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Conservatives for Rent - "Brown Bailout" Edition:

Fed-Ex and UPS are embroiled in a nasty political fight. In short, UPS is seeking legislative changes that will increase FedEx's regulatory and labor costs. Specifically, UPS wants to force FedEx to be covered by the National Labor Relations Act, as UPS is, rather than than the Railway Labor Act. FedEx is currently under the latter because it primarily relies upon air shipping. UPS is primarily a ground carrier, so it falls under the NLRA. Unions also support the shift, as it would likely increase unionization within FedEx.

Many conservatives have been critical of UPS' campaign (see here and here). At least one conservative group, the American Conservative Union, also appears to have sought support for a campaign in support of FedEx, only to shift sides when its request was turned down. According to The Politico, ACU sent met with FedEx officials and sent them a letter seeking over $2 million to fund a "grassroots" campaign against the so-called "Brown Bailout." "We have reviewed your concerns regarding the NLRB and we believe we could strongly support your position," the letter said.

Apparently FedEx wasn't buying. So the ACU jsut turned its energies to other important issues, right? Within weeks of seeking money from FedEx for the anti-UPS effort, ACU Chairman David Keene joined other conservative activists signing a letter bearing the ACU logo that attacked FedEx for calling the pro-UPS policy proposal the "Brown Bailout." Labeling what UPS seeks as a "bailout" is improper, the second letter said, because "UPS was not seeking any taxpayer funds — only regulatory reform that would insure equal treatment of both companies under our nationʼs labor laws."

Bailout, shmailout. Whatever one calls it, UPS is engaging in special interest rent-seeking. While they don't seek tax dollars, their desired reforms would increase shipping costs for consumers, so we'd still be stuck paying for it. If UPS really wants "equal treatment," they should seek regulatory relief, perhaps a shift of UPS from NLRA to RLA jurisdiction, instead of asking the government to knee-cap a competitor.

As for ACU, it's one thing for activist organizations to seek support from organizations with common interests. So, for instance, there is nothing wrong with an anti-tax organization seeking money from corporations to fight increased taxes that could harm those corporations' interests. To the extent that such organizations can raise funds to support some campaigns and not others, this will inevitably influence a group's priorities, but does not necessarily compromise its principles. What is so unseemly here is ACU's apparent about face, from eagerly supporting FedEx's position to attacking the company's clever PR campaign, just after it failed to secure financial support. This sort of thing damages a group's credibility, and rightly so.

UPDATE: ACU has issued a press release disputing the Politico story, and claiming that the organization is still opposed to extending NLRA jurisdiction to cover FedEx. It reads in part: "ACU stands with the policy that FedEx should not be placed under the NLRB. This was ACU policy - before and after - any letters in question were drafted." It also claims that ACU did not endorse the letter attacking use of the "Brown bailout" slogan signed by David Keene and bearing the ACU logo.

Note: This morning, before publishing this post, I searched the ACU website for any indication the organization opposed extending NLRA jurisdiction to cover FedEx, and found nothing. I have just repeated my searches, and the only relevant document that comes up is today's press release.

drunkdriver:
Disgraceful. These people have no shame!
7.17.2009 10:19am
Gov98 (mail):
Ugh, just goes to show what a disconnect their appears to be between genuine conservatives (the people themselves) and the "conservative elites."

UPS is wrong and it doesn't take $2,000,000 to see that either. It just is.
7.17.2009 10:19am
JasonF:

If UPS really wants "equal treatment," they should seek regulatory relief, perhaps a shift of UPS from NLRA to RLA jurisdiction, instead of asking the government to knee-cap a competitor.


Why? I think most of us agree that UPS and FedEx should have a level playing field. So the question becomes whether that level playing field should be under NLRA rules, RLA rules, or some third set of rules. If the NLRA rules are reasonable and appropriate for the sort of business UPS is running, then why shouldn't UPS lobby for FedEx to be subject to those rules?

Put differently, if FedEx started manufacturing prescription drugs tomorrow and Pfizer started lobbying for the FDA to regulate FedEx, it would not strike me as valid to say Pfizer is doing something wrong by lobbying to bring FedEx within the FDA's jurisdiction instead of lobbying to remove Pfizer from the FDA's jurisdiction.
7.17.2009 10:24am
Frog Leg (mail):
Rather than jumping straight to the rent-seeking meme, it might be more useful to look first at the merits of the lobbying effort. In other words whether FedEx is a better fit within the scheme of NLRA rather than RLA, or whether some consolidated regulatory scheme is more appropriate.

Sure, to a first approximation, every lobbying effort is rent seeking, but that coarse analysis misses what might be a more complete solution of the problem.
7.17.2009 10:24am
Preferred Customer:
Without knowing anything about the law in this area, it seems patently absurd that there would be two different regulatory regimes that impose widely divergent costs on two entities that plainly compete in the same basic space. So, reform makes all sorts of sense.

That said, I am not sure why UPS deserves to be castigated. When faced with an inequality of treatment, the two obvious choices are either a) my competitor gets treated the same way I do, or b) I get treated the same way my competitor does. Since UPS presumably knows, understands and is set up to deal with the regulatory burdens that come from it's current obligations, it makes sense to me that they would prefer option a to option b. Whether that makes sense from the standpoint of consumers is a different issue, but UPS's job isn't primarily to look out for the benefit of consumers--it is to look out for the benefit of UPS.
7.17.2009 10:25am
martinned (mail) (www):

What is so unseemly here is ACU's apparent about face, from eagerly supporting FedEx's position to attacking the company's clever PR campaign, just after it failed to secure financial support. This sort of thing damages a group's credibility, and rightly so.

Someone get Bernstein on it!
7.17.2009 10:27am
cboldt (mail):
That's an "about face?" ROTFL.
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I don't particularly care for ACU (for reasons unrelated to this), but as far as I know, they are still against the "Brown Bailout" [i.e., they still lobby "to eliminate a provision in the House-passed FAA Reauthorization bill that would expand the power of the NLRB and some unions"]. Participating in a multi-group letter to FedEx that indicates strong disagreement with the tactic of labeling the proposed law a "Brown Bailout" is hardly an "about face," in that all the organizations (FedEx included) are still in harmony as to the ultimate objective.
7.17.2009 10:33am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Admittedly, I know absolutely nothing about either of these regulatory schemes or the inner workings of FedEx vs. UPS, but assuming it's true that FedEx operates primarily by air freight and UPS is mostly ground freight, why is it unreasonable to subject them to different regulations?
7.17.2009 10:39am
Question:
Honest question not resolved by google:

Should it be: "only regulatory reform that would insure equal treatment of both companies under our nation's labor laws." or "only regulatory reform that would ensure equal treatment of both companies under our nationʼs labor laws."
7.17.2009 10:41am
Guest14:
assuming it's true that FedEx operates primarily by air freight and UPS is mostly ground freight, why is it unreasonable to subject them to different regulations?
The NLRA and RLA both relate primarily to labor issues. I quite agree that an air shipper will and should be subject to different regulations than a ground shipper, but I would expect the differences to relate to the differences between air and ground shipping. It's much less clear why the air/ground distinction means that the employees of one shipper should have different protections than the employees of the other.
7.17.2009 10:48am
drunkdriver:
My googling suggests the two are sometimes used interchangeably, but many writers (including the AP) would use "ensure" for the sentence you highlight, restricting "insure" for the issuance of a policy.

I'd think lawyers especially would see it this way, since we're so familiar with using "insure" as a term of art.
7.17.2009 10:51am
David M. Nieporent (www):
That said, I am not sure why UPS deserves to be castigated. When faced with an inequality of treatment, the two obvious choices are either a) my competitor gets treated the same way I do, or b) I get treated the same way my competitor does. Since UPS presumably knows, understands and is set up to deal with the regulatory burdens that come from it's current obligations, it makes sense to me that they would prefer option a to option b. Whether that makes sense from the standpoint of consumers is a different issue, but UPS's job isn't primarily to look out for the benefit of consumers--it is to look out for the benefit of UPS.
Of course it "makes sense" for UPS. The same logic can be applied to all rent-seeking. It "makes sense" for UPS to lobby for the government to outlaw FedEx, or to give UPS a trillion dollars in TARP funds. That doesn't make any of it justified.

It's perfectly legitimate to lobby to lighten one's own regulatory burden; it's not legitimate to lobby to increase someone else's.
7.17.2009 10:56am
That settles it:
I'll now use FedEx for everything.
7.17.2009 10:58am
martinned (mail) (www):

It's perfectly legitimate to lobby to lighten one's own regulatory burden; it's not legitimate to lobby to increase someone else's.

I'm not sure if I would agree with that distinction. (i.e. genuinely doubtful)

On the one hand, all rent-seeking is both legitimate because it is the kind of pursuit of profit that corporate managers are hired to engage in, and because it is an act of petitioning the government, one of the most important of free speech rights.

On the other hand, I can see the intuitive appeal of making a distinction between lobbying that concerns one's own position, and lobbying about someone else's. In football, everybody expects the players to beg the referee not to give them a yellow card, but if a player begs the referee to give the other guy a card, that tends to be universally condemned.

Still, from a utilitarian point of view, lobbying to lighten your own regulatory burden and lobbying to increase someone else's puts the two companies in exactly the same relative position. The only difference is the overall level of regulation that they both "enjoy". Certainly if there is reason to believe that lobbying for a reduction in your own burden would be futile, I don't think what UPS is doing is necessarily wrong.
7.17.2009 11:04am
Gilbert (mail):

If UPS really wants "equal treatment," they should seek regulatory relief, perhaps a shift of UPS from NLRA to RLA jurisdiction, instead of asking the government to knee-cap a competitor.


That conclusion requires a normative judgment about the NLRA and RLA that is (a) not obvious, (b) not supported by anything in this post, and (c) not particularly reliant on the nature of UPS and FedEx's businesses.
7.17.2009 11:09am
Guest14:
It's perfectly legitimate to lobby to lighten one's own regulatory burden; it's not legitimate to lobby to increase someone else's.
This is a weird view. The NLRA is the broader, more widely applicable act and has been a cornerstone of labor regulations in this country for 70+ years. It seems to make a lot more sense to argue that RLA-regulated entities should be rolled into the subsequently enacted NRLA scheme than to argue that the NRLA should be repealed (which is effectively impossible).

How is that "not legitimate"? What does that even mean?
7.17.2009 11:10am
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Gilbert,

Did you really expect someone who calls himself a libertarian to have contingent normative beliefs about this case?
7.17.2009 11:12am
subpatre (mail):
First things first. Why the rush to change (JasonF, Frog Leg, Preferred Customer) when the two companies are regulated differently because the two use fundamentally different carrier methods?

We know for a fact that one company is not significantly outselling the other's service, giving weight that the different regulations are appropriate.

The scheme is obviously to UPS' benefit as FedEx would have to make expensive changes in personnel, materials, regulations, training, routes, schedules and hours; etcetera. Without clear and convinving information that RLA is inappropriate, there should be a bias toward stasis. Change does not make sense.


Volokh's main point is valid: The ACU has no inherent interest in others' use of the term 'bailout'. The very fact they claimed 'regulatory reform that would insure equal treatment', when that isn't true, points to ACU's soft extortion.
7.17.2009 11:19am
rosetta's stones:
Guys, the shippers are squabbling, and rentseeking government, as they've been doing since Christ was a corporal. The blogger's post is about the ACU.
7.17.2009 11:23am
Frog Leg (mail):
subpatre,

I am not rushing to change. I don't know of one of the regulatory schemes is better than the other for Fedex. I just think jumping to the "rent-seeking" meme without any consideration of the merits is a huge rush to judgment. Yes, it does cloud UPS's involvement. But nobody is talking about giving deference to UPS's judgment. The fact that one is land-based and the other is air-based is certainly relevant, but not determinative, of the regulatory issues. Again, the merits question is whether FedEx is a better fit within the scheme of NLRA rather than RLA, or whether some consolidated regulatory scheme is more appropriate. Unfortunately, JA does not address this at all.
7.17.2009 11:26am
Steve:
It's perfectly legitimate to lobby to lighten one's own regulatory burden; it's not legitimate to lobby to increase someone else's.

This makes no sense to me. The hypothetical upthread about FedEx manufacturing prescription drugs aptly illustrates why.

If I'm a contractor, and another contractor is taking business away from me because they hire illegal labor and thus have lower costs, it's perfectly legitimate for me to call the authorities on them. No one would say "sorry, your only option is to lobby for the right to hire illegal labor yourself." In a broader sense, if one of your competitors is taking advantage of a loophole, of course you can try to close the loophole.

The ultimate question is whether the request for increased regulation of a competitor is gratuitous or whether it comports with the intent of the underlying regulatory scheme. In other words, is it really a loophole? Here, the argument that FedEx ought to be governed by the NLRA like everyone else strikes me as non-frivolous.
7.17.2009 11:26am
Tom952 (mail):
I wonder what name the hucksters at the ACU will adopt next, now that their supporters can see that they actually stand for nothing but greed?
7.17.2009 11:29am
Penry (mail):
A minor quibble - aren't UPS's actions in this case better described as 'regulatory capture' rather than 'rent seeking'?
7.17.2009 11:31am
Ryan:
Even though Fed-Ex and UPS use different means (air predominantly and ground predominantly, respectfully) they are still engaged in almost the exact same business. The fact that they are regulated differently is ridiculous. I don't think UPS is the bad guy here, they just want their principal competitor to be treated the same way under the law as they are. That seems like a reasonable request to me.

The fact that the two are treated differently is the problem, and that is the fault of the government and not UPS.
7.17.2009 11:32am
martinned (mail) (www):

A minor quibble - aren't UPS's actions in this case better described as 'regulatory capture' rather than 'rent seeking'?

Regulatory capture describes a situation where the agency regulating a sector is entirely in the pocket of the sector it is supposed to be regulating, sharing their perspective, etc. This happened to the old Interstate Commerce Commission, for example. When there is regulatory capture, there is no need for rent seeking.
7.17.2009 11:34am
zuch (mail) (www):
This sort of thing damages a group's credibility, and rightly so.
What? Shakedowns aren't 'cool'?!?!? I thought they were the very meat and substance of "realpolitik".

So which is more damaging, this or the "C Street 'Family'"?

Cheers,
7.17.2009 11:44am
cboldt (mail):
There is a substantial amount of chatter on the internet, essentially claiming that the ACU switched from being against a particular legislative piece, to being for it.
American Conservative Union: Principles for Sale - Washington Monthly
The ACU said in a recent letter, "We stand with FedEx in opposition to this legislation." ... two weeks later, the American Conservative Union switched sides, and now backs UPS.

American Conservative Union: Conservative Group Offers To Sell Endorsement For $2M - Huffington Post
Conservative Group Tried to Sell its Support for $2M - Newser
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Where does one find that the ACU is now in favor of passing "a provision in the House-passed FAA Reauthorization bill that would expand the power of the NLRB and some unions."?
7.17.2009 11:51am
cboldt (mail):
American Conservative Union Pushes Back on Politico Pay-for-Play Story
ACU's policy position on this issue has not changed and it will not change. ...
ACU does not support moving businesses under the jurisdiction of the NLRB or expanding the federal government’s power, reach or authority under the NLRB.

So much for the credibility of Politico, Huffington Post, etc. Of course, anybody with a modest degree of reading comprehension would notice that "position support" is distinguishable from "agreement as to tactics."
7.17.2009 11:58am
Steve:
cboldt, I see the point you are making, but the position that "we still object to the legislation, we're just adamantly insisting that no one label it as a bailout" is a little too nuanced. It's hard to read that letter to FedEx and believe that they nevertheless continue to strongly oppose the legislation.
7.17.2009 11:58am
J_B:
I would add that UPS is well aware of the political environment at the moment. This Congress and administration are eager to enact legislation imposing burdens on businesses of all types. Up until now, the emphasis has been on financial industry regulation, but that will not be an impediment to increased regulation everywhere to limit "greed". UPS concludes it would be easier convincing Congress to "regulate them" rather than "deregulate us."
7.17.2009 11:59am
cboldt (mail):
-- It's hard to read that letter to FedEx and believe that they nevertheless continue to strongly oppose the legislation. --
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What Politico says is "... the American Conservative Union switched sides, and now backs UPS." I predict massive backpedaling in the near future, where "backs UPS" will refer to the tactic of not naming something a bailout, rather than a position with respect to the bill.
7.17.2009 12:06pm
cboldt (mail):
-- the position that "we still object to the legislation, we're just adamantly insisting that no one label it as a bailout" is a little too nuanced. It's hard to read that letter to FedEx and believe that they nevertheless continue to strongly oppose the legislation. --
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The other signatories to this "we object to the bailout label" letter (signed by Ex-senator Malcolm Wallop) were: Frontiers for Freedom, Americans for Tax Reform (Grover Norquist), 60 Plus, Citizen Outreach (Chuck Muth), Small Business 7 Entrepreneurship Council, and National Taxpayers Union. Your position is that these signatories are likewise lukewarm in opposition?
7.17.2009 12:12pm
Tatil:

Bailout, shmailout. Whatever one calls it, UPS is engaging in special interest rent-seeking.

I thought the lawyers are very picky about terminology. After all, doesn't law turn on fine distinctions and definitions? "Bailout is bad, UPS is bad, so it is OK to call it bailout" does not strike me as a well thought out position.

Besides, what evidence do you have that ACU would not complain about the use of the term "bailout" if it received money from FedEx. It seems your emotions are getting the better of your judgement in this instance.
7.17.2009 12:27pm
Steve:
Your position is that these signatories are likewise lukewarm in opposition?

I frankly don't know enough about these groups to understand their motivation, but I really have my doubts that an interest group signs a letter like this in a situation where they strongly support the agenda of the recipient, but just want to make a point about truth in labelling.
7.17.2009 12:30pm
Tatil:
Is Politico generally a left leaning organization? If so, this sounds like a crude attempt to discredit a generally pro-business organization. Claiming that ACU "changed sides" sounds like a huge exaggeration. Sloppy journalism, political score settling or seeking ratings... Take your pick.
7.17.2009 12:32pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
-- the position that "we still object to the legislation, we're just adamantly insisting that no one label it as a bailout" is a little too nuanced. It's hard to read that letter to FedEx and believe that they nevertheless continue to strongly oppose the legislation. --

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The other signatories to this "we object to the bailout label" letter (signed by Ex-senator Malcolm Wallop) were: Frontiers for Freedom, Americans for Tax Reform (Grover Norquist), 60 Plus, Citizen Outreach (Chuck Muth), Small Business 7 Entrepreneurship Council, and National Taxpayers Union. Your position is that these signatories are likewise lukewarm in opposition?


If fairness to the other signatories (and I agree that the ACU appears to have switched sides because they didn’t get the deal from FedEx that they wanted) I think one can oppose the regulatory change and be legitimately concerned about a misuse of the term “bailout” when we have actual bailouts which many of these other organizations have vocally opposed.

When a group’s activism focuses around their support or opposition to something that has a specific meaning be it “bailouts” or “tax cuts” or “user fees” or “corporate welfare” or “health care rationing” or “judicial activism,” they have to be very circumspect about other groups who use the same term but ascribe a different meaning to it. It’s sort of like how if you have a trademark (and I’m not saying any of these term are trademarked, this is an analogy), if you don’t use it, you lose it. If you let others dilute its meaning, you lose it as well.

If FedEx muddies the water by trying to redefine a term like “bailout” to mean something different from the way that these groups have and are using it, it could lead to groups that are actively hostile to the signatories’ views trying to redefine “bailout” even further to mean something like “by not taxing you at the rate that other countries tax your competitor’s, you’re being ‘bailed” out by the government.”
7.17.2009 12:39pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Guys, the shippers are squabbling, and rentseeking government, as they've been doing since Christ was a corporal. The blogger's post is about the ACU.
I was prepared to condemn the ACU, but having looked at the original documents, I think the Politico story is crap, and the claim that the ACU "switched sides" is false.
7.17.2009 12:49pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I really have my doubts that an interest group signs a letter like this in a situation where they strongly support the agenda of the recipient, but just want to make a point about truth in labelling. --
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I inferred that to be your point of view, from your previous. So, your tentative position is that these signatories are likewise lukewarm in opposition. I'll grant that the identification of multiple signatories doesn't constitute evidence of their degree of opposition to the expansion of NLRB jurisdiction.
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FWIW, I don't find an admonition in the nature of "careful with the 'bailout' label" to be an indicator of lukewarm strength of support. An entity that objects to false labeling is more likely to have STRONG support for the underlying substance, otherwise would not care about truth in labeling.
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I also think the observation that an expansion of NLRB jurisdiction is NOT a bailout is correct. It's inappropriate to affix the label "bailout" to all forms of government regulation.
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-- Is Politico generally a left leaning organization? --
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Yes.
7.17.2009 12:51pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I agree that the ACU appears to have switched sides because they didn't get the deal from FedEx that they wanted --
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I'm glad you announced that conclusion.
7.17.2009 12:53pm
Steve:
If fairness to the other signatories (and I agree that the ACU appears to have switched sides because they didn’t get the deal from FedEx that they wanted) I think one can oppose the regulatory change and be legitimately concerned about a misuse of the term “bailout” when we have actual bailouts which many of these other organizations have vocally opposed.

I guess I agree that they can be legitimately concerned, but the tone of this letter ("essentially a disinformation campaign ... disingenuous and dishonest labels ... falsely and disingenuously ... deceitful website") seems to be beyond what one might typically say to someone who shares your legislative goals but is using exaggerated language which you object to in order to get there.

The use of UPS-friendly language in the letter ("only regulatory reform that would insure equal treatment of both companies under our nation's labor laws ... merely UPS asking that the government treat both competitors the same") also seems to carry a subtext of something less than fervent opposition to UPS's legislative goals.

I mean, ideological allies often have strong disagreements as to tactics in a legislative fight, but I really haven't seen many letters like this exchanged among people who supposedly share the exact same goal at the end of the day. It's one thing to say "you know, I really wish you guys wouldn't call it a bailout," but this letter is a complete broadside.
7.17.2009 12:54pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I thought the lawyers are very picky about terminology. After all, doesn't law turn on fine distinctions and definitions? "Bailout is bad, UPS is bad, so it is OK to call it bailout" does not strike me as a well thought out position.


We’re supposed to be, I just spent fifteen minutes discussing whether we should use the term “academic” or “educational” in an intellectual property agreement which to 99% of lay people would probably think mean the same thing. It actually was important enough because we wanted to limit the scope of the license we were granting to the other party and “academic” is a narrower term than “educational” in the context that we were using it.

If you ever want to start an argument, go to a Republican function, walk up to an activist (especially a Ron Paul supporter) and refer to America as a “democracy” rather than a “republic” . . .
7.17.2009 12:56pm
MartyA:
The difference in labor law jurisdiction is a function of the historical nature of each company. UPS was a trucking company which, IIRC, took advantage of a law/legal opinion that said handling packages of a certain side was not included in the federal government's constitutional obligation to deliver the mail. UPS then discovered that much terminal to terminal business could best be handled with aircraft rather than trucks.
FedEx is the old airline, Flying Tigers, whose initial business was to transport by air, material between airline freight terminals. FedEx then decided to use trucks (didn't they acquire DHL recently) for home to terminal pick up and delivery.
One key difference between the RLA and the NLRA act is that the RLA requires representation elections by class and craft on a system basis where the NLRA permits representation on a point by point basis.
Union representation, therefore, is probably much more intense at UPS (Teamsters, as I recall) than at FedEx and both the UPS management and unions want the same intensity at both companies; management, because it would place a burden on FedEx, and the unions, because it would be easier to sign up new members.
Interestingly, the NLRA does have one key advantage over the RLA. Under the RLA there is no workable methodology to decertify a union. There is under the NLRA.
7.17.2009 1:00pm
Steve:
FWIW, I don't find an admonition in the nature of "careful with the 'bailout' label" to be an indicator of lukewarm strength of support. An entity that objects to false labeling is more likely to have STRONG support for the underlying substance, otherwise would not care about truth in labeling.

I don't agree with this logic at all. If you feel strongly about achieving a given objective, you're less likely to pick fights with your allies over tactical matters like labelling.

Let's attempt an analogy. There are some right-to-life organizations that use dramatic, attention-getting tactics such as "abortion is murder" signs, graphic photographs of aborted fetuses, and the like. There are other right-to-life organizations that, for reasons I assume are conscious, choose to take a higher road in terms of tactics. Yet I cannot recall ever seeing an organization in the latter category sending a letter to those in the former category, berating them for utilizing offensive tactics. I infer the reason is that the organizations feel strongly enough about the overriding goal - preventing abortions - that they are willing to accept their allies wherever they can find them rather than picking fights over tactics.

Now, if organizations like ATR and the NTU actually do care more strongly about preventing dilution of the word "bailout" than they care about stopping UPS' legislative proposal, that would strike me as a classic case of lukewarm support. But I can't get over my nagging suspicion that something else is going on here.
7.17.2009 1:02pm
byomtov (mail):
ACU's signing the letter had absolutely nothing to do with FedEx's rejection of their proposal. Sure. That was a great laugh. You got any more?

By the way, I notice that Keene offered to produce Op-eds in FedEx's favor, and mentioned that he writes a weekly one for The Hill. I wonder if the paper gets a cut of Keene's fees. SHouldn't they label his op-eds "Paid Advertisement?"
7.17.2009 1:15pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
What a stupid letter.

In the first palce, FedX is using bailout corectly:


"A rescue from financial difficulties"

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009.


That is what UPS is seeking. They are trying, through the government, to get more business because their rival's costs just went up.

Second, who made Keane and the others guardians of the English language?

Finally, they actually cite the Reagan Berlin Wall speech! Talk about a lack of perspective.
7.17.2009 1:17pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Yet I cannot recall ever seeing an organization in the latter [right to life] category sending a letter to those in the former [gross anti-abortion images] category, berating them for utilizing offensive tactics. --
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I don't know about formal letters, but I can assure you that there is urgent opposition to the "bloody baby on a flying banner" and "DC abortion truck" tactics, where the people opposed to the tactics are firmly anti-abortion.
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-- if organizations like ATR and the NTU actually do care more strongly about preventing dilution of the word "bailout" than they care about stopping UPS' legislative proposal, that would strike me as a classic case of lukewarm support. --
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It's false equivalence to convert a strong disagreement as to tactics into a finding of "weak" support for the underlying issue - nevermind Politico's conclusion that a disagreement as to tactics represents an about-face reversal of position on the underlying issue.
7.17.2009 1:17pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I searched the ACU website for any indication the organization opposed extending NLRA jurisdiction to cover FedEx, and found nothing. --
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And unlike Politico, you phrased your opinion critical of ACU in a way that differentiates "tactics" from "underlying issue."
What is so unseemly here is ACU's apparent about face, from eagerly supporting FedEx's position [substance] to attacking the company's clever PR campaign [tactics]
7.17.2009 1:39pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
The fact that the two are treated differently is the problem, and that is the fault of the government and not UPS.

Speaking of the government treating two entities differently, wait for Obamacare!
7.17.2009 2:03pm
mariner:
Ryan:
Even though Fed-Ex and UPS use different means (air predominantly and ground predominantly, respectfully) they are still engaged in almost the exact same business.

Right. And even though oranges are orange and lemons are yellow, they're almost the exact same fruit.
7.17.2009 2:03pm
DCP:

None of this matters anyway.

FedEx has a lot of political muscle and has already threatened the nuclear option - canceling purchase contracts with Boeing and other struggling US suppliers. Translation: for every one of my guys you turn into a teamster, I'll put 20 of yours in the unemployment line.

Let's see how Congress responds to that threat in this economy.

Also, UPS and DHL (the forgotten little sister in the parcel delivery triangle) had a deal to consolidate their domestic air services last year (perhaps in the hope of achieving FedEx's regulatory status?) but it was killed by politicians (Obama and McCain) because it was an election year and the proposed plan would have eliminated 8,000 jobs in Ohio (DHL's domestic air headquarters and oh, yeah a very key battleground state). We all know how that game is played.

Anyway, when the deal fell apart DHL, a Dutch subsidiary and primarily an international operator, decided it had had enough of the bullshit and completely shut down all domestic carrier services in the US, leaving only the two giants standing. So not only did those cherished Ohio air service jobs disappear a month after the election but so did many others. Meanwhile UPS - already micromanaged to death by the teamsters and other unions (in the usual corrupt and incompetent way) - suffered the wrath of their organized labor divisions and their political arms in the fallout, hence the current effort to drag FedEx into their bed of fleas.
7.17.2009 2:15pm
cboldt (mail):
More ripples from the Politico story:
.
American Conservative Union Caught Whoring Itself Out to Highest Bidder
The ACU, that venerable organization founded by the likes of William F. Buckley and L. Brent Bozell and host of the annual CPAC convention, is no better than a street ho.


Conservative Group Exposed: Jesus Would Be Proud
Maury Lane, FedEx's director of corporate communications, said: "Clearly the ACU shopped their beliefs and UPS bought."


Conservative group sought $2 million bribe
When FedEx refused the pay, the ACU switched sides in the fight and backed FedEx rival United Parcel Service (UPS). Incredibly, the ACU put the bribe offer in writing in a letter to FedEx.


CNN errs too: ACU denies 'pay for play' lobbying charges
Roughly two weeks later, a letter bearing the logo of several conservative groups and signatures of several conservative leaders was sent to the company's president, Frederick Smith, opposing the FedEx position.
7.17.2009 2:29pm
Freedom:
The Politico IS NOT a reliable source of information. It is nothing more than a mouthpiece of far-left "progressives." The other blog posts are even less reliable. IMHO, the deviants at the Politico should hang for this slanderous garbage. They had no proof of their assertion. They took one unauthorized press release and ran with it. They don't care that the truth is out now, they already accomplished their purpose.

The Politico is trash. The people who run the site are bottom feeding filth.
7.17.2009 2:54pm
cboldt (mail):
-- The Politico IS NOT a reliable source of information. --
.
One of my favorite examples of press error is the AP's "the crowd booed when GWB asked for well wishes for Bill Clinton's heart surgery."
.
That, and CBS "fake but accurate" documents relating to GWB's ANG service.
.
People who accept what the press asserts, at face value, are fools.
.
ACU's Whitfield is quoted by Politico as saying that he is philosophically aligned with FedEx's position on the labor law provision. ...
FedEx spokesman Maury Lane is quoted by Politico saying that the ACU "shopped their beliefs and UPS bought."
Whitfield said the conservative group never took any money from UPS, and UPS spokesman Malcolm Berkley said Lane is mistaken.
"UPS has not paid or contracted with any signers of that letter, including the American Conservative Union, to obtain their support on this issue and any suggestion that we've done so is false," he said.

The "modified meme" will be that ACU is a "pay for play" organization. That is going to stick based on this story.
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Of course, every outfit that does mailers, or lobbies, etc. is a "pay for play" operation. What's funny is the number who play for free, such as AP, CBS, etc.
7.17.2009 3:07pm
Freedom:
Of course, every outfit that does mailers, or lobbies, etc. is a "pay for play" operation. What's funny is the number who play for free, such as AP, CBS, etc.


And the Politico.
7.17.2009 3:22pm
cboldt (mail):
Here is FoxNews take:
A prominent conservative group offered to sell its endorsement to FedEx for more than $2 million to help the package delivery company win a contentious legislative dispute, according to Politico.com.

The endorsement costs 2 million dollars, the millions of pieces of direct (targeted) mail, phone calls, etc. are free.
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I'm wondering, on the initial contact, if FedEx contacted ACU for its mailing list, etc., or if ACU recognized the issue and offered a direct-mail, phone bank program on its own initiative. The June letter mentions a meeting, and in bold typeface recites, "We have reviewed your concerns regarding the NLRB and we believe we could strongly support your position."
7.17.2009 3:32pm
cboldt (mail):
Because the story itself is "much ado about nothing" (it's essentially a fabricated issue), it makes a good case study on the spreading of falsehood. With a bit of selective editing of Mike Allen's article, and brief supporting commentary, the issue becomes a case of crystal clear wrongdoing.
Conservative Group (ACU) offers to Sell Endorsement to FedEX
So here comes the calvary, the ACU, to solve FedEx's problem:
[Politico]: The American Conservative Union, which calls itself "the nation's oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization," took UPS’s side on Wednesday as part of a conservative consortium that accused FedEx of "misleading the public and legislators." ACU's logo is at the top of the letter, along with those of six other conservative groups.
Just two weeks earlier, ACU had offered its endorsement to FedEx, saying in a letter to the company: "We stand with FedEx in opposition to this legislation."[End Politco blockquote]

But there was a catch — an expensive one. ACU asked FedEx to pay as much as $3.4 million for e-mail and other services for "an aggressive grassroots campaign to stop the legislation in the Senate."
The reason ACU changed their mind and are now backing UPS instead-they wanted FedEx to pay if the ACU was going to play.
7.17.2009 3:46pm
Crust (mail):
RedState is coming out very hard not just on ACU on this, but also calling out Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform.
7.17.2009 3:46pm
RPT (mail):
"F:

The Politico IS NOT a reliable source of information. It is nothing more than a mouthpiece of far-left "progressives."

Actually, Politico has been very center-right-establishment, as is most of the corporate media.
7.17.2009 3:55pm
cboldt (mail):
-- RedState is coming out very hard not just on ACU on this, but also calling out Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. --
.
ROTFL. It's funny how a story can snowball. Near the conclusion of Erick Erickson's piece in RedState, he asserts that his beef with Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform is basically over the label "bailout," then goes on with some prose that makes it appear he thinks the ACU is actually in favor of the legislation it in fact opposes!
ACU and ATR are supporting the government and unions against FedEx.
7.17.2009 3:59pm
cboldt (mail):
Q: How Much for That Conservative Support? A: $2 Million
Among those signing onto the pro-UPS letter is Grover Norquist, head of the powerful Americans for Tax Reform -- and one of Abramoff's close allies.

American Conservative Union asks FedEx to pay for its endorsement
Some political interest groups take stands not on principle but for cash.

Keene's American Conservative Union: For Sale For Years? (David Frum)
When David Keene and the American Conservative Union attempted to extract $2 million or more from FedEx to run an activist campaign on FedEx’s behalf - and then punitively switched sides after FedEx refused to pay - the package carrier did a remarkable thing: It went public. ...
Believe me, it takes a lot more than a cocktail to buy a conservative leader. Thanks to FedEx, everybody now knows exactly how much it costs - and exactly who is on the take.

Conservative Lobbyists Try to Sell Endorsement to FedEx (TPM)
The ACU should stop cowering and weakly asserting that its position hasn't changed. Be proud, American Conservative Union. Sell your endorsement to the highest bidder.
7.17.2009 5:05pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

The difference in labor law jurisdiction is a function of the historical nature of each company. UPS was a trucking company which, IIRC, took advantage of a law/legal opinion that said handling packages of a certain side was not included in the federal government's constitutional obligation to deliver the mail. UPS then discovered that much terminal to terminal business could best be handled with aircraft rather than trucks.
FedEx is the old airline, Flying Tigers, whose initial business was to transport by air, material between airline freight terminals. FedEx then decided to use trucks (didn't they acquire DHL recently) for home to terminal pick up and delivery.

One key difference between the RLA and the NLRA act is that the RLA requires representation elections by class and craft on a system basis where the NLRA permits representation on a point by point basis.
Union representation, therefore, is probably much more intense at UPS (Teamsters, as I recall) than at FedEx and both the UPS management and unions want the same intensity at both companies; management, because it would place a burden on FedEx, and the unions, because it would be easier to sign up new members.

Interestingly, the NLRA does have one key advantage over the RLA. Under the RLA there is no workable methodology to decertify a union. There is under the NLRA.



Yes. Essentially, the two companies have migrated into each other's method of operation. Also, FedEx took over Kinko, and no one one would argue that that business had anything to do with the air cargo business.

One difference between the statutes that has not been mentioned is that if a union wants to strike a RLA carrier, it has to go through an extremely long process that was designed to keep the strike from happening; the NLRA has no analogue.

UPS has been fully organized by the Teamsters, but I am of the belief that significant portions of FedEx's operations are non-union. As noted above, it is easier to organize under the NLRA, and I suspect that this is what UPS really is forcusing on.
7.17.2009 5:12pm
cboldt (mail):
Conservative Group Hit Up FedEx in UPS Dispute | Journal of Commerce
A major conservative interest group asked FedEx for a $2 million to $3 million donation in exchange for the group’s backing in a legislative battle with UPS, according to a published report Friday.
Politico, a Washington-based publication, saying it had received a copy of the letter from the American Conservative Union, reported FedEx did not respond to the request. The conservative group since then has endorsed UPS and its call for Congress to change the way FedEx is covered under federal labor law.

Conservative group sought $2 million bribe | Capitol Hill Blue (Doug Thompson)
The powerful American Conservative Union (ACU), one of the major backers of the Republican Party and right-wing causes, attempted to extort $2 million from Federal Express (FedEx) in exchange for support in a legislative dispute.
When FedEx refused the pay, the ACU switched sides in the fight and backed FedEx rival United Parcel Service (UPS).

David Keene, Resign. Today. | savethegop.com
And now today, Politico is reporting that the American Conservative Union essentially asked Fed Ex for a bribe to take their position on a bill, and then lobbied the other way when Fed Ex refused.
7.17.2009 5:21pm
rosetta's stones:
It's a lynch mob, cboldt. Get a rope.

Maybe they need killin', I don't know.
7.17.2009 5:34pm
Tatil:
I cannot quite say why, but I am starting to like ACU more and more. :)
7.17.2009 5:41pm
cboldt (mail):
-- It's a lynch mob, cboldt. Get a rope. --
.
ROTFL. Send me $2,000,000 and I'll think about it.
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I'm just fascinated by the propagation of "bribed" and "payed to take a position." I figure a concise set citations is at least entertaining - even though the liars will deny they are lying.
7.17.2009 5:43pm
Freedom:

Actually, Politico has been very center-right-establishment, as is most of the corporate media.


If you are to the left of Mao and Stalin you might think that... I guess everything appears "center right" from your perspective.
7.17.2009 6:14pm
cboldt (mail):
American Conservative Union Accused of Shaking Down FedEx, Cutting Deal With Rival
[Directly quoting Politico] The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s support in a bitter legislative dispute, then the group’s chairman flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.

Conservatives back UPS in possible pay-to-play switch
Atlanta based shipping giant UPS is the beneficiary of a scheme by the American Conservative Union to try to get up to $3.4 million from rival FedEx.

Is the ACU "Pay-to-Play" Racket Real?
According to Politico, the American Conservative Union is selling off endorsements to the highest bidder. Actually, that's too kind; this sounds more like an extortion racket:

Conservative group offered to sell its support
... a prominent group on the right, the American Conservative Union, appears to have been caught trying to arrange a pay-for-play agreement for its backing.
7.17.2009 6:54pm
cboldt (mail):
Opinions for sale - Paul Krugman Blog
Despite everything that’s happened, I don’t think many people grasp just how raw, how explicit, the corruption of our institutions has become.

Ramesh on David Keene's in 2003 [NRO - Veronique de Rugy]
About the ACU's Pay for Play drama today, Sean Higgins points out that this is not the first time that questions are raised about David Keene's conflict of interest. Here is Ramesh writing on the issue in 2003.
7.17.2009 7:08pm
Seattle Law Student (mail):

If you are to the left of Mao and Stalin you might think that... I guess everything appears "center right" from your perspective.


Yeah, but you probably think Rush Limbaugh is too "mainstream"
7.17.2009 7:11pm
cboldt (mail):
It's All about Money, Isn't It? - Richard J. Bishirjian
Politico, a lively Web daily dedicated to politics, breaks the story today of an attempt by the American Conservative Union to extort money from Fedex.

ACU offered endorsement for money UPI.com
FedEx said it rejected the offer, allegedly prompting ACU officials to support UPS in a fight over a provision before Congress that could give FedEx additional union power.

Will The Hill now cancel its American Conservative Union column? - mediamatters.org
Talk about naked pay-for-play. The fact that that goes on is one of the worst kept secrets on K Street. But the arrogance of the ACU's demand does seem shocking. And more troubling is the idea that Hill columnist David Keene may be in the business of auctioning off his efforts to the highest bidder.

GOP watch: Selling an endorsement? MSNBC - Domenico Montanaro
Politico's Mike Allen reports that the American Conservative Union tried to sell its support to FedEx for $2 million. But after FedEx refused to pay, the group flipped its support to UPS. Allen says "The conservative group’s remarkable demand" is "black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as 'pay for play.'"
7.17.2009 7:37pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cboldt:

the liars will deny they are lying


You have somehow managed to not notice that "the liars" (i.e., people condemning Keane and ACU) include Michelle Malkin, Ed Morrissey, James Joyner, Right Wing News, Reason Magazine, Conservatives4Palin and Weekly Standard. Crust already mentioned Redstate. Is there any major righty source defending ACU? I can't find any.

Most of those links can be easily found via memorandum.

I figure a concise set citations is at least entertaining


What's entertaining is how curiously unthorough you are in your thoroughness. You've cited roughly 27 articles while managing to obscure the fact that every major righty source that covered this story lined up with "the liars."

I realize that you mentioned Fox, NR and savethegop (whoever they are), but mostly you've been citing sources like TPM, HuffPo, CNN and MSNBC. Meanwhile the major righty sources I mentioned are conspicuously absent from your list. I wonder why.
7.17.2009 9:24pm
cboldt (mail):
-- You've cited roughly 27 articles while managing to obscure the fact that every major righty source that covered this story lined up with "the liars."
I realize that you mentioned Fox, NR and savethegop ..
--
.
You've managed to contradict yourself in the space of two consecutive sentences.
7.17.2009 9:52pm
cboldt (mail):
American Conservative Union Pay-for-Play Scandal - David Keene For Sale to Highest Bidder - James Joyner
David Keene and the American Conservative Union offered to take sides in an NLRB dispute between rivals UPS and FedEx based on who would pay to play. FedEx refused to pay the bribe of $2 to $3 million, so ACU supported UPS.

ACU puts conservatism up for sale? - Ed Morrissey
The ACU’s executive vice-president Dennis Whitfield told FedEx that the ACU stood foursquare against the bill, which would have made it easier for unions to organize at individual FedEx facilities. When FedEx took a pass on the offer, the ACU reversed itself and aligned with UPS instead [quotes POLITICO directly]

Beltway "Conservatism" For Sale to the Highest Bidder - R. A. Mansour (conservatives4palin)
Remember David Keene? He's the chairman of the American Conservative Union, the organization that sponsors CPAC. He recently trashed Gov. Palin in a Newsmax article. Guess what? He is selling conservatism to the highest bidder.

When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There In The Law - Jesse Walker (Reason)
Keene's group denies that it has received any money from UPS, which makes the situation sound more like "pay or we won't play."

Don't Mess With Fred Smith - Michael Goldfarb (Weekly Standard)
The American Conservative Union gets caught in flagrante delicto [links to POLITICO] -- and not for the first time [link to story of Keene endorsing Specter].

A Reluctant Open Letter To The American Conservative Union: Fire David Keene - John Hawkins (rightwingnews.com)
However, to offer to "strongly support" the FedEx position and then, after they refuse to pay up, to have the chairman of the ACU sign onto a letter endorsing the opposite view -- it gives the impression that the support of the ACU is for sale.
7.17.2009 10:21pm
cboldt (mail):
The selection of citations riffing from Mike Allen's piece in Politico is evidence that readers of all political stripe took Allen's piece as conclusively establishing that ACU (or Keene) reversed its substantive position vis-a-vis "a provision in the House-passed FAA Reauthorization bill that would expand the power of the NLRB and some unions." While I think that is the intended and natural take of the article, it is neither a literal take nor a correct take.
7.17.2009 10:38pm
cboldt (mail):
Here, from Lew Rockwell: A Peek into the Non-Profit World of the Beltway
a conservative Beltway group offered to back Fed-Ex against UPS and the unions, for as much as $3.4 million, in return for written-to-order newspaper columns, grassroots and direct lobbying by its staff and directors, etc. When Fed-Ex said Nope, the group turned its coat and backed UPS, as did other Beltway conservative non-profits.

None of this is rehabilitating Mike Allen's story. The take by most secondhand authors depends on the ACU adopting one position (in favor of FedEx), then shifting to be in opposition to FedEx; i.e., "backing UPS" as expressed in this article.
.
Some people derive pride from the extent their expressions accurately convey objective reality; others are properly proud of their ability to deceive.
7.17.2009 10:51pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
You've managed to contradict yourself in the space of two consecutive sentences.


You seem to be implying that the three righty sources you cited (Fox, NR and savethegop) aligned themselves with ACU and against Politico. But they didn't. So there is no contradiction in what I said. Rather, there is an implied falsehood in what you said.

And this bogus claim is a feeble attempt at directing attention away from the question I raised: is it just an accident that you cited 27 articles and managed to not mention the position taken by Weekly Standard, Malkin et al?

readers of all political stripe took Allen's piece as conclusively establishing …


Except that your first 27 citations were not a fair representation of "readers of all political stripe." They were seemingly weighted to allow you to unfairly make a point about "the press" ("people who accept what the press asserts, at face value, are fools"). And you have now corrected your glaring omission, but only after I pointed out that it was glaring.

People who accept what you assert, at face value, are fools.
7.17.2009 10:52pm
cboldt (mail):
w-- Rather, there is an implied falsehood in what you said. --
.
Booga booga booga
.
Technically, your complaint is that there is an implied falsehood in what I didn't say. Lie by omission, as my 27 cites had no rightie representation.
7.17.2009 11:01pm
cboldt (mail):
-- You seem to be implying that the three righty sources you cited (Fox, NR and savethegop) aligned themselves with ACU and against Politico. --
.
Step away from the bong.
7.17.2009 11:03pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
-- You seem to be implying that the three righty sources you cited (Fox, NR and savethegop) aligned themselves with ACU and against Politico. --
There's an infallible law of nature, like the laws of thermodynamics, that whenever JBG says to someone, "You seem to be implying X," that person has in fact explicitly been stating NOT X.
7.17.2009 11:21pm
cboldt (mail):
-- ... your first 27 citations were not a fair representation of "readers of all political stripe." They were seemingly weighted to allow you to unfairly make a point about "the press" ("people who accept what the press asserts, at face value, are fools"). --
.

Is it your contention that people who accept what the press asserts, at face value, are not fools?

-- People who accept what you assert, at face value, are fools. --
.
A comical criticism, in that the commentary you are objecting to is light on assertion, and heavy on linked citation for people to check for themselves.
7.17.2009 11:34pm
cboldt (mail):
And the beat goes on ...
A Conservative Organization Is Accused of Offering Help in a Labor Dispute for a Price - NYTimes.com (Neil A. Lewis)
In a letter sent last month to FedEx, the group offered its support in a bitter legislative dispute with United Parcel Service, but said it wanted a contract of up to $3.4 million to wage a campaign to win support for FedEx’s position. When FedEx did not agree, executives at the company said, the conservative group’s chairman, David A. Keene, turned around and signed a letter using the group’s logo endorsing the UPS view and blasting FedEx.

What can brown do for you? - Economist.com
Politico reports on an apparent attempt by the venerable American Conservative Union (ACU) to shake down FedEx for $2m-3m. ...
FedEx doesn't mince words about how and why the ACU opted to support UPS in a dispute about whether FedEx would have to negotiate union contracts for individual locations: "Clearly, the ACU shopped their beliefs and UPS bought." The ACU claims that it has always supported FedEx on this, "before and after any letters in question were drafted." But that doesn't absolve the group. It accidentally exposed the friendliness between Washington's conservative establishment ... and the companies whose huge donations help finance that populism.

Conservative Group Sells Endorsements to Highest Bidder?
The Politico published a great piece on Friday, exposing the all too common "pay for play" practices that are a staple in Washington and politics in general.

Think Tank Thoughts For Sale - gawker.com
But, you know, if you don't pay up, the ACU will lobby against you, free market capitalism be damned. ...
7.18.2009 1:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cboldt:

your complaint is that there is an implied falsehood in what I didn't say


There was an implied falsehood in what you didn't say. But that was just my first complaint. Now you're falsely implying that there was only one complaint.

I also complained about what you did here, where you falsely implied that Fox, NR and savethegop lined up with ACU. They didn't. And your evasive non-response ("step away from the bong") doesn't change that.

What you're doing, repeatedly, is generating new falsehoods in a feeble attempt to direct attention away from your prior ones.

Lie by omission, as my 27 cites had no rightie representation.


Why are you exaggerating? It's not that your "27 cites had no rightie representation." They had this much "rightie representation:" 3/27, or 11%. And you somehow decided it was important to quote the Memphis Flyer and the Yorktown Patriot while ignoring Weekly Standard and Michelle Malkin. How odd.

Is it your contention that people who accept what the press asserts, at face value, are not fools?


It's my contention that you're making a feeble attempt at changing the subject.

If you had started out by defining "the press" as people "of all political stripe," then I would not have spoken up. But you did something pointedly different, and conspicuously ignored (almost completely) a certain "political stripe." Until I pointed out what you were doing.

the commentary you are objecting to is light on assertion, and heavy on linked citation for people to check for themselves.


You said "the liars will deny they are lying." That's definitely an "assertion." So your commentary is not "light on assertion." It's light on credibility.

Booga booga booga


Michael B used to like to say "boo." Do you know why he's been gone for so long? The place isn't the same without him. Anyway, it seems that you and him both attended the GOP School for Erudite Argumentation. After all, it's hard to argue with "boo" and "booga."

Does the syllabus include a unit on when to use one versus the other? Just curious.

=================
nieporent:

There's an infallible law of nature, like the laws of thermodynamics, that whenever JBG says to someone, "You seem to be implying X," that person has in fact explicitly been stating NOT X.


If you can make sense out of what he said, feel free to explain how you manage to do that.

I made a claim: that every major righty source that covered this story lined up against ACU. cboldt implied that Fox, NR and savethegop are exceptions to this claim. Trouble is, they're not.
7.18.2009 1:17am
cboldt (mail):
JBG: You've cited roughly 27 articles while managing to obscure the fact that every major righty source that covered this story lined up with "the liars."
I realize that you mentioned Fox, NR and savethegop ..
Me: You've managed to contradict yourself in the space of two consecutive sentences.

JBG: -- [that is] you falsely implying that Fox, NR and savethegop lined up with ACU. --
JBG: -- What you're doing, repeatedly, is generating new falsehoods in a feeble attempt to direct attention away from your prior ones. --
7.18.2009 1:35am
Kevin Webb:
A couple of points:

1) One thing that bothers me is that UPS in several of these quoted stories is being portrayed as stepping in and paying the ACU's fee, when there is no evidence of such.

2) The letter that everyone is referring to only discusses the use of the term "bailout" and not a position on the legislation.

3) While you can quote a dictionary to support your argument, bailout has taken on a different and negative definition: that of companies taking direct payments from the federal government. To use the term bailout to describe this issue is misleading and wrong.

4) Finally, while FedEx may have been an air carrier in the past, that is no longer the case. Thanks to several acquistions, they are a major player in the ground market. The switch to the NLRA would not affect air personnel (pilots, air support) but would affect the drivers and package handlers. It would put similar personnel under the same rules instead of allowing one to exploit a loophole.
7.18.2009 1:39am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cboldt, when you repost various sentences without explaining why you're reposting them, you succeed only in demonstrating that you're being evasively opaque.

Here's the key issue you're still trying to dodge. In this particular situation, sites like TPM and sites like Malkin took essentially the same position: they condemned ACU. Yet you created a selection of 27 citations that was heavily weighted with sites like TPM and generally omitted sites like Malkin. Why?
7.18.2009 2:55am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I made a claim: that every major righty source that covered this story lined up against ACU. cboldt implied that Fox, NR and savethegop are exceptions to this claim. Trouble is, they're not.
No. You made the claim that cboldt had "obscure[d] the fact that every major righty source that covered this story lined up with 'the liars.'"

Trouble is, Cbolt had included Fox, NR, and savethegop, which are obviously "righty sources," which means he obviously did not "obscure the fact" at all.

Then you falsely claimed he had "implied" that these three sources had sided with the ACU, when he did nothing of the kind. He explicitly quoted them as lining up with the others in condemning the ACU.

Amusingly, you implicitly denigrated "savethegop" as nobodies by saying "whoever they are," but in your list of alleged major righty sources that he had omitted by not looking at "memorandum" [sic], you included "Conservatives4Palin," (whoever they are). (You also falsely included Reason, which is not a "righty source" at all, but a libertarian one.)


If you can make sense out of what he said, feel free to explain how you manage to do that.
How I manage to make sense of what he said? Very easily: read the words instead of your false claims about what people "Seem to be implying," and then "what he said" is very straightforward. "What he said" was that your two claims:

1) that he "obscure[d] the fact that every major righty source that covered this story lined up with 'the liars.'"
2) that he "mentioned Fox, NR and savethegop"

directly contradict each other. Obviously if he mentioned Fox, he wasn't obscuring the fact that a righty source lined up that way.
7.18.2009 6:54am
cboldt (mail):
-- when you repost various sentences without explaining why you're reposting them, you succeed only in demonstrating that you're being evasively opaque. --
.
The message conveyed by the repost is self-evident on inspection. I can point things out to you, but I can't think for you.
.
The post you are now objecting to is a concise showing that you are guilty of what you accuse me of. To wit, making false claims, and generating new falsehoods in a feeble attempt to direct attention away from your prior ones.
.
Your persistence in asserting these false accusations makes you out as imagining things that don't exist, hence "step away from the bong" was a direct and substantive response, that described the imaginary nature of your contributions.
.
You are now free to assert that I haven't provided citations, that you have, and that you've again kicked my ass and obtained glorious victory in argument.
7.18.2009 7:27am
cboldt (mail):
Not much in the way of "fresh" rehashing of Mike Allen's story in POLITICO, but some amusing headlines and conclusions:
American conservatisim in its decadent phase - (nationalpost.com publishes David Frum on 7/18)
American Conservative Union Accused of Shaking Down FedEx, Cutting Deal With Rival - Jackson Baker (memphisflyer.com) [links to POLITICO, adds little original material beyond the headline title]
Politico: American Conservative Union tried to sell its support - Laurie Bennett (muckety.com)
After FedEx refused to pay for the ACU’s backing in the issue, the organization switched its support to UPS.

American Conservative Union — The World’s Most Expensive Hooker
FedEx refused the offer, so [DEL: the prostitute threw the john out of her room :DEL] the ACU retaliated by supporting UPS instead.

I haven't found a report that challenges the conventional wisdom. Looks as though Mike Allen has, via Politico, successfully slimed ACU, and others have extended his slime using guilt by association (e.g., Norquist).
7.18.2009 8:13am
cboldt (mail):
Here is somebody swimming against the current:
Politico's ACU "Pay-for-Play" Baloney - The Right Knight
In other words, not only were the two letters consistent with each other, the position of ACU has not apparently changed in the least.
Some scandal, eh? I think a retraction may be warranted over at Hot Air.
7.18.2009 9:49am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

Cbolt had included Fox, NR, and savethegop, which are obviously "righty sources," which means he obviously did not "obscure the fact" at all.


You're engaging in your typical sophistry of overstating the evidence.

The key issue is this: every major righty source that covered this story lined up against ACU (as far as I can tell, and no one has shown otherwise). And cboldt obscured this fact, even though he mentioned, in his list of 27 citations, 3 righty sources that lined up against ACU. How does mentioning those token three communicate the idea of "every?" It doesn't. It communicates the idea of 'some,' or 'a few.' Especially because one of the three (savethegop) is a source no one ever heard of.

Consider these two statements:

A) every major righty source that covered this story lined up against ACU
B) Two or three (i.e., a few) righty sources covered this story by lining up against ACU

Your defense of cboldt depends on pretending that A and B are the same. Trouble is, they're not. What cboldt's list admitted and communicated was B. And by citing the Memphis Flyer and the Yorktown Patriot while ignoring Weekly Standard, Michelle Malkin, Hot Air et al he was effectively obscuring A.

if he mentioned Fox, he wasn't obscuring the fact that a righty source lined up that way


Admitting "that a righty source lined up that way" generally corresponds with B, and is quite different from A. I didn't accuse him of obscuring B. I accused him of obscuring A. But please continue to pretend that "every" and 'a few' are synonyms.

Then you falsely claimed he had "implied" that these three sources had sided with the ACU, when he did nothing of the kind.


He did do something "of the kind," by saying I contradicted myself. But I didn't contradict myself, because "every" and 'a few' are not synonyms. Even though you and he are both pretending they are.

you implicitly denigrated "savethegop" as nobodies by saying "whoever they are," but in your list of alleged major righty sources that he had omitted by not looking at "memorandum" [sic], you included "Conservatives4Palin," (whoever they are)


I didn't claim that Conservatives4Palin is a major righty source. I included them on the list because they are a relatively extreme righty source. And even though they are not major, they are way more major than savethegop. According to alexa, the former has a traffic rank of 133,657 and the latter has a traffic rank of 1,978,201. So your pretense that they are equally obscure is more sophistry.

savethegop.com is highly obscure, and yorktownpatriot.com is even more obscure. But they made it onto the list, while Malkin, Morrissey and Weekly Standard did not. How odd.

You also falsely included Reason, which is not a "righty source" at all, but a libertarian one.


Who got more votes from Reason readers and contributors, Obama or McCain? Kerry or Bush? Do you really claim it's the former, in both cases? I doubt it. If it walks like a duck etc. For the purpose of a discussion like this, calling Reason righty is a reasonable simplification.

"memorandum" [sic]


When you stoop to highlighting insignificant typos that's a pretty good clue that you have nothing substantive to work with.
7.18.2009 10:44am
Malvolio:
Still, from a utilitarian point of view, lobbying to lighten your own regulatory burden and lobbying to increase someone else's puts the two companies in exactly the same relative position.
Relative only to each other. Putting a heavier regulatory burden on an entire industry handicaps all the competitors in that industry.

Imagine there were a $1 million tax on all cars, regards of the manufacturer. Yes, in some sense, all the manufacturers are affected "relatively" the same -- but no one would buy cars.

If UPS and FedEx both have see their labor costs rise, they both will have to pass those costs on, either to their customers or to their investors. Investors can invest elsewhere and customers can always just not ship stuff.
FedEx is the old airline, Flying Tigers, whose initial business was to transport by air, material between airline freight terminals. FedEx then decided to use trucks (didn't they acquire DHL recently) for home to terminal pick up and delivery.
FedEx acquired Flying Tigers, but they already had planes; DHL was acquired by Deutsche Post.
7.18.2009 1:43pm
geokstr (mail):

jukeboxgrad:
I didn't claim that Conservatives4Palin is a major righty source. I included them on the list because they are a relatively extreme righty source.

So what? You consider nyone to the right of the CPUSA is an extreme righty source.
7.18.2009 9:56pm
Sarcastro (www):
This is the most useful, and least wanktastic thread ever!
7.18.2009 10:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
geo:

You consider nyone to the right of the CPUSA is an extreme righty source.


Since you have this amazing clairvoyance about my thoughts and preferences, can you tell me what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow? I don't know myself, but I figure you probably know.

And let us know if you're really claiming that conservatives4palin is actually not more extreme than, say, James Joyner. Also let us know if you need help grasping the word "relatively." It seems that you do.
7.19.2009 12:28am
cboldt (mail):
LA Times on Sunday (same story in Chicago Tribune):
Conservative nonprofit offered clout to FedEx - Andrew Zajac
The American Conservative Union asked for up to $3.4 million to support the carrier in a legislative battle. When the firm refused, the group's president backed rival UPS' position and blasted FedEx.
7.19.2009 7:06am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I didn't claim that Conservatives4Palin is a major righty source.
You certainly implied it, by including it in a discussion of major righty sources; if it isn't one, it's utterly irrelevant to the discussion. (And yes, it and savethegop are both 'equally obscure,' though that phrase has no meaning. Alexa ranks -- even assuming they're accurate; there have been plenty of criticisms on that score -- are not ratings of "obscurity," which is not a linear function of traffic. Something which 10 people read and something which 2 people read might have very different ordinal traffic ranks, but would be equally obscure. Obscurity is like pregnancy; you can't be a little bit obscure. You're either obscure or you aren't, and "conservatives4palin" is utterly obscure.)

Your defense of cboldt depends on pretending that A and B are the same.
No, it doesn't. It depends on noting that nobody would try to "obscure" that righty sources were saying something by listing Fox and the NRO as saying it. If one were trying to "obscure" the fact that righty sources were saying something, one would either list no righty sources, or only obscure ones like conservatives4palin. He did neither.

Now, on the other hand, consider these two statements:

A) Here are some people who said something.
B) Here is an exhaustive list of people who said something.

Your defense of your own hackery depends on pretending that A and B are the same.
Admitting "that a righty source lined up that way" generally corresponds with B, and is quite different from A. I didn't accuse him of obscuring B. I accused him of obscuring A. But please continue to pretend that "every" and 'a few' are synonyms.
Trouble is: he didn't say that only "a few" righty sources said that. Nor did he imply it. Your insinuation that he did is a lie.

Who got more votes from Reason readers and contributors, Obama or McCain? Kerry or Bush? Do you really claim it's the former, in both cases? I doubt it.
In 2004, I suspect Bush; in 2008, I suspect Obama. But I don't know, and I know you don't know.
If it walks like a duck etc. For the purpose of a discussion like this, calling Reason righty is a reasonable simplification.
Funny how your incorrect statements are always "reasonable" falsehoods, whereas everyone else's are proof of dishonesty.
7.20.2009 12:06am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
it and savethegop are both 'equally obscure'


Ipse dixit.

Obscurity is like pregnancy; you can't be a little bit obscure


Nonsense. Obscure means not well known. A blog being well known or not is a relative phenomenon, not an absolute phenomenon. savethegop is obscure relative to conservatives4palin, while the latter is obscure relative to Weekly Standard. And I notice that you and cboldt have still not attempted to answer the key question: how did it come to pass that cboldt decided it was relevant to cite the Yorktown Patriot, while ignoring Weekly Standard, Malkin and Morrissey?

Something which 10 people read and something which 2 people read might have very different ordinal traffic ranks, but would be equally obscure


More nonsense. If more people read something, it is more known, which means that it's less obscure. But I realize you're using your magic dictionary where that word has a special meaning that you invented.

If one were trying to "obscure" the fact that righty sources were saying something, one would either list no righty sources, or only obscure ones like conservatives4palin.


If cboldt had posted 27 citations that included 0 righty sources, that would have been even more egregious than what he actually did (post 27 citations that included 3 righty sources). I could see how he would decide it would be unwise to take the more egregious course. It would have been too noticeable. But what he did was still egregious, even though he included a fig leaf.

he didn't say that only "a few" righty sources said that. Nor did he imply it.


By posting 27 anti-ACU citations, where only 3/27 were righty sources, he did indeed imply "that only 'a few' righty sources said that." Because if he was choosing sources in a fair way, the righty representation would not be so low unless it was the case "that only 'a few' righty sources said that."
7.20.2009 1:36am
cboldt (mail):
FWIW - my original set of links and blockquotes came from use of a google search on american conservative union fedex, and also following the related news articles link. RedState, Michelle Malkin, Ed Morrissey, James Joyner, Right Wing News, Reason Magazine, Conservatives4Palin and Weekly Standard do not appear in the list of (now 74) news articles, although they might appear somewhere deep in the raw search.
.
I didn't bother to earlier link to Malkin's comments (they show little evidence of independent "analysis" of the Politico story), but it's clear she took Politco's bait, hook, line and sinker.
The rotten American Conservative Union/David Keene pay-for-play scandal underscores a point I’ve made over and over and over again

Number of hits in google search for american conservative union fedex PLUS:
bribe - 2680
extortion - 1650
.
Heh, here is NYT - Stephanie Clifford, on June 9, also objecting to the use of the word "bailout":
Campaign Against Rival Could Haunt FedEx
THE word bailout has gone from descriptive to derogatory ...
The real issue here is not government-supplied cash for U.P.S., but the labor laws under which U.P.S. and FedEx are classified.
7.20.2009 3:00am
cboldt (mail):
-- If cboldt had posted 27 citations that included 0 righty sources, that would have been even more egregious than what he actually did (post 27 citations that included 3 righty sources). I could see how he would decide it would be unwise to take the more egregious course. It would have been too noticeable. But what he did was still egregious ... --
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Only to those who infer and imagine a non-existent objective or point from the selection of examples.
.
Maybe the google search used to find commentary based on Allen's slime-piece came up weighted the way it did because of bias on the part of google.
7.20.2009 3:13am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
my original set of links and blockquotes came from use of a google search on american conservative union fedex


That's interesting, because when I do that search, one of the top six results is conservativepoliticalreport.org. Their post of 7/17 linked to Weekly Standard, Hot Air, Malkin, Red State, Conservatives4Palin, and a couple of others. How peculiar that this particular item escaped your attention, even though you cited 27 other items.

I didn't bother to earlier link to Malkin's comments (they show little evidence of independent "analysis" of the Politico story)


Can you find any sources that show "independent 'analysis' of the Politico story?" I can't. Did you cite any such sources? I don't think so. So that criterion would not be a reason to exclude Malkin.

Maybe the google search used to find commentary based on Allen's slime-piece came up weighted the way it did because of bias on the part of google.


Yes, placing conservativepoliticalreport.org in position number six (ahead of HuffPo, Washington Monthly and various other lefty sources you cited) definitely shows bias on the part of google.
7.20.2009 3:28am
cboldt (mail):
-- Can you find any sources that show "independent 'analysis' of the Politico story?" --
.
I used scare quotes around "analysis" as a means to imply that those parroting Politico's conclusion hadn't done analysis. I linked to one fellow "swimming against the current," above. He noted reading the two letters Mike Allen provided.
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The difference between the type and extent of Malkin's direct commentary on the Politico article, compared with the other cites, is self-evident. Her substantive contribution was "The rotten American Conservative Union/David Keene pay-for-play scandal ..." after which she jumped to and tied into the GOP sex scandals.
.
You're entitled to your fertile imagination. If you think I was trying to protect Malkin (and/or the other righties) from fallout from her error, by not citing her here, well, that's your baggage. As I've said before, I consider you a liar, and your opinions are essentially worthless.
7.20.2009 3:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I consider you a liar


I guess that's your way of letting us know you're not going to bother trying to explain why you skipped past conservativepoliticalreport.org, even though it's one of the top results on the google search you were ostensibly using.
7.20.2009 4:17am
cboldt (mail):
-- I guess that's your way of letting us know you're not going to bother trying to explain why you skipped past conservativepoliticalreport.org --
.
Morrisey's piece provides the ACU's response to Politico's false story and included "[bold] If [endbold] Politico has this right," which makes his position more like Adler's, here.
Goldfarb's piece in the Weekly Standard is akin to Malkin's. It links to Politico with a "The American Conservative Union gets caught in flagrante delicto" and no more
Next up is a link to this thread started by Adler - should I link to that again for your benefit? ROTFL.
The linked article from The Corner predates Mike Allen's Politico story, and doesn't even refer to the ACU
The Riehl World View story fits the pattern of something I'd cite - he claims to have read the June 30 letter, then he adopts Politico's characterization of the July 15 letter, "Keene put his and ACU's names on a document backing UPS. That means his position, or backing was, in effect, for sale."
Working from memory (not that I bother, in general, to develop reasoned justification for every citation I decide to omit) I probably skipped Conservatives4Palin on account of its low profile, and it pretty much just blockquoted Politico then added opinion
I mentioned Malkin's contribution above, she added a handful of words, and even though it's clear she bought the narrative, I was looking for unequivocal, directly accusatory blockquotes, not lifted from Politico.
And the last one is RedState, which I'd cited and blockquoted by the time you chimed in.
.
In closing, even though I did here, I don't feel any need to compose explanations to satisfy your imaginary boogey-men. I consider you to be void of good faith, and worthy of ridicule, at best.
7.20.2009 4:46am
fair and balanced (mail):
What's the complaint with what the ACU did? Isn't this how the free market for ideas should operate?
7.20.2009 5:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Morrisey's piece provides the ACU's response to Politico's false story and included "[bold] If [endbold] Politico has this right," which makes his position more like Adler's, here.


Morrissey's piece is highly critical of ACU, and so is Adler's (at the top of this thread). So you are being doubly disingenuous to suggest that Adler and Morrissey lined up with ACU.

Goldfarb's piece in the Weekly Standard is akin to Malkin's. It links to Politico with a "The American Conservative Union gets caught in flagrante delicto" and no more


Indeed, which helps us understand why you were inclined to not mention Malkin and Weekly Standard. Their posts interfere with an idea that you and others have been promoting in this thread, that Politico is a lefty rag. If Politico is a lefty rag, why would Malkin and Weekly Standard uncritically accept their criticism of a conservative organization?

Next up is a link to this thread started by Adler - should I link to that again for your benefit?


No, and I never suggested you should. I don't know why you're suggesting that I suggested something that I never suggested.

I probably skipped Conservatives4Palin on account of its low profile


Naturally. As compared with, say, the Memphis Flyer, the Yorktown Patriot and savethegop.com. You cited all those because they're so high-profile.

I mentioned Malkin's contribution above


You only mentioned Malkin here, which was almost three days after I pointed out your conspicuous failure to mention her. So you shouldn't be implying that you didn't omit her from your original list. Because you did.

the last one is RedState, which I'd cited and blockquoted by the time you chimed in


You didn't mention RedState until after Crust mentioned them, here. So you shouldn't be implying that you didn't omit them from your original list. Because you did.
7.20.2009 6:10am
cboldt (mail):
-- Morrissey's piece is highly critical of ACU, and so is Adler's --
.
Assuming I saw Morrissey's piece, it (and Adler's) don't satisfy the basic criteria I was using to select citation and blockquote. In Adler's case, described in my 7.17.2009 1:39pm, and for Morrissey, see just above. Were they completely fooled? [e.g., ACU performed a policy reversal, motivated by not being paid by FedEx] Any "hedge" of equivocation as to the narrative, in the complete post?

-- you are being doubly disingenuous to suggest that Adler and Morrissey lined up with ACU. --
.
Pure exaggerated fabrication on your part. You are hallucinating me, suggesting Adler or Morrissey has "lined up with ACU." At best, they are equivocal in their condemnation - but equivocal they are. Not fooled by Mike Allen, as deeply as others are.
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-- you were inclined to not mention Malkin and Weekly Standard [because] Their posts interfere with an idea that you and others have been promoting in this thread, that Politico is a lefty rag. --
.
Your conclusion of "why" I cited what I did (the KEY QUESTION, you say) is more active imagination. As I said, I was citing those who in their own words, made direct and unequivocal statements interpreting Politico as saying ACU reversed policy position, or was bribed, or was extorting FedEx, or similar. Malkin didn't, Weekly Standard (Goldfarb) didn't.
.
-- If Politico is a lefty rag, why would Malkin and Weekly Standard uncritically accept their criticism of a conservative organization? --
.
Why don't you just invoke your imagination to come up with an answer to that disconnect of a question? If it takes two sticks of dynamite to blow off a bull's horn, how many sheep does a sheepdog have to eat in order to crap a wool hat?
.
My point is that anybody who accepts what Mike Allen or Politico says, at face value, is a fool. Some of the fools will admit they were fooled - give it time. The liars will insist on sticking to the false narrative.
.
-- As compared with, say, the Memphis Flyer, the Yorktown Patriot and savethegop.com. You cited all those because they're so high-profile. --
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More imagination. I cited those because they appeared in the "articles like this" search I'd invoked. In each case the authors unequivocally reached and clearly expressed the false conclusion that Mike Allen invited them to make. Other than that, I had no concern or idea where these operations stand on the political spectrum.
7.20.2009 8:07am
cboldt (mail):
This article also notes UPS's response and ACU's "press release that the headline on Politico's story was false, but a spokesman for the group declined to discuss the story."
Endorsement intensifies fight between UPS, FedEx - CargonewsAsia.com
When FedEx declined to pay, the group [ACU] added its name to a letter endorsing UPS' side of the argument, according to Politico.

A house derided - Powerline (Scott Johnson) July 20
Allen disclosed that ACU chairman David Keene flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to engage the ACU's services. ...
It must be a funny matter of principle involved in the legislation for the ACU's chairman and executive vice president to be on opposing sides.
7.20.2009 8:45am
devil's advocate (mail):
So I get the point that both the present disputants on this thread can present equities in support of their positions. If we could desist from restating them for a few moments, I think an inciteful point by Steve was overlooked, or at least goes unanswered.

I have no problem whatsoever with the contention that one should look thoughtfully at this kind of story and not take the headline as some kind of Q.E.D.

But even if the article is factually incorrect or improperly exaggerates the ACU as having "switched sides", I think Steve's point that the letter is quite harsh and unusual for allies who agree in substance.

I cannot possibly see this as equating to concern about showing fetus's on flags or the most in your face tactics within the pro-life camp - although the example of disagreement over tactics among advocates who are clearly in wide agreement on the substance is instructive.

One bit of information missing is the timing in the relationship between the substantive and tactical concerns for ACU and, for that matter, other conservative groups.

The 'smoking gun' letter from ACU to Fedex following up on previous undated and apparently unrecorded communications is dated June 30th. The Whois look-up tells us that the brownbailout.com was registered on May 6th, 2009.

The letter was also copied to BKSH - which looks like a DC PR firm, which presumably was handling some lobbying/communication on this issue for Fedex.

It is unclear then, whether ACU might have had any information from these mulitple unrecorded contacts regarding the "brown bailout" campaign. They do not mention it in the letter, or suggest anything to the effect of: 'we agree with you on substance but are concerned about your tactical use of the term bailout and think a straightforward effort to engage grassroots conservatives would be more honest and effective in opposing this legislation', then their participation in a letter decrying that strategy would be quite natural, but no hint of this appears in the letter.

Whether or not ACU knew about the nascent "Brown Bailout" campaign (which I think is fairly clever, and certainly not outside the bounds of reasonable discourse, if , nonetheless imprecise) or not when it solicited a lobbying relationship with Fedex I think it was highly unwise of them to participate in the joint letter. It seems self evident what appearance anyone might attempt to attach to the events regardless of whether ACU actually "switched sides" on the substantive issue.

Indeed, if several other conservative organizations with records of commenting on bailouts in the context of the present recession take issue with the appropriation of the term, it defies imagination that ACU would not have had the good sense to forego participating after attempting such explicit arrangement with Fedex. the issue was going to be strongly and publicly raised by others and ACU could have (and should have) recused IMO.

Brian
7.20.2009 10:08am
Leroy5000:
The real "rent seeking" is being done by the 'advocacy groups' that offer up their logos for a price. It happens on both sides of the political/ideological spectrum on nearly every substantive issue in DC, from labor to telecom to energy and environmental policy. ACU just got caught issuing a written proposal before they knew it would be accepted in a more ephemeral spoken agreement. As the original post suggests, there is nothing inherently wrong with financially supporting groups that share your general ideological viewpoint. Unfortunately, most of these groups don't operate on long-term budgets and these corporate patrons have come to rely on the groups' willingness (and need) to accept checks on an ad hoc basis. It becomes essentially a project fee instead of the more traditional multi-year grants given to philanthropic and/or educational institutions. While the potential for impropriety would never be eliminated (look at the influence the Tides, Ford and Koch foundations wield), using five or ten year grants would provide some distance between dollars and deliverables.
Of course, if your eye for these advocacy groups has become completely jaundiced, I'll tell you the same thing I would tell my friends that bemoaned the existence of traditional lobbyists: you'll get rid of 90% of them just as soon as you get rid of 90% of the government.
7.20.2009 10:21am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
they [Morrissey and Adler] are equivocal in their condemnation … I was citing those who in their own words, made direct and unequivocal statements interpreting Politico as saying ACU reversed policy position, or was bribed, or was extorting FedEx, or similar. Malkin didn't, Weekly Standard (Goldfarb) didn't.


More baloney. You must think you're dealing with people who can't read. You're claiming you omitted Morrissey because he was "equivocal." But you cited people who were at least as equivocal as he was. For example, you cited the Atlantic even though they followed the Politico quote by saying "I'm skeptical of this."

And you excluded Morrissey even though "in [his] own words, [he] made direct and unequivocal statements interpreting Politico as saying ACU reversed policy position, or was bribed, or was extorting FedEx, or similar." Morrissey said this:

According to Politico, the American Conservative Union attempted to get Federal Express to pay millions of dollars to engage the ACU on their behalf over a political fight with UPS on legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill.  The ACU’s executive vice-president Dennis Whitfield told FedEx that the ACU stood foursquare against the bill, which would have made it easier for unions to organize at individual FedEx facilities.  When FedEx took a pass on the offer, the ACU reversed itself and aligned with UPS instead.


That last sentence is definitely an instance of Morrissey making a "direct and unequivocal" statement in his "own words … interpreting Politico as saying ACU reversed policy position." Why did you claim that Morrissey did not say something that he did indeed say?

You didn't cite Morrissey, but you cited CNN, who said this:

The American Conservative Union is denying a report it reversed policy positions in a "pay for play" lobbying controversy


You're claiming that you cited CNN but not Morrissey because there's allegedly some meaningful difference between what they said. Really? I'm glad you can see it, because I can't. If anything, CNN quoted both sides and avoided taking a position. Their headline was "ACU denies 'pay for play' lobbying charges." Morrissey's headline was "ACU puts conservatism up for sale?" You're suggesting that Morrissey was more "equivocal" than CNN. Morrissey's headline was more "equivocal?" Really? I would call it inflammatory. With friends like Morrissey ACU doesn't need enemies.

Keep digging.
7.20.2009 10:28am
cboldt (mail):
-- Whether or not ACU knew about the nascent "Brown Bailout" campaign ... when it solicited a lobbying relationship with Fedex I think it was highly unwise of them to participate in the joint letter. --
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I have no quarrel with that, except that ACU didn't itself participate in the July 15 "please don't label it 'bailout'" letter.
.
My observation is that Mike Allen's Politico story is almost universally taken as reporting that ACU has undergone a substantive reversal. Also taken by most is that this substantive reversal was triggered by having it's 2.5-3.5 million dollar "bribe offer" refused. That is the narrative circulating as conventional wisdom, and the narrative is damaging to ACU.
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I see a "story within the story," that being the propagation of a false narrative. I assign blame to Mike Allen and Politico, and to the secondary reporters who are wither to lazy, too stupid, or both to read the source documents and reach a conclusion independent of Mike Allen.
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On the other point you raised, in my dialog with Steve, I said that I would take participation in the July 15 letter as indicating strong support of FedEx's position. Turns out that is incorrect. I would restate that participation in July 15 letter indicates a strong position, either way - i.e., a person participating in that letter would not be "lukewarm" as to the underlying issue.
.
It turns out that Chuck Muth is firmly in UPS's camp on the underlying issue. See http://www.FedExcess.info/, Help Wanted: Peter Pan Delivery Drivers, and Chuck Muth on Section 806 of HR 915.
7.20.2009 10:39am
Per Son:
The fact is simple - if Norquist is remotely related to something - corruption will likely exist.
7.20.2009 10:42am
cboldt (mail):
-- Keep digging. --
.
You are imagining a phantom. You're reading some sort of "intent" where there was none. You are fabricating a series of trivial diversions from my core issue, which is that Mike Allen's article is being construed for the false proposition that ACU reversed substantive position.
.
Mike Allen is a lefty hack - he's got as much credibility as you have, that is to say, ZERO.
7.20.2009 10:46am
cboldt (mail):
-- Why did you claim that Morrissey did not say something that he did indeed say? --
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I didn't. You are making yet another false accusation.
.
On Morrissey's post, similar to Adler's, there are unequivocal statements, and equivocal statements. Here is Adler in unequivocal mode:
At least one conservative group, the American Conservative Union, also appears to have sought support for a campaign in support of FedEx, only to shift sides when its request was turned down.

I take the totality of both posts as equivocal. Others can read them, if they care, weigh them as to how deeply the authors were duped, and come to the opposite conclusion as to "should have been cited in the first place."
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Anyway, I have no intention of protecting Morrissey or Adler either. They are big boys, each with a big megaphone.
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-- You didn't cite Morrissey, but you cited CNN --
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The CNN citation contains a direct factual error in their own words. It implies the author has read the July 15 letter, and then it states a false proposition about that letter. So, if it helps you in your feeble critique of my citation selection, add into the sort of article that I found worth citing, those that made errors in factual statement, even if the article was otherwise equivocal.
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As for citing the Atlantic, I did so because it said, in it's own words, "According to Politico, the American Conservative Union is selling off endorsements to the highest bidder." That's a fairly clear take on how that author construed Mike Allen's hit piece in Politico.
7.20.2009 11:12am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
As for citing the Atlantic, I did so because it said, in it's own words, "According to Politico, the American Conservative Union is selling off endorsements to the highest bidder." That's a fairly clear take on how that author construed Mike Allen's hit piece in Politico.


And Morrissey made essentially the same statement. So you're being consistently inconsistent.

Mike Allen is a lefty hack


Then Weekly Standard (Goldfarb) and Malkin are either lefty hacks and/or complete idiots, since they uncritically accepted and promoted the work of lefty hack Mike Allen.
7.20.2009 12:02pm
cboldt (mail):
-- ... lefty hack Mike Allen. --
.
We agree on that point.
7.20.2009 12:51pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I wonder if we agree that it's puerile of you to try to take advantage of the fact that I meant to put "lefty hack" in quote marks, and simply made the mistake of forgetting to do that.

And Mike Allen is definitely something other than a "lefty hack" (link, link, link).
7.20.2009 1:23pm
cboldt (mail):

Shame on Conservatives by Jacob G. Hornberger (MWC News)
Washington insiders are agog over what seems to be a rather dramatic flip flop of principles by conservatives at the American Conservative Union ...
Then, on July 15 FedEx received a letter from eight conservative leaders, including ACU president David Keene, stating that they were supporting UPS in the dispute and criticizing FedEx for false and disingenuous statements.
7.20.2009 5:06pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
By posting 27 anti-ACU citations, where only 3/27 were righty sources, he did indeed imply "that only 'a few' righty sources said that."
No reasonable person would draw such an inference.

The fact that you do is simply proof that you are not reasonable.

Because if he was choosing sources in a fair way, the righty representation would not be so low unless it was the case "that only 'a few' righty sources said that."
A "fair way" for what? He wasn't writing a research paper or making any broad claim about left or right, so there's no reason he needed to balance them.
7.20.2009 5:48pm
cboldt (mail):
Here's another going against the flow, although I find that he misreads and understates the raft of false allegation. The false allegation is that ACU shifted from PRO to CON on the underlying legislation.
One Conservative's View of So-Called 'Selling' of the ACU - Bill Pascoe (CQ Politics)
This looks like a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy -- like the farmer who mistakenly believes that because the rooster crows and then the sun rises, the rooster's crow caused the sun to rise.
The allegation is that because FedEx failed to respond favorably to ACU's request for funds, and then ACU supported FedEx's rival, it was FedEx's refusal to pony up that caused Keene to sign the letter bashing FedEx for using the term "bailout."
7.20.2009 6:26pm
cboldt (mail):
David Keene responds to ACU controversy - Ed Morrissey
Politico reported that ACU chair David Keene instead sided with UPS when FedEx turned down the ACU offer. Today, David Keene responded in depth to the charges — and since we covered the issue on Friday, I'm going to post Keene's response in full, followed by my own.
KEENE: My first inclination was to ignore what I considered an absurd story ... Since words have precise meanings and since the [July 15] letter I was asked to agree to was explicitly agnostic as to the amendment we oppose, I agreed to sign on. ...
Although the Frontiers of Freedom letter is dated July 15, 2009, the organization sought and received the ok from me to add my name to its letter on July 1, 2009. That is just a day after ACU fundraisers submitted its proposal to FedEx. ...
Anyone who reads the Frontiers of Freedom letter will discover that it states explicitly that one can agree with the substance of the letter regardless of one’s position on the NLRB issue. I can only conclude that the author of the Politico article never even bothered to read it.

MORRISSEY: ... this still doesn’t answer the question of why Whitfield made an offer that appeared to include Keene’s columns at The Hill as part of a promotional effort. ...
However, unless the [column ACU proposed Keen would write] contains some sort of disclosure that it was written as part of a multimillion-dollar deal with an ACU client, it’s still pay-for-play, which was what Politico reported.
7.20.2009 6:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

He wasn't writing a research paper or making any broad claim about left or right


Yup, creating a list of 27 sources that disproportionately emphasizes sites like TPM, HuffPo and Kos while saying "the liars will deny they are lying" is nothing at all like "making any broad claim about [the] left."
7.20.2009 8:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Yup, creating a list of 27 sources that disproportionately emphasizes sites like TPM, HuffPo and Kos while saying "the liars will deny they are lying" is nothing at all like "making any broad claim about [the] left."
Exactly. Glad you finally admit it.
7.20.2009 10:12pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Admit what? That it's hard to tell if your faux irony impairment is more or less childishly pathetic than cboldt's very similar effort to grasp at a straw? You're right, I admit that.
7.20.2009 11:57pm
cboldt (mail):
Erick Erickson hasn't expressed a conclusion that opposition to the use of the word "bailout" is distinct from being for or against the underlying UPS/FedEx issue. I see no correction to his Friday statement, "ACU and ATR are supporting the government and unions against FedEx."
.
A conversation with Dave Keene of ACU - Erick Erickson (RedState)
ACU told FedEx that it supported its position. FedEx asked ACU what it could do to mobilize grassroots opposition. ACU told FedEx it could help, but did not have the budget for an aggressive campaign. FedEx asked ACU for a ballpark figure. ACU asked FedEx what it was looking for. FedEx said to make it a kitchen sink proposal and throw in everything. ...
Also, Keene says [the Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU's Chairman David Keene] line in the FedEx letter was very much out of line and the person responsible for it did get in trouble. Keene does not want anyone to think his opinion is for sale.
7.21.2009 10:38am
cboldt (mail):
David Keene's response posted today in Human Events (some excerpts above @ Morrissey):
ACU Chairman Responds to Politico Charges - David Keene (Human Events)
The charge that ACU took a position to raise money is untrue. The charge that we changed that position to "punish" a potential supporter for not funding our efforts is untrue. Neither ACU nor I changed our position which was based on principle and we never got a nickel from anyone on either side of the issue.
7.21.2009 1:17pm
cboldt (mail):

ACU chairman tries to reclaim reputation - Amanda Carpenter (Washington Times)
The story, written by Mike Allen, Politico's chief political correspondent, said Mr. Keene endorsed a pro-union position favored by the United Parcel Service ...
Mr. Keene said in a conference call Tuesday that Politico "got it wrong" and that the two actions were taken "simultaneously but completely separately." ...
Redstate.com Founder Erick Erickson said he took Mr. Keene "at his word" but said, "I think ACU needs some serious restructuring."
John Hawkins of Rightwingnews.com was sympathetic but doubtful, as well. "I am still willing to be convinced, but I haven't heard an explanation for why the ACU wanted to charge FedEx $2 million to publicly back a position they supported, and yet David Keene signed on to a letter that seems to take the opposite position for free," Mr. Hawkins said after the conference call. ...
"The [July 17 Politico] story is completely accurate," Mr. Allen said.

John Hawkins continues to equate disagreement over the tactic of using the term "bailout" with taking UPS's side, i.e., advocating passage of the provision of the FAA reauthorization that affects FedEx Express. He is persistent in expressing this, even given the time to read the damning letter, and after participating or listening to a conference call.
7.21.2009 4:43pm
devil's advocate (mail):
cboldt


I have no quarrel with that, except that ACU didn't itself participate in the July 15 "please don't label it 'bailout'" letter.



I'm confused by this. The .pdf that Politico provides of the July 15th letter has the ACU logo among others at its head and is signed by David Keene. do you mean to imply that they didn't draft the letter but only signed on - all the more reason not to participate if it might appear they have a conflict.

Keene says he agreed to participate before they're proposal was rejected. But I think the decision to join that letter in the midst of dealing with Fed-ex on ACU's willingness to be a vehicle for communication of arguments in favor of Fedex's position was poorly taken. The timing makes it even more likely that Keene had wind of this discontent of some bailout busters with the language chosen by Fedex before the submission to Fedex was made. If he approved participation in the joint language protest on July 1st, it is reasonable to assume that he had earlier notice of the effort. I would think they would have mentioned it in the letter, or would have some other letter sent under separate cover indicating that the ACU was participating in a coalition concerned about labeling the law a "bailout" but this should not be misread as disagreement on the substance but rather reflected the ACU's presence in this coalition of groups working on real 'bailout' issues.

How could you possibly agree to sign on to a letter bashing a group you are about to do 3 million bucks worth of trade with and not do something of the sort?
.

I would restate that participation in July 15 letter indicates a strong position, either way - i.e., a person participating in that letter would not be "lukewarm" as to the underlying issue.


I am also confused by this. If by "underlying issue" you mean the question of whether the law should be changed to bring Fed-ex under the ambit of the NLRA, I see no need whatsoever for a participant in the language concern letter to necessarily have strong feeling one way or another about which labor law applies to Fedex.

Finally, reading the language of the language concern letter, while I agree it does not take a position on where fedex should be regulated, it comes pretty damn close and I don't think it a horrible example of journalistic laziness to read it between the lines .e.g.:

"What FedEx falsely and disingenuously labels a bailout is merely UPS asking that the government treat both competitors the same. You can oppose this change in the law if you like, but you cannot honestly call it a bailout."

Come on. That doesn't sound like agreement on the underlying issue or even much ambiguity of the signing group - disclaimers elsewhere notwithstanding. It says "you" can oppose, not, for instance, "some of us are with you in opposing".

Now I know Keene didn't draft the letter, and we do not have a copy of what he was looking at on July 1st when he approved participation. But if it was not substantially similar, again, he should produce the e-mail or communication associated with this early July approval and explain that the letter does not accurately reflect what he agreed or that's it's tone and approach, through his own mistake do not reflect his professed belief in fed ex's cause.

This stinks. Maybe it is smoke and not fire, but how is anybody operating on the where there is smoke there is _______ not going to think this stinks. He should stop trying to explain it away, and actually explain it.

I am not denying the possibility that it suits various agendas with which I disagree to see ACU portrayed in a poor light. And that some blogging about the issue might have ignored equities that ought to be afforded to Keene and company. But in trying to afford them a reasoned review, I can't find any good reason for them having acted the way they actually did.

Brian
7.21.2009 5:58pm
cboldt (mail):
-- The .pdf that Politico provides of the July 15th letter has the ACU logo among others at its head and is signed by David Keene. do you mean to imply that they didn't draft the letter but only signed on - all the more reason not to participate if it might appear they have a conflict. --
.
The July 15 letter, which from your comments you appear to have read, was signed by Ex-senator Wallop, and appears to have been drafted by him or by committee. Turns out the signers are mostly agnostic on the FedEx Express provision, while Muth is on the UPS side, and ACU is on the FedEx side of that specific issue.
.
-- How could you possibly agree to sign on to a letter bashing a group you are about to do 3 million bucks worth of trade with and not do something of the sort? --
.
From the sounds of it, Keene didn't expect such a strong negative reaction from FedEx on the July 15 letter. I would say, from all appearances, that he honestly sees the "We're in your camp substantively" and "using the word 'bailout' is a losing tactic" as separate and separable issues. I do too, but it seems most people think they are approximately the same issue - or at least the being critical of a tactic is tantamount to substantive abandonment.
Keene: Had I been interested only in raising money, I would not have signed on to the [July 15] Frontiers of Freedom letter because by doing so, I was at the very least making it less rather than more likely that they [FedEx] would contribute to our efforts. I signed on, however, because I thought the letter was correct on the merits and because, quite frankly, I was not relating it to the substance of the NLRB issue.

-- If by "underlying issue" you mean the question of whether the law should be changed to bring Fed-ex under the ambit of the NLRA, I see no need whatsoever for a participant in the language concern letter to necessarily have strong feeling one way or another about which labor law applies to Fedex. --
.
I agree. But everybody who signed onto that letter had a strong feeling about use of the label "bailout" in the context of exactly that dispute. At any rate, your sense of "not a strong feeling in any direction on the underlying issue" and the fact that many of the signatories seem agnostic on the underlying FedEx/UPS issue makes it appear that the tactical complaint and the substantive point are in fact completely separate issues of contention. Naturally, FedEx is being criticized and will naturally lash out against all who criticize it, friend and foe alike.
7.21.2009 6:26pm
cboldt (mail):
A Teleconference With The ACU's David Keene Over The FedEx Pay Per Play Allegations - John Hawkins (Right Wing News)
HAWKINS: [The July 15 letter] refers to the amendment as "equal treatment of both companies under our nation's labor laws," and "asking that the government treat both competitors the same." [and] seemed to me to be a straight-up endorsement of [UPS] position.
KEENE: I didn't see it that way. It was all about the [bailout] language for me. I don't know about the motives of other people.
.
HAWKINS (after conference call): So, [writing OpEds is] a service they've never offered before, but on this one contract that makes it into the public light, it's available and he didn't know anything about it?
Coincidentally, he denies that FedEx had turned down their offer. He also denies that a letter he signed that directly contradicts his own stated position and the position of the ACU means anything? ... I don't buy it. To me, it looks like they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar and they're desperately trying to figure out a way to explain it.
Does that mean that I think the ACU has a lot less credibility than it did before this story came out? Unfortunately, it does.
7.21.2009 6:49pm
cboldt (mail):


A Conservative Sellout? Quelle Surprise.
- Thomas Frank (WSJ)
About two weeks later, with FedEx having evidently decided against the campaign, a group of conservatives wrote a letter to the CEO of the company taking UPS’s side in the controversy and berating FedEx for -yes- using unfair tactics in the battle.


When conservatives go gaga over Big Business
- Timothy P. Carney (Washington Examiner)
The two letters - the first telling FedEx, "we believe we could strongly support your position," and the second, stating "you cannot honestly call it a bailout" — certainly sound dissonant, but the second letter is about word choice and is neutral on the merits of the UPS bill, so it does not contradict the first. Also, the assertion that Keene signed the second letter only "after FedEx refused to pay," is simply false, Keene insists.
7.21.2009 9:45pm
devil's advocate (mail):
cboldt


The July 15 letter, which from your comments you appear to have read, was signed by Ex-senator Wallop, and appears to have been drafted by him or by committee.


Apparently you didn't go to the second page of the .pdf which shows Keene as a signatory. I'm not suggesting that Keene took the lead in drafting the letter but I you said ACU "did not participate". I'm not trying to perpetuate name calling or gotcha on this thread. I understand your reasoning but I think your prose imprecise.


But everybody who signed onto that letter had a strong feeling about use of the label "bailout" in the context of exactly that dispute.


I certainly agree with that, and believe that Keene's account of the timing may even suggest a degree of principle over pragmatism in that he would not allow the possibility of working with Fedex on the legislation to chill him from participating in criticism of the bailout language.

However that is Keene's account of the timing. It sounds plausible, but it seems to me implausible that he would have participated in this group letter opposing Fedex tactics and not have communicated these concerns in some way to Fedex as a consequence of his close working relationship with them on the issue.

The thing that allows Fedex to make him look bad is the lapse of time between submission of the communications proposal and the letter criticizing the use of the term "bailout". It remains inconceivable to me that you would not give a heads up, verbal, written, e-mail something to which you could honestly refer as anchoring your opposition to the term "bailout" as pervasive in time and not impeaching your agreement on substance. Keene doesn't profess to know that the letter would not have been sent untill 2 weeks later. These things take a little time, but I've seen them pop out in a couple days. You would have to alert a potential partner that you might show up in apparent opposition.

Finally, all those saying that ACU didn't technically reverse it's position have not said how the strong language about UPS simply seekeing parity in regulatory treatment should not be read as an implicit endorsement of UPS's position.

Reading the letter again, it makes no explicit reservation on the underlying issue although some above have suggested it did. It says Fedex is free to lobby for the status quo, but makes no indication that any of the signing parties would be so inclined. In that sense it can be said not to take a position on the change, but it does not even explicitly say this. It seems to imply that the existing circumstance is inequitable and simply preserves Fedex's freedom to petition while effectively siding with UPS -- what, after all, are the chances of repeal or significant pro freddom/pro indidivdual amendment of NLRA, or removal of UPS employees even related to their air cargo business from its jurisdiction.

This could certainly be an oversite on Keene's part and perhaps he did not carefully read or consider the entirety of the letter as sent, even though his signature was attached -- in which case maybe he is guilty of negligence and not extortion.

While I respect concern about diluting the term bailout- I think the government intervention in the labor markets a far more egregious problem than the a squabble over the use of the term. That does not mean, per se, I agree that Fedex should not be subject to the same rules and attempts made to improve the rules. But, I wonder about the priorities reflected in sending a letter of that sort. Given that "Card Check" and various liberty threatening labor goodies are in the present mix and might be equally labeled a "bailout" for unions otherwise floundering for members, I don't think Fedex was out of bounds.

Nor do I think success at turning "bailout" into a bad word was particularly threatened by the Fedex campaign. If it merited a letter at all, it should have been far more agnostic or concilatory on the underlying issues - even if suggesting an equal regime was a reasonable goal acknowledging the legitmacy of opposing the existing stifling environment of the NLRA seems a minimum addition.

Everyone involved, including Malcolm Wallop who I know and have respect for his service in Congress and work on issues of freedom, was overly reactionary. If one is concerned about freedom, the freedom to work is far more important than the minor co-option of "bailout".

Brian
7.22.2009 9:48am

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