Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Obama's donations, Dobson's misquote, Biden's schedule, Bush's life and the Blame Game

While you were sleeping, we were reading and writing:

How do you reconcile this?

As you read here, President Obama and wife Michelle released their 2008 joint income tax return, like all recent presidents. They reported $2.7 million in income. Not bad for someone who spent most of the year not working at his elected job in Washington.Barack and Michelle Obama's joint federal Tax Return for 2008

The total means Obama will pay a higher tax rate this year under his own tax plans to get the very rich more than they're already gotten.

The taxes also show that last year the couple generously donated $172,000 to 37 charities, not counting not one dime to their former Trinity United Church in Chicago. That's about 6.5% of the liberal couple's adjusted gross income.

Don "The Pirate" Surber points out this morning that Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, donated almost the same amount of money ($166,000) to charity the previous year.

But since Bush wasn't making millions off Obama's book sales, that similar sum was 23% of the Texan's income, nearly four times larger proportionately than the popular Obama's.

But since No. 43 currently resides on contemporary history's reviled list with one of the lowest exit approval ratings ever, we'll all have to overlook that inconvenient truth.


All wet

The Washington Post took an interesting look the other day at the new life of retirement for Bush, who's starting his book, giving high-paid speeches and planning his presidential library at Southern Methodist University. The big news from Preston Hollow: Bush has improved the sprinkler system at his home on Dana Place in north Dallas.


What are a few words here or there?

Speaking of retirement: In case you read somewhere else recently that Dr. James Dobson, the recently retired conservative evangelical founder of Focus on the Family, had conceded defeat on ...

... behalf of America's religious right in this nation's ongoing cultural wars, forget what you read.

The Telegraph newspaper in Britain created a mild international stir by quoting the 72-year-old Dobson as telling his Colorado Springs staff:

Dr James Dobson retired founder of Focus on the Family

"We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles."

Ah, well, too bad.

But understandable, viewed from Washington, that the outspoken old guy would give up, given the conservatives' overwhelming election defeats in November, the liberal Obama's stand on abortion and his recent decision broadening federal support of stem-cell research.

But, as Billy Mays would say, "Wait!"

In a Special Alert to Focus followers, Dobson reveals what he actually said to Focus staff (missing words in bold):

"We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?"

Gee, it reads somewhat differently that way.


A funny place to ride a train

As a continuing public service, The Ticket is keeping its loyal readers up-to-date frequently on the unfolding daily schedules of Vice President Joe Biden, who, it should be noted, became a senator before President Obama became a teenager.

Democratic Vice president Joe Biden doing something strange behind the back of his boss, president Barack Obama

According to today's official White House schedule for Biden:

In the morning, the Vice President will join the President for a high-speed rail event in Room 450 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Biden also released his 2008 income taxes. He and wife Jill reported an adjusted gross income of $269,256. They donated $1,885 to charity.

That annoying Surber guy again points out an awkward comparison:

Biden, who should know a lot about American history having been a senator for nearly 16% of the country's history, once called Dick Cheney the most dangerous vice president in U.S. history.

Cheney may also be among the most charitable dangerous vice presidents in U.S history; he donated 75% of his annual income to charity the other year. That was $6 million, which used to seem like a lot of money until the new White House budget came out.


And we enjoyed every penny of it

The American public has over the years never blamed itself for its amazingly consistent ability to duck responsibility for almost anything imaginable. Virtually anything can be blamed on somebody else. It's easy. And fun. And starts in childhood: "He made me do it."

Until recently the country's economic meltdown, which was clearly created by the Bush administration to elect Democrat majorities and force the new Democratic president to cut missile defense and totally reform healthcare, was clearly the fault of greedy, bonused bankers in limos and private jets.

But now a new Harris Poll has produced new goats for the financial problems that many individuals are encountering.

According to the online poll of 2,220 Americans between March 31 and April 1, a majority of Americans now point their fingers at advertisers and the media for their reckless spending. And a near majority cites friends and family as being responsible for their irresponsible behavior. 

Two out of three Americans blame the ad industry for their own wild spending. In fact, fully one-third totally or greatly blame advertisers for forcing individuals to spend their own money with abandon.

Fifty-nine percent blame evildoers in the print media of magazines and newspapers; 56% fault news and information websites, 55% talk radio or TV and 54% cable news, while 53% blame local and network newscasts for their own uncontrolled spending. About 46% blame family and friends.

Besides themselves, the only folks who seem to escape blameless for long-term over-consumption in the eyes of American consumers are the zany local TV weathermen and Obama's new dog. But give us time. 

-- Andrew Malcolm

You will click here to register for free automatic Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item.

Photos, from top: and Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg News

Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

The proportion of one's salary that one donates to charity is hardly the best criterion to pick as the sole measure of a man's relative goodness.

Sure, it'd be GREAT if the Obamas decided to donate more money to charity. I'd love to see them do just that. But when it comes to a relative measure of "morality," even if the Obamas never donate another dime, if they're able to bring our country back closer to what it used to be prior to the Bush/Cheney era, they'll still rank higher - at least in my opinion, for whatever that may be worth.

While it's obvious that you favour Bush and Cheney - at least as far as how they rank in proportion of salary donated to charity - the actions they took over their 8 years in office - all in the name of the United States of America - are of a far greater evil than their money can ameliorate.

It's not because Bush & Cheney are unpopular that people ignore their fiscal generosity, it's because they changed America from the great nation - a beacon of individual liberty and human rights - and had the government spying on it's own citizens and torturing prisoners who may or may not be allowed to consult a lawyer - and who may or may not even be told what (if anything) they're charged with. Spain, in fact, is planning to investigate and see if they can charge Alberto Gonzalez, John Yoo, Douglas Feith & others from the DOJ with war crimes related to our use of torture.

Bush & Cheney also led us into an illegal war - killing over 4,000 of our own citizens and who knows HOW many Iraqis - under false pretenses. It wasn't that they didn't know Iraq had no WMD, they did - they lied to us because they wanted their war and were going to have it, whatever it took.

I'm sorry, but men like that can't just donate their way into being "good" people. They could give every single penny they both have and it wouldn't make up for what they've done.

Bush also comes from a much wealthier family, so it's not exactly apples and oranges to compare what he gave to charities versus what Obama gave to charities as a percentage of income. Bush, presumably, has always had more money to give. Let's not over look that inconvenient truth either, please.


I enjoyed every item, but the one about blaming others for our spending habits made me howl.
That poll is a keeper.

(Glad you enjoyed it so much. We try to have fun around The Ticket. Tell your friends; we'll write more. :-D )

Why are Republican Presidents and VP's so darned charitible. That has to turn the Lefts world view upside down. Remember when Gore ran for Prez, earned over 500,000 but donated like 400 dollars. What is it about Dem VP's and Pres being so cheap.

I would love to hear a psychoanalysts viewpoint on that.

How else can a Democratic / no-name campaign a year without income.....unless his publishers back him.
CHANGE- you can sure beilive it !!!


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: