DILBERT DOES DOLLARS

Tim Bonham: ‘Just finished reading Dilbert – Way of the Weasel, and there is a short section in it where Scott Adams talks about financial advice. He says he thought about writing a book on this, but everything could be covered in one page, and people object to buying a one-page book, and he didn’t see how he could stretch it out to a couple hundred pages. Here is his 1-page Financial Advice. To me, it seemed pretty good – and much like what you have been saying for years!

Everything You Need to Know about Personal Investing

* Make a will.
* Payoff your credit card balance.
* Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
* Fund your company 401K to the maximum.
* Fund your IRA to the maximum.
* Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it.
* Put six months’ expenses in a money market account.
* Take whatever money is left over and invest 70 percent in a stock index fund and 30 percent in a bond fund through any discount brokerage company and never touch it until retirement.
* If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issue), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.

Everything else you might want to do with your money is a bad idea compared to what’s on my one-page summary.

‘What do you think of his advice?’

☞ I think it’s great. Here’s how to stretch it out to a couple hundred pages.

DEBBIE DOES DARTMOUTH

Cliff Kramon: ‘One sizable college expense families encounter early in the process is the expense for Mom, Dad, and teenager to actually go out and visit the colleges, some of which may be several states away. Besides airfares, hotels, rent-a-cars, and meals, there are the personal days off from work. Not an unlimited resource either. As a partial solution, we at Collegiate Choice Walking Tours Videos have taped the student guided campus tour at over 350 colleges across the US and abroad. Nothing slick or promotional … just a simple recording of everything a family would have seen and heard had they visited the campus the day we did. We charge $15/video tour and our videos average about one hour per college.’

☞ I feel a MasterCard commercial coming on: One road trip to Kenyon, with hotel, $373. Two unpaid days off from assistant managing the Burger King, $180. Chance to spend a couple of days with son on road trip? Priceless.’ Still – even if it’s not quite the same bonding experience – seeing a few schools at $15 each might help narrow the field of possible visits.

I NEED YOUR HELP . . .

Can you think of any money tips that are ‘summer’ related? I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for – in the words of Secretary Rumsfeld, if I knew what I don’t know, I wouldn’t not know it – but my guess is that it may be travel related, food or sports related, lemonade-related, stay-cool related, summer job related, buy-snow-plows-on-sale related – anything clever about summer money. (Pool blankets I already have.) Thanks for any ideas you can offer.

LIEUTENANT BUSH

Jared Swecker: ‘I am not even close to being politically active, but have enjoyed learning about basic Democratic opinions from your columns. The link that you provided in your Lieutenant Bush column that showed the supposed timeline of Bush’s knowledge of the September 11th attacks was just over the top for me. They depicted President Bush laughing on one half of the screen while on the other half there were images of people falling from the WTC towers. How dare someone use those violent and disturbing images to muster up emotions in people for political gain? This type of ‘mudslinging’ is exactly why politics sometimes has such a nasty reputation. The intent of this website borders on obscene. To portray President Bush as someone who knew about the events and turned away from them is absolutely ridiculous. This exemplifies the perverse American mentality that we need to blame somebody when something bad happens. When you slip and fall in the store, well then let’s sue Safeway for $1 million because they should have had pillows on the floor to catch your clumsy butt. I’m sure that legitimate criticism can be dealt out to many of Bush’s decisions and policies. But to claim that President Bush didn’t care enough or to say he was too stupid to realize the severity of the situation is not only irresponsible, it is disrespectful. The President of our country, regardless of the party he belongs to, should demand more than that from us. Thank you for the soapbox.’

Abe: ‘For you to suggest that a guy as sophisticated as Michael Moore couldn’t have possibly known what the word deserter meant really calls into question your own ability to analyze anything. That sort of inflammatory rhetoric is used intentionally in all cases involving people of Mr. Moore and Mr. Rove’s sophistication, and you and I both know it. It is a major reason why there is no civil discourse over our differences any more. You should be ashamed for saying such a silly thing. Of course he knew, and in certain constituencies, it had the desired effect. To pretend any differently is sophistry of the first order.’

☞ Well, I don’t think I said he ‘couldn’t possibly have known.’ I think I said he quite possibly didn’t know. But more interesting (to me) is whether President Bush really was AWOL in a way that could have landed lesser men in jail.

I’ll get to that in a second, but here is Moore’s explanation of the ‘deserter’ brouhaha:

I was just attempting my best impersonation of that announcer guy for the World Wrestling Federation, asking the cheering crowd if they would like to see a smackdown (‘debate’) which I called ‘The Generaaal Versus The Deserterrrr!!’ (You can watch it here – hardly anyone in the media has shown this clip because viewers would suddenly see the context of my comments.)

For more on Moore, you might want to visit his website. Sometimes, I think he goes too far. But often, he’s spot on.

As to the details of Bush’s military service, Moore offers this, which he attributes to moveon.org. It’s kind of amazing how little press scrutiny this got form the so-called liberal press during the endless campaign of 2000. See what you think:

Here are what appear to be the known facts, laid out recently in considerable detail and documentation by retired pilot and Air National Guard First Lt. Robert A. Rogers, and in a 2003 book, ‘The Lies of George W. Bush,’ by David Corn.

1. George W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968 when the war in Vietnam was at its most deadly and the military draft was in effect. Like many of his social class and age, he sought to enter the National Guard, which made Vietnam service unlikely, and fulfill his military obligation. Competition for slots was intense; there was a long waiting list. Bush took the Air Force officer and pilot qualification tests on Jan. 17, 1968, and scored the lowest allowed passing grade on the pilot aptitude portion.

2. He, nevertheless, was sworn in on May 27, 1968, for a six-year commitment. After a few weeks of basic training, Bush received an appointment as a second lieutenant – a rank usually reserved for those completing four years of ROTC or 18 months active duty service. Bush then went to flight school and trained on the F-102 interceptor fighter jet. Fighter pilots were in great demand in Vietnam at the time, but Bush wound up serving as a ‘weekend warrior’ in Houston<, where his father’s congressional district was centered.

A Houston Chronicle story published in 1994, quoted in Corn’s book, has Bush saying: ‘I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.’

3. Sometime after May 1971, young Lt. Bush stopped participating regularly in Guard activities. According to Texas Air National Guard records, he had fewer than the required flight duty days and was short of the minimum service owed the Guard. Records indicate that Bush never flew after May 1972, despite his expensive training and even though he still owed the National Guard two more years.

4. On May 24, 1972, Bush asked to be transferred to an inactive reserve unit in Alabama, where he also would be working on a Republican senate candidate’s campaign. The request was denied. For months, Bush apparently put in no time at all in Guard service. In August 1972, Bush was grounded — suspended from flying duties — for failing to submit to an annual physical exam. (Why wouldn’t he take this exam from a doctor?)

5. During his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush’s staff said he recalled doing duty in Alabama and then returning to Houston for still more duty. But the commander of the Montgomery, AL, unit where Bush said he served told the Boston Globe that he had no recollection of Bush – son of a congressman – ever reporting, nor are there records, as there should be, supporting Bush’s claim. Asked at a press conference in Alabama on June 23, 2000 what duties he had performed as a Guardsman in that state, Bush said he could not recall, ‘but I was there.’

6. In May, June and July, 1973, Bush suddenly started participating in Guard activities back in Houston again – pulling 36 days at Ellington Air Base in that short period. On Oct. 1, 1973, eight months short of his six-year service obligation and scheduled discharge, Bush apparently was discharged with honors from the Texas Air National Guard (eight months short of his six-year commitment). He then went to Harvard Business School.

Documents supporting these reports, released under Freedom of Information Act requests, appear along with Rogers’ article on the web at http://democrats.com/display.cfm?id=154.

In the absence of full disclosure by the President or his supporters, only the President and perhaps a few family or other close associates know the whole truth. And they’re not talking.

Bush was apparently absent without official leave from his assigned military service for as little as seven months (New York Times) or as much as 17 months (Boston Globe) during a time when 500,000 American troops were fighting the Vietnam War. The Army defines a ‘deserter’ — also known as a DFR, for ‘dropped from rolls’ – as one who is AWOL 31 days or more: www-ari.army.mil/pdf/s51.pdf.

 

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