Gas Lines and Headlines

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s tempting to mock the folks lined up at gas stations these past few days as “panic buyers.” You know, fearful, gas-addicted, greed balls.

Smug members of the media have been quick to blame them for the shortages.

The Washington Post: Panic buying strikes Southeastern United States as shuttered pipeline resumes operations

New York Times: Gas Pipeline Hack Leads to Panic Buying in the Southeast

The Boston Globe: People in the Southeast are panic-buying gas.

The Charlotte observer: Long lines growing at NC gas stations as Colonial Pipeline hack spurs ‘panic buying’

Then again, these lazy, unimaginative  headlines were written by editors who — especially since the beginning of the pandemic — do the bulk of their work from their La-Z-Boys. With their cats on their laps.

They’ve forgotten what it’s like to drive to work every day. And they’ve never had a job where you don’t get paid if you don’t show up for your shift.

They don’t understand that for many Americans, gas is the hidden ingredient in the food on their table.

You bet these workers panicked when they learned that fuel wasn’t flowing.

With the memory of toilet paper and bleach shortages fresh in their minds, these workers resolved not to be grounded by a gas shortage and quickly began topping off their tanks.

The media, of course, focused on the photos of a couple filling a pile of red gasoline cans and a woman who pumped gas into a plastic garbage bag.

They want the public to believe that these three knuckleheads represent everyone out there who was frantically trying to gas up a car.

Not so.

It’s time to remind members of the privileged class who hid in their homes for a year and let the working class fetch items for them, that the folks who keep their porches piled high with goodies are powered by gasoline.

Same goes for Uber and DoorDash drivers and pizza delivery guys who can’t work if they can’t gas up.

Doctors and nurses — America’s heroes! — run on unleaded fuel. So do nursing home and daycare workers, pharmacists, police officers and firemen.

After more than a year of lies, exaggerations and goalpost moving about the pandemic from government officials and health “experts” — 14 days to slow the spread, just wear masks for 100 days, etc., etc. – -Americans can hardly be blamed for doubting reassurances that gas would be flowing again soon.

Are we spoiled in the U.S., accustomed to relatively cheap and reliable gas? I suppose we are.

But the fact that hackers could paralyze much of the East Coast with a few keystrokes is terrifying.

Worse, the geezers and their diversity-first deputies who are running the country now seem uniquely unprepared to fight cyber warfare.

If there’s a reason to panic, that may be it.

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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23 responses to “Gas Lines and Headlines”

  1. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    Jim, I rarely disagree with you but you are way off base on this one. Demand in Virginia increased by about 20% over last week but driving was not up 20%. That additional demand is the cause of stations being short of supply. The problem was one of distribution; not supply. It was made clear that the pipeline shutdown would be for a limited period of time.
    While it is easy to understand why people were nervous and concerned but this was a self fulfilling prophecy shortage.

    1. Are you disagreeing with me or Kerry?

      1. William O'Keefe Avatar
        William O’Keefe

        Steve Haner straightened me out. I am disagreeing with Kerry.

        1. WayneS Avatar

          Having the name of the person who posted and the author at the top of the posting has confused me a couple of times, too.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Jim posted, but Kerry D. actually wrote it. I think she is being a bit hard on the media on this one, as the cliche headlines are nothing new. At least we didn’t have an appearance of Area Man.

      Big story is why do the vulnerabilities continue….Why has there been no serious effort to negotiate a true international treaty on these issues (because OF COURSE the Russian government was part of this….)

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Is a possible solution to the panic – limiting how much you can get ?

    In terms of the “hack”, this is a preventable hack for the companies and govt agencies that take IT seriously and configure their systems properly.

    This is the modern day virtual equivalent of locking your front door then leaving your back door open then crying that someone came in and stole from you.

    1. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams


      You have no idea how the exploit was delivered.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Very true. The ransomware attacks I have seen all started with a phishing attack. But who knows here?

        1. Matt Adams Avatar
          Matt Adams

          I agree, my best guess would be that they didn’t separate their operations network from the interoffice network (outlook interwebs) and someone clicked on a bad e-mail.

          They could just operate like the Military, disable all USB ports, use CD/DVD’s and use two nets.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      “…limiting how much you can get?” See, Larry, you do know what rationing is!

    3. PassTheBuckBureaucrat Avatar

      No. The solution is let prices fluctuate so individuals can make their own decisions, not use lethal force to limit thier choices

      It certainly appears that they had a plan in place or the pipeline would still be down.

      What would have help though, is telling the public they had a backup plan and it was being implemented. Instead, all we’re told Slow Joe was on it! That hardly instills any confidence. If anything, it made it sound like Colonial didn’t have a back-up plan and needed the Feds to bale them out.

      It might become more clear in the coming days what security they had in place, or it may not, but they well could have had cutting edge security and still be attacked with a zero day.

      The Cyber World is at war, and the pipeline was a big target. Its far harder to defend against the unknown.

      1. William O'Keefe Avatar
        William O’Keefe

        I agree that Colonial could have had more of a media presence to explain what they did, why, and how they were responding. That might have taken some of the steam out of the overreaction that led to a real shortage.

  3. PassTheBuckBureaucrat Avatar

    A spike in demand tells you nothing, other than there was a spike in demand.

    None of you have any clear knowledge why another person makes the choices they do, unless they honestly tell you outright. You can only make generalizations, and most of it based on your implicate biases and post-rationalization.

    You sit behind your computers, smugly typing away about why other people are “panic buying.” But, if you needed gas, you had reasons. Maybe others are panic buying, or maybe they are planning ahead based on uncertainty. Certainly can’t rely on the media to report facts, but you can bet they will encourage panic and controversy

    Risk taking is one thing; Hoarding is another. Prices need to be able to fluctuate, so those that those that do get in a panic have to think a bit harder before they take action.

    AG Herring Bone & his ilk would rather use threats and lethal force, than allow voluntary transactions between consenting adults.

  4. WTB: 1972 Ford LTD with both an even and odd license plate.

  5. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    Well, industry and authorities could be a little more proactive to prevent panic buying, by advising motorists of that problem, BEFORE the pumps run dry. On Sunday I saw the opportunity to fill-up both of our cars, but then I realized I probably did not have to, so I resisted the temptation.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Did Colonial Pipelines have to pay a ransom? If they did they are not writing that check. We are, at the gas pump.

    1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

      There is mixed news on the ransom, some news said they did not pay, but today two sources said they paid $5Million

      1. and thus it begins…… it will happen again SOON….be prepared… success in ransom creates one thing….more ransoms… just look at the kidnapping in Iraq in 2004-05.

  7. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    Sen Mark Warner said today if the public realized how many of these cyber attacks happen every day, it would be mind boggling. Apparently the Solar Winds hack attack last year involved thousands of companies. I think Warner wants more public disclosure about these hacks when they happen, so people understand the magnitude.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Colonial Pipeline is reported to have given $5M.

  8. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    It was not just the main stream media that talked about panic buying. Bacon’s Rebellion also reported on panic buying.

    As for the folks running the country not being prepared to fight cyber warfare, I guess that means the prior administration was prepared. Of, that’s right, the Russians hacked multiple federal agencies, including State and Defense, during the last administration.

  9. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    House Republicans vote to change the date of the Solarwinds Hack from 2019/2020 to January 22, 2021.

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