May 28, 2009

Dealergate: Center-Right Bloggers Doing the Establishment Media’s Work, with Larger Lessons (Topside Updates: More Evidence; Reverse Discrimination?)

TOPSIDE UPDATE, May 30: Apparently, the Leftosphere is engaging in one of its typical tactics — “You don’t have courtroom-level proof, therefore it’s all made up.” Well, patterns are patterns, and acknowledging their existence isn’t a sin — yet.

Meanwhile the evidence, and concerns expressed by adults, mounts:

  • Doug Ross — “Dealergate: 40 Democrat-friendly Dealerships Become 42 After The Dust Settles; Their Competition Gutted As Well”
  • IBDeditorials.com — “Has our political class grown so petty that it would use the power of government to punish the political opposition? We hope this isn’t true. If it is, the country’s in more trouble than we thought.”
  • Doug Ross — “Awesome: Olbermann and 538.com echo-chambers inadvertently confirm Dealergate findings!”

The Volokh post showing that the percentage of terminated dealers who were minority-owned is the same as their percentage of the dealer universe proves nothing, and actually may support the favoritism claim. If minority dealers in general have outperformed all others or have more attractive prospects, fewer of them should have been terminated. If minority dealers in general have underperformed all others or have less attractive prospects, more of them should have been axed.

Based on business considerations, it’s obvious from this May 15 Wall Street Journal report that the a minority dealership group thought that the latter would be the case:

The National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) estimates that 140 of Chrysler’s 170 to 175 minority-owned franchises could be closed, and at least 174 of GM’s 300 minority-owned dealers could shut their doors.

The NAMAD estimate was presumably based on the group’s assessment of the business factors Chrysler would consider in dealership termination decisions.

Even conceding that the group’s statement has some attention-seeking hyperbole, it’s difficult to get from NADAM’s 82% “could be closed” estimate (140 divided by 175; NADAM’s total dealership count appears to be as of early 2008) to the final result of about 25% (38 divided by 154) without raising the possibility that minority Chrysler dealerships were unfairly spared in the name of something other than business-related factors.

I cover the reverse discrimination issue more fully here.

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TOPSIDE UPDATE 2, May 30: Why won’t anyone own up to being responsible for the dealer termination decisions? Joey Smith’s Chrysler Dealer Shutdown blog points out that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs claims that “We don’t make those decisions. Ok?” But a lawyer for Chrysler dealers who deposed Chrysler President Jim Press believes, based on that deposition and despite management’s official denials, that “Chrysler (management) does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers …. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.” Separately, Smith notes an LA Times story reporing that General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson has “acknowledged (Obama administration) pressure to make ‘faster and deeper’ cuts to the company’s distribution network.” So there was pressure at GM, while Gibbs implies there was none at Chrysler. Uh-huh.

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(begins original post)

Doug Ross has done yeoman investigative work (here and here) looking into something the establishment media apparently won’t touch — and, as Michelle Malkin noted, is even mocking. Now that Drudge has flagged Mark Tapscott’s piece, further attempts to sweep the matter under the rug will be painfully obvious.

What Doug and others have found reveals a pattern of Chrysler dealer terminations that, despite assurances that they were based on “sales volume, customer service scores, local market share and average household income in the immediate area,” seems divorced from valid business considerations. Many star dealers who have moved a lot of merchandise have been nixed, while a number of underperformers have been allowed to stay on board.

Why?

Doug, with lots of help, notes that “Dealers on the closing list donated millions to Republicans, $200 for Obama.” Meanwhile, certain dealers who are either Democratic donors or have Democratic connections have been spared. The possibility also exists Gateway Pundit also has compelling evidence that certain terminated right-leaning dealers have seen their territories gobbled up by Democratic business cronies.

How convenient.

All of this is an object lesson as to why the government shouldn’t have tried to “save” Chrysler, or General Motors, in the first place.

In a private business, owners’ decisions are often arbitrary, and sometimes even stupid. Heck, there may even be a few that are based on partisanship, or disagreements over religion. But in general, the decisions are made based on business considerations with an eye towards current or future profitability. If the decisions are wrong, the primary and unpleasant damage is limited to the company itself, the owners, company employees, and other stakeholders.

But when government makes business decisions, even angelically-intentioned (which seems very dubious in the case of Chrysler), factors other than current or future profitability become more important than they should be. Sometimes the other factors become paramount. History has shown that the government-made decisions are on average be much worse for the business and for society as a whole than decisions made by business owners themselves.

When the government is an actual owner, the entire country pays the price for bad business decisions. That’s why government should stay away from running businesses.

That we have to re-learn this obvious lesson because of an administration that either believes it can transcend history, or doesn’t care about the damage it is doing as long as its power is enhanced, is extremely frustrating.

Milton Friedman had something to say about all of this many years ago (“The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”). He was right then, and he is still right today.

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UPDATE: Comment #1 brings up important constitutional issues. In fact, Wolf Howling’s post is a must-read, and has many other good links.

Even Before Summer, Big 3 Nets’ Evening News Viewership Is Under 20 Million

NBCABCCBSchartGraphicThe Big 3 networks’ evening newscasts probably turned in their worst ratings week since TVs became a household staple during the week of May 18.

Last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), based on the ratings for the week of May 11, I noted that the shows’ combined audience had plunged a stunning 25% from their late January post-inauguration peak to a level barely above the 20 million mark.

At the time, I thought that we wouldn’t see a sub-20 million week until sometine during the summer.

Well, it’s not summer yet, and they’re below a combined 20 million already. What’s more, the results are even worse in the coveted 25-54 demographic.

Here’s a comparison of the week of May 18 to both the previous week and the same week a year ago (Source: Media Bistro – May 18, 2009; May 11, 2009; May 19, 2008):

Big3NetsRatings051908vPWandPY

The excuse that last week was down only because of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend doesn’t fly. Last year’s drop from May 12 to May 19 (not charted above) was only 480,000 (230,000 in the 25-54 demo). This year’s May 11 to May 18 drop of 830,000 (460,000 for 25-54) was much higher off of smaller base.

The trend within a trend, at least year over year, is that NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams and ABC’s World News Tonight with Charles Gibson have been losing viewers, while Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News appears to have bottomed out. Brian and Charlie are coming down to Katie’s level at a surprisingly fast clip. NBC has lost 30% of its lead over CBS; ABC’s lead has dropped by over 40%.

Media Bistro, the source of the data, seems oddly ignorant of the precipitous downward slide, nonchalantly telling its readers only that “All three networks were declined week-to-week in both categories,” and that “Year-to-year, the only program to gain viewers is the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.” That’s light treatment indeed of year-over-year 9.4% and 12.4% drops at NBC and ABC, respectively, as well as 18%-plus drops at the two networks in the 25-54 demo.

Networks execs nevertheless surely know that their former crown jewels are fading, and quickly. Perhaps it will occur to one or more of them that viewers are tiring of their years of insufferable bias, or of their more recent almost all-Obama, all-the-time obsession. Nah — If they haven’t figured it out by now, they likely never will.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Mandel Makes It Official

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 9:08 am

John KasichMary Taylor and now Josh Mandel…. with one glaring exception, I’d say the ticket is shaping up quite nicely.

In an email that went out early Thursday:

I wanted you to be among the first to know that today, via Web video, I announced my decision to run for State Treasurer in the 2010 election.  Please take a moment to watch my announcement video and visit my website for more details on my campaign: www.joshmandel.com.

Click here to watch the announcement video now.

I decided to run for Treasurer after spending many months on the road, traveling to all corners of Ohio and accumulating over 30,000 miles on my car.  Time and time again, I heard the same message from folks throughout the state: they are frustrated that while our economy is hurting and families are tightening their belts, our government continues to over-spend.

I believe that, to change the direction of our state, we need new leaders who believe in good old-fashioned values like honesty, hard work and fiscal responsibility.  I learned these timeless values from my family and they were reinforced in me by the Marine Corps.  I have carried them with me throughout my life, and I will work day and night to honor them in my service to you as State Treasurer.

My most important duty as Treasurer will be to protect the hard-earned dollars of every Ohioan.  I have a proven record of standing up for Ohio’s taxpayers, including spearheading one of the only municipal tax rollbacks in the State’s history as a City Councilman.  As State Representative, I helped reform the investment oversight structure for the scandal-ridden Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

I began my previous campaigns for office by campaigning door-to-door in lake-effect snow storms and by promising my supporters that I will never be outworked.  My strategy for this race is no different – I promise to run a high-energy grassroots campaign, utilizing technology and engaging the young and the old alike.   I hope you will consider joining our team today by making a contribution, signing up to volunteer, or by forwarding this message to your friends.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Josh Mandel

Here’s the video:

Can We Call Them ‘Statists’ Now?

Yes we can (saved here in case future AP updates bury the quote; HT Drudge):

In answering a question from a student about how (Nancy) Pelosi was going to get Americans to cut back on their carbon emissions, the leading Democratic lawmaker said it was important to educate children on how to conserve energy and for citizens to build more environmentally friendly homes.

“We have so much room for improvement,” she said. “Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory … of how we are taking responsibility.”

Lucid Links (052809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:21 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

Tuesday, a federal judge “denied …. a request by a dissenting lender group to delay bankrupt automaker Chrysler LLC’s sale hearing and remove the bankruptcy case to district court.” The request came from Indiana funds representing teachers and law enforcement whose rights as first-lien secured bondholders were strong-armed away in the government-driven bankruptcy reorganization. But the judge curiously said that “objecting parties should have a ‘fair’ opportunity to appeal the bankruptcy judge’s ruling on the sale at a later date.” The bankruptcy judge gave the litigants their day in court yesterday, and is reported to have “offered no hint of whether it would slow or scuttle the sale of Chrysler.” The future credibility of creditors’ contract-law rights would seem to hang in the balance.

The betting appears to be the government’s roughshod run over creditors’ contractual rights will enable Chrysler to emerge from bankruptcy pretty quickly. In the process, the myth that the government hasn’t been propping up a completely failed business has been blown to bits. Here are a couple of quotes from a May 22 Reuters piece. First, “Even Chrysler’s own executives thought bankruptcy for the carmaker would mean liquidation.” Second, “In the absence of having someone like the government continue to put in money, you can see that the company would go into liquidation in just a few weeks.”

Speaking of throwing money around, the government’s stake in a reconstituted General Motors, thought to be 50% not too many days ago, will now apparently be “as high as 69%.” (Update: Make that 72.5%.) Because unsecured bondholders rejected the government’s ridiculous offer of only 10% of the company in exchange for $27 billion of debt forgiveness, CNBC says that “the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history is now all but certain.” In hindsight, the fact that the government’s offer to the unsecured bondholders was so obviously inadequate should cause people to wonder if bankruptcy has been their real objective for some time.

Bill O’Reilly doesn’t know the difference between a blog post and a blog comment. Zheesh.

The next time some lefty whines about how state and local governments need to be bailed out because they’re being starved by stingy, short-sighted taxpayers and voters, show them this list (Warning: Certain blood-boil alert; HT Michelle Malkin).

Positivity: Iraq War Veteran Teaches Law Enforcement

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

POSTED: 3:28 pm CDT May 22, 2009
UPDATED: 4:45 pm CDT May 22, 2009

Teaches Life Saving Skills From Battlefield

An Iraq war veteran is teaching local law enforcement officers some life saving techniques from the battlefield. The skills that saved his life could also save officers caught in extreme situations.
Chris Cook knows the heat of battle and what it takes to save a life.

“We have to turn the heat up a little bit.” Cook said, “Knowing that the techniques we’re talking about today actually work, obviously I’m evidence that I’m standing here today.”

On Sept. 11th, 2004 Cook was serving in Iraq with the National Guard when his unit was attacked by a suicide bomber.

Cook shot the bomber, saving his unit. After the explosion, Cook said he (applied a) tourniquet on his own shattered leg. It probably saved his life.

Cook and others started a company, Medicor Proeliator, and today they’re teaching officers battlefield tested techniques that are now used to save lives on the streets, when a shooter is still out there.

“It has such greater meaning for me than just a class,” Cook said, “We arm officers with the tools to save other people’s lives, but we don’t arm them with the ability to save their own.”

The key is committing these techniques to muscle memory so they become instinct when the bullets fly for real, he said.

Go here for the rest of the story.