pageok
pageok
pageok
The Chrysler Conspiracy:

There's a lot of buzz on the net about how specific Chrysler dealerships were selected for closure as part of the auto company's restructuring. On the surface, it appears the shuttered dealerships are disproportionately owned by donors to Republican candidates while hardly any dealerships owned by Democratic donors were placed on the closure list. Even those quite skeptical of the story, such as Megan McArdle, think the pattern "doesn't look good."

Is it possible the Obama Administration is using the Chrysler restructuring for political gain? Of course it's possible; give politicians of either party the ability to reward friends and punish enemies and they'll often take advantage. It's not just the "Chicago Way," it's the way of politics. But in this case, it seems like there's much more smoke than fire.

Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics, who is well aware that public disclosure of campaign contributions can bring political repercussions, thinks the charges in this case "are almost certainly not true." He writes:

While things may have changed somewhat since the days I was raising money for a Republican member of Congress, auto dealers are almost overwhelmingly Republican. Pretty much by definition, if you're going to be closing down auto dealerships, you're going to be closing down an awful lot of Republican-owned auto dealerships. A quick look at the giving by the National Auto Dealers Association PAC consistently shows contributions going to Republican candidates by about a 2 to 1 margin, and nearly 3 to 1 in one recent cycle.

More telling, however, is the fate of minority-owned auto dealers under the closings. If the Obama administration were targeting political opponents for closure, it would seem likely that political allies, or at least those the Obama administration presumably favors, would have a lower closure rate than others.

It's speculation on my part, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that minority-owned dealerships would come out better-than-expected if the Obama administration were using auto dealership closures as a tool of political revenge.

So what do the numbers show? From an article in the Seattle Medium:

Of the 789 Chrysler dealers who were notified that their contracts will not be renewed, 38 are minority owned...

At the end of April, there were 154 minority dealers in Chrysler's 3,181 total U.S. dealer body network . . .

According to my trusty calculator, before closings 4.84% of Chrysler's dealers were minority owned. What percentage of auto dealers receiving closure notices are minority owned? 4.82%

At this point, the case for Obama's use of campaign disclosure reports to compile an "enemies list" for use in the closure of auto dealerships pretty much falls apart, unless someone wants to really make a big deal of the two one-hundredths of a percent where minority-owned dealerships come out ahead.

I would also echo McArdle's sentiment that if there were any political funny-business in the Chrysler closings (and that's a big "if" at this point), it's far more likely that someone in the Administration intervened to protect an important Democratic contributor here or there than that the entire process was used to slam Republican dealers across-the-board. In any event, it seems to me there is far less to this story than meets the eye.

JB:
FiveThirtyEight.com has a posting about this. To summarize, about 90% of car dealerships overall are Republican-owned, and about 90% of closed car dealerships are also.

Here is the article

As Nate Silver explains, "It shouldn't be any surprise, by the way, that car dealers tend to vote -- and donate -- Republican. They are usually male, they are usually older (you don't own an auto dealership in your 20s), and they have obvious reasons to be pro-business, pro-tax cut, anti-green energy and anti-labor. Car dealerships need quite a bit of space and will tend to be located in suburban or rural areas. I can't think of too many other occupations that are more natural fits for the Republican Party."
5.29.2009 9:26am
Houston Lawyer:
It would be interesting to hear, under oath, the criteria used to determine who got to keep his dealership. I'm pretty sure that Obama and his cronies have an extensive enemies list. This is a group who takes disagreement with (or even pointed questions from journalists to) Obama as a personal attack. The administration's actions to date make the allegations plausible, if not ultimately true.

By the way, many minority-owned dealerships were set up on an affirmative action basis. They have performed so poorly that groups of dealers who were granted dealerships have sued in the past claiming predatory practices in granting them dealerships. So shutting down only 5% of those dealerships may in deed be evidence that the others were protected.
5.29.2009 9:33am
JKB:
I think the lesson here is when you use strong arm tactics and government power to avoid the tried and true lawful bankruptcy procedures in order to reward preferred groups, you open up the sense and expectation of political manipulation of almost all decisions and actions.

Perhaps there is something here, perhaps not but what isn't going away is the lack of confidence that any act by Chrysler and soon GM is clear and above board. Trust is fragile and once lost difficult to re-establish.

Does anyone really have any faith or trust that the administrations influence over these defunct companies won't be used for political advantage?
5.29.2009 9:39am
John Thacker (mail):
If the Obama administration were targeting political opponents for closure, it would seem likely that political allies, or at least those the Obama administration presumably favors, would have a lower closure rate than others.

It's speculation on my part, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that minority-owned dealerships would come out better-than-expected if the Obama administration were using auto dealership closures as a tool of political revenge.


Yes, but minority-owned dealerships did come out better-than-expected. Before the closures, the "National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers estimate[d] that 140 of Chrysler's 170 to 175 minority-owned franchises could be closed", a report mentioned in multiple new stories, from such new sources as the Wall Street Journal and BET.

The reasons given for a disproportionate number being closed was that minority-owned dealerships were more likely to be poorer, independent dealers, and were more concentrated in urban areas with multiple overlapping dealers.

However, only 33-38 (reports seem a little confused on the exact number) were closed. So minority-owned dealerships did come out better than expected.

I'm still skeptical of the story, but it's certainly possible than an objective application of criteria would have closed a higher percentage of minority-owned dealerships, but that the numbers were fudged so that a proportional number were closed. Some members of Congress had threatened an investigate if minority-owned dealerships were disproportionately closed.

I think that theory would be more likely than a political one.
5.29.2009 9:39am
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Yeah, that two one-hundredths of one percent makes up over half a dealership. If we can figure out which half-dealership the administration is coddling like this, then it's pitchfork time!
5.29.2009 9:40am
rarango (mail):
Would not a simple Chi Square test work here? Crosstabs: Donors D and R; closures D and R. Just my .02.
5.29.2009 9:45am
anomdebus (mail):
If there is any "there" there, I think it more likely instead of bias against "R"'s, "D" donors might have been spared where otherwise might have been cut. In practice it would look the same.

I think in general it is harder to cross a friend (even without malice) than go out of your way to spite an enemy.

I don't care about the political aspect of this. I would be more interested if it were a case of bureaucratic bad choices, which it may still turn out to be.
5.29.2009 9:46am
Angus:
Chrysler announced their major criteria already: sales volume, location (population, proximity to other dealers, avg household income), customer service scores, and variety of Chrysler brands carried.

As of yet, the people buzzing about this have produced absolutely zero evidence that Obama's people had any role at all in the dealer decisions, let alone that the decisions were influenced by political factors.
5.29.2009 9:48am
mgarbowski:

I would also echo McArdle's sentiment that if there were any political funny-business in the Chrysler closings (and that's a big "if" at this point), it's far more likely that someone in the Administration intervened to protect an important Democratic contributor here or there than that the entire process was used to slam Republican dealers across-the-board. In any event, it seems to me there is far less to this story than meets the eye.

I am also withholding judgment on this so far, but taking your assumption at face value, why is it better to sidestep the normal rule-of-law bankruptcy process to assist a political ally, than to sidestep the normal rule-of-law bankruptcy process to harm a political enemy?

Both would be corrupt.
5.29.2009 9:49am
RPT (mail):
Since there is no evidence, direct or circumstantial, of any kind to support this allegation, I suppose the next post will be how Sotomayor was tasked to make sure that no Puerto Rican dealerships were closed.
5.29.2009 9:54am
John Thacker (mail):
Chrysler announced their major criteria already: sales volume, location (population, proximity to other dealers, avg household income), customer service scores, and variety of Chrysler brands carried.


Yes, and based on that criteria, NAMAD estimated that minority-owned dealerships would be disproportionately hurt, with around 140 of the 170 to 175 closed. However, as noted, they were hurt in exact proportion.

The criteria were announced, but not the formula nor the scores of each dealership. The process was more or less opaque as university or law school admissions.

I don't think it's unreasonable to believe, based on NAMAD's previous concerns and what happened, that some sort of "affirmative action" was performed on the formula to avoid disparate impact. I don't think it would have to be done for political reasons, or have anything to do with Obama.

Minorities being admitted to a law school at exactly a proportionate rate would not by itself by complete proof that affirmative action was not used. Indeed, in some cases it would be evidence that affirmative action was used. NAMAD's numbers, which feared that minority-owned dealerships were particularly vulnerable to the announced criteria, should make one somewhat suspicious.
5.29.2009 9:55am
Malvolio:
Well, I'm very glad the Obama administration has gone straight to banana-republic mode, it remains true that the government is favoring the Democrat-heavy UAW and freezing out the Republican-heavy dealerships as a group, and I doubt any neutral observer believes that it isn't political.
5.29.2009 9:57am
John Thacker (mail):
Since there is no evidence, direct or circumstantial, of any kind to support this allegation, I suppose the next post will be how Sotomayor was tasked to make sure that no Puerto Rican dealerships were closed.


Since there is circumstantial evidence that minority-owned dealerships were spared in order to make the cuts proportionate, Sotomayor would have been quite appropriate for the job, considering her ruling in [i]Ricci[/i]. Not that I think any Obama Administration folks had a hand with it.

Chrysler probably had sufficient reason to avoid public backlash from disproportionately closing minority owned dealerships as expected.
5.29.2009 9:59am
Blue:
Um, point of order--Nate Silver, for all his analytical gifts, is hardly a neutral arbiter for an appeal to authority!
5.29.2009 10:04am
Anderson (mail):
Good post, and I'll second Kevin Drum: even if there's nothing to this, it's good that the right-hand-side of the blogosphere looked at the question. Because if Obama's people *were* doing any shenanigans, we'd need to know about it.
5.29.2009 10:07am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Besides which, in regard to the minority ownership tag. How many of those 170-175 were minority owned more or less in name only? I've seen plenty of road construction firms that were set up to take advantage of various favoritism programs but that the appearance was just that.
5.29.2009 10:10am
Andy Freeman (mail):
When investigating a claim is that group A was disproportionally affected by a decision, why would I look at whether group B was adversely affected by said decision? Yes, group B may be related to group A, but it is different.

Suppose that Obama went after, to the extent possible, Repub-owned dealerships but otherwise protected minority-owned dealerships. (I don't even need to consider the possibility that he took special aim at minority-and-Republican owned dealerships.) That can easily result in the observed net effect on minority-owned dealerships.

It's not like we can't look at the effect on Repub owned dealerships.

Maybe the claimed adverse effect on Repub-owned dealerships isn't there, or maybe it's a side effect of some legitimate policy (maybe repub-owned dealerships cluster more, or are more likely to be small), but looking just at proxies doesn't pass the smell test, especially when the proxy relationship is hand-waving.
5.29.2009 10:13am
Allan (mail):
I wonder if there might be a disparate impact analysis in the background. That is, if the criteria caused 90% of minority owned dealerships to close, but only 10% of non-minority owned dealierships, might the minority dealerships have a cause of action?

In an employment situtation, it would be a significant worry for the decision-maker. Perhaps this is the case here.
5.29.2009 10:13am
JB:
Blue,
I provided a link to the post wherein Silver analyzes the data. Volokh.com comments don't offer easy and complex formatting options, and I'm at work, so I didn't reproduce any of it, but you are welcome to follow the link, look at the data and analysis, and flesh out your ad-hominem attack with real argument.

Or, you are welcome to be consistent and apply your rejection of the idea that politically-opinionated people can make neutral judgments on clear data to VC bloggers' analysis, and reject their opinions on such issues as the Sotomayor nomination, gun law, etc.
5.29.2009 10:16am
Recovering Law Grad:
And now the tin foil hat stuff bubbles up to the Volokh Conspiracy.

While we're at it, has anyone seen Obama's *real* birth certificate?
5.29.2009 10:20am
John Thacker (mail):
And now the tin foil hat stuff bubbles up to the Volokh Conspiracy.


I know, the idea is as ridiculous as that of the Bush Administration giving special favors to Haliburton.
5.29.2009 10:24am
Derrick (mail):
Well, I'm very glad the Obama administration has gone straight to banana-republic mode, it remains true that the government is favoring the Democrat-heavy UAW and freezing out the Republican-heavy dealerships as a group, and I doubt any neutral observer believes that it isn't political.


And I'm glad that the Right is obviously gone straight to "tin foil hat" mode. First it was the birth certificate, then it was ACORN, then it was trying to turn America into a Marxist, Socialist Dictatorship, then it was Fema Concentrations Camps and now we have Obama calling Nardelli on the phone and telling him to cut dealerships based upon voting statistics. It's good to know that Republicans will believe just about any bad accusation thrown at Obama, evidence be damned.
5.29.2009 10:25am
Recovering Law Grad:
John -

I never paid much attention to the Haliburton charges, so I have no idea whether there was any substance to them or not. What I do know is that there is *no evidence whatsoever* that the Obama administration even had a hand in determining what dealerships were closed, let alone directed the closure of R dealerships. When you've got something, send it over.
5.29.2009 10:27am
Calderon:
Nate Silver appears to rely on a Huffington Post database, and I'd question how accurate that is; are there any databases run by more politically neutral sources that could be checked?

Moreover, Silver's point that because a lot of dealers are Republican we'd expect to see a lot of Republican dealerships close doesn't really say much. One could have a high proportion of Republican dealers and, given a large enough sample size, still be able to show a statistically significant disparate impact (e.g., given a large enough number of dealers, if 88% were Republican but 99% of the dealers closing were Republican, that could show a disparate impact). To give a different example, black Americans make up about 11% of the US population. If there were some profession where black people made up only 4% of the population, I'd be surprised if liberal bloggers said that's irrelevant because the percentage of black people in the US is small. Instead, they'd say the 4 to 11% difference is a disparate impact that shows institutional racism, etc. Why couldn't the same conclusion be drawn here if the ultimate analysis shows, hypothetically, that 96% of the dealers closed were Republican donors, even if a high proportion of dealers overall are Republican donors. Finally, I'm sure Silver has to know this point, so its ommission from his article just makes him look biased.

There's also the consideration of taking a step back and asking whether dealers as a group were targetted because they donate to Republicans. Some of the conservative commentators on this issue have questioned what cost savings come from closing dealers (and Ralph Nader asks the same question in today's WSJ). I'm not enough of an expect to know the costs of dealerships to manufacturers, but if anyone has a cite to an article explaining that issue I'd appreciate looking at it.
5.29.2009 10:30am
Recovering Law Grad:
Calderon -

(1) What evidence do you have that indicates that the administration had any role in the closures?

(2) I am certain that Nate Silver understands the concept of statistical significance. He obviously concluded that there isn't a statistically significant difference btw. the % of R dealers and the % of dealers that were closed.
5.29.2009 10:35am
Oren:
I read in the NYT that the average closed dealer sold 30-something cars in the last year where the average dealer overall was closer to 50. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.
5.29.2009 10:36am
martinned (mail) (www):

I read in the NYT that the average closed dealer sold 30-something cars in the last year where the average dealer overall was closer to 50. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Yes, but you read it in the New York Times, so it can't be true.

As to substance, the normal way to examine this, as already noted, is to run a chi-squared test. In this case, that would undoubtedly show no significant difference.

Alternatively, John Thacker suggested above running the decision formula to see whether the closures fit the stated criteria, but as long as we don't know what the appropriate decision formula is, that can only be speculation. (Could be fun, though, if we had the data.)
5.29.2009 10:41am
MartyA:
The closings issue is almost certainly examined by quantitative means. What I want to see is the "reballance." Once GM and Chrysler are firmly in the hands of government bureaucrats and union thugs, watch the "establishment of a pattern of new dealerships that will better serve the population shifts of the United States." Every major city has one or more black politicians of questionable integrity (think Jesse Jackson Jr. or Conyer's wife in Detroit. My bet is that many of these folks or an immediate family member will be awarded a new dealership, and on terms and conditions that wouldn't be available but for massive government funding. We may never know about this last point because those terms and conditions will remain secret because of "competitive considerations."
5.29.2009 10:43am
Recovering Law Grad:
MartyA -

What can you tell us about the FEMA camps?
5.29.2009 10:48am
loki13 (mail):

There's also the consideration of taking a step back and asking whether dealers as a group were targetted because they donate to Republicans. Some of the conservative commentators on this issue have questioned what cost savings come from closing dealers (and Ralph Nader asks the same question in today's WSJ).


O RLY?

This is news to me. For how long have we been hearing the conservative drumbeat (perhaps it is just the libertarian drumbeat) that one of the major problems with the domestic car industry is the dealer network. IOW, because they were set up early when it was necessary to have such sprawling networks (for close service and support), but then THE GUMMINT (in this case, state government) with THEIR GOSHDARNED REGULATIONS (in the form of franchising laws) stepped in to distort the perfection that is the invisible pimp hand of capitalism (tm) and kept the domestic manufacturers from shutting down their bloated, inefficient dealer networks... didn't you know Toyota outsells the domestic car industry with less than 1/3 of the dealers?

Oh, wait... they're being shut down under a democratic administration? This might be a chance to score political points? Uh, never mind! There are no cost savings! Dealers are the life blood of the domestic auto industry!

It is the intellectual vacuity of today's GOP that has driven a generation, including me, away. It's hard to appeal to people with attention spans longer than a goldfish who have a belief system that encompasses more than "Democrats are evil".
5.29.2009 10:55am
Calderon:
Recovering Law Grad said:

(1) What evidence do you have that indicates that the administration had any role in the closures?

There are proceedings in the bankruptcy court going on now, including from dealers that have made objections. We'll see what they come up with, if anything. One of the attorneys representing the dealers has claimed a deposition of Chrysler's president showed:


"It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers," Bellavia said. "It really wasn't Chrysler's decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President's automotive task force."


Now, of course, I wouldn't believe the spin an attorney puts on a witness's statements. But so long as the hearings are open to the public and not sealed hopefully we'll get to see what evidence there is or is not to support the claim that the administration's task force was involved in the closures.

(2) I am certain that Nate Silver understands the concept of statistical significance. He obviously concluded that there isn't a statistically significant difference btw. the % of R dealers and the % of dealers that were closed.

I'm certain he does to. But what evidence do you have that he's actually analyzed whether the difference is statistically significant? Saying something is "obvious" doesn't make it so (and is often used to hide a lack of evidence for the proposition) There's nothing in the article linked above show that he performed any statistical analysis; if he had don't you think he would have mentioned it? He appears to have just eyeballed two numbers and said they were close enough and so not significant. Setting asides other issues (such as the accuracy of the Huffpo database and that to my knowledge the analysis of the Chrysler closures isn't complete), small differences can still be statistically significant. That's why I said his discussion makes him looked biased, since I'm sure he knows all this but is failing to explain any of it in his post.
5.29.2009 10:57am
byomtov (mail):
I'll second Kevin Drum: even if there's nothing to this, it's good that the right-hand-side of the blogosphere looked at the question. Because if Obama's people *were* doing any shenanigans, we'd need to know about it.

But Glenn Reynolds, at least, did not "look at it." He rushed to post the accusation without doing even the simplest check, and then demanded the DOJ investigate immediately. Even now, he can barely admit the charge might be wrong.
5.29.2009 11:04am
JKB:

(1) What evidence do you have that indicates that the administration had any role in the closures?


Sorry but the administration chose to go outside established bankruptcy procedures, demonstrate power by arbitrarily firing a competing CEO without consultation with the rightful company owners, and establish a task force of leading administration officials to issue edicts on the conduct of the car companies. They have a big role in these closures. They have directed actions and established themselves as a power to be reckoned with so every decision Chrysler executives take is taken with concern for the administration's desires.

I will agree that, as of yet, there has been no evidence that the administration directed the targeting of specific dealerships. But a role in the closures, that is a given due to prior administration acts. If they didn't want to own this, they should have allowed the market and bankruptcy courts work without interference.
5.29.2009 11:12am
DG:
{And now the tin foil hat stuff bubbles up to the Volokh Conspiracy.}

maybe its bubbled up, but VC has turned a skeptical eye towards it for the same reason I did - everyone knows car dealers are largely republican.

{But Glenn Reynolds, at least, did not "look at it." He rushed to post the accusation without doing even the simplest check, and then demanded the DOJ investigate immediately. Even now, he can barely admit the charge might be wrong.}

Reynolds completely blew this one. He's normally pretty good about mea culpas, so I'm expecting one soon.

I think people need to keep in mind that the average person will assume that there is a normal partisan split amongst a population with which they are unfamiliar. That being said, I expected more out of Reynolds.
5.29.2009 11:15am
Sarcastro (www):
Yes, JKB. The Administration had a heavy hand in dealing with Chrysler. This allowed them some sort of thaumaturgical control over individual dealerships' closures. Thus, even if there has been no evidence that the administration directed the targeting of specific dealerships, they still "own" each closure individually, and can be blamed for the conspiracy.

I would also like so sign on to Houston Lawyer's enemies list idea. No evidence, but it's so cool to think about, we should just assume it is true.
5.29.2009 11:17am
Bad English:
"I know, the idea is as ridiculous as that of the Bush Administration giving special favors to Haliburton."


BUSHITLERCHIMPYCHENEYHALLIBURTONENRONKATRINAGUANTANAMOCO, INC., ARRRRRRRRRRGH!!

Yes, damn those tin foil hat-wearing wingnuts.
5.29.2009 11:17am
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Calderon: Statistics isn't some black art. I recall from taking Statistics 101 10 years ago that statistical significance was just a matter of plugging numbers into a formula. If you think Nate Silver is lying, do the math yourself.
5.29.2009 11:21am
Constantin:
And I'm glad that the Right is obviously gone straight to "tin foil hat" mode. First it was the birth certificate, then it was ACORN

Really bad timing, chief. Search around a bit--the tin foil brigade was right about that one.
5.29.2009 11:24am
Henry679 (mail):
Glenn Reynolds, there is a man with credibility--a somewhat more intellectual version of Glenn Beck, not that that is saying much.

The hysteria and paranoia of the American right is truly something to behold. God forbid we should have something truly terrible happen to our nation, like 9/11--the outpouring of craziness will be breathtaking.

BTW, for the record, a lot of the government-conspiracy loons on 9/11 WERE from the crazy right, although you had to go further out than the Glenn Beck types to find them. What Obama has done is normalize right-wing craziness, so now people like Reynolds can blather on without any evidence whatsoever and still be taken seriously by non-crazy right.
5.29.2009 11:26am
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
JKB &Sarcasto: So what if they "own" these closings. Unless there is something wrong with an action, there is no problem "owning" that action. The statistics here seem pretty clear that there is nothing wrong with this action.

You also have to look at all of this from the perspective of what would have happened without a bailout. The general consensus was that, if Chrysler went through a normal bankruptcy, that would essentially be the end of it. If that happened, you would have found that 3,181 of these dealerships would have closed rather than 789.
5.29.2009 11:26am
Eilers Ellison (mail):
Yes, these charges are obviously absurd, and no rational person would have entertained them for a moment.

Just because Obama stocked his car team with political hacks, and then proceeded to screw over the secured creditors on behalf of an Obama constituency, there's no reason to think that those same political hacks might then screw over some other group for the benefit of a different Obama constituency. That's crazy talk!
5.29.2009 11:46am
ShelbyC:

it's far more likely that someone in the Administration intervened to protect an important Democratic contributor here or there than that the entire process was used to slam Republican dealers across-the-board.



Of course this happened. Why do you think people give money to politicians? And it would have happened the other way if the Repubs were in charge. Hell, people are acting as if the default assumption should be that the politicians did things on the up-and-up unless it can be shown otherwise. The default assumption should be that politicians played political games with the closings. It's what they do.
5.29.2009 11:49am
Jiffy:
Calderon:

Nate Silver appears to rely on a Huffington Post database, and I'd question how accurate that is; are there any databases run by more politically neutral sources that could be checked?


The Huffington Post database is a compilation of publicly-available FEC data. From Huffington Post:


All calculations are based on public records filed with the FEC of contributions by all individuals totaling more than $200 (and some totaling less than $200) to a single Republican or Democratic presidential campaign or national committee for the 2004 and 2008 election cycles.

FundRace is updated according to the reporting schedule set by the FEC. Public contribution data is geocoded using public U.S. Census Bureau data. Dynamic maps are powered by Google Maps.


5.29.2009 11:51am
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Eilers Ellison: Fine, suspect it. But when you run the numbers and they pretty clearly show that there was no sketchiness, drop it.
5.29.2009 11:53am
John Thacker (mail):
So what if they "own" these closings. Unless there is something wrong with an action, there is no problem "owning" that action. The statistics here seem pretty clear that there is nothing wrong with this action.


No, they don't. The statistics pretty clearly point to fewer minority-owned dealerships closed than expected.

After it was leaked that 789 dealers would be closed, NAMAD believed that their members would be disproportionately harmed, with 140 of their 170 to 175 dealerships closed. This is because minority-owned dealers scored worse along the publicly announced metrics.

Instead, the percentage of minority-owned dealerships closed was perfectly in line with the overall numbers. It is entirely reasonable to suspect that some form of affirmative action was used to avoid disparate impact.

I don't think it was partisan, but the statistics pretty definitely point towards minority-owned dealers being spared compared to what was expected.
5.29.2009 11:54am
John Thacker (mail):
But when you run the numbers and they pretty clearly show that there was no sketchiness, drop it.


But they don't. The numbers, at least the ones referenced in this post about minority ownership, pretty clearly show that an effort was made to avoid the expected disparate impact. That is different than the raw partisan argument, though.

To argue as you do is akin to claiming that because the percentage of minorities admitted to a law school is proportional to the applications, then that "pretty clear shows that there was no affirmative action used."
5.29.2009 11:56am
Thales (mail) (www):
"It would be interesting to hear, under oath, the criteria used to determine who got to keep his dealership. I'm pretty sure that Obama and his cronies have an extensive enemies list. This is a group who takes disagreement with (or even pointed questions from journalists to) Obama as a personal attack. The administration's actions to date make the allegations plausible, if not ultimately true."

Well I know I voted for Obama in the audacious hope that he would produce an extensive enemies list and close all the Republican-owned auto dealerships, which are clearly not acting as responsible Americans and transferring wealth on a massive scale from white people to black people like they are supposed to. Thankfully, I'm "pretty sure" that the President is following through for me, and have extensive evidence of the same, although I'm not willing to share it with the unworthy. That's change you can believe in!
5.29.2009 12:00pm
John Thacker (mail):
I should point out that there would be entirely understandable reasons to avoid disparate impact on minority-owned businesses, including from a PR, legal, and political standpoint. I don't think that people would view it as wrong as purely partisan closures. That's part of why I find it plausible, in addition to the statistics which seem pretty definitive.

Massive disparate impact was widely predicted, but in the end the impact was proportional. The statistical evidence is overwhelming.
5.29.2009 12:03pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Does anyone have any actual evidence that minority dealerships perform more poorly than white owned dealerships? Doing a quick Google search, the only reference I could find was an article form 2 years ago indicating that minority own Chrysler dealerships performed much better than white owned dealerships. Further, it seems like the reason that it looked like so many more minority dealerships would close was because they were less likely to take part in "Project Genesis," a program where Chrysler tried to get all of its brands into the same showrooms, but this turned out to not be a major closing criteria.
5.29.2009 12:25pm
Bill Johnson (mail):
While I tend to agree 'it looks bad', I can't prove it either.

But to attempt to disprove something about political leaning by rebutting with statistics about minority ownership is like attempting to disprove the alar controversy by talking about DDT. Jut not done. Not unless you can show some damn serious correlation. So please correlate minority ownership with political leaning, then come back and we'll talk. Or maybe just show a coupla Republican minority owned dealerships. Although that would be only anecdotal...

Course, as long as no one objects, counselor, your argument stands.
5.29.2009 12:27pm
Jeff R.:
Doesn't the category of 'minority-owned' include at least a couple of groups that tend to lean Republican? It would be interesting to see if the closed dealerships had a disproportionate number of Cuban-American and Vietnamese-American owners than the larger group of pre-existing minority owned dealerships...
5.29.2009 12:37pm
commenter ex machina:
Unless someone can figure out who decided which dealerships got cut, and on what criteria, then it's all just speculation anyway.

Don't let the left-wing make you stoop to their Halliburton/"Blood for Oil"/9-11 Conspiracy level.
5.29.2009 12:41pm
levisbaby:

It would be interesting to hear, under oath, the criteria used to determine who got to keep his dealership.

Are you still waiting to see the "real" Obama birth certificate, too?
5.29.2009 12:48pm
rosetta's stones:

You also have to look at all of this from the perspective of what would have happened without a bailout. The general consensus was that, if Chrysler went through a normal bankruptcy, that would essentially be the end of it. If that happened, you would have found that 3,181 of these dealerships would have closed rather than 789.


No, if Chrysler went through a normal bankruptcy, the good assets would have been quickly acquired by investors. The trucks, Jeep, and a few car platforms have considerable value, once stripped from the diseased and failing Chrysler enterprise.

Also, portions of the dealer network have value, and in fact, that's what Fiat is after (although Obama Motors isn't making them pay any money for it). Fiat wants quick access to the North American market, and Obama Motors allows them that.

However, a normal bankruptcy would have meant that the UAW contract would go in the dumpster, and that's a constituency that the Obama administration wants to protect, hence the creation of Obama Motors, and the infusion of taxpayer cash to pay for that protection, and ensure that UAW contract carries on in Obama Motors.

The question is, which other constituencies is Obama Motors protecting here, with taxpayer cash?
5.29.2009 12:53pm
anomdebus (mail):
So, is this what constitutes a "demand"?
I hope the Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice looks into this.

Hmm, hope==demand. I'll have to remember that one.

Oh, but then it was updated with:
Well, it bears a close look.

Ouch.

And finally and update that plays down the the whole thing, all of which I believe was done yesterday ( there is no way I know to prove that now).

As far as egg-on-face, Reynolds may end up with a little, but I think it is only remarkable when compared to how careful he usually is.
5.29.2009 12:56pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
My arithmetic is a little fuzzy, so help me out on this one...

The article estimates that Auto Dealers support Repubs 3:1 over Dems. But closings are alleged to be 90% Republican donators. Am I crazy or does that pretty much SUPPORT the allegation? So if 75% of car dealers are Reps, but 90% of closings are Reps, we have a discrepancy.

It doesn't seem huge, but reverse it- 25% of dealers are Dems, but 10% of the shut downs were dems. That means Dem dealers had a 2.5% chance of being shut down (79 dems shut down out of 3181 total dealers), but Rep dealers had a 22% chance (719 Rep closed, out of 3181 total dealers). Republican supporters were almost 10 times more likely to be shut down if these numbers hold true.

I guess the charge should be rephrased: Democratic supporters were much less likely to be shut down than Republican supporters.
5.29.2009 12:59pm
CarLitGuy:
For what its worth, Detroit Auto News ran an article a few days ago (one of their blogs) referring to a dealer owner whom the Opinion writer knew. One of that Dealer's stores was on Chrysler's list. His other store was spared.

The writer is Daniel Howes, the by line is here:

Posted by Daniel Howes (The Detroit News) on Thu, May 14, 2009 at 10:34 AM

And a link (its about half way down the page) is here:

http://apps.detnews.com/apps/blogs/danielhowesblog/index.php
5.29.2009 1:04pm
David Walser:
The debate about statistics is misplaced. If the administration used its influence over Chrysler to punish or reward a handful of dealers it would be wrong -- but it would not show up in any statistical analysis. A statistical analysis might demonstrate there was no systemic attempt to reward or punish; such an analysis cannot prove there was no non-systemic abuse of power.

For example, assume the Feelings Mutual insurance company employs 2,500 people. If the demographics of the employees perfectly match the demographics of the working age population, does that prove no hiring, firing, or promotion decisions were not based on impermissible factors? Would we refuse to investigate an employee's claim he was improperly passed over for promotion because the statistics prove Feelings Mutual doesn't discriminate? Of course not. If a SINGLE employee could demonstrate that he or she was harmed by illegal discrimination, Feelings Mutual would be required to remedy the situation. The statistics demonstrating no systemic racism (or other ism) might affect what remedy we'd impose on the company, but the lack of a systemic problem does not excuse a violation of the law. Nor does it excuse closing a single dealership because its owner gave to the wrong political campaign.
5.29.2009 1:05pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Now that we've gone though this topic, can anyone here shed light on what goes on at Bohemian Grove?
5.29.2009 1:06pm
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):

After it was leaked that 789 dealers would be closed, NAMAD believed that their members would be disproportionately harmed, with 140 of their 170 to 175 dealerships closed.


John, it's also possible that NAMAD was lowering expectations for their members so that they could claim some sort of 'victory' when fewer minority dealerships actually closed...
5.29.2009 1:08pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Mark Buehner: If what you are saying is true, there would be something fishy. As it happens, the 90% of closed down dealers being republican donors closely matches the 88% of total dealers which are republican donors. So your "fuzzy arithmetic" is pointless.
5.29.2009 1:09pm
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):

Now that we've gone though this topic, can anyone here shed light on what goes on at Bohemian Grove?


That's easy. The Doobie Brothers meet once a year and give the world's politicians and business leaders their marching orders.

Oh, wait, sorry -- that's China Grove, just down the street from Bohemian Grove. My bad.
5.29.2009 1:12pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
David Walser: Your right, statistics can't really show meddling around the edges. But the initial "evidence" of foul play was the statistic that 90% of closed dealers were Republican donors. The statistics that 88% of all dealers were Republican donors pretty much cancels out this evidence.

If you have other evidence of meddling around the edges, feel free to raise it, but otherwise its just speculation.
5.29.2009 1:14pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dg:

Reynolds completely blew this one. He's normally pretty good about mea culpas, so I'm expecting one soon.


I hope you're not holding your breath. In my opinion, he's not "pretty good about mea culpas." I could show you many examples. But one can be understood if you look here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Did Reynolds ever run a "mea culpa" for promoting that baloney? Let me know if you ever find it.

And it's a highly relevant example, because it vividly demonstrates how righty bloggers "don't often allow the facts to get in their way." Just like in the current instance.
5.29.2009 1:17pm
John Thacker (mail):
John, it's also possible that NAMAD was lowering expectations for their members so that they could claim some sort of 'victory' when fewer minority dealerships actually closed...


Sure, that's a possibility. Though there were a few other sources for the number.

It's still a lot different from the people who claim that the numbers are evidence. Sean Parnell's point simply doesn't carry that much weight; the numbers actually say the opposite of what he claims regarding expectations.
5.29.2009 1:23pm
George Smith:
Fer Gaia's sake, there has been and will be enough actual crap this regime pulls without inventing it. Let's move on from this non-story.
5.29.2009 1:27pm
John Thacker (mail):
Does anyone have any actual evidence that minority dealerships perform more poorly than white owned dealerships? Doing a quick Google search, the only reference I could find was an article form 2 years ago indicating that minority own Chrysler dealerships performed much better than white owned dealerships.


It's hard to find exact data on it. NAMAD could indeed have been exaggerating the expected numbers, but I did see other comments along those lines. Of course, the topic could be avoided if the formula and the data were made known, but they aren't. It's even more difficult than trying to find out exactly how school admissions work.

It's safe to say that people, including NAMAD, all expected that a minority-owned dealerships would be disproportionately affected for a variety of reasons, but instead the damage was almost entirely proportional. Given that avoiding disparate impact would be completely reasonable for so many reasons, it's quite likely that Chrysler went to some length to avoid disparate impact.

Doesn't require partisan motivation or any Administration influence on the closings, either.
5.29.2009 1:29pm
Steve H (mail):
I'm sorry, but even ascribing the worst motives possible to Obama and his administration, would it make much sense to go after 789 Republican-donating dealers as a group?

The money at stake from these guys is too small to make a difference. So the only way targeting Republicans would really benefit the Dems is through some sort of deterrent/incentive approach.

For a deterrent to work, however, the criteria used to select dealers for culling would have to be made public -- if the other dealers don't know that Republican-donating dealers are targets, then there is no deterrent. But there's no way the Administration would ever publicize the fact that they were targeting dealers based on political affiliation or support.

One cannot rule out that a single dealer here or there may have been targeted or spared for political reasons -- government is run by people, and people generally suck (though I really doubt Obama would be involved in targeting individual dealers. He's too busy planning the Socialist takeover).

But c'mon, if a theory is based on people acting ridiculously, and there's no real evidence in favor of it, doesn't that suggest that the theory is bogus?
5.29.2009 1:43pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Houston Lawyer:
I'm pretty sure that Obama and his cronies have an extensive enemies list....
... and I'm pretty sure the moon is made of bleu cheese. The evidence for either proposition is just as compelling.
...This is a group who takes disagreement with (or even pointed questions from journalists to) Obama as a personal attack....
... such as refusing to call on Helen Thomas ... and instead fielding questions from Gannon/Guckert? If we want interesting answers under oath, we might ask what Gannon was doing during those White House overnights. FWIW, Dubya's still screening the press.
... The administration's actions to date make the allegations plausible, if not ultimately true.
... and which "actions" would those be? Please be specific.

Cheers,
5.29.2009 1:56pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Anderson:
[I]t's good that the right-hand-side of the blogosphere looked at the question.
Yeah. Keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. They need things to b*tch about the kerning on, or they start going a little loony. Oh ... wait....

Cheers,
5.29.2009 2:07pm
rosetta's stones:


... The administration's actions to date make the allegations plausible, if not ultimately true.




... and which "actions" would those be? Please be specific.


You mean, besides the actions to preserve the UAW's contracts?
5.29.2009 2:12pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

Mark Buehner: If what you are saying is true, there would be something fishy. As it happens, the 90% of closed down dealers being republican donors closely matches the 88% of total dealers which are republican donors. So your "fuzzy arithmetic" is pointless.



Woh, woh, woh- where'd you get 88% as republican donor? The only estimate i've seen here is between 2:1 (66%) and 3:1 (75%). Are you looking at the minority owned, because that is apples and oranges- you can be non-minority and still contribute to Democrats. I wasn't looking at the minority question, just straight party donations, and I erred on the side of more Republican dealerships (I assumed 75%, which honestly seems very high to me).
5.29.2009 2:16pm
A. Non E. Mouse (mail):
I just don't get how a POTUS can just shut down family owned franchises. They aren't even a part of the major automakers themselves, they're independent business. By executive fiat entire families are driven into BK. The constitution is in the shredder and I can't wait for 2010 and 2012.

I'm comforting myself with the Bible and stocking up guns and ammo.
5.29.2009 2:23pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
The first comment links to fivethirtyeight.com, where they actuallydid research rather than guesswork and found that 88% of donations by car dealerships was to Republicans.
5.29.2009 2:24pm
one of many:
$.02 on the statistics question.

Data and data quality, and comparing apples to paintball guns.

The Fundrace calculator (it was designed by a 3rd party, not the HuffPo) is a fun little toy which matches geography to presidential election contributors and is designed to match geography to contributors, not as tool for serious statistical analysis of the FEC database.

For more serious statistics one could check the actual FEC database or of one doesn't want to go to the hassle of interpreting poorly organized data use an analysis oriented database like Open Secrets (which appears to be the database used by those trying to show politically motivated closings, it has a problem in that it is not as complete but it does allow for analysis).

Silver's use of the Fundrace numbers is flawed in that he equates the amount of money donated with the number of donors, comparing apples to paintball guns. A (not the only) problem with using the Fundrace data for an anlysis is that it doesn't consolidate multiple donations by the same donor to different candidates while it does consolidate multiple donations to one candidate. The Fundrace tool also is designed to deal with the presidential race and not with partisan donations. I'm sure that Silver did not chose the flawed Fundrace database and confuse money donated with number of donors in an attempt to deceive but merely because he was in a hurry to publish.

While I personally think this is probably not political payback, the opaque nature of the dealer closings combined with the political nature of the Chrysler takeover presents fertile ground for both conspiracy theorists and conspirators.
5.29.2009 2:26pm
PersonFromPorlock:
What we have so far here is a debate over what the data would mean, if we had the data. I suggest suspending the topic until the data's available and going on from there.

Of course, if the administration proves as reluctant to release the information as it has been to release Obama's birth certificate....
5.29.2009 2:28pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
The dealerships weren't shut down, they just lost their license agreement to sell new Chrystler products. They can still sell used cars and act as repair shops.
5.29.2009 2:29pm
Ben P:

Woh, woh, woh- where'd you get 88% as republican donor? The only estimate i've seen here is between 2:1 (66%) and 3:1 (75%). Are you looking at the minority owned, because that is apples and oranges- you can be non-minority and still contribute to Democrats. I wasn't looking at the minority question, just straight party donations, and I erred on the side of more Republican dealerships (I assumed 75%, which honestly seems very high to me).


The first post in the comments, which contains, you know, actual data as opposed to rough estimations.

Overall, 88 percent of the contributions from car dealers went to Republican candidates and just 12 percent to Democratic candidates. By comparison, the list of dealers on Doug Ross's list (which I haven't vetted, but I assume is fine) gave 92 percent of their money to Republicans -- not really a significant difference.


More specifically. From Compilations of political donations.

People who identified their occupation as "auto dealer" donated to republicans at a ratio of 8.6:1 (763 results)

People who identified as "car dealer" donated to republications at 3:1 (200 results)

People who identified their occupation as "Automobile dealer" donated to republicans at 10:1 (193 results)

and people who identified as "automotive dealer" identified as all most 15:1. (very low results, total given was only $17,000)
5.29.2009 2:31pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

I'm sorry, but even ascribing the worst motives possible to Obama and his administration, would it make much sense to go after 789 Republican-donating dealers as a group?


I agree. That's why I think it would be more accurate (if this story has any truth to it) to say that dealerships that donated to Democrats were more likely to be protected- not that Republicans were targeted per se.

At the end of the day it amounts to the same result, but I think it far more likely that the scenarios go- Stephen Rattner starts getting phone calls from DNC honchos on behalf of their car dealer donators... probably doesnt help that Rattner's wife was a former DNC Finance Chair. Just a few tweaks of the pen here and there to protect your friends seems a lot more likely than deliberately finding and screwing over political opposition.
5.29.2009 2:35pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):

Overall, 88 percent of the contributions from car dealers went to Republican candidates


What's the figure for Chrysler dealers? This assumes that party identification is homogeneous across car companies.
5.29.2009 2:41pm
David Walser:
Crackmonkeyjr: David Walser: Your right, statistics can't really show meddling around the edges. But the initial "evidence" of foul play was the statistic that 90% of closed dealers were Republican donors. The statistics that 88% of all dealers were Republican donors pretty much cancels out this evidence.

If you have other evidence of meddling around the edges, feel free to raise it, but otherwise its just speculation.


Two comments: First, the fact Republicans received 88% of the political contributions made by care dealers does NOT mean 88% of car dealers are Republicans. It may be that, on average, Republican car dealers gave a larger amount than did their Democrat counterparts. It may be that 60% of car dealers are Republican. If this is true (and I have no idea whether it is or not), and if 90% of dealers closed are owned by Republicans (another big if), then there might be evidence of a systemic problem. On the other hand, if something like 90% of car dealers are Republican, then it does not appear that there is evidence of a systemic problem. My point in this first comment is simply that it's not valid to take the percentage of money given to one party and use that as a proxy for the number of dealers who are members of that party.

Second, the evidence of meddling around the edges is purely anecdotal. One of the first stories I read on this issue detailed the complaint of a dealer who, IIRC, had 2 of his 5 Chrysler dealerships closed. The dealer claims that the two closed locations were "five star rated" by Chrysler, had higher sales volumes, and were financially stronger than the rival dealerships that were allowed to remain open. If his claims are accurate, it's fair to ask whether the fact he gave to the GOP and his rival gave to Obama in the last election had any influence on the decision to close his store and to not close the store of his rival. Several of the dealers have similar stories.

Even if his claims are accurate, there might be a perfectly good and innocent explanation for why a weaker dealership was preserved at the expense of a stronger one. For example, maybe the decision was made because the saved dealership was the only dealership owned by the Obama supporter. Allowing the Obama's supporter to keep one dealership and the GOP supporter to keep three may have prevented forcing one of the owners into bankruptcy. Politics may have played no role in the decision.

However, given the opaque nature of the decision making process, it'll be hard for anyone to be perfectly satisfied that politics did not play some inappropriate role. That's why government should, as a rule, not be involved in such decisions and when it is, the decisions should be made within the bankruptcy court process so the basis upon which the decisions were rendered can be seen and understood by all parties.
5.29.2009 3:03pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

People who identified their occupation as "auto dealer" donated to republicans at a ratio of 8.6:1 (763 results)


Hold on- somebody needs to check the actual donations of the actual dealerships. This idea of self-identification as 'auto dealer' etc is flawed, not to mention the objections one-of-many makes as to compiling multiple donations to different candidates. IE- if 1 Republican dealer donated to Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Huckabee, and Thompson, he would be counted as 5 'Republican' dealers. The Democrats had a much tighter race of essentially 2 candidates.

Just look down the lists at the Huff and see how many different Republican names pop up vs Democrat (basically only Hillary and Obama).

I'm sure somebody is on top of getting the actual data- and not this statistical inference, and we'll find out.

In other words- the question isn't how many people in the automobile business etc donate republican, the question is what were the donating habits of the Chrysler dealers as a whole, as a proportion of those closed down, specifically.
5.29.2009 3:06pm
David Walser:
The dealerships weren't shut down, they just lost their license agreement to sell new Chrystler products. They can still sell used cars and act as repair shops.


You're joking, right? Chrysler has NOT offered to buy back the dealers new car or parts inventory. Once they are no longer licensed franchises, the dealer can no longer sell those cars as "new" nor can the dealer do warranty work. These two issues are not minor and would bankrupt most dealerships — even the very strong ones.

The cars cannot be sold as new because the the dealer will now be treated as the owner of the cars — not the factory — and buyer will get a "used car title" rather than a title that shows the buyer as being the only owner. This affects the financing that is available to buyers (banks typically charge higher rates and offer shorter terms for used cars). It also affects the "flooring" costs — the interest charge on the inventory of cars on the dealer's lot. Finally, it affects the dealer's ability to offer rebates and other financial incentives to buyers. These incentives are funded in large part by the factory and are only available to buyers of new cars. To sell off the inventory of new cars the dealer may have to cut the price by 25% or more — just to match the incentives and financing rates available from a Chrysler dealer.

I have had a number of car dealers as clients over the years. Typically, the dealer makes more money doing warranty (and other service) work than it makes selling new cars. Since only Chrysler dealers are able to do warranty work, this income will be no longer available to the dealer. Worse, the parts the dealer has on the shelf will only be used to service cars that are out of warranty. Given the 70,000 mile, 100,000 mile, and lifetime warranties that some cars come with today, a significant portion of major repairs are covered by warranty. The turnover on the parts inventory may be extended from weeks to years. The hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of warranty parts will just sit on the shelf, producing no income. Worse still, 80% - 90% of a dealer's service work (the stuff that's not covered by warranty) is on cars that ARE under warranty. To continue doing this work, the dealer will have to make significant price concessions. Pep Boys does not generate nearly as much revenue per service bay as does a new car dealer. Since much of a dealer's cost structure is fixed (such as the cost of the real estate), a dealer cannot simply start charging Pep Boy prices and have any hope of making a profit.

But, technically, you're right. The dealerships weren't closed; they were just put out of business.
5.29.2009 3:30pm
anomdebus (mail):
jukeboxgrad,
Can you come up with a better example since Reynolds did do a follow up? http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/52628/

More importantly, I don't remember him being on the side of social conservatives on the Schiavo issue, so he wasn't exactly covering for him "team". I don't think a blogger has as much responsibility linking to something he doesn't agree with the motives of the linkee as they would if they linked to promote it. Part of the problem is apparently that some people selectively apply a linking==supporting equivalence, but only point to a subset of links.
5.29.2009 3:40pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
David Walser: I'm not saying that it isn't very bad (potentially lethal) for business to be a Chrysler dealership who can no longer sell Chryslers as new cars or honor warranties.

I was trying to clear up what appeared to be confusion by A. Non E. Mouse. From their post it sounded like they believed that Obama sent out letters to these dealers saying "your company is now out of business" and wanted to know what right Obama had to do this. In fact Obama did not do this. Chrysler, likely at the behest of members of the Executive Branch, canceled these dealer's license to sell new Chryslers, which will likely cause most of these dealerships to become unprofitable. This is not the same as executive fiat shutting down businesses, although the effect will be similar.
5.29.2009 3:58pm
Phd (mail):
I apologize if I missed the point in a prior comment, but isn't the allegation that affected dealerships were disparate based on political stripe, not race? So comparing Republican donor dealerships with Democrat donor dealerships is the proper comparison. Comparing Republican owned dealerships with minority owned dealerships is classic apples and oranges, particularly when considering upper class minorities in ownership positions.
5.29.2009 5:21pm
Phd (mail):
Sorry, at least a couple of you had made my point.
5.29.2009 5:28pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
I wouldn't even bother hashing out the minority owned data. First of all, it will be mostly women (oddly considered a minority for our governments purposes) who aren't much more likely to vote Dem, and secondly if the rest of the country is anything like Chicago many of these will be sock puppets anyway.
5.29.2009 5:31pm
Haumea (mail):
Hey, guys, the nature of the evidence is irrelevant; it's the seriousness of the charge that matters.

Who came up with that one...hmm...
5.29.2009 5:52pm
Grghrkn (mail):
I never bought the idea that the Obama Administration was specifically targetting Republican auto dealers.

However, I'm not so sure that specific auto dealers who were Obama donors might find themselves calling up Obama's political flunkies and complaining - and these complaints might just create some alterations to a list that was initially formed by purely objective non-partisan measures.

Detecting such a bias would require better numbers than have been revealed so far, though.
5.29.2009 5:54pm
Calderon:
Apparently the entire list of Chrysler terminated dealers has been analyzed, and measured by donations $450,000 was given to Republicans, and about $10,620 going to Democrats, with only $450 of that going to Obama. See http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=99325. So, measuring by the amount of donations, 97.7% of donations from terminated dealers went to Republicans. Assuming the database Silver relies on is accurate, 88% of donations from dealers overall go the Republicans.

Thus, we're looking at about a 10% gap measuring the amount of donations -- 98% of donations from terminated dealers went to Republicans versus 88% overall.
5.29.2009 6:03pm
Angus:
Now it's the size of the donations, not how many of each type of dealer gave donations. Goalpost moving.
5.29.2009 6:24pm
Haumea (mail):
Here's the answer we need:

x = total $$ amount of donations given to Obama (by all Chrysler dealers)

y = total $$ amount of donations given to Obama by dealers who were closed.

If it can be shown that y is unreasonably small compared to x, there's cause for closer scrutiny.

What is y/x?
5.29.2009 6:32pm
TDale:
I think the statistics are unimportant. As detailed at Douglas Ross's site http://directorblue.blogspot.com/ the important datum is that 1 and only 1 dealer to be closed was an Obama Donor. It's not Rep/Dem. It's Obama/Other.
5.29.2009 6:39pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
TDale: How many dealers donated to Obama and were not closed?
5.29.2009 6:52pm
Haumea (mail):
We need the following data:

Total Obama donors:

Total Obama donors closed:

The mean performance data of Obama donors.

The mean performance data of closed dealerships.

The mean performance data of all dealerships.
5.29.2009 6:52pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
It isn't hard to figure out why my local dealer was rif'd, despite being 1. minority, 2. Democrat &3. the only dealer within 200 miles: he tells me he was resisting Chrysler's pressure to buy more cars than he could sell.
5.29.2009 7:11pm
blah (mail):
The problem is that currently, they're still analyzing the control group's donation data (the group that isn't being closed down), so it may be a while before we really see whether or not there's bias.

Also, simply comparing Rep/Dem may not be enough, since based on the WND stats that Doug Ross pointed to, not only did 98% of all closing dealer contributions go to the GOP, but of the Democrat subset, 96% went to Hillary or Edwards. That's right, slightly less than 0.1% of the closing dealerships' money went to Obama.

Doug Ross

Regarding the Nate Silver post, he was comparing among all car dealers, assuming the percentage would be uniform between all and Chrysler dealerships. We won't know if that's true until the control group's totals are tallied. Also, it would still have to square with the 98% that contributed to the GOP from the closing list, which is quite different than the 88% to the GOP that he states.

Also, currently both groups are taking into account the people who donated only. It would be more interesting if the non-donaters were also taken as a group, to see if they were disproportionally closed. This would support the hypothesis that rather than targeting Republicans specifically, the closings were made more to spare Democrat-leaning dealerships.
5.29.2009 7:15pm
markm (mail):
If sales volume and area population are criteria, dealers in redder areas would be more likely to be stricken off the list, without any political intention at all. So there's probably nothing here - but won't it be fun to watch those who try to interpret every statistical difference between blacks and whites or women and men as evidence of discrimination trying to justify this disparate impact.
5.29.2009 7:42pm
just me (mail):
I agree. That's why I think it would be more accurate (if this story has any truth to it) to say that dealerships that donated to Democrats were more likely to be protected- not that Republicans were targeted per se.

I think this is true as well-it just makes more sense, that if the administration were going to meddle, they would likely meddle to save the dealers who were loyal supporters although it is possible that a few specific republican dealers could have been targeted, but I really don't see the people making this decision looking at donor lists and dealer lists and crossing names off.

As for the minority dealership issue-i figure they did specifically seek to save/preserve some of them, and I don't necessarily think this is wrong.

I think the real problem here is that this really should have been stuff done in actual bankruptcy court and not with administration involvement.

I also think the fact that there is nothing in the decision making process that is public record leaves things open to interpretation and speculation and a little bit of stink can go a long way when most of the facts are left to speculation.
5.29.2009 7:47pm
A.S.:
It's hilarious that Nate Silver gets his data from... Huffington Post. What's the matter, Nate, Daily Kos didn't provide you data quickly enough?

A bit more, um, nonpartisan source - opensecrets.org - has auto dealers giving substantially less to Republicans than Nate has them giving (although, to be sure, still a large majority).

According to opensecrets.org, car dealers gave 76% of their donations to Republicans in each of the 2008 and 2006 cycles, with 24% and 23% going to Democrats in those cycles, respectively.

However, those were all car dealer. Foreign car dealers were more Republican: 81% and 85% going to Republicans in the 2008 and 2006 cycles, respectively. Accordingly, domestic car dealers (which includes Chrysler, of course) gave less of their donations to Republicans than the 76% reported for all dealers.

In short, Nate Silver's "data" is bogus.
5.29.2009 7:54pm
Roy Mustang (mail):
Since there is no evidence, direct or circumstantial, of any kind to support this allegation, I suppose the next post will be how Sotomayor was tasked to make sure that no Puerto Rican dealerships were closed.

As the post itself and as many other posters have pointed out, there is evidence. Do you ever get tired of posting your BS as absolute truth?
5.29.2009 8:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anomdebus:

Can you come up with a better example since Reynolds did do a follow up?


You can't be serious. Where in his "follow up" did he apologize for promoting a false, defamatory claim? Where did he even acknowledge that he had promoted a false, defamatory claim? Nowhere. Instead, he said this:

The press will publish stuff without much in the way of authentication, if it thinks it makes Republicans look bad.


The irony is pretty spectacular, because what he's accusing the press of doing is exactly what he helped Hinderaker do.

And in his "follow up" he is still in cahoots with Hinderaker. He links to a Power Line post that says this:

this story serves as an object lesson in how the mainstream media can take a dopey, one-page memo by an unknown staffer and use it to discredit the entire Republican party


More spectacular irony. So Reynolds and Hinderaker are taking zero responsibility for the baloney they promoted, and instead are going to great lengths to point fingers elsewhere. Typical.

Part of the problem is apparently that some people selectively apply a linking==supporting equivalence, but only point to a subset of links.


If Reynolds had ever linked to any source that pointed out how his pal Hinderaker had been promoting baloney (example), then your claim about "subset of links" would be relevant. But he didn't, so it's not.

I don't remember him being on the side of social conservatives on the Schiavo issue


You're right, but he also rarely misses a chance to line himself up with Power Line. And in this instance that's what he did, and he was indeed "covering for his team." And never took responsibility for the baloney that he and his team were peddling. And I think the basic fact-free dynamics are very similar to the car dealer story.

=================
as:

It's hilarious that Nate Silver gets his data from... Huffington Post.


It's hilarious that you haven't read the thread. The complaint you're raising was already raised here and addressed here.
5.29.2009 8:42pm
Haumea (mail):
"That's right, slightly less than 0.1% of the closing dealerships' money went to Obama."

Which makes it small enough to analyze in full, as opposed to sampling.

As far as I'm concerned, showing that there's nothing fishy vis-a-vis parties is insufficient to prove there was no hanky-panky. We must look at Obama donors specifically.
5.29.2009 8:43pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anomdebus, one more thing about Reynolds and Power Line. To divert attention from their own falsehoods they made a big fuss about how the press attributed the memo to "Republican officials" and "party leaders," as if this is incorrect. But Brian Darling is definitely a "Republican official" and Martinez is definitely a "party leader," at least as far as this bill is concerned. What Reynolds and Power Line choose to not mention is that Martinez was the sponsor of the Schiavo bill. So in this matter he was indeed a "party leader."

Therefore the press statements on the memo were reasonable, notwithstanding a lot of whining from folks like Power Line, who were desperate to direct attention away from their own bogus conspiracy theory.
5.29.2009 8:52pm
one of many:
A.S.
It's hilarious that Nate Silver gets his data from... Huffington Post. What's the matter, Nate, Daily Kos didn't provide you data quickly enough?
Not hilarious, just sloppy. While the FIndrace program is not the proper tool for doing this type of analysis I am certian is was simply a case of Silver knowing the Fundrace program was there and was easy to use and he used it without thinking about the fact that it wasn't designed to give him the data he wanted. Happens all the time, sorta like a journalist calling her old botany professor for a "scientist's" perspective on the CERN reactor. Sloppy but not malicious, at worst sloppiness caused by a need to weigh in on the issue before the narrative had been set without his input.
5.29.2009 10:35pm
anomdebus (mail):
jukeboxgrad,
You are still starting with the assumption that linking equals promotion without showing Reynolds actually believes that. If he didn't think he was promoting it (rather than linking out of interest) there is no need for a formal apology.
As far as the "subset" comment, I was referring to whether he links either to interesting stories he clearly does not agree with the poster or to positions that he agrees with that conservatives generally do not. Sometime it is difficult to determine which.
If you are only reading when someone with an opposing view links with disapproval, you are likely to get a limited and prejudiced view. This goes for all sites, left, right or other.
I am not saying they guy is perfect. He has a couple of memes that he sometimes shoehorns stories into incorrectly. One of them is the press is getting lazy. However, I think most (if not practically all) people are susceptible to this.
5.29.2009 11:27pm
Anthony A (mail):
Accepting Nate Silver's estimate that 88% of Chrysler dealers who make political contributions contribute to Republicans, and an estimate I saw in one of the blogs that 92% of closed contributing Chrysler dealers were Republican, and that half of all Chrysler dealers (and half of all closed Chrysler dealers) make political contributions at all (or to national races, etc), there is a 1.4% probability of the null hypothesis being correct, or alternately, there's some correlation at a 98.6% level of significance. (The numbers change rapidly with sample size - if only 10% of dealers contribute, then the significance level drops below 90%, which isn't enough to get published.)

88% seems a lot like 92%. But at large sample sizes it isn't. To get a better intuitive feel for it, imagine a college which had 3200 applicants, 12% of which are black, which accepts 800 applicants, but only 8% of those are black. That's a pretty good indicator that there's some reason for the discrepancy.

In the dealer case, I suspect that preserving minority dealers is the cause. Minority dealers are differently situated, as the NAMAD and others expected. Somewhere, word came down that the percentage of minority dealers to be closed should be close to the total percentage
of minority dealers. The list was adjusted accordingly. One would expect minority dealers to disproportionately contribute to Democrats (and Obama in particular), even if that means that only 20% of minority dealers give to Democrats.

It's entirely possible that nobody in the Obama administration told Chrysler that there had to be no disproportionate impact on minority dealers; it's entirely possible that someone in the corporate legal department said that facing a discrimination lawsuit over a disparate impact during the bankruptcy proceedings would not be helpful. (That lawyer is probably right, too.) A commenter further up mentions that someone in Congress made noises about disparate impact on minority dealers; if the adjustments were made in response to those noises, the Obama administration is absolved, but the Democrats aren't.
5.29.2009 11:42pm
Henry679 (mail):
In retrospect I regret my vote for Bob Barr. If I knew Obama was going to unhinge this many formerly sane right-wingers (or at least they so appeared), I'd have voted for him for sure.

And these demented people are out there by the millions, huh?

Have a nice tea-party guys. Meanwhile, the world will move on.
5.30.2009 12:23am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anomdebus:

You are still starting with the assumption that linking equals promotion


That's because "linking equals promotion." Especially when he links repeatedly to the same source who is peddling the same baloney while never linking to anyone else who points out that the baloney is baloney.

As far as the "subset" comment, I was referring to whether he links either to interesting stories he clearly does not agree with the poster


It is true that sometimes he links to interesting stories where "he clearly does not agree with the poster." But the key word there is "clearly." When he does this, he uses some means to tell us that he disagrees. But in this instance, he was clearly aligning himself with Hinderaker's baloney, even after it had been proven to be baloney.

If you are only reading when someone with an opposing view links with disapproval, you are likely to get a limited and prejudiced view


I have read Reynolds extensively, for years, and his hackery is rampant. The example I cited is just especially clear.

I am not saying they guy is perfect.


Everybody makes mistakes. Mistakes are not the issue. The real test is how someone behaves after a mistake is revealed. In this instance, Hinderaker's hackery was exposed, but Reynolds and Hinderaker both just kept on hacking.

I don't picture how it's possible to take someone seriously after they pull shenanigans like that.
5.30.2009 1:09am
Sweet Lou:
It seems to me that if there is even a whiff of impropriety, this could go to the courts. Obama has no more than eight more years in office, and any cases spawned by this mess may well hang around longer than that, especially since there seems to be big bucks involved in the closed dealerships.

My understanding is that if this was a regular bankruptcy, a lot of the fuss would be preempted by the fact that you are suing an entity that doesn't have money and may not be around for much longer.

If this thing becomes a civil rights sort of case, with the government as a defendent, then it gets much messier.

Seems that the right time to investigate this thing thoroughly is now, while there is time to avoid the iceberg.

But I'm not a lawyer. So what do all you who are lawyers think about it? Is it likely that civil lawsuits would come into it? How long might they last? Could Obama be setting the Federal government up for paying some pretty hefty damages down the line?
5.30.2009 12:07pm
MnZ (mail):
If an unsupervised Chicago-machine apparatchik had been given the responsibility to create the dealership closing list, then one of the first things that he or she would do was figure out the political donations made by the dealerships.

While I don't doubt that such hardcore Chicago-machine types are in the administration, I would assume that Obama and Emmanuel would be smart enough to keep them away from this process.
5.30.2009 2:39pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Can someone please explain to me how not selling cars to dealers that want to buy them somehow makes Chrysler more profitable. I guess I'm behind the curve here.
5.30.2009 6:16pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
And btw 88% is ridiculous on its face if you think about it. McCain only got 90% of REPUBLICAN VOTES. Aside from blacks voting democrat, nobody is that lockstep.
5.30.2009 6:47pm
Anthony A (mail):
Mark - it's not necessarily 88% of all dealers, it's 88% of all dealers who gave money. Really, it's more like 44% R, 6% D, 50% decline to put their money where their mouth is. 88% Republican is asking too much, but only 6% Democrat isn't outrageous for wealthy established businessmen who employ lots of independent contractors and are occasional wrongly targets of liability lawsuits.
5.30.2009 9:16pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
But you don't see that in similar industries- if anything you see donations going to both sides just to cover your rear (for exactly this circumstance btw). There are too many problems with those particular numbers- somebody needs to match up the actual donations of the actual dealers in question. The margin of error is too tight for easy assumptions.
5.30.2009 11:11pm
Eilers Ellison (mail):
Jukebox Grad: So the best actual example you've got is a pretty weak one from 2005?
5.31.2009 6:34am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schwartz:

Can someone please explain to me how not selling cars to dealers that want to buy them somehow makes Chrysler more profitable.


Some answers to that question can be found here.

It has to do with the long-term health and competiveness of the company and its dealer network. When there are too many small dealers, you end up with overlapping brands and models that compete with and cannibalize each other. So the Dodge dealer on one side of town is competing with the Plymouth dealer on the other side of town, even though they're basically selling the same thing (so it would be more efficient to have one big dealer instead of two little ones). And they are both too small and under-resourced to compete with the much bigger consolidated Honda dealer. But they do a good job of beating each other up and making each other unprofitable, and draining resources from the parent company.

====================
ellison:

So the best actual example you've got is a pretty weak one from 2005?


I like to use that example because it involves a story that's pretty famous. I also like to use it because it's a twofer: it proves that Reynolds is a hack, and it also proves that Power Line are hacks. I also like to use it because I personally documented some aspects of it that aren't documented elsewhere.

And there's nothing "weak" about it. It's brazen hackery, and I've demonstrated that. And when you make an assertion ("[it's] a pretty weak one") without even a pretense of argument or evidence, here's what you're doing: hackery.

But if you need more examples of Instahack's hackery, you can find some here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
5.31.2009 10:18am
Mr L (mail):
jukeboxgrad: If you want to deride Glenn Reynolds for being a partisan hack, the best way to do it is with guys like Kos, Glenn Greenwald, and CrooksAndLiars. It really lends credibility to your accusations.

Also, it's a good thing you went with the volume strategy because just going through those links so far the evidence seems to demonstrate the stupidity and rank partisanship of the leftwing blogs you read more than anything negative about Reynolds.

I mean, link #1 has famous non-hacks Kos and Greenwald bitching out Reynolds for saying (libertarian) Jim Webb (D) was bad for the far left in the long run, pointing out that Webb was promoted by the Kos crowd.

Setting aside the fact that they're spending thousands of words screaming about a single-sentence blog post, that doesn't actually contradict his assertion. It's quite possible to support a candidate whose long-term success is against your interests for short-term gain - say, if the incumbent was hated Republican George Allen, the alternative to the conservative ex-Marine is a zero-charisma nobody with no chance of winning, and you're running in a red state with a Green Party spoiler candidate. And you're a partisan hack.

Link #2 is some blogger whining that 'non-Republican' Reynolds comes down much more often on Democrats, so therefore he must be a partisan shill! This would be a better argument if the Reynolds post Kos was last bitching about was one of several about how much Reynolds liked Democrat Jim Webb. Also, the blogger seemed to think that he was violating election laws by blogging and reported him to the Dean, which was so stupid his own commenters mocked him for it.

Link #3 has The Obesity Myth author Paul Campos trying to claim that Instapundit is a racist because of a post on a blog he linked to one time. No, I'm not kidding; Reynolds didn't link (or even acknowledge) the post in question, just: there's a blogger that Reynolds linked one time and that blogger made a post that's racist so Instapundit is a racist. You'd think by this idiot logic that this would make Campos a racist too but he doesn't actually link the post in question so we can't verify if his characterization is accurate. Rad. Fortunately the post in question is easy to find (damn, now I'm a racist) and rather than being the proto-Nazi hate screed Campos portrays it as it's just some white doofus plagiarizing Chris Rock's famous comedy routine.

Hey: I just noticed Campos is also a law professor! No doubt the Dean will soon be receiving a phone call from Ohio's Most Controversial Blogger.

I started on #4 but then I realized I was spending more time dissecting hysterical reactions from actual hacks than you spent collecting them. Is it too much to ask that you actually read these things before posting them? I gotta wonder why there's so much effort to tar a guy whose average post consists of a single sentence and a link, especially when he seems to have responded in some form to every complaint I've seen so far.
6.1.2009 8:04am
Mr L (mail):
Oh, one more: link #4 has The Nashua Advocate claiming Reynolds is a liar because he left out Garrett Graff's work history when comparing him to Jeff Gannon. This would be a solid argument if the fact that Graff was press secretary for the Dean campaign wasn't conspicuously absent from the NYT profile of him linked in the same post or if the Gannon fracas was over the requirements to obtain a press pass and not stuffing the press room with partisan actors.

You'll notice I didn't mention Gannon's history as a gay prostitute. That's because (apparently) that little detail was just a footnote in the controversy. Really, it barely came up.

Where do you find these clowns?
6.1.2009 8:47am
Floridan:
Nate Silver examines a more sophisticated treatment of the data and concludes:

At the end of the day, people are going to believe what they want to believe: some people believe that the moon landing was faked, that 9/11 was a grand conspiracy, and that Barack Obama was born in Indonesia. There is no evidence for any of these claims, but that doesn't stop tens of millions of people from believing them! Dealergate, particularly in its original formulation (that Obama was punishing Republican donors with the Chrysler closings), is in largely the same category.
6.1.2009 8:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mr l:

If you want to deride Glenn Reynolds for being a partisan hack, the best way to do it is with guys like Kos, Glenn Greenwald, and CrooksAndLiars. It really lends credibility to your accusations.


The interesting thing is that all the sources you would consider credible (NR, Weekly Standard, LGF, Free Republic et al) generally avoid taking a critical look at posts by fellow Republicans. So any source that is likely to criticize a Republican is also a source that you give yourself permission to reflexively dismiss. How convenient for you, and circular.

And where's your proof that these sources aren't credible? I realize you're asserting that they aren't, but an assertion is not evidence. I didn't just assert that Instahack is a hack. I proved it.

It's quite possible to support a candidate whose long-term success is against your interests for short-term gain


Yes, but if you did, you would still consider it good news when that candidate won an election in which you supported them to win. In the example discussed here, Instahack promoted the idea that Webb's victory was "bad news for the left fringe of the Democrat party."

Instahack wasn't claiming that Webb's "long-term success" would be "bad news for the left fringe of the Democrat party." He was suggesting that Webb's victory in this election was "bad news for the left fringe of the Democrat party." Which is a claim contrary to reality, because if I support someone to win an election, and they then win that election, it's risible nonsense to claim that his victory was somehow "bad news" for me. Even if it's actually true that his "long-term success" is somehow against my interests.

Aside from that, the idea that Webb's "long-term success" is somehow against the interests of "the left fringe of the Democrat party" is something you pulled directly from your butt. Another idea you pulled from your butt is that this is what Instahack was really trying to say. Where did he say that this is what he was trying to say?

And your claims about the other examples are just as unintentionally humorous as your claims about this one.

I gotta wonder why there's so much effort to tar a guy whose average post consists of a single sentence and a link


I gotta wonder why you find it hard to understand that telling a lie doesn't require anything more than "a single sentence and a link." And I also gotta wonder why you find it hard to understand that some people actually care about the difference between truth and fiction.

he seems to have responded in some form to every complaint I've seen so far


Indeed. He responded "in some form" of hackery. Just like you did.
6.1.2009 9:11am
Bubbette:
There seems to be some interesting Constitutional issues raised by Obama's man-handling of Chrysler and GM. As some of the bond holders may push this to the Supreme Court any thoughts about how Obama's actions may stack up under Youngstown? The details in the bail-out bill, thoroughly reviewed by Congress will impact this.

I have been looking for some discussion about how far Obama could proceed down this road and how the current Court may deal with it.
6.1.2009 6:41pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.