What happened to leading by example?

President Barack Obama has long preached to U.S. citizens that they should be patriotic and "pay their fair share."

However, when Vice President Joe Biden's and his wife's 2012 tax returns were released, it indicates that their taxable income was $351,000. Of this amount, they donated a paltry $5,100 (1.5 percent) in cash charitable contributions and the remainder was menial clothing or household donations.

Although reportedly not a millionaire, he was first elected to the Senate in 1972, a body that has never been known to be compensated poorly. This is interesting given that the Obama campaign excoriated Gov. Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign for paying only a 14 percent tax rate given that this was on capital gains, on money previously earned and taxed.

Recently released Romney 2012 tax returns indicated he donated nearly 30 percent of his income to charity last year ($4,020,772 to charity for $13,696, 951 in mostly investment income).

What happened to leading by example? As my late father always admonished me, "Let's practice what we preach."

Kurt Kleier

Oakland

Comic value found in news pages, too

I've observed that the first section many people turn to in their daily paper is the comics. Not me. I read the local news first. There is more comic value in that than there is in watching 50 clowns pile out of a tiny car at the circus.


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On one Sunday, I was treated to a story about the American Indian Charter School, whose founder is walking around free after absconding with $2 million to $3 million in taxpayers' money.

Next up was the story of the rise and fall of a former swimming champion who is now on the streets.

Pictures show him posing decorously with his Starbucks coffee, booze and what looks like a cellphone, proving once again that America's "homeless" live better than 90 percent of the world's population.

Capping it off is Tammerlin Drummond's typically incisive column about Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's creative bending of murder statistics.

Every year, when it comes time to renew my subscription, I wonder if I'm receiving value for my money. Then I remember all the money I save by being amused daily for a year at much less than the price of dinner and a couple of tickets to a comedy club.

Brian O'Neil

El Cerrito

City's arborist did best for ailing oak

We wish to publicly applaud our city's arborist, Tim, and his crew.

We recently observed that "Maggie," our old, stately magnolia, was ailing and called him for help. He arrived promptly and diagnosed her as moribund.

Sorrowfully, Maggie was removed the next day. She had been kind to us old folks and had not died in vain, albeit it will be some while before a new tree will provide us shade and, as the poem says, "host a nest of robins in her hair."

And as to the question posed by the Berkeley writer in a March 29 letter, as to who knew of someone who used or threatened to use their own gun for self-protection in their own home, the answer can be found in the award-winning illustrated book, "The Matchlock Gun."

Jack and Bonnie Antrim

Hayward

Even more pointless scientific research

This is regarding the April 4 letter "Scientists find possible hint of dark matter."

You've got that right, U.S. Energy Department: Per the big bang geeks, we do "live in a sea of dark matter."

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer program has found a footprint of something that could be dark matter. And we taxpayers have been goose-stepped right into $2 billion worth of this oh-so-necessary science project.

Sharon Brown

Fremont

Evolution is fantasy, not an actual theory

Jayne Thomas, in her April 9 letter, "Evolution is not a 'viewpoint,' " is right in insisting evolution isn't a viewpoint.

The fantasy, not theory, of evolution supposedly works by survival of the fittest. Fittest for what? Fittest to survive? So evolution merely asserts that those who survive, survive.

My friend, God, nearly laughed his head off when he heard that one.

Raphael Sealey

Berkeley