Thursday, April 19, 2007

Iacocca bashes Bush in new book: Ex-Chrysler CEO also rips Congress, but the harshest criticism goes to president's leadership.

from The Detriot News

by: Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Lee Iacocca, author of the original business management best-seller, is giving President Bush an "F" in leadership.

In a book to be released Tuesday, the former Chrysler CEO -- who supported Bush's first campaign in 2000 but backed Sen. John Kerry four years later -- accused Bush of leading the nation to war "on a pack of lies" and lacking the basic components of good leadership.

"I think our current President should visit the real world once in a while," Iacocca writes, according to excerpts from "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" released on the Web site of publisher Simon & Schuster.

The book, co-written by New York journalist Catherine Whitney, comes 23 years after Iacocca's best-selling autobiography "Iacocca," which reshaped the way the publishing industry viewed business books. USA Today recently ranked the book among the 25 most influential among publishers and readers over the past 25 years.

In addition to politics, Iacocca weighs in on his experiences at Chrysler and the future of the U.S. auto industry in typically blunt fashion.

His latest broadside is in character, said Matthew Seeger, chairman of the communication department of Wayne State University and author of a book on Iacocca's speeches.

"As he's gotten older, he's gotten more blunt, more willing to take stands on issues," Seeger said.

But tough words from Iacocca may not carry the same weight they once did, said David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Michigan.

"Some people might have some awfully harsh criticism of Lee Iacocca, too," Cole said.

Despite his stature as the savior of Chrysler in the 1980s, Cole said, other events, including his failed bid with Kirk Kerkorian to take over the company in the 1990s, have diminished his clout.

Iacocca has described himself as a political independent, and his new book is the latest twist in political history that includes a brief flirtation with his own run for president. He had a close relationship with Democrat Gov. James Blanchard and President Reagan during his time at Chrysler; he made ads for President Bush in 2000 but made campaign appearances with Kerry four years later; and he made more ads, this time for GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, last year.

"Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening?" Iacocca writes. "Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course.' "

Disdain for Washington is nothing new from Iacocca, said Gerald Meyers, former chairman of American Motors and a business professor at the University of Michigan. Recalling a trip to talk to lawmakers in the 1970s about the Clean Air Act, Meyers said, Iacocca had little regard for politicians.

"Zero respect. Nada. No respect whatsoever," Meyers said.

Iacocca has tough things to say about Congress, corporate America, the press and even the voters who put the nation's current leadership in power. But his harshest criticism is saved for Bush.

# He savages Bush's famous determination: "George Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-flopping," Iacocca writes. "There's a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty."

# He accuses Bush of substituting macho for courage: "Swagger isn't courage. Tough talk isn't courage. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn't mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk."

# And he scoffs at Bush's business-degree background: "Thanks to our first MBA President, we've got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we've run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And that's just for starters."

White House spokesman Alex Conant said he had not seen the book. "We don't do book reviews at the White House," he said.

Simon & Schuster says the book will also include Iacocca's thoughts on how U.S. businesses can compete with rising economies in China and India. And he calls for government action to address the massive health care costs facing the Detroit's automakers and other U.S. businesses.

"Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing," he writes. "Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when 'the Big Three' referred to Japanese car companies?"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Postage Hikes for Small Presses

Thanks Marvelys! Even though this is TERRIBLE NEWS. McChesney is a fellow Evergreen Graduate and resident badass when it comes to critiquing our current corporatocracy through the media lens.

Dear friend, relative, or acquaintance of Bob McChesney,

On very rare occasions I send a message to everyone in my email address book on an issue that I find of staggering importance and urgency. (My address book includes pretty much everyone who emails me in one form or another, and I apologize if you get this message more than once.) This is one of those times.

There is a major crisis in our media taking place right now; it is getting almost no attention and unless we act very soon the consequences for our society could well be disastrous. And it will only take place because it is being done without any public awareness or participation; it goes directly against the very foundations of freedom of the press in the entirety of American history.

The U.S. Post Office is in the process of implementing a radical reformulation of its rates for magazines, such that smaller periodicals will be hit with a much much larger increase than the largest magazines.

Because the Post Office is a monopoly, and because magazines must use it, the postal rates always have been skewed to make it cheaper for smaller publications to get launched and to survive. The whole idea has been to use the postal rates to keep publishing as competitive and wide open as possible. This bedrock principle was put in place by James Madison and Thoma
s Jefferson. They considered it mandatory to create the press system, the Fourth Estate necessary for self-government.

It was postal policy that converted the free press clause in the First Amendment from an abstract principle into a living breathing reality for Americans. And it has served that role throughout our history.

What the Post Office is now proposing goes directly against 215 years of postal policy. The Post Office is in the process of implementing a radical reformulation of its mailing rates for magazines. Under the plan, smaller periodicals will be hit with a much larger increase than the big magazines, as much as 30 percent. Some of the largest circulation magazines will face hikes of less than 10 percent.

The new rates, which go into effect on July 15, were developed with no public involvement or congressional oversight, and the increased costs could damage hundreds, even thousands, of smaller publications, possibly putting many out of business. This includes nearly every political journal in the nation. These are the magazines that often provide the most original journalism and analysis. These are the magazines that provide much of the content on Common Dreams. We desperately need them.

What the Post Office is planning to do now, in the dark of night, is implement a rate structure that gives the best prices to the biggest publishers, hence letting them lock in their market position and lessen the threat of any new competition. The new rates could make it almost impossible to launch a new magazine, unless it is spawned by a huge conglomerate.

Not surprisingly, the new scheme was drafted by Time Warner, the largest magazine publisher in the nation. All evidence available suggests the bureaucrats responsible have never considered the implications of their draconian reforms for small and independent publishers, or for citizens who depend upon a free press.

The corruption and sleaziness of this process is difficult to exaggerate. As one lawyer who works for a large magazine publisher admits, it takes a publishing company several hundred thousand dollars to even participate in these rate cases. Some large corporations spend millions to influence these rates. Little guys, and the general public who depend upon these magazines,
are not at the table when the deal is being made.

The genius of the postal rate structure over the past 215 years was that it did not favor a particular viewpoint; it simply made it easier for smaller magazines to be launched and to survive. That is why the publications opposing the secretive Post Office rate hikes cross the political spectrum. This is not a left-wing issue or a right-wing issue, it is a democracy issue. And it is about having competitive media markets that benefit all Americans. This reform will have disastrous effects for all small and mid-sized publications, be they on politics, music, sports or gardening.

This process was conducted with such little publicity and pitched only at the dominant players that we only learned about it a few weeks ago and it is very late in the game. But there is something you can do. Please go to and sign the letter to the Postal Board protesting the new rate system and d emanding a congressional hearing before any radical changes are made. The deadline for comments is April 23.

I know many of you are connected to publications that go through the mail, or libraries and bookstores that pay for subscriptions to magazines and periodicals. If you fall in these categories, it is imperative you get everyone connected to your magazine or operation to go to

We do not have a moment to lose. If everyone who reads this email responds at, and then sends it along to their friends urging them to do the same, we can win. If there is one thing we have learned at Free Press over the past few years, it is that if enough people raise hell, we can force politicians to do the right thing. This is a time for serious hell-raising.

And to my friends from outside the United States, I apologize for cluttering your inbox. If you read this far, we can use your moral support.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks.


Robert W. McChesney
Department of Communication
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign