Thursday, July 27, 2006

If The GOP Steals November Election, Will The Media Notice?


Lately, I've noticed that a favorite theme running through the right-wing blogosphere is that "liberals are sore losers in elections." The right-wing blogs note that Mexico's leftist presidential candidate Andres Obrador is strongly challenging voting results in the recent election.

As usual, the right-wingers don't have a clue. Indeed, most liberals I know have never disputed the results of the 2004 U.S. election, despite the fact that exit polls showed that Kerry triumphed by over 3 million votes.

Frankly, the 2004 election results were a non-issue among liberals, as well as the mainstream media. The 2000 election, of course, was an issue. But what do you expect from an election mired in controversy that somehow resulted in the candidate who lost by 549,000 votes being awarded "victory"?

A few observers did point out that the 2004 election was also riddled with problems, from over a million "spoiled" ballots to unprecedented numbers of voters being challenged at the polls. But the outcome of the 2004 election was never really disputed by the American Left----or, by the mainstream media, for that matter.

I'm sure this will come as a surprise to your typical Bush-worshipping Republican who gets all his news and views from Fox News. Many of them who I've talked to are convinced that the "liberal" mainstream media has been disputing the 2004 election results. I wish they were right about this. But in fact, outside of a couple of lonely commentators reporting from outside the U.S. mainstream, the 2004 election has never been disputed. The vast majority of Americans remain blissfully unaware that there were any problems at all with the vote.

Which brings us to the upcoming November election. Reporters like Greg Palast have convincingly detailed how the GOP stole the 2000 and 2004 elections and how they're already plotting to steal the upcoming election. Unfortunately, Palast doesn't work for the American media----he reports for Britain's BBC---and his program does not appear on U.S. television.

This leads to a critical problem. The GOP has already successfully stolen two elections and gotten away with it. What do you think would prevent them from stealing the upcoming November election? The fear of being caught? Unlikely. The fear that the mainstream media will do its job and investigate problems with the vote? Even more unlikely.

The fact is, it's obvious and apparent that the fix is in already for the November election. And outside of Palast and a few other brave investigative authors, we can almost be certain that the American people will be kept in the dark about all this.

Democrats these days are brimming with optimism, as they gleefully watch Bush's poll numbers sink further into the toilet. To most Democrats, victory in November seems like a foregone conclusion.

This indeed would have been the case in America once upon a time. But that was before George W. Bush took power. The fact is, we are in a new era in this country--an era in which we cannot trust our nation's election results. And until the mainstream media takes a look at this deepening crisis, America's democracy will continue to be in danger.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Natalie Maines Was Right: Bush Is Bringing Enduring Shame On America And Texas


Yes, George W. Bush's policies have indeed been an unmitigated disaster for the U.S., at home, abroad, and globally. But his recent behavior as America's head of state, representing us overseas, has been the most embarrassing ever by an American president.

His utter lack of class and decorum -- using an expletive within range of a microphone at the G-8 summit, massaging German Chancellor Angela Merkel's neck, braying on at some press conference about some pig roast -- has brought profound shame on Americans, and especially Texans. Many Europeans may have concluded that if Bush is even vaguely representative, most Texan men must be clueless rubes who go around groping and mashing on women they've barely met.

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks was right when she told a London audience in March 2003 that she was "ashamed" that our "president" is from Texas. She definitely spoke for me, as a native Texan, then; and the polls show that she speaks for a lot more people now.

Perhaps the quintessential moment of Bush's profound unfitness to be playing world-stage politics was his skewering at the hands of his erstwhile bud, "Pootie-Poot," Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bush, at a joint press conference at St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 15, was cretinous enough to suggest that Russia should try to emulate the democracy that has just been implemented in that oasis of tolerance known as Iraq. He mentioned a "free press" and "free religion."

Putin said, "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy that they have in Iraq, quite honestly." (Source:

Observers said that Bush grew red-faced, and that the room filled with laughter.

Again, it's bad enough to have such a venal, warlike and incompetent administration, which took office fraudulently in the first place. Adding insult to injury, our "president" has the manners of an Aggie frat pledgemaster. And that some of his Yale grades were "gentleman's C's" is apparent from how regularly he makes a foolish ass of himself in exchanges such as the one with Putin.

And, it's odd how silent the Mainstream Media are about these shameful incidents. Can you imagine the caterwauling if Bill Clinton had massaged the neck of some female foreign head of state?

Now imagine this: President Nancy Pelosi. If the U.S. House changes hands in November, it could happen next year, with a legal break or two. Vote Democratic -- this time may count more than ever.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stem Cell Issue Reveals Bush Hypocrisy On "Sanctity" Of Life


Predictably, George W. Bush has pandered to his "fundamentalist" base by issuing his veto on stem cell research. In defending his first-ever veto, Bush claimed to be troubled by the "the taking of innocent human life."

To which I say: since when?

Bush has long had callous disregard for innocent human life that predates the 100,000 men, women and children civilians that have been killed in his immoral Iraq war.

In fact, Bush's disregard for innocent lives goes back to his term as Texas governor, where he signed off on the executions of 131 prisoners---far more than any other state. Statistically, he was likely responsible for the executions of at least nine innocent people.

In 2000, Illinois governor George Ryan captured headlines when he suspended the death penalty in his state, saying that he couldn't support "a system which has proven so fraught with error."

As journalist Alexander Cockburn has pointed out:

"Since 1977, Illinois has executed 12 -- and freed 13 from death row on the grounds that their innocence had been conclusively established. Nationwide, the number of such people spared the execution chamber (sometimes, by as slim a margin as a day or two) on grounds of proven innocence is 85."

"If Illinois is in this sorry condition, what can we say of Texas, where defendants are denied trained lawyers, appeals are rushed through often as mere formalities, and clemency is almost never granted?"

Unfortunately, there's no sign that, as governor, Bush was ever any more troubled by this shocking state of affairs than he is today by the hell on earth that he has unleashed in Iraq.

Aides reported that Bush usually only spent around 15 minutes (long enough to go fetch of cup of coffee) looking over the paperwork for each execution case in Texas.

Bush even once made light of the case of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War. In an offensive, bizarre interview in 1999, Bush pursed his lips in mock desperation as he whimpered "Please don't kill me," in a mocking parody of Tucker.

In that smirking, frat-boy interview, I think we saw the real George W. Bush: a callous, evil man who couldn't care less about life (as long as it's poor, destitute people on Death Row who can't afford competent legal assistance).

As we've seen in the stem cell debate, the whole issue of "sanctity of life" is just another issue for Bush to cynically exploit. At the end of the day, it's clear that the only "values" Bush has are doing whatever it takes to serve the needs of his wealthy corporate backers.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Military Blogs Show How Propagandized U.S. Troops Are


It's become pretty obvious lately that Iraq has plunged into a civil war. That's the opinion of a variety of commentators and observers on the ground in the hell on earth that is today's Iraq.

That the Iraq War is a failure is hardly a viewpoint that is only coming from the likes of Howard Dean or Michael Moore. Here's a quote from William F. Buckley Jr., the dean of conservative American authors, writing in National Review, the bible of American conservative thought: "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed."

After reading countless blood-curdling accounts of the ongoing Iraq civil war, I got curious recently about what the U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq think about all this.

It's not difficult to find the soldiers' viewpoints on the Web these days. After all, hundreds of soldiers on the ground in Iraq operate their own blogs, in which they write about their views and war experiences on a regular basis.

After reading hundreds of stories describing the situation in Iraq as a "civil war," I was curious to see what the soldiers have to say about all this. After all, if Iraq really is in a civil war, this has got to be demoralizing to our troops, (as the collapse of Iraq is the worst possible outcome for that nation). I began my quest at the popular site, which offers a large roundup of military blogs from around the Web.

I spent a few hours, browsing various military blogs, and I have to admit, I saw very few references to a "civil war." I found this curious. If the media and various other commentators and observers are falsely characterizing what's going on as a "civil war," then you'd think that the military blogs would challenge this notion.

To be sure, most military blogs that I encountered are quite angry at the media. They bitterly blast the likes of the Washington Post and The New York Times.

Actually, I wouldn't blame the troops for being angry at The New York Times. After all, the Times assisted the Bush White House in its efforts to lie America into the war in the first place.

Recall during 2002, during the buildup to the Iraq War, Bush was trying to convince the nation that Iraq had WMDs and posed a threat to Americans. Instead of taking a hard look at Bush's claims to see if they were true, the Times did the worst possible thing. It pretended to investigate Bush's claims and then gave its blessing to Bush's case for war.

I know if I was in the military, I'd be angry as hell at the likes of the Times and the rest of the U.S. mainstream media that acted as cheerleaders for a war based on lies.

There's only one problem.

Most military blog writers are angry at the media---but it doesn't have anything to do with cheerleading the nation into a war based on lies. Instead, they're angry at the media for supposedly being "liberal" and anti-Bush. In fact, they're pretty much angry at anyone who opposes Bush, period (which, by the way, includes a majority of Americans these days, according to the polls, including the one conducted by Fox News).

I was really hoping that the military blogs would give me some valuable insight into this war. But most of the blogs I saw didn't offer any more "insight" than one would get from listening to an episode of The Rush Limbaugh Show. Most military blogs seem to consist of just a bunch of right-wing/Fox News bullsh*t talking points and pro-Bush blather.

Reading over the blogs, my ability to see the troops in a positive light was tested by their fanatical loyalty to Bush himself. I mean, here's a coward who ran away from serving in combat in Vietnam. Bush was waving pompons as a cheerleader at Andover prep school while true heroes like John Murtha and Wesley Clark were getting shot at in the jungle by the Viet Cong.

I guess you can't blame the troops for supporting their "commander in chief," though. What is bizarre is how many of the MilBlogs also support the likes of Rush Limbaugh, another chickensh*t coward who refused to serve his country in war-time.

Maybe I'm being unfair. The military blogs that I saw were all pro-Bush and full of right-wing cliches and Fox "News" talking points. Maybe there are military blogs out there will differing points of view. But if there are, I didn't see them. Maybe the military censors don't allow dissident points of view. Highly ironic for a "democracy," don't you think?

There's no doubt, of course, that our troops in Iraq have been heavily propagandized. That's probably the case in every war. Our nation's ruling class, of course, needs to convince the troops dying on its behalf to fully believe in the cause for which they're fighting.

However, there's a big difference between rallying the troops with the Stars and Stripes and cynically lying to them. That's clearly what has happened in the Iraq War. For evidence of this, you need to look no further than surveys like this one that show that an incredible 90 percent of U.S. troops believe that the Iraq war is retaliation for Iraq’s (nonexistent) role in 9/11.

A message to any troops who might be reading this: We support you. We just don't support this war. You've been lied to. You may not realize this today. But you will, someday. You are, in fact, fighting on behalf of a gang of crooks, cowards and liars in the White House and their wealthy backers. But you're NOT fighting on behalf of a majority of the American people (who now believe that this war was a mistake).

At the end of the day, are we to conclude that all our troops in Iraq are NeoCons who worship Bush? Fortunately, that's not the case, despite the fact that most "MilBlog" site owners seem to be Republicans. The fact is, there are plenty of troops these days who believe otherwise. There are also groups out there such as Iraq Veterans Against the War, who seek to end the war in Iraq as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Crunchy Con" Squabble Shows How Confused And Swinelike The Right Is


Rod Dreher, a conservative columnist for the Dallas Morning News, stirred an amusing controversy with a recent book, Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (Or At Least the Republican Party).

I won't describe the book; the title is all one really has to read to get the gist of it. But professional right-wingers, among them Jonah Goldberg (of "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" fame), have taken slaps at Dreher, saying that in making a case for a rustic, hippie-ish, back-to-the-earth, Burkean conservatism, he's giving credence to liberal stereotypes of conservatives.

These pop culture stereotypes, in the baby-boomer era, have been: (1) Alex P. Keaton -- the Young Republican, free-market-worshipping, affluent philistine who always joins the right preppie frats and majors in social climbing -- or, (2) Archie Bunker, the worst bigot on the loading dock, the oblivious victim of white working-class ignorance.

It's interesting that Dreher even felt compelled to write this book. There's nothing new here. As a teen, I was that rarity -- a libertarian-leaning conservative who sometimes had long hair. I enjoyed '60s folk-rock and comfortable, unpretentious clothing and shoes; and I thought the home-cooked veggies from our backyard garden were most delicious. I even preferred whole-grain bread when it was available. I was a moralist in the best sense of the word. And to me, beauty was the most important value.

True, when sounding off on politics, I sounded way too much like Alex Keaton. The more laid-back kids at my high school regarded me as a "superstraight" moralist. But, my family was working-class and considered quite eccentric in that small Texas town, so that role worked only just so well for me. It took me awhile to discover that I was playing against type.

Basically, I was a "crunchy conservative" of sorts long before the term was coined. But a funny thing happened to me on the way to adulthood.

I found, after I went away to college on an academic scholarship, that when I was around other "conservatives," the culture gap between me and these shallow, narrow, upper-middle-class youths was a canyon. I was virtually alone. There was no "tribe" to belong to. Right-wing hipsters were almost nonexistent (a self-destructive Jack Kerouac notwithstanding). It seemed a phenomenon that existed only among elite intellectuals and artists, and rarely among them.

I hate to break it to Dreher, but "crunchy cons" are a rare breed indeed, for many reasons. And I hate to break it to Goldberg, but there are innumerable reasons why "cons" are stereotyped.

For me, the stereotypes proved mostly true, time after time. Right-wingers usually are either crass, greedy philistines who only admire short-term material success -- or else they usually are gun-loving, jock-sniffing, militaristic, racist rednecks. The exceptions seem rare in Middle America.

The specimens may even mean well, but getting their heads out of their asses is surgery that's not even in research right now. This is a place where hardly anyone knows who crime novelist James Lee Burke is, let alone who 18th-century political philosopher and literary critic Edmund Burke was. Most folks here never read. Anything. Ever. (Not even Ann Coulter, Dude. They do listen to Rush. And regurgitate the dope-addled bilge.)

Over a few crucial years, my dissonance about the cultural values of the right (or lack thereof) led me to read much more about leftist ideas. I didn't change overnight, nor did I move "all the way" to the hard-core left for very long. My short time on the right gave me a sense of balance that has made me abhor extremism of any kind. I still hold views that some people, at least the sane ones, would consider centrist, perhaps even conservative (gasp!) here and there.

But I found my former political views to be mostly at odds with my personal values. When I became a voter, I found I could not bring myself to vote for candidates of a party that (1) has sided again and again with ruthless, amoral polluters; (2) has supported or conducted activity in places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Iran (the 1953 coup), etc., that would be called terrorism or war crimes if Arabs had done them; (3) has historically supported economic policies that, contrary to the rhetoric, has always enriched the few and impoverished many; (4) has doggedly pursued a "war on drugs" that has, with the apparent goal of state-enforced "sobriety," has turned the U.S. into the world's biggest jailer; (5) has consistently supported assaults on Americans' civil liberties; and (6) led "us" in what was in essence a war of aggression against, yes, a brutal dictatorship, but one that had nothing to do with 9-11.

I forgot to mention all the vicious dictatorships this party has openly supported. (Yeah, the other major party has, too -- but at least less openly. I have rarely heard their politicians and pundits crow and tout the policy as brilliant strategy. Not even Joe Lieberman, now that I think of it.)

Dreher needs to wake up to simple reality -- if the "green and granola" minority among conservatives is ever going to even influence the GOP, let alone "save" it, they're going to need more money than Bill Gates has. That's the only language that really talks in that party.

More likely, these confused people will go on voting for candidates who are, in many ways, the worst enemies of their "crunchy" side. It's not that these candidates aren't "traditionalists" in a sense. Bigotry, exploitation and greed go back to antiquity -- they just represent a different, uglier "tradition."

I also forgot to mention another "conservative" stereotype -- Bible-beating fanatics. "Crunchy cons" describe themselves as religious traditionalists who do things like join the Eastern Orthodox Church and home-school their kids.

But I don't think they want to teach their college-bound offspring that the Earth is 6,000 years old, or that God really did groove, B.C., on having lots of barnyard animals senselessly sacrificed for Him. (Aside from the foolish, capricious slaughter, it seems like that meat could have fed lots of poor, hungry folks. But I suppose that when you're the God of Republicans, such considerations are trifles.)

And, I'm not sure the Christian fascist movement deserves a separate category as a stereotype. For one thing, they're too damned stupid to dignify in such a way. And, there's far too much overlap, ironically, with the materialists and the militarists. But, who says zealots have to be logical?

Dreher and his "crunchy cons" need to realize something else -- the Republican Party, with the exceptions of Lincoln and the long-extinct progressive wing, has usually been a party run by grown-up Alex Keatons who demagogue and manipulate the hapless Archies and Bubbas with chickenhawk bluster and wedge issues. It is likely to remain so, regardless of its immediate fortunes, or lack thereof.

To paraphrase Ann Richards, you can put lipstick on a pig and call it Monique, but it's still a pig. And hey, "crunchy cons" -- those split hooves don't fill out Birkenstocks worth a hoot, either.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Is Bill Gates' philanthropy a PR stunt?


``Jesus looked up and saw some rich people tossing their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow putting in two pennies. And he said, `I tell you that this poor woman has put in more than all the others. Everyone else gave what they didn't need. But she is very poor and gave everything she had.'''

---The Bible, Luke 21, verses 1-4, Contemporary English Version

The answer to the question posed by this story's headline is: of course Gates' philanthropy is a PR stunt. If it wasn't, he'd just give the money away anonymously, instead of jetting around the world with his media entourage.

Unlike the fawning mainstream media, I'm not impressed by Gates' decision to give billions to charity.

For years now, Gates has been on a mission to try to polish his image. It's been a huge success, with glowing accounts of his generosity appearing in media outlets worldwide, including a Time magazine "Person of the Year" cover story last year. That's the kind of positive PR that you simply can't buy---of course, unless you're Gates.

This kind of "feel-good" warm and fuzzy adulation certainly can't hurt the image of Microsoft, which many of us with memories longer than the past five years recall as an extraordinarily greedy, ruthless and cut-throat corporation (which is really saying something in Bush's America). And all this positive PR certainly can't hurt during a time when Microsoft's business practices are facing scrutiny by EU antitrust regulators.

But it's important to remember Gates isn't going to sell all his assets and give the money to the poor (which incidentally, is the course of action that Jesus said is the only way a rich person can enter heaven----see Mark 10:21). Gates, who is worth around $50 billion, is giving away billions to charity---but he will still have enormous amounts of money in the bank until the day he dies. More money, in fact, than he could possibly ever spend, even if he made lavish spending a full-time occupation.

I'm sorry, but I really don't see how Gates is "sacrificing" anything. He still gets to lead a life of unbelievable lavish comfort. He still gets to have everything in the world he ever wanted. He still gets to be able to buy, on a whim, anything on earth that he chooses. The money he gives away is the equivalent of you or I dropping a quarter in the charity jar at the local convenience store.

But with this philanthropy/PR stunt, he gets to do all of the above AND have the world's media bowing at his feet, proclaiming him to be a person of good works on a par with Mother Teresa. Basically, Gates gets the gratitude of the whole world for giving away money that he couldn't possibly have ever gotten around to spending in the first place.

It may impress a lot of people, but it wouldn't have impressed Jesus. As the verse quoted at the top of this article shows, Jesus wasn't impressed by the total amount people gave to charity as much as the sacrifice they had to go through to give to charity.

I have a friend who gives to charity all of the time. He probably gives away $5,000 a year. It doesn't sound like much until you consider that he only earns $15,000 a year, doing back-breaking manual labor. To me, that's a real sacrifice, not what Gates is doing: giving away money that he'd never get around to spending anyway.

What's more, across America, and worldwide, there are tens of millions of people who routinely give to charity, both in money and time. Unlike Gates, they have to make a real sacrifice to give to charity. They have to carefully sort through their finances to find enough to donate, in order to have enough money left over to pay for the electric bill and groceries. And, unlike Gates, many of these people choose to donate anonymously. None of their donations and sacrifices will ever be honored by a Time magazine cover story. None of them will bask in the glow of having the entire world bow down to them and tell them how wonderful and generous they are.

On this issue, I agree wholeheartedly with Jesus: the widow who gave her last two pennies is far more worthy of praise than the likes of Gates.

If Gates really wants to impress me, what he needs to do is release his tax returns for the past 20 years. No, I'm not implying that he's cheating on his taxes. But I do think it'd make fascinating reading for working-class Americans to see all the various generous tax loopholes that only rich people get to enjoy in this country.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bush Marks 60th Birthday, A Milestone He Denied 2,538 Soldiers In Iraq


George W. Bush today celebrates his 60th birthday. For the past few weeks, he's been yucking it up with friends and family and cracking jokes about his "personal crisis" of turning 60.

I can think of 2,538 people who would have wished they'd faced that "crisis" in life: the 2,538 U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq because of Bush's lies.

Most of the U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq were killed in their early 20s. Although Bush fancies himself as a "war president," he himself was never anywhere near a battlefield when he was of military age. Indeed, when his country was at war in Vietnam, Bush was actively going out of his way to avoid combat service. In the end, Bush couldn't even be bothered to finish out the last two years of his term in the National Guard.

Bush's cowardice during the Vietnam War, of course, didn't keep him from loudly proclaiming his support of that war after the fact. It also didn't keep him from smearing the distinguished war record of John Kerry in the 2004 election.

Bush lied about Kerry. But Bush's greatest lies are the lies he told America in 2002 when he was furiously trying to rally the nation into accepting his war on Iraq.

We progressives are often smeared by the GOP as people who supposedly "don't support" America's troops. But in fact, we do support the troops. We just don't support putting them in harm's way for a pack of lies.

By contrast, Bush had no such qualms. And today, as he celebrates his 60th birthday, we should remember the 2,538 soldiers who died young in Iraq. They are the men and women who died unnecessarily in Iraq for Bush's lies.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Right Wing's Theft Of Elections Nothing New In Mexico


Mexico's leftist presidential candidate Andres Obrador has rejected preliminary electoral results that indicated a slim lead for his right-wing opponent and called for a vote-by-vote recount to find what he said are millions of missing votes.

As it turns out, Mexico's progressives have every reason to be suspicious that the vote will be stolen by the right wing.

After all, in 1988, the leftist presidential candidate was deprived of victory under suspicious circumstances. On July 6, 1988, voting results had leftist candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas leading on election night. But the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government halted the vote count, claiming that the computer it was using to count votes "shut down on itself" (se cayo el sistema).

When the computer system was restored, conservative PRI candidate Carlos Salinas was declared the official winner. Fraud was widely suspected. To this day, the expression, se cayo el sistema is a sarcastic euphemism for electoral fraud in Mexico.

Meanwhile, exit polls showed that Obrador triumphed in Sunday's election over Felipe Calderon, who was backed by the Bush administration. In fact, Obrador had led in opinion polls for most of the last three years.

But it's clear that the powers that be will crown Calderon as the "winner" of the election. So much for the will of the Mexican people.

As investigative reporter Greg Palast pointed out:

The FBI "obtained Mexico's voter files under a secret "counter-terrorism" contract with the database company ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia.

The FBI's contractor states that following the arrest of ChoicePoint agents by the Mexican government, the company returned or destroyed its files. The firm claims not to have known that collecting this information violated Mexican law. Such files can be useful in challenging a voter's right to cast a ballot or in preventing that vote from counting."

Does the name ChoicePoint ring a bell? It should, with anyone familiar with Palast's work. In 2000, his investigative team came across a list of 94,000 "felons" that Katherine Harris had ordered removed from Florida's voter rolls before the election. As Palast noted:

"Virtually every voter purged was innocent of any crime except, in most cases, Voting While Black. Who came up with this electoral hit list that gave Bush the White House? ChoicePoint, Inc. And worse, they KNEW the racially-tainted list of felons was bogus. And when we caught them, they lied about it."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Factoid: CEO Salaries

During its last fiscal year, Toyota paid its top 26 executives a combined $8.27 million. Their pay was little changed, even though the company posted record profits for the fourth year in a row.

General Motors cut CEO Rick Wagoner's 2005 salary by 46 percent. Even after the cut, it stood at $5.48 million. And, oh, they didn't get around to paying him the usual bonus, since GM lost $10.6 billion during this period.

This is your brain. And this is your brain on laissez faire. Any questions, class?

Source: Bloomberg News