Cash money conservativism

I’ve been following the story of Fed-Ex’s inaccurate, anti-union, smear campaign against UPS with some interest:

The clash revolves around legislation that would clear the way for FedEx drivers to organize with the Brotherhood of Teamsters, just as UPS’s drivers are. FedEx opposed the measure, which was supported by both UPS and the Teamsters, and set up a website titled “brownbailout.com” that accuses UPS of “quietly seeking a congressional bailout designed to limit competition for overnight deliveries, leaving Americans with a less reliable next-day delivery network for critical goods like medicines and essential inventory.”

“Why is megacorporation UPS trying to use its political clout to get a bailout from the U.S. Congress, leaving you to pay the tab?” the FedEx website asks.

What surprised me was that conservatives were weighing in on the side of UPS (and thus of the Teamsters):

But a letter signed by former Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.) and the leaders of Americans for Tax Reform, Frontiers for Freedom, the American Conservative Union, 60 Plus, Citizen Outreach, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and the National Taxpayers Union alleges that FedEx is mischaracterizing the situation and unfairly trying to tap into public resentment against federal bailouts to attack its competition.

As far as I can tell, this letter is completely accurate.

Why would wingers be taking the side of unions? Here’s why:

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.

For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”

The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx , which was provided to POLITICO.

I’m now going to say something that will cause many of you to call me a sap: Politico, and Mike Allen in particular, has done a much better job than any other mainstream source of documenting various pay-to-play schemes, such as this one and the WaPo message parlor story.






29 replies
  1. 1
    gex says:

    I guess it just goes to show that everyone is good at something. In some cases, it’s even useful.

  2. 2
    Cat Lady says:

    Hey, you may be a sap, but give credit where credit is due, I always say.

    And, Republicans will never, ever act in good faith. Also, too.

  3. 3
    CT Voter says:

    He has done a decent job on these stories.

    But they’re like two needles buried in a haystack of bad journalism.

  4. 4
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    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.

    I’m so surprised and disillusioned that it took only 2 to 3 million to buy the ACU. I guess it’s the bad economy.

  5. 5

    It wouldnot surprise me to find out that this is how many of these groups operate as a way to stay alive.

    OT: Obama is going to do this afternoons press conference live. Watch it here. The topic will be healthcare reform.

  6. 6
    gbear says:

    That story really is a great ‘pants down’ find. I wonder who slipped them a copy of the letter?

    Politico can be OK as long as you don’t go anywhere near the comments. Even when they have a decent story, the crazed and frothing commenters push everything beyond peak wingnut.

  7. 7
    b-psycho says:

    Wow. If it only takes 2 mill to get them to support the Teamsters, I wonder how much it’d cost to get them to support ACORN…

  8. 8
    JGabriel says:

    gbear:

    Even when they have a decent story, the crazed and frothing commenters push everything to peak wingnut.

    There is no such thing as Peak Wingnut, there is only the ever increasingly denser Wingularity.

    .

  9. 9
    Calouste says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    During the corruption scandals in Alaska, one GOP state Senator/Rep was apparently bought with a $2000 lawnmower.

    Someone commented that they expected that if their representatives were corrupt, they would at least sell themselves for a Lexus or a Mercedes, not for a bloody lawnmower.

    Same with the WaPo message parlor. $25,000 for the opportunity to influence the tone of a WaPo article on health care is for the right people comparable in price to getting the first item in the Black Friday sale for you and me.

  10. 10
    JGabriel says:

    b-psycho:

    If it only takes 2 mill to get them to support the Teamsters, I wonder how much it’d cost to get them to support ACORN…

    Or Single Payer health care.

    .

  11. 11
    Keith says:

    @gbear:

    Politico can be OK as long as you don’t go anywhere near the comments.

    Agreed. The most common I find is (today’s taken from the Sanford article) along the lines of “Why are you writing about this instead of Obamacare being pushed down our throats!”, in spite of the site *also* having multiple articles on the health care battle. It’s some fantasyland where some of those people actually expect every article to be tailored to their specific belief system, ala Fox News.

  12. 12
    Turgidson says:

    It’s not being a sap to call Politico the proverbial “tallest midget.”

  13. 13

    @gbear:

    Agree completely, with the addendum that the financier and CEO of Politico are both major Reaganoholics, which means that apart from a few folks such as Mike Allen, you really gotta pick apart the wheat from the chaff when you read their stuff.

    Upshot: DougJ and Politico, both useful saps. We tease because we care.

  14. 14
    r€nato says:

    @Calouste:

    about 20 years ago there was a sting of Arizona legislators taking bribes from a guy (undercover agent) who was posing as a shady Mafia-like guy.

    One legislator – Chuy Higuera – asked for the street cart vendor franchise (those little push carts which are the barrio equivalent of the ice cream truck) for the casino the guy wanted built, in exchange for his support.

    Truly, and for real. If I have any issue with our politicians and their corruption, it’s how cheaply they can be bought. A company gives a few thousand bucks to a candidate and in return they get millions. I bet there’d be far less corruption if our legislators didn’t sell out so cheaply, making the risk/reward ratio so high.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Steve V says:

    I remember listening to a couple of minutes of talk radio one day and Limbaugh was blathering on about how Obama wants to take down FedEx. In retrospect I wonder what the timing of that tirade was, and whether Limbaugh also turned on FedEx. This all makes me wonder how the messaging filters through to talk radio. Gawd would I love to hear about some of those stooges getting bought off like this.

  17. 17
    cleek says:

    surprisingly RedState isn’t trying to defend this.

    i’m disappointed.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    As I understand it, this whole brouhaha is about unions.

    FedEx is currently treated as an airline, which means that its labor relations are governed by the Railway Labor Act. In contrast, UPS is treated as a trucking company, which means that its labor relations are governed by the mainstream, Depression-era labor laws.

    It’s much easier for a union to win a representation election under the regular labor laws than under the Railway Labor Act.

    So this is really about leveling the playing field between two competitors. Which makes it totally unsurprising that there would be a wingnut meltdown. Wingnuts have a visceral aversion to fair competition. They only like it when things are rigged so they can always win.

  19. 19
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    Geeze Louise.

    BTW, has anyone yet read Michael Wolff’s <a href=”http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/08/wolff200908″>Vanity Fair piece on Politico?

  20. 20

    […] –but don’t ever say they’re not loyal to free-market principles. […]

  21. 21
    Rice Elapsing says:

    @burnspbeq

    According to the article in today’s Chicago Tribune, FedEx actually does run like an airline; about 85% of its shipping is done by air, whereas UPS bases its operations on ground shipping.

  22. 22
    Nancy Irving says:

    My favorite part of this story is that in the letter the ACU sent to FedEx, they include in their proposed lobbying blitz that “[w]ithin seven days, the mail can be in the USPS system…”

    How do you like that? They’re going to use government-run, prima-facie inefficient and expensive U.S. Postal Service snail mail–a service that (conservatives claim) would not even exist were it not that our polity is groaning under the yoke of socialism!

  23. 23
    Common Sense says:

    Y’all should read the Volokh thread on this. The comments defending the ACU are priceless. The upshot is they didn’t flip, they merely went from supporting FedEx to criticizing their ad campaign (while secretly supporting their goal). And the rejected bribe was totally unrelated to their previously unmentioned criticism of FedEx’s campaign.

  24. 24
    inkadu says:

    @JGabriel:

    There is no such thing as Peak Wingnut, there is only the ever increasingly denser Wingularity.

    And for a dense of Wingularity, you can not examine it too closely without being driven insane yourself. This minimum safe cognitive distance is called the “Event Horizon.” Beyond that point, reason, rationality and all sense collapse into the wingularity and crushed by intense forces until they are indistinguishable from the hyperdense mass of stupid at the core.

    On UPS/FedEx – I am for whatever UPS has. UPS is a much better place to work than FedEx. UPS, by all accounts, treat their employees decently. FedEx, on the other hand, treats all its employees like thieving little monkeys that need to conform to their corporate structure.

  25. 25
    gex says:

    ACU and Congress both believe in the marketplace for ideas. Literally. For the right price you get to own their ideas.

  26. 26
    gex says:

    @Rice Elapsing: Yeah, but how much did Fed Ex pay them to say that?

  27. 27
    DougJ says:

    Your second link is wrong –

    Thanks, I fixed it.

  28. 28
    Porlock Junior says:

    @Inkadu–
    You think you don’t like FedEx? Well, consider this: FedEx has a privately owned police force, recognized by the state of Tennessee. It has a special computer link to Homeland Security. It volunteers to let law enforcement use its customer data for fishing expeditions. And more, oh so much more.

    UPS: None of the above. What an odd coincidence that this is also the one that’s unionized (however little I like the union) and is a decent place to work. And the hated socialist Postal Service, of course, seems to obey the law that requires them to protect the customers;\’ data.

    Or so it was a few years ago. (Sorry about the hideous typography that Google imposed ex post facto on a now dormant blog.) Does anyone want to suggest that things have improved since?

  29. 29
    Porlock Junior says:

    @Inkadu–
    You think you don’t like FedEx? Well, consider this: FedEx has a privately owned police force, recognized by the state of Tennessee. It has a special computer link to Homeland Security. It volunteers to let law enforcement use its customer data for fishing expeditions. And more, oh so much more.

    UPS: None of the above. What an odd coincidence that this is also the one that’s unionized (however little I like the union) and is a decent place to work. And the hated s0c i a l i [guess what letter] t Postal Service, of course, seems to obey the law that requires them to protect the customers’ data.

    Or so it was a few years ago. (Sorry about the hideous typography that Google imposed ex post facto on a now dormant blog.) Does anyone want to suggest that things have improved since?

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