, try to remain cognisant of your lesser issues, because they could easily outweigh your hot button.

I’m not suggesting you vote for any particular candidate or back the platform of one party over the other. What I’m suggesting is that you think about the issues that are dear to you and vote your conscience.

If you have no special issues, then educate yourself on the issues, challenge the rhetoric and vote. There is no excuse for not voting, especially in Clark County where every opportunity is provided for you to do so.

Whenever I consider people not voting, I’m reminded of my father’s experiences as an observer of elections in places like Kurdistan in the early ’90s. This is a region on the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey where a people without a country called the Kurds live. In the case of the Kurds, many walked for three days to reach a polling place.

The photos he took are etched in my mind, especially the ones of the long lines, in some cases half a mile long.

It is disheartening to see voter turnouts in Clark County from past elections. I predict a higher than average turnout in this presidential election compared to other presidential elections.

If you do not vote in this election, you have little right to complain about the direction of this country’s future.

If 17 million people will stay up until midnight to watch SNL with Gov. Sarah Palin, just think of the millions who might get out to vote in this election.

That’s no joke!

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or His regular column is at One Man's View

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Government Misjudged Lifeline

This first published October 2, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

It looks like the rooster has come home to roost. The U.S. economy has tanked after the first “bailout” failed, as it should have.

Isn’t it amazing how the stock market moved up as the promise of a lifeline was looming? And then the line snaps, and computers take over with automated trades dumping stocks, causing a 777-point drop on Monday. Some jackpot.

Then on Tuesday, as Congress continued to mend the lifeline for another toss to the sinking economy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped back up 485 points.

Personally, I’m not real fond of bailing out all of the hooligans who have been living high on the hog with multiple homes and private jets on the backs of citizens trying reach the American dream just to have it snuffed out like a bad cigar.

I’m even more disenchanted by the political stock that both John McCain and Barack Obama tried to lasso from the crisis. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t buy into the ridiculous name-calling and blame-shifting going on by both parties. As far as the debates went, both of them should have stayed in Washington D.C. for change — a real change.

Last year, more than 37 million people were living below the poverty level in this country — the wealthiest country in the world. After this year, who knows how many more millions will have been forced into poverty?

What will the big “Bailout of ’08” do for the average “take a lunchbox to work Joe” in America? Very little is my guess.
Being very fortunate to have a 401(k) plan — even one that has gotten the you-know-what kicked out of it lately — I have decided not to panic and ride it out. The beauty of my 401(k) is that I make all of the decisions on what funds I choose. The downside is some of my choices weren’t that great. But I made the choices, and is Congress going to bail me out from my bad choices? Hell no!

Is this economic plan going to bail out all of those speculators who bought multiple homes in, let’s say, Las Vegas? Let’s just hope not.

So what am I going to do about my 401(k) and our mortgage? Absolutely nothing. Remain calm and continue on as usual. I’m not running to the bank and withdrawing our cash savings to put it in the mattress either.

Not only that, I’m encouraging you to spend wiser and, like me, keep spending even a little bit. Especially if you can spend your hard-earned cash with the small-business people trying to keep their heads above water and a roof over their families’ heads.

This is what made America great and will continue to do so in the future.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to tip. Tips are what makes the world go ’round. Just ask any of the tens of thousands of tip earners in this valley — our neighbors that is!

Now what about how our Nevada delegation voted on Monday’s failed bailout attempt?

Remember my last column, where I said Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., needed to shed his Bush lap dog image? Well he didn’t do it on Monday. He voted just the way President Bush wanted him to. Atta boy Jon. Here’s a bone. Good Boy!

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., did the right thing by voting against many of her colleagues and the president. She said the plan didn’t do enough for Americans and too much for corporate America.

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against it, saying he couldn’t vote for it in good conscience.

Don’t get me wrong: I could support any of the three. Some just need to learn a little independence.

Even though this idea won’t help my 401(k), I believe Wall Street should not get a dime other than what’s needed to borrow for capitalization and conservative expansion to create new jobs in the U.S.

In a perfect world, we would bail out residents trying to keep their homes by providing refinancing in the form of government loans and the understanding only one home would be eligible per tax filing. In other words, if you have two homes and you filed joint tax returns in 2007, you could only refinance one with a government loan.

That would keep the foxes out of the roost and the hens laying.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or He writes a regular column at One Man's View.