Friday, March 28, 2008

Media's Swooning Over McCain Echoes MSM's Love Affair With Bush In 2000

By MARC MCDONALD

In case you haven't heard, it's now official: John McCain is the darling of the mainstream media. And as reporters swoon over McCain, some of us are experiencing deja vu.

Where have we seen this sort of fawning MSM coverage before? Oh, that's right: it was in the 2000 campaign, when the MSM fell in love with George W. Bush.

Although today I'm sure they'd like to forget it ever happened, the fact is, reporters fawned over Bush in 2000. And while this love affair was going on, the media was sharpening its claws to attack Al Gore over GOP-invented bogus controversies like "I invented the Internet."

As Al Franken pointed out in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, the media just plain didn't like Gore:

"Somewhere along the line, the pack decided that Al Gore was a sanctimonious, graspy exaggerator running against a likeable if dim-witted goof-off."

As Franken notes, the widely respected Pew Charitable Trusts foundation documented that the tone of the media coverage was decidedly anti-Gore and pro-Bush during the campaign.

As Pew notes, a comprehensive survey of 1,149 news stories from 17 leading news sources in 2000 showed a "positive" slant in 24 percent of the stories about Bush (versus only 13 percent for Gore). By contrast, the "negative" slant was 56 percent for Gore versus 49 percent for Bush.

And now a MSM love affair for a GOP candidate is happening all over again. As Gabler points out, "reporters routinely attach 'maverick,' 'straight talker' and 'patriot' to (McCain) like Homeric epithets." As Chris Matthews of MSNBC put it, the media is now "McCain's base."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"You Slip And You Slide Down The Hill, On The Blood Of The People You Killed"





John Lennon's 1973 song, "Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)," wasn't about the Iraq War, of course---but it might as well have been. From Lennon's underrated Mind Games album, the song expressed anger at all the warmongering bastards in power. Lennon's line, "666 is your name," might have been directed at George W. Bush (had he lived to see The Psychopath-In-Chief).

We don't care what flag you're waving
We don't even want to know your name
We don't care where you're from or where you're going
All we know is that you came
You're making all our decisions
We have just one request of you
That while you're thinking things over
Here's something you just better do

Free the people now
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
Free the people now
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now

Well we were caught with our hands in the air
Don't despair paranoia is everywhere
We can shake it with love when we're scared
So let's shout it aloud like a prayer

Free the people now
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
Free the people now
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now

We understand your paranoia
But we don't want to play your game
You think you're cool and know what you are doing
666 is your name
So while you're jerking off each other
You better bear this thought in mind
Your time is up you better know it
But maybe you don't read the signs

Free the people now
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
Free the people now
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now

Well you were caught with your hands in the kill
And you still got to swallow your pill
As you slip and you slide down the hill
On the blood of the people you killed

Stop the killing (Free the people now)
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
Stop the killing (Free the people now)
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now


Lennon lyric from LyricsDepot.com

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why Ridding The World of Saddam Didn't Justify The Iraq War

By MARC MCDONALD

Five years after the start of the disastrous Iraq War, there remains one fig leaf that the remaining war supporters and other hopeful Americans can still hide behind these days. After all, these fig-leaf wearers constantly remind us, we did get rid of Saddam Hussein, right?

So despite the fact that the war is a $3 trillion fiasco that has slaughtered a million people, the fig-leaf wearers think they can still find a silver lining in this disaster by reminding all of us that, after all, Saddam is gone.

I am not defending Saddam. But on the other hand, I think those who proclaimed Saddam to be a monstrous tyrant who was the "new Hitler" need to ask themselves a few questions:

1. First of all, I find it incredible that any Americans can still smugly proclaim that they know exactly what was going on in Iraq before the U.S. invaded. Saddam may well have been an evil tyrant---but the fact is, America was totally in the dark about Iraq. Everything we were told about Iraq turned out to be a crock of sh*t (from the non-existent WMDs to Saddam's non-existent ties to 9/11 to the "fact" that Iraqis would greet us as liberators).

All lies. All bullsh*t. And yet, incredibly, there are those fig-leaf wearers who still, to this day, arrogantly proclaim that they know exactly what Saddam was up to---and that it consisted of horrific crimes that murdered millions of people. Keep in mind that these are the same people who smugly proclaimed that Saddam had WMDs---and indeed, used that issue as a club to beat the heads of anyone who dared question George W. Bush's case for war in 2003.

I'm astonished at how smug and arrogant many of these people are. They've been proven wrong time and time again on everything to do with Iraq. And yet, when they make sweeping statements about Iraq and Saddam's crimes, you'll never find anyone who is more sure of themselves.

One wonders: where, exactly, are they getting this info about Saddam's murder of "millions"? The reality is, it's likely largely coming from the same disgruntled anti-Baathist Iraqi exiles who were peddling the same fairy tales about Saddam having WMDs. Between Bush's hysterical, over-the-top denunciations of Saddam, and these misinformed exiles (many of whom hadn't actually lived in Iraq for many years), it's no wonder that Americans came to believe that Saddam was the next Hitler.

2. Speaking of Saddam's murder of "millions": maybe it's true. I don't claim to know one way or another. But those who condemn Saddam weaken their credibility by constantly citing wildly different figures. I've seen some authors claim the death toll was in the hundreds of thousands. Other cite figures in excess of millions dead.

I find all this interesting. After all, the U.S. has little idea of the carnage that has taken place right under our noses during our occupation of Iraq. As the Pentagon has repeatedly put it, the U.S. military "doesn't do body counts." And yet, even though we have no idea of how many have died in our occupation of Iraq, there are fig-leaf wearers who make sweeping proclamations about the "millions" that Saddam murdered many years ago.

Actually, America could have bolstered its credibility and its case for invading Iraq if it had worked to ensure that Saddam got a fair trial. Such a trial could have presented to the world a detailed case for Saddam's crimes. It would have also given survivors of Saddam's regime their day in court.

Of course, nothing of the sort happened. Saddam's trial was a travesty. Basically, we handed him over to his political enemies for a kangaroo trial that mocked the very idea of justice. Saddam's lawyers couldn't even do their job without worrying about getting a bullet in the head (and indeed, several were gunned down during the trial).

There was no detailed examination of the "millions" that Saddam murdered during the trial. One wonders: why not? If we had solid evidence of Saddam murdering millions, then why not try him for that? In the end, Saddam was convicted for the killing of 148 people in 1982 who were reportedly connected to an assassination attempt.

Watching the trial proceedings, I couldn't help but think that the whole event was a mockery of justice. It seems to me that the U.S. just wanted to quickly get the trial over with and hang Saddam as soon as possible. Which begs the question: why? What was the rush? If Saddam was indeed the new Hitler, why didn't the trial take a deeper look at his past crimes?

Call me cynical, but I can't help but wonder if the U.S. just didn't want Saddam dead as quickly as possible before he started talking about his past lengthy, cozy ties to the U.S. Which brings me to another point:

3. Did the U.S. really ever have a leg to stand on in condemning Saddam? Of course, the vast majority of Americans will say yes. But I wonder. If Saddam did indeed murder millions, there is still the uncomfortable fact that the U.S. worked closely with Saddam for decades. If Saddam was indeed the New Hitler, what does that make America?

Most Americans are completely in the dark when it comes to knowledge about how America worked closely with Saddam.

In fact, the U.S. had a cozy relationship with Saddam that lasted for decades. How many Americans are aware that, in 1959, the CIA hired the then-22-year-old Saddam to carry out a plot to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister, General Abd al-Karim Qasim? (Saddam's assassination attempt failed when he fired too soon and he only wound up killing Qasim's driver).

Bush has long condemned Saddam for crimes such as gassing the Kurds in the town of Halabjah in 1988. But how many Americans know that the U.S. in fact sold materials to Saddam for creating biological and chemical weapons in the 1980s?

As Craig Unger reported in his 2004 book, House of Bush, House of Saud:

"Beginning in 1984, the Centers for Disease Control began providing Saddam's Iraq with biological materials--including viruses, retroviruses, bacteria, fungi, and even tissue that was infected with bubonic plague."

Unger noted that the latter exchange may have been initiated in the spirit of an "innocent" transfer of scientific information. But as he points out: "It is not difficult to argue against giving bubonic-plague-infected tissues to Saddam Hussein."

Unger quotes former Senate investigator James Tuite: "We were freely exchanging pathogenic materials with a country that we knew had an active biological warfare program."

But don't try to tell any of this to the fig-leaf wearers. The fact is, America has become an infantile culture. We're deeply ignorant about the rest of the world. And we tend to see the world in simplistic black-and-white/good-versus-evil terms (with, of course, the U.S. always being the "good guys").

All the fig-leaf wearers will permit themselves to hear is that Saddam was the next Hitler. End of story. The vast majority of Americans don't want to hear that maybe, just maybe, the story is a little more complex than that. Which leads me to my final point:

4. It's clear that America never really understood Iraq. We never bothered to learn a thing about the Iraqi people, their language and their culture. We were completely clueless and in the dark. Hell, most Americans had no clue that our own government had been working, hand-in-glove, with Saddam for decades.

Instead, on the eve of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Americans were blissfully ignorant and eagerly lapping up the Fox News/corporate media line: "Saddam is the new Hitler and America needs to get rid of him. If we do this, Iraqis will greet us with flowers and everyone will live happily ever after."

Five years later, it's clear that everything we were told about Saddam (and Iraq in general) back in those heady days in 2003 was a f*cking lie. And by deluding ourselves by building up this cartoonish image of Saddam-as-the-new-Hitler, we were completely in the dark about the oncoming freight train of disaster we were about to encounter.

The fact is, Saddam was no Hitler. He was a dime-a-dozen petty tyrant of a poor, Third World nation. He posed absolutely no threat to the U.S. (Indeed, if he did somehow pose a threat to America, then the real question wasn't whether to invade Iraq---it should have been this: what, exactly, had U.S. taxpayers been getting in return for the trillions of dollars that we've pumped into the Pentagon over the years? We've lavished more on military spending than the rest of the world combined---and yet we were not safe from Iraq, a poor Third World nation with no industry that was crippled by crushing sanctions?)

One thing I'd like the fig-leaf wearers to explain to me is this: how, exactly, was Saddam any more evil than the dozens of other petty dictators around the world (many of whom America has also supported over the years).

For that matter, how was Saddam more evil than, say, the leaders of Saudi Arabia? The latter, after all, run one of the world's most repressive dictatorships. They routinely torture and murder their opponents. (Oh, and Saudi Arabia is also the beating heart of Islamic radicalism worldwide). And yet, instead of invading that nation, Bush happily hobnobs with their leaders and even invites them out to the ranch for barbecue.

One final thing I'd like the fig-leaf wearers to explain to me is this: if Saddam was so evil, then why is it that there was never a single recorded instance of a suicide bomber in Iraq before 2003? And why did Saddam's convoys never face roadside bombs?

For that matter, why, exactly has the U.S. faced a ferocious insurgency now for the past five years? If Saddam was the next Hitler and he was so evil, then why weren't we greeted as liberators in the first place?

Yes, these are troubling questions. And they are questions that the fig-leaf wearers (and most Americans) will never bother to answer. Probably because if we answer these questions, it'll lead us to even more troubling questions that we as a nation would simply rather not think about. So in the time-honored American tradition of sanitizing our own history, we'll simply sweep these troubling questions under the rug and not give them any further thought.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is Dick Cheney Set To Profit From Dollar's Drop?

By MARC MCDONALD

The plunging dollar has taken a beating lately on international markets. But at least one wealthy investor may be set to profit from the dollar's decline: Dick Cheney.

Back in June 2006, Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine reported that Cheney's financial advisers were apparently betting on a rise in inflation and on a decline in the value of the dollar against foreign currencies.

Cheney and his wife, Lynne, the magazine noted, had between $10 million and $25 million in American Century International Bond (BEGBX). As Kiplinger pointed out, the fund "buys mainly high-quality foreign bonds (predominantly in Europe) and rarely hedges against possible increases in the value of the dollar. Indeed, its prospectus limits dollar exposure to 25 percent of assets and the fund currently has only 6 percent of assets in dollars, according to an American Century spokesman."

Assuming Cheney still holds the fund, he has done well: BEGBX returned 8.3 percent in 2006 and 9.9 percent in 2007. And if he was counting on a dollar decline, of course, he's done well in that regard, as well: in recent days, the dollar has continued to plunge to new all-time lows against the euro. The dollar has also fallen to 12-year lows against the yen. The weak dollar trend looks set to continue as the Fed continues to slash interest rates.

Economists have noted that the weak dollar stems from America's titanic fiscal deficits, which have soared as a result of the disastrous Iraq War.

It's notable that Cheney once claimed that "deficits don't matter." But by banking on a declining dollar, it's clear that even Cheney knows this is bullsh*t and that deficits do indeed matter.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stocks Plunge Again As U.S. Moves Closer To Economic Apocalypse

By MARC MCDONALD

A recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists proclaimed that the U.S. is now in a recession. The good news is that they're wrong. The bad news is that the U.S. economy is facing a meltdown far more serious than any recession.

But don't take my word for it. Consider the apocalyptic tone of this excerpt from the normally dry, bland prose of the Associated Press on Friday: "On the verge of a collapse that could have shaken the very foundations of the U.S. financial system, investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. was bailed out Friday by a rival and the federal government."

I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more apocalyptic language from the MSM in the coming weeks, as the U.S. economy starts to melt down.

And make no mistake, a catastrophic economic collapse is on the way. Such is the inevitable fate of any Ponzi scheme economy that has been running on nothing more than smoke and mirrors (and oceans of foreign capital) now for many years.

Of course, those who are poor or working class know first-hand that the U.S. economy has been in increasingly serious trouble since around 1980. Wages have been steadily declining for everyone but the very rich. And working class people now toil more hours for less pay than their counterparts in any other First World nation. (They have to, as a 40-hour workweek no longer is enough to put groceries on the table).

But as long as America had a tiny elite of prosperous super wealthy, we could always point to them and try to convince ourselves that our economy couldn't be all bad. After all, we would note, there are some people out there making a fortune. All it takes is hard work and ambition, right?

Today, with the stock market in the toilet, and the Fed having to step in to bail out the financial sector, it should be clear to anyone that the U.S. economy is in crisis.

If the U.S. economy actually produced anything of value, this would be nothing more than just another typical downturn in the economic cycle.

The problem is, the U.S. economy no longer produces anything of value. Our economic activity basically consists of importing trillions of dollars from central banks in East Asia---which we then use to prop up our Ponzi scheme economy. The ocean of foreign capital that flows into our nation daily is used to pay for the shopping habits of U.S. consumers.

In fact, in recent years, the Great American Consumer has been hailed by U.S. economists as the "locomotive" of the world economy. There was only one problem: U.S. consumers had zero savings and were depending on foreign capital to finance their shopping binges.

Now, with the stock market crisis and the ongoing housing mortgage crisis, nobody is in much of a mood to do any spending these days. And with the dollar rapidly declining, it's only a matter of time before the East Asian central banks start to unload their depreciating greenbacks (which will accelerate the dollar's fall even further in a vicious cycle).

The frightening thing is that East Asian central banks haven't even begun seriously dumping their dollars and yet the dollar is already plunging.

The key numbers which measure the current U.S. economic crisis are so far off the chart that it is difficult to even fathom them. As economics writer Eamonn Fingleton has noted, the U.S. current account deficit (the widest and most meaningful measure of our trade position) now represents an astounding 6.5 percent of our gross domestic product.

As Fingleton notes, only one other major nation has ever exceeded this figure: Italy in 1924. That was just before Benito Mussolini seized dictatorial power.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer Case Reveals America's Twisted Priorities

By MARC MCDONALD

It's unclear exactly what transpired in the Eliot Spitzer call-girl scandal. Details are still sketchy at this point. But no matter how this pans out, a lot of us are annoyed with Spitzer for essentially gift-wrapping an issue for Fox News and HateWing radio to peddle for the next few months.

But let's be clear about what we're talking about here:

Sex between consenting adults.

You can call it whatever you want. Prostitution. Hookers. Call girls. Infidelity. Sleaze. A bone-headed mistake. Poor ethics and morals. Plain stupidity.

But at the end of the day, no matter what you call it, we're still talking about nothing more than sex between consenting adults.

And now, the media is howling for Spitzer to resign.

Yes, the same mainstream media that has routinely ignored, or underplayed, the sleaze and sexual perversion of dozens of GOP officials and politicians.

Yes, the same mainstream media that has never once called upon George W. Bush to resign.

Yes, the same mainstream media that has snoozed through one Bush criminal act after another over the past 7 years.

Bush has outrageously violated the Constitution. He has violated his oath of office. He lied America into a disastrous $3 trillion war of aggression that killed 1 million Iraqi men, women and children. He engaged in illegal wiretaps and embraced torture as official state policy. He made the United States the most feared and hated nation on the planet.

Meanwhile, the same media that is braying for Spitzer to resign, looked the other way while Bush virtually destroyed just about everything that once was good about America. Indeed, the MSM even collaborated with Bush and helped him sell his war to the American people.

Sex between consenting adults versus lying the nation into a war that slaughtered a million civilians.

Yes, America definitely has its priorities in order these days.

Monday, March 10, 2008

As Eliot Spitzer Media Storm Builds, Let's Not Forget GOP Is Still The Party Of Perverts

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The New York Times is reporting today that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been linked to a prostitution ring.

We can expect a 24/7 media frenzy on this story over the next few weeks. Never mind the many actual issues of national importance that the media could be spending time on, such as the nation's deteriorating economy, or the ongoing horrific violence in Iraq (which killed 5 U.S. soldiers on Monday).

Let's keep one thing in mind as the Spitzer scandal unfolds: there is absolutely no doubt that the GOP is still America's party of sexual perverts. As The Carpetbagger Report put it:

...Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana "family-values" Republican, was caught up in an alleged prostitution ring of his own, and he ended up getting a standing ovation from the Senate Republican caucus. Larry Craig is still a senator. John McCain committed adultery and he's the Republican nominee for president. Rudy Giuliani marched in a parade with his mistress and was taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Maybe, then, Spitzer can survive this scandal?

Oh, and one other thing: the above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Republican Party's sexual perversions.

If you doubt this, then take a look at RepublicanSexOffenders.com, a site that rounds up a mind-boggling collection of perversion by GOP officials and politicians, including kiddie porn, child molestation, rape, sexual assault, incest, etc. It makes an old-fashioned visit to a prostitute seem wholesome by comparison.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

How The CIA Became The World's No. 1 Terrorist Organization

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The always-brilliant Texas blogger Len Hart (the The Existentialist Cowboy) really nails it in his latest piece on the crimes of the CIA. It's an insightful, informative article that reminds us who the world's real terrorists are:

CIA Holocaust Claims Twenty Million Victims

The world's number one terrorist organization, the CIA has committed heinous acts of terrorism abroad, murdering critics of US foreign and domestic policies and has done it on behalf of an increasing tiny, privileged American elite. This elite is a tiny one percent which owns more than the combined wealth the remaining 95% [See: the L-Curve]. On behalf of this tiny, privileged base, the CIA has placed itself above all law and supervision. The CIA's war on the world has claimed an estimated 12 million to 20 million victims, far more than the best estimates attributed to Adolf Hitler's 'Holocaust' of World War II.

A war of plunder waged by the CIA on much of the world has been called the Third World War because many of its victims are chauvinistically, imperialistically, termed "third world". Given the magnitude of these CIA atrocities, we may, indeed, consider this panoply of terrorist acts a world war waged by privilege upon those who are less privileged, a war waged by the rich on the poor, a war of aggression by those who have against those who are without.

More here.

MSM Avoids Using Word "Torture" In Coverage of Bush Waterboarding Ban Veto

By MARC MCDONALD

Waterboarding is torture. Period. As John McCain described it at an Iowa campaign stop last October, waterboarding is a "horrible torture technique" that is a "terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the U.S." His words are echoed by human rights groups and civil liberties advocates worldwide.

George W. Bush disagrees. A White House spokesman said Bush will veto legislation on Saturday banning U.S. intelligence agents from using waterboarding.

In its coverage of this development, the mainstream media continues to avoid calling waterboarding "torture."

For example, in its coverage of the Bush veto, the Associated Press described waterboarding as a "harsh interrogation method." The word "torture" was absent from the AP report.

In its report on the Bush veto, Reuters also avoided mentioning using the word "torture" even once in its main article, instead referring to waterboarding as a "controversial interrogation method."

The AP and Reuters articles echo the language of the Bush administration itself, which has avoided describing waterboarding as torture, and instead has referred to it as an "enhanced interrogation technique."

Instead of using the White House's bland terminology, AP, Reuters, and other MSM outlets should call Bush's despicable action what it really is: a veto of an anti-torture bill.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bush Officials: Congress Irrelevant On Iraq

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The following article, from today's Army Times newspaper, neatly sums up the Bush administration's "screw you" attitude toward working with Congress. One can only hope that this contempt toward Congress will finally give the Democrats the backbone to put the issue of impeachment back on the table:

Bush Officials: Congress Irrelevant On Iraq

By William H. McMichael

The Bush administration says the 2002 congressional authorization to go to war in Iraq gives it the authority to conduct combat operations in Iraq and negotiate far-reaching agreements with the current Iraqi government without consulting Congress.

The assertion, jointly made Tuesday by U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Mary Beth Long, drew an incredulous reaction from Democrats on a Joint House committee during a hearing on future U.S. commitments to Iraq.

"It's the view of the administration that as long as there’s trouble in Iraq that you have authorization of this Congress to continue there in perpetuity and define trouble as you desire?" asked Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.

"We have authorization to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq," Satterfield replied. "The situation in Iraq continues to present a threat to the United States."

The Bush administration also feels it does not need to seek the authorization of Congress to ratify two pending agreements with Iraq: a "Strategic Framework" that would govern "normalized" relations with the U.S., and a Status of Forces Agreement that would govern the "authorities and protections" of U.S. troops in Iraq past Dec. 31, the expiration of a U.N. resolution that the administration says authorizes their presence.

More here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

GOP-Friendly United Technologies Corporation Makes Bid for Diebold

By MARC MCDONALD

The United Technologies Corporation, which made a $3 billion bid for Diebold on Sunday, is a GOP-friendly company, if its campaign contributions are anything to go by.

Watchdog group CorpWatch notes that in the 2002 election, 62 percent of United Technologies' $699,242 in campaign contributions went to the GOP. In the 2004 election cycle, United Technologies made $788,011 in campaign contributions, with 64 percent of that going to the GOP.

The maker of the Black Hawk helicopter, United Technologies is a major military contractor. In 2005, it received over $5 billion in military contracts.

Diebold is one of the biggest makers of voting machines. The company has been the focus of controversy in recent years.

In 2003, Diebold's then-chief executive, Walden O'Dell, sent out a fund-raising letter in which he said he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to (President Bush) next year."

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Louis Gallois: The Triumph Of A Socialist CEO

By MARC MCDONALD

Are there any CEOs out there who aren't greedy bastards these days? If there are, they're few and far between.

Over the past quarter century, CEO pay has skyrocketed in the U.S. In the 1960s, CEOs made around 40 times what rank-and-file ordinary workers earned. Today, CEOs make over 400 times what the average worker earns. (And they keep much more of what they make, thanks to income tax laws that are vastly less progressive than they were in the 1960s).

Business schools and economists routinely argue that exploding CEO pay is "inevitable" and that it's all a normal (and unavoidable) aspect of capitalism. Titanic pay packages are necessary to attract the best talent, they argue.

But there's at least one CEO out there who defies all these conventions: Frenchman Louis Gallois, the CEO of EADS, the European defense company.

A CEO like Gallois, 64, would be inconceivable in any American corporate boardroom (where the belief that "greed is good" has been elevated to the status of a religion these days).

After all, Gallois is a lifelong socialist. He once read Das Kapital, cover to cover. He's a business leader who has earned the respect of the workers at the companies he has run (including SNCF, the French rail company). And as The Financial Times once pointed out, Gallois has "disdain for money and the trappings of power."

When Gallois was named the CEO of EADS, he insisted on retaining his old SNCF salary of $273,000/year. EADS had offered him an annual salary of $3.4 million. To this day, Gallois retains his old salary and gives the balance to charity.

Can you imagine any American CEO voluntarily accepting a $273,000 salary, when they could be earning $3.4 million a year?

These days, American CEOs are busy laying off workers by the thousands and exporting jobs overseas, and pulling down fantastic pay packages. As long as they make Wall Street happy, their creed is: screw the workers (and society as a whole). While U.S. CEOs make over 400 times what the average worker earns, in Europe that multiple is a mere 22. In Japan, the gap is even narrower: the average CEO there makes only 17 times what the average worker makes.

In fact, these days, U.S. CEOs don't even have to make Wall Street happy to rake in their huge salaries.

Take Peter Cartwright of Calpine, a maker of gas-fired power plants. In 2005, Forbes reported that Calpine's average annual return to shareholders over the previous six years had been minus 7 percent. During the same period, Cartwright pocketed an average of $13 million annually.

Getting back to Gallois. Sure, he voluntarily pockets a modest salary. But what about his performance as CEO of EADS?

As it turns out, times are very good for EADS right now. Indeed, the future looks bright for the company.

On Friday, EADS scored a stunning upset victory over its rival Boeing with a $35 billion contract to supply the U.S. Air Force with refueling tankers. The Financial Times noted that the huge contract could ultimately be worth more than $100 billion.

For Boeing CEO James McNerney, Friday's news was a crushing blow.

But at least McNerney can take solace in one thing: his titanic CEO pay package. As The New York Times pointed out in 2006, McNerney has a pay package worth more than $52 million. And you can be assured that he won't be handing the vast majority of that fortune over to charity to live on a modest salary.