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5/28/2009
DEALERGATE: STATISTICAL COINCIDENCE OR POLITICAL BIAS? (IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW)

Doug Ross and Joey Smith are doing a helluva job in researching the data on the Chrysler dealer closings story. And in typical internet fashion, the story now has some legs and is being addressed by other outlets.

Notably, World Net Daily - sometimes not the most reliable of sources - has a piece of straightforward reporting where they scanned the 789 dealers being closed, matched the donations to presidential candidates, and discovered the following:

$450,000 donated to GOP presidential candidates; $7,970 to Sen. Hillary Clinton; $2,200 to John Edwards and $450 to Barack Obama.

What does this mean?

It could mean nothing. It is a given that a large percentage of dealers - small businessmen - are Republican to begin with. Liberal poll expert Nate Silver has done a great job in researching all donations made by auto dealers (or most anyway) and pegs the percentage at  8-1 Republican which matches up pretty well with what Doug and others have found. Nate was looking at donors to political campaigns from all car dealers and those figures shake out to be overwhelmingly GOP.

Therefore, it is probably useless to try and make a case based on the amount of monies donated to the two parties. What is needed is an analysis of which dealers were allowed to stay open and whether they benefited from GOP dealers that were being closed. Doug Ross came up with some interesting coincidences based on his analysis of one dealership group owned by prominent Democrats where their dealerships were all allowed to stay open while neutral or GOP donor dealerships were closed. He made this connection in three separate territories where the Democratic auto group - RLJ - operated.

This is compelling but still not enough evidence. It is, after all, only one dealer group. In the end, what is needed is solid information about who exactly made the individual decisions to close the dealers.

We know it wasn’t the bankruptcy judge. We also know that the criteria for closing announced by Chrysler is not being followed. In dozens of cases, profitable dealers are being closed for no apparent reason.

So if the judge and Chrysler had little or no say in who was being torpedoed, that leaves the White House auto task force shoving these decisions down Chrysler’s throat. So far, Chrysler has remained quiet. But eventually, they are going to have to say something in response to the building pressure put on them by dealers who think they are being treated unfairly and a media that may be getting more curious.

Mark Tapscott in the Washington Examiner picked up the story today:

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan learned from a House colleague that his Venice, Florida, dealership is on the hit list. Buchanan also has a Nissan franchise paired with the Chrysler facility in Venice.

“It’s an outrage. It’s not about me. I’m going to be fine,” said Buchanan, the dealership’s majority owner. “You’re talking over 100,000 jobs. We’re supposed to be in the business of creating jobs, not killing jobs,” Buchanan told News 10, a local Florida television station.

Buchanan, who succeeded former Rep. Katharine Harris in 2006, reportedly learned of his dealership’s termination from Rep.Candace Miller, R-MI. Buchanan owns a total of 23 dealerships in Florida and North Carolina.

Also fueling the controversy is the fact the RLJ-McCarty-Landers chain of Arkansas and Missouri dealerships aren’t being closed, but many of their local competitors are being eliminated. Go here for a detailed look at this situation. McClarty is the former Clinton senior aide. The “J” is Robert Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Television, a heavy Democratic contributor.

A lawyer representing a group of  Chrysler dealers who are on the hit list deposed senior Chrysler executives and later told Reuters that he believes the closings have been forced on the company by the White House.

Another respected blogger, Megan McCardle , is dubious but willing to look at the question if compelling evidence is presented:

My operating assumption is that this story is a red herring.  Democratic and Republican dealers are unlikely to be found in the same place, and the rural counties that tend to be red are probably less profitable.  I would be less surprised to find out that the administration rescued specific donors from the hit list than to find that they deliberately closed Republican dealerships.

Still the administration should answer this; it gives the appearance of Chicago-style corruption that is going to further taint a Chrysler takeover which has already left a number of people in the business and finance community wondering how firm the rule of business law is these days.

McCardle mentions Silver’s analysis in an update and points out that it will be hard to prove bias based solely on donation patterns:

Nate Silver points out that most auto dealers are Republicans.  That doesn’t quite explain why so far only one Obama donor has been closed down, but it makes it difficult to definitely conclude bad faith.

Does this mean that all of this is just a statistical coincidence?

Given what we know about the Obama White House and its hyper-partisan ways (anyone who believes Rahm Emanuel isn’t a partisan bully doesn’t know anything about his service during the Clinton years). Given also that we have seen the bullying tactics, the threats, the blackmail, the arrogance of Obama’s people when dealing with the auto companies, one can combine those facts with the appearance of partisan bias in closing the dealerships and believe that it is entirely possible for this to be true. In other words, it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to think that this has been part of the plan.

But even if it isn’t, the closing of dealerships is a tragedy for the communities in which these dealers operate. Many of the dealers who are complaining that they are profitable and shouldn’t be closed are good community citizens. They sponsor boys and girls sports teams. They’re always there when the community needs help to put on events like parades and fireworks. They are Rotarians, Chamber of Commerce members, and volunteers whose loss will be keenly felt by the communities they serve.

I wouldn’t put it past Obama and his crew to compound this tragedy by making a lot of those closings unnecessary because they were based on the party affiliation of the dealer.

UPDATE: 5-29

Fox News performed a random survey of dealers who were closed and dealers allowed to remain open. It pretty much shuts the door on the subject:

A preliminary study by FOXNews.com found that the data do not support the charges. Among the dealerships set to close, 12 percent of a random 50 selected for review donated to Republicans and 8 percent to Democrats. Of the dealerships remaining open, 14 percent of a random 50 selected donated to Republicans and 10 percent to Democrats. In both samples, the average size of donations was similar for both parties.

According to the sample, one major factor in determining whether a dealership was closed or not was the size of the dealership, measured by the number of product lines carried (the four lines are Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Dodge Truck). The average store that will be closed in the FOXNews.com sample carries 2.5 of those product lines whereas the average store that will stay open carries 3.64.

A Chrysler representative said part of the decision on consolidating dealerships was to reduce overlap and have the remaining dealers sell all three company brands.

“It makes sense to have all three brands under one roof,” Chrysler spokeswoman Kathy Graham told FOXNews.com.

I will point out, 1) the statistical analysis would seem to indicate no foul play in the closings, and 2) Chrysler finally opened their mouths and said the first sensible thing about criteria used to close the dealers. Hence, the remote chance that this story would get some legs has all but disappeared.

Anyone who says this was not an issue worth looking into is politically naive and probably a partisan hack to boot. Of course the idea of politically motivated dealer closings was a possibility - especially with the bunch of arrogant cutthroats Obama has assembled in the auto task force. It would have been irresponsible not to check into this possibility. Who else was going to do it? The media? Only after blogs had been flogging the story for 3 days.

If I listed similar investigations by the opposition over the last 8 years that didn’t pan out either, I would run out of pixels on this site (the earpiece Bush wore in the debate, anyone?). Suffice it to say, the blogs did their job. Evidence was presented. Further digging revealed reasons to be skeptical as well as reasons to continue digging. And further analysis has pretty much laid the issue to rest.

One point; the possibility that there was interference on the part of the White House to keep politically connected dealerships open cannot be dismissed. But that would be impossible to prove and would not be a productive avenue to go down.

By: Rick Moran at 8:32 am
49 Responses to “DEALERGATE: STATISTICAL COINCIDENCE OR POLITICAL BIAS? (IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW)”
  1. 1
    jambrowski Said:
    9:09 am 

    Can anything really be done about it, even if it is real and occurring?

  2. 2
    Alex Said:
    9:16 am 

    As convenient as it might be if this is true, it sounds more like statistical coincidence to me. These are small business owners, the people Obama was going to raise taxes on. Why would they be donating any money to him in the first place?

  3. 3
    Postagoras Said:
    9:22 am 

    Sorry, this story has no legs- it’s a classic conspiracy theory that cannot be disproved. It falls neatly into the “bitch slap” approach to politics that continuously generates accusations, knowing that the background noise will eventually help your side.

    Heckuva lot easier than engaging on the issues.

    I wonder just what you consider an “issue?” Political corruption? Cronyism? Gee, they seemed to be good enough issues when Bush was in office. Wonder what happened?

    ed.

  4. 4
    JustADude Said:
    9:32 am 

    http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=T2300

    They come up with different stats for auto dealer donations history than Nate Silver does.

    Thanks for this but it appears to be a slight difference only with Nate’s tally. It still means that any large discrepancy can be explained by the large difference between the two parties in donations.

  5. 5
    Postagoras Said:
    10:26 am 

    I agree that the “bitch slap” is used by all sides to substitute for discourse. It’s sleazy whoever uses it.

    It’s sad that the best rejoinder you could make was that I thought it was all right when the other side did it. That is not true.

    This particular story is over, Rick. Move along.

  6. 6
    Lyle Said:
    10:29 am 

    It’s not enough to look at car dealers as a group, I think that Chrysler dealers might well be more likely to be Republican than, eg, Honda dealers.

    At a first approximation, I would guess that Chrysler dealers are 90% Republicans — despite Chrysler’s survival being supported not just once, but twice, by Democratic administrations. Personally, I think that we should have let Chrysler fail the first time around — it might have given GM a chance to survive. And right now, I think we should let Chrysler and GM both go, or else it will be Ford next.

    That’s capitalism…

  7. 7
    Anon Said:
    10:52 am 

    If there’s any evidence whatsoever that the White House was in any way involved in deciding what to close, fine, I’m willing to look at it. But so far it’s just like those people claiming that breast implants cause cancer, etc.

    Also, the real issue is not whether or not the dealerships are profitable. It’s pretty safe to assume that any dealership that is open is profitable, because if it were not, it would have gone out of business.

    From Chrysler’s standpoint, the issue is: does closing dealership ABC hurt my bottom line or help my bottom line. Due to many factors, that is not directly related to whether or not the dealership is itself profitable.

  8. 8
    jharp Said:
    11:22 am 

    I’m disappointed in you Rick.

    I had you pegged as a reasonable wingnut.

    No longer. This is the most idiotic non story I have seen in awhile.

    There is not one shred of evidence to support this ludicrous claim.

  9. 9
    shaun Said:
    11:43 am 

    I’ve read your post and all of the links twice and as a longtime onetime investigative editor I conclude that there are a few wisps of smoke but no fire.

    That isn’t likely to change for the simple reason that more than a mere handful of people would have to be involved in cherry picking dealers based on their political bona fides, and by this point one or more would have blabbed to someone who could give the conspiracy real legs.

    Conspiracy? Not hardly. Politics played to the hilt, yes. There is nothing illegal (contractual violations may be a different story). But voters are funny about fair play and something like this could redound in favor of Republicans politically.

    ed.

  10. 10
    EBJ Said:
    11:45 am 

    I wonder how many regional dealers with six or more franchises kept every dealership? I think the odds suggest that they would lose 1 or 2. In fact, isn’t the fairest thing to do, though fairness doesn’t necessarily enter into this, to make the regional dealerships give up most of the franchises? For the ones and twos owners, that’s probably their livelihood. But for the regionals, it’s probably more like an investment amongst a sea of other investments.

    Interesting that Open Secrets would show a 3-1 ratio vs an 8-1 ratio by Nate Silver. There’s got to be a methodology different there. If it’s 8-1 it seems to me the only focus should be on the unscathed six dealership group with prominent Democratic ties. But if it’s 3-1 it seems to me there needs to be a full scrub of just Chrysler information across a number of parameters. Put some math folks on it to slice and dice probabilities and relative impacts.

  11. 11
    EBJ Said:
    11:55 am 

    “more than a mere handful of people would have to be involved in cherry picking dealers based on their political bona fides, and by this point one or more would have blabbed to someone”

    Oh, please. Isn’t this how politics is done? You think the people in the room red lining dealerships have some problem with the morality of awarding their friends and punishing their enemies? The folks in that room have probably done worse so I wouldn’t assume anybody is going to all of a sudden develop a conscience.

    Jeepers, why are there earmarks at all if not to reward your friends? Rewards to friends are common. But punishment comes up to in the form of IRS audits or provoking groups you don’t like (Waco). So this is nothing new, though it’s awkward for politicians when the rubes are reminded.

  12. 12
    CZ Said:
    12:17 pm 

    I wouldn’t put it past Obama and his crew to……

    …use any means necessary to destroy each and every enemy before they have a chance? Bet on it.

    He’s a black socialist democrat Nixon. His Chicago credentials (Blago support, Rezco affiliation, community activism with ACORN and SEIU, wife getting a $150,000 per year raise, union affiliations, Illinois voting record and Rahm Emannuel as his Consiglieri) prove it.

    He and his Chicago thug gangster ilk make my freakin’ skin crawl.

    BTW, use of the term “crew” in this case is very appropriate.

    No story here, move along? Now THAT’S the Chicago way!

  13. 13
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    12:35 pm 

    Rick Said:

    Gee, they seemed to be good enough issues when Bush was in office. Wonder what happened?

    Nothing happened, Rick. Nothing.

    Watching the government clean up the casualties of capitalism is as fascinating as it is horrible.

  14. 14
    busboy33 Said:
    2:15 pm 

    This is certainly something for investigative people to dig into (and they should), but as yet its still too insubstantial to do anything more than raise an eyebrow.

    As you noted Mr. M., the statistical D/R breakdown for dealers seems to be in line with what the numbers are showing is actually happening in the aggregate. An industry that is 8/1 populated with Right-handed people versus Left-handed people that suffers losses 8/1 Rh/Lh is exactly what you’d expect to see if there was no cronyism occuring.

    Also, I’m skeptical about the motive. “Ha! I stuck it to a Red!” in and of itself seems a weak motive. As the quote you mentioned pointed out, the Red Dealer isn’t going broke . . . his allegedly 100,000 employees (which may break more Blue than Red) are. The dealer will still donate Red (most likely with more conviction now), and you might well drive some of those employees into the Red camp as well. You accomplish nothing and very possibly hurt your own cause. That’s not Chicago style Gangsta politics . . . that would just be moronic.

    Having said all that . . .

    The possibility that a connected dealer, as an individual, might get a “protect this person” phone call from someone in power seems like it might be an actual possibility — and that would be absolutely, completely unacceptable (although not suprising). IF that happened, then heads should roll. I doubt Obama personally would be the one making the decision, but whomever in the staff pulled strings (IF IF IF strings were pulled) needs to be shown the door.

    As you said though, there’s no information (yet) to make a call about if that’s happening or not, and assuming it in the absence of any data is blatantly partisan.

    Let the muckrakers dig into this. If there’s dirt here, let’s bring it to light, THEN start the outrage. Jumping the “Obama is the AntiChrist!” gun before there’s any evidence paints you as a RedHead, and when you DO have legitimate grounds to triumphantly “J’accuse!” it’ll be ignored (”Sweet Lord . . . again? You said that when you found Obama liked ornage juice!”). If there’s not . . . well, then color me impressed that the vicious, Gangsta, Totalitarian Administration is playing it so fair (or is at least bright enough to cover their tracks).

  15. 15
    Foxfier Said:
    2:40 pm 

    Hehe, this is the most reserved “this sounds bad– we need to research to see if it is bad, and then do something when it’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt” I’ve seen so far, and you still have folks yelling you’re a loon.

    Wasn’t there a cartoon back in the Clinton years that showed Clinton holding an axe, covered with blood, standing over a corpse and saying “it wasn’t me” followed by reporters saying “good enough!” and walking away?

    Those who believe Obama craps marigolds will never believe anything - no matter what the proof - that would upset their image of the messiah.

    ed.

  16. 16
    HyperIon Said:
    3:14 pm 

    I refuse to consider this story until I have seen B. Hussein Obama’s birth certificate. One trumped up issue at a time, please.

  17. 17
    cdor Said:
    5:39 pm 

    Such heartfelt agony from all of the righteous humanist commenters involved with your website, Rick. How do you draw them out from under their rocks? These dealerships, I might remind you all, are men and women who have worked their entire lives to build something for themselves and their families. They are not evil. They have done no harm. They employ in aggragate some 40000 people making a decent living and supporting families of their own. They were profitable, producing companies. What was the necessity of this action? What good has it done?

  18. 18
    Junk Science Skeptic Said:
    6:19 pm 

    Short of one of the thugs ratting out the others with taped evidence, it will be impossible to ever conclusively prove or disprove that some of the closings were politically motivated. Even without a media cover-up, reasonable minds will suspect foul play, especially given the track record of this administration.

    This does, however, provide a textbook example of why the government has no place interfering in business decisions, whether there is loan/bailout involved or not.

    The mere appearance or possibility of favoritism brings the integrity of the office into question.

    When government interference destroyed the credit markets the auto industry relied upon, there became an obligation for the government to make the requested loans as an arms length transaction.

    Instead, the “never let a crisis go to waste” crowd of egomaniacs made a mad grab for power to pay back their political supporters.

  19. 19
    Foxfier Said:
    6:42 pm 

    What was the necessity of this action? What good has it done?

    Cdor-
    hey, some good could come out of it! Just need to check what the 2010 election donations look like…..

  20. 20
    cdor Said:
    8:07 pm 

    My wife called me to dinner so I couldn’t quite finish…

    Obama rushed through an $800 Billion dollar stimulus package speaking of such a dire emergency that none of our elected representatives had time to read, even though after the bill was passed the POTUS stuck it in his pocket, went to Chicago to party for the weekend, then traveled to Colorado to hold a big media signing party on Tuesday. That made four days after passage, time that could have been spent examining and actually reading the Bill before they passed it.We were supposed to be getting a lot of shovel ready jobs. Instead we got political payoff, pork.

    Moving forward a few months, where are the jobs? Well here are a whole lot of jobs. Self producing ones that were not costing the government or Chrysler one red cent. These people were taxpayers. Now they will soon be unemployed. And not justtem either, for every dealership bought supplies from other companies. Many were located in smaller, less populated areas whose surrounding economies needed their valuable presence.

    From whence did this dictate come to close these American resources? Not the judge and apparently not Chrysler. So who is left? Fiat or the government (Obama). Some of you people don’t think this is a story. Move on folks, nothing here. Well screw you and your horse. This is a story, it’s a big story and I want to know who is responsible.

  21. 21
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:20 pm 

    This was genuinely silly, Rick. You got nothing. This is tinfoil hat stuff. And what’s worse: you know it as well as I do. Nate Silver took this story apart.

    Is this what you have to do to stay in the good graces of PJM? I respect needing to hold onto a gig. I, too, do what I have to do to pay the rent. Most of us do. I have no criticism of a man who needs to keep food on the table. Been there. Will be there again.

    But what does this say about your party? That an intelligent, rational, knowledgeable person like you has to stoop to the kind of nonsense you’ve peddled in your most recent posts? You’re on the path to becoming the latest Captain Ed — who has now managed to demote himself to Midshipman Ed.

    You’re trying to catch a falling knife, trying to drop fast enough to stay with your free-falling party. I’m betting you won’t be able to do it. I think you’re too proud.

    You question my integrity? I write a responsible, reasonable post about a subject that anyone who isn’t in a partisan could consider a possibility and you accuse me of selling out?

    I’m tired of being told by partisan hacks like you - political ignoramuses who demonstrate a lilting idiocy about politics with every word they write - that my integrity should be questioned because, on occasion, I happen to write about subjects that interest me and that my point of view skews toward the right. I am also tired of being patted on the back when I skewer conservatives and the GOP while having my integrity questioned when you and others on this site disagree with me.

    I have read more about this issue than you. My knowledge of it far surpasses yours. This post is my best judgment of where the issue stands. I allow for many caveats and qualifyers, linking to people who don’t believe there is anything to the story and present evidence in that regard. I have presented the evidence as straightforwardly as I can, pointing out weaknesses in both arguments.

    What the fuck more do you want?

    Please read Shaun Mullen’s comment above. A liberal, former investigative reporter, while not believing much is there, nevertheless, treats the idea of politically biased closing seriously. You - and your ignorant cohorts - dismiss it without having read and absorbed the amount of information on this subject that I have.

    The Republican party, btw, is not in “free fall” - more evidence of your towering ignorance of politics. The RNC just outraised the DNC by quite a bit if you didn’t notice. “Free falling” parties don’t outraise their opponents. Yes, the GOP is in trouble. But so are the Democrats if you look at the numbers - one more piece of evidence that you are more mouth than mind when it comes to political analysis.

    ed.

  22. 22
    cdor Said:
    9:48 pm 

    M Reynolds you are truly a parisan hack. Your last post used words to say nothing. Try out for MSNBC, you could sub for Lawrence O’Donnell.

  23. 23
    Elizho Said:
    9:56 pm 

    Nate Silver’s analysis illustrates that when a query string “car dealers” is applied, the ratio of Rep to Dem is 3 to 1 which is the same ratio concluded by the Open Source’s. However, Nate Silver also examined other variety queries and used the compounded data to come up with 88% to 12% ratio — Open Source obviously didn’t bother to go down path. This is a none story, moving along…

  24. 24
    Elizho Said:
    9:57 pm 

    cdor,

    Your picayune piffle only makes you uniquely irrelevant. Stick to the topic.

  25. 25
    Travis Monitor Said:
    10:39 pm 

    My verdict was similar to Rick’s…

    “My verdict: Smoke and a ‘hmmm’, but no fire here. It could just be typical Governmental blundering and destruction of wealth and not a specific “Chicago way” style politicized payback.”
    http://travismonitor.blogspot.com/2009/05/chrysler-dealership-closings-hidden.html

    I think we need to put things in perspective, put politics aside for a second, and ask if the right thing is being done here wrt closings. The thing is that Chrysler management was NOT behind this. Consider this plea:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/letter_from_a_dodge_dealer.html

    On Thursday, May 14, 2009 I was notified that my Dodge franchise, that we purchased, will be taken away from my family on June 9, 2009 without compensation and given to another dealer at no cost to them. My new vehicle inventory consists of 125 vehicles with a financed balance of 3 million dollars. This inventory becomes impossible to sell with no factory incentives beyond June 9, 2009. ”

    Something is wrong here, very wrong, irrespective of the partisan leanings of the dealers getting ‘whacked’.

    Combine this with the attempted Chrysler bond-holder cram-down, the attempts to give UAW control, etc. the stench is getting a bit thick.

  26. 26
    jharp Said:
    12:15 am 

    “Moving forward a few months, where are the jobs? Well here are a whole lot of jobs. Self producing ones that were not costing the government or Chrysler one red cent. These people were taxpayers. Now they will soon be unemployed. And not justtem either, for every dealership bought supplies from other companies. Many were located in smaller, less populated areas whose surrounding economies needed their valuable presence.”

    cdor Said:

    Get rid of the crack pipe. It is doing you great harm.

  27. 27
    cdor Said:
    6:12 am 

    Elizdaho…”picayune piffle”, jstrummingharp…”crack pipe”

    Golly gee, I am so totally wounded by the depth of your analysis. I am overwhelmed by the compassion of your hearts, the purity of your souls.

    I am so wrong. I bow before you.

  28. 28
    tamrik Said:
    6:43 am 

    wow, a ‘random’ sample by fox and suddenly it’s a non story?
    How random was the sample?

    Maybe you should, like, you know, READ THE DAMN ARTICLE.

    Fifty dealers who were closed down and 50 who stayed open is a statistically significant enough sample - especially since they were chosen at random - to all but close the case for anyone with a rational bone in their body.

    If you believe elephants can fly, then sure - there’s still a possibility that Chrysler deliberately chose dealers to close who were Republicans in order to curry favor with the new federal bosses. But since there is no evidence that the White House task force had input into the decision making process and that there is no statistical difference between GOP and Democratic donors being targeted, all but the most hard core believers will look at that evidence and be satisfied.

    If the arguments are too sophisticated for you, I suggest you refrain from commenting.

    ed.

  29. 29
    Foxfier Said:
    10:33 am 

    Since all the information is available, and folks are already working to check it, I’ll wait to yell safe. (Also mildly peeved that Fox wasn’t willing to put as much work/effort into investigation as bloggers are, but old media, etc.; in their defense, they did say it was preliminary.)

    I’d also point out that they checked Dem vs Repub, while the original allegation was Obama vs everyone else.

  30. 30
    Pete Said:
    12:41 pm 

    Who knows and who cares? The thing is would anyone with an ounce of sense buy a car that will be guaranteed and serviced by the government??? Yeah because we know how well any government agency services the public…nightmares of long lines and employee attitudes like the DMV come to mind. There is no way I would ever consider GM or Chrisler for a new car. If I want American, I’ll get a Ford - and if not, can you say Toyota?

  31. 31
    jharp Said:
    12:43 pm 

    “Anyone who says this was not an issue worth looking into is politically naive and probably a partisan hack to boot. Of course the idea of politically motivated dealer closings was a possibility - especially with the bunch of arrogant cutthroats Obama has assembled in the auto task force. It would have been irresponsible not to check into this possibility.”

    No one said it wasn’t worth looking into. The detractors point was that there was no evidence to support the claim.

    By all means investigate away. But wait to publish a conclusion until you have the data to support it.

  32. 32
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    12:46 pm 

    Finally, Chrysler replies to this story, a day late and a dollar short. I’m still not clear on how the master list of closings was made or who finalized it, but Chrysler has been eager to deep-six a large share of its dealers for years, and this crisis is the perfect excuse to do so at little cost to them. That could explain their reluctance to reply to the story previously, as one does not bring attention to ones self when being presented a politically sensitive gift.

  33. 33
    jharp Said:
    1:02 pm 

    “Finally, Chrysler replies to this story, a day late and a dollar short. I’m still not clear on how the master list of closings was made or who finalized it, but Chrysler has been eager to deep-six a large share of its dealers for years, and this crisis is the perfect excuse to do so at little cost to them. That could explain their reluctance to reply to the story previously, as one does not bring attention to ones self when being presented a politically sensitive gift.”

    Surabaya Stew Said:
    12:46 pm

    A day late and a dollar short? You’re kidding me, right? Since when does it become necessary to respond to completely unfounded and fabricated BS.

    They were allowed to deep six the dealers because of bankruptcy. That was some clever plan they hatched. All they needed to do was give up control of the company and wipe out the shareholders for this “gift”.

    Good grief. You wingnuts just don’t think.

  34. 34
    HyperIon Said:
    1:37 pm 

    So now that this silly story has been debunked, can we get back to the birth certificate?

    Oh, and obviously this one gets filed under: Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.

  35. 35
    Augustine Said:
    1:58 pm 

    What about the Whitey tape

  36. 36
    Allen Said:
    2:14 pm 

    The FOX study does not appear to support other folks’ take on the matter. For example the Nate Silver analysis you quoted showed that dealers give to republicans 8 to 1. The FOX analysis shows a roughly equal split. At first blush it would appear the FOX study is not a very representative sample.

    This was the problem from the beginning. A closing of a local dealership is a very emotional thing for a community, and people will leap to all sorts of conclusions. Chrysler did a piss poor job of explaining what was going on so they deserve some blowback for this.

    As a side note several months ago a local Chrysler dealer was shuttered. They literally showed up with car haulers one Friday morning and poof they were gone. The employees received their last pay check 3 hours later. No one has said anything about who, what, or why. As one can imagine the rumore are thick.

  37. 37
    Augustine Said:
    2:24 pm 

    You don’t think that sometimes these stories just sound crazy from the outset? The idea that a Presdential administration would be involved in closing dealerships because they are owned by Republicans just sounds crazy from the word go.

    I live in Detroit and have family that worked / works at DCX and DCX has been in trouble for a long time. Those dealership closing were a long time coming.

    The local press, Detroit News, Oakland Press, Heritage News, Crains Detroit Business - they would have been all on this story if it had legs;Daniel Howes at The Detroit News in particular.

    Wouldn’t people think to check out the Michigan Press first? In fact the local conservative paper ( The Detroit News )has fantastic coverage of Ford, DCX, and GM. If this didn’t pass the smell test for The Detroit News and Crains Detroit Business, there was a reason for it.

    Is it really naive to roll your eyes when you hear these kind of ” the man is out to get us ” conspiracy like tales? Maybe you’re that cynical, but to me the whole story had a Michelle Obama’s Whitey tape feel to it.

  38. 38
    cdor Said:
    5:57 pm 

    So why is it that profitable businesses which neither cost Chrysler nor Government anything were disinfranchised (closed down)?

    I get it now.

    TO STIMULATE OUR ECONOMY!!

    Hell, this had nothing to do with Obama. It was Chrysler’s decision. First secured bondholders are forced to take second seat status in the bankruptsy…must have been da Judge, Obama didn’t do it.

    I believe ya.

    In the meantime we are spending trillions of dollars we don’t have. On what? And where did those 40000 closed dealership jobs go, the ones that weren’t costing the government anything?

    Well enough of my picayune piffle, I think I’ll go fire up my crack pipe now.

  39. 39
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    6:08 pm 

    A day late and a dollar short? You’re kidding me, right? Since when does it become necessary to respond to completely unfounded and fabricated BS.

    They were allowed to deep six the dealers because of bankruptcy. That was some clever plan they hatched. All they needed to do was give up control of the company and wipe out the shareholders for this “gift”.

    Good grief. You wingnuts just don’t think.

    jharp, I’m not sure where you got the idea that I believed that Chrysler is going bankrupt just to close down excess dealers. What I was saying is that they could have avoided any accusations of unfair play by simply disclosing the above information in the first place. While I have little sympathy for the dealers predicament, I can’t blame them for thinking that the closures were made by some bureaucrat or political operative when Chrysler did not disclose exactly how the determinations to close each dealer were made.

    Oh, and thanks for popping my “wingnut” cherry; as a political moderate, I was wondering when somebody online would accuse me of extremism. Trouble is, I’m not sure which side of the political spectrum this “wingnut” is supposed to be on…

  40. 40
    still liberal Said:
    8:03 pm 

    Holy Christ on a crutch! Why in the hell would Fox News do a random sampling of 50 when all of the data for all 798 of the dealerships were available to others? Sampling inevitably introduces some level of error.Just count, no need to sample if you have all of the possible data. I can only assume no one at Fox ever took a basic statistics class. (Yes, I am one of those liberal elites that went to college to learn more than how to operate a beer bong and join the Young Republicans.)
    Wow, Seventy to eighty percent of the dealerships donated to Republicans. And damned if a large majority of dealerships closed were owned by (wait for it. . .) Republicans! Conspiracy or stupidity? Obama has secret power to close Republican dealerships and Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

    Clown shoes.

  41. 41
    cdor Said:
    10:01 pm 

    Surabaya Stew Said:
    “While I have little sympathy for the dealers predicament,”

    Nice to hear those moderate creds, Stew. My question is, “Why no sympathy? You got a problem with compassion?” What evil did they do?

  42. 42
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    11:36 pm 

    Nice to hear those moderate creds, Stew. My question is, “Why no sympathy? You got a problem with compassion?” What evil did they do?

    What, being a believer in Capitalism disqualifies me from being a moderate?
    Seriously, those dealers were running an independent business affiliated with a corporation that had been in trouble for some time. (Didn’t Chrysler almost go broke 30 years ago? Shouldn’t that have been a warning?) They knew of the inherent risks this industry runs every year; certainly they should have noticed fewer big-3 brands on the roads every year over the past 5 decades. They took a bet that Chrysler would turn itself around and they lost.

    Now, there may not be 100% transparency as to which dealers made the cut and which didn’t (this should be followed up on even if there is no political scandal), but its clear that a significant number of dealers were going to lose out in any case. Any deal that would allow these 789 dealers to stay in business or to be brought out at market value would involve a great amount of capital to to paid for by us taxpayers. Liquidation of the dealers is tough medicine, but in this case it is probably the best of the bad options available. While I have sympathy for the employees to soon be out of work and the dealers about to be bankrupt, I believe compassion should not spread to extraordinary actions to “save” a shrinking business model.

    cdor, perhaps this does not sound like “moderate creds”, but I do lean in the direction of economic conservatism. When combined with a socially liberal stance on most issues, I think it evens me out as a political moderate. Hope this clears things up…

  43. 43
    cdor Said:
    6:24 am 

    Actually, Stew, I believe in capitalism as well, which would include the rule of law with contracts. Obama’s team tore up bankruptsy laws by forcing the first secured to move to the back of the bus. Once they did that, they essentially said this whole deal will go down as we say. You can’t call it captialism when the government is picking the winners and losers. Once they controlled the game, Obama’s team could have stopped this from happening, or at least managed it much better.

    These dealers got about 3 weeks. Think about that Stew. What exactly necessitated the rush? It seems that everything is an emergency nowadays. It is bullcrap and I would like you to explain what costs to Chrysler or you and I were being handed down by these dealers. The bankruptsy already voided the dealers’ ability to receive normal compensation for withdrawing their franchises. Why not let capitalism work a little here. Many of these guys were still profitable. Let the market work. They would have weeded themselves out and in the process would have been able to make entrepenurial decisions to change their operating models. You realize, don’t you, that for their loyalty these dealers will be stuck with hundreds of millions of dollars of inventory that as of June 9th will no longer be considered New car inventory under the handed down terms. Just another slap in the face to go along with the punch in the gut.

    I’ve made my point enough about the trillion dollars wasted in stimulus. These guys never took a penny, nor asked for one. What they did need was time and a fair playing field and they got neither.

    I have always felt that Obama would have been an idiot to have his hands all over these choices. But his team is running the show and once again has shown utter callousness to entrepenures and small businesses. We are now in an era of corporatism and elitism, but that is a topic Mr Moran can choose for himself to explore, or not.

  44. 44
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    12:06 pm 

    cdor, you have a point in that what is happening to these dealers now isn’t capitalism, but certainly the previous situation with odious state laws protecting local dealers from competition and closure wasn’t very capitalistic either. Were actual free-markets running the show over the past 50 years, there would have been many fewer Chrysler dealers facing disaster today.

  45. 45
    FLIPPYDIPPITY Said:
    12:10 pm 

    Anyone who says this was not an issue worth looking into is politically naive and probably a partisan hack to boot. Of course the idea of politically motivated dealer closings was a possibility - especially with the bunch of arrogant cutthroats Obama has assembled in the auto task force. It would have been irresponsible not to check into this possibility. Who else was going to do it? The media? Only after blogs had been flogging the story for 3 days.

    No, no, no. This never made sense, like so much else that gets internet Republicans all riled up. As for as conspiracy theories go, this is about as nonsensical and unimaginative as it gets. Oooo, Obama’s pinning down the Republican Chrysler dealers! The liberal master plan is coming along quite nicely now that we’ve deprived the Republican party of a few thousand dollars worth of campaign contributions! What’s next? Maybe Obama will personally oversee the persecution of Republican McDonald’s franchisees?

    This is not a conspiracy theory. It is hardball politics played to the hilt - if it had been true. And taking out big GOP donors in key areas - millions of dollars worth of donations - is very imaginable - except to partisan idiots from the other side who think Obama craps marigolds and doesn’t need to wipe.

    ed.

    ed.

  46. 46
    cdor Said:
    12:30 pm 

    Flippydippity(?)
    ” What’s next? Maybe Obama will personally oversee the persecution of Republican McDonald’s franchisees?”

    Ha, never. He’s never so obvious. What he will do is TAX cow farts until a Big Mac costs fifty bucks.

  47. 47
    cdor Said:
    12:31 pm 

    BTW, Stew…whatever.

  48. 48
    busboy33 Said:
    4:30 pm 

    “the possibility that there was interference on the part of the White House to keep politically connected dealerships open cannot be dismissed. But that would be impossible to prove and would not be a productive avenue to go down.”

    Presuming that politicians aren’t so unbelievably dumb as to memorialize unethical or criminal activity in e-mails, phone records, and memos, then you are absolutely right.

    Uh oh . . .

  49. 49
    FLIPPYDIPPITY Said:
    8:57 am 

    This is not a conspiracy theory. It is hardball politics played to the hilt - if it had been true.

    That doesn’t make any sense. You’re telling me what it’s not, then you’re telling me what it is, while acknowledging that what you’re telling me it is, isn’t.

    It was a conspiracy theory, okay?

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