April 19th, 2004


American Dynasty, Kevin Phillips

[American Dynasty cover]Been quiet for a bit here. Mostly been reading and spending time with Deb. No voyeuristic notes about Deb today. So I'll talk about my latest book, Kevin Phillips book, American Dynasty. It's an examination of the history of the Bush and Walker families and how their involvement in finance, oil, and intelligence has produced our current war in Iraq. Those of you given over to conspiracy theories (ahem, djxavier13) should read this. This book actually lays out quite a bit of evidence for an ugly underside of the Bush family. But in a lot of respects it fails. Much of Phillips' method involve flinging as much mud as possible and seeing what sticks. Quite a bit does, but a significant portion is based on innuendo and guilt by association. Phillips has meticulously footnoted the book, but much of the footnotes do not refer to any smoking gun. Rather they refer to press reports of people who originally made allegations.

Still, it's a good book for a few reasons. First, this the the first examination of the Bush family as a whole. Second, Phillips details a lot of documented chicanery on the part of the Bush family. For instance, the scion of the Bush family Samuel Bush sat on the War Industries Board during W.W.I. at the same time that he headed an Ohio company that produced munitions for the government. It also shows just how much of a failure at business George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush really were. They only made money when others trying to curry favor with the family bailed out their businesses. Third, the book lays out a lot of themes to look for from the Bush family (including possibly Jeb Bush) from a focus on secrecy to a pre-occupation with the Middle East in foreign policy because of the oil business connections.


Urg, my head

I got too busy to eat at work today. Guess what happened? This time I sucked down 2 Cherry Cokes® within about 10 minutes of the vision issues starting and that seemed to nip it in the bud mostly. Still had a killer headache from 3:30 on though. Got home and ate a can of Spaghetti-o's®, some orange juice and 2 Exedrin®. Waiting for that to kick in and kill my headache.

In other news, there is no news.

Okay, boring stuff. I've been entering all my financial data into the computer so that I have a good and accessible record when I do my taxes next year. No more scrambling through 10 years of paper records to find a piece of information. I'm probably 60% done with this task right now. It would be unnecessary if a brokerage transferred all the information about a holding when they transferred the holding. Here's the issue I had with my taxes. My grandfather died years ago. He left me a small sum of money. My aunt (the trustee) bought a mutual fund. Over the years the earnings were reinvested in the fund, (this is the important part) at the price of the fund at the time the money was earned. When the money was turned over to me, instead of taking it in cash, I simply had them transfer the shares of the mutual fund. Except they didn't copy over the information on how much I paid for each share or when each was purchased. Just the count of shares. I sold some of it last year. I pay income tax on the profit, or the difference between what I paid for it and what I sold it for. There's several different ways of figuring this out (the simplest being cost averaging). But I have to know how much I paid for it, which a broker normally tells you. Except when the customer has transferred the shares to his account. So I had to go back to what records I had from my aunt to add up 14 years of earnings and costs. In the end, I am missing a bunch of information still and so I made educated guesses in a couple of places.

Anyway, I'm getting all that entered into the computer for what I have left so that I can do the same thing in 30 minutes that took me 6 hours last Tuesday. Aren't you glad I wrote about this? Isn't my life exciting?