Gas Rationing In Minnesota?

I went to fill up my tank last night at a Super America in St. Paul because news reports were telling me that gas prices were going to go through the roof (as if they were not already through the roof). So there I am, pumping gas into the Wrangler at a $2.79/gallon clip and I get to about thirty some-odd bucks and click there’s no more gas coming out of the nozzle. The trigger has no pressure, it’s slack.

You know how sometimes you have to hold the trigger of the gas pump just so to get it to pump without it turning off and how bloody maddening it is because when that happens the gas usually comes out in a tinsy little trickle? I figured that was gonna be the case here. But I had no luck at all. The thing just wouldn’t pump any more gas.

All right. Whatever. I went in and paid and was on my merry if not much poorer way. I looked at the tank and noticed that I’d only gotten three quarters of a tank of gas. I vaguely thought of gas rationing.

Well, I spoke to a colleague today and they had the exact same experience at an SA in Robbinsdale. No jiggering the pump trigger. Nothing. Only three-quarters of a tank of gas.

There’s only one conculsion: Super America Is Rationing Minnesotan’s gas!

Political Marketing

I just found this great political marketing story from Corey Anderson‘s post over at the City Pages Blotter: The Canadian National Post has a story dated August 23 about Bush’s recent speech in Idaho. The story was unremarkable enough but for the picture that accompanies it:


A Bullshit Protector! I love the ear flap. This is about the cleverest, and most effective political marketing tactic I’ve seen since the Clinton campaign had people dressed in chicken suits follow George Herbert Walker Bush around to highlight the fact he refused to debate Clinton.


Help Victims Of Hurricane Katrina

I remember the horror and pity I felt when watching the coverage of the Southeast Asia Tsunami. I’m feeling the same thing as I watch coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Help out however you can. Here’s a FEMA press release to tell you how:

Cash Sought To Help Hurricane Victims, Volunteers Should NOT Self-Dispatch

Washington, D.C. – Voluntary organizations are seeking cash donations to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina in Gulf Coast states, according to Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response. But, volunteers should not report directly to the affected areas unless directed by a voluntary agency.

"Cash donations are especially helpful to victims," Brown said. "They allow volunteer agencies to issue cash vouchers to victims so they can meet their needs. Cash donations also allow agencies to avoid the labor-intensive need to store, sort, pack and distribute donated goods. Donated money prevents, too, the prohibitive cost of air or sea transportation that donated goods require."

Volunteer agencies provide a wide variety of services after disasters, such as clean up, childcare, housing repair, crisis counseling, sheltering and food. "We’re grateful for the outpouring of support already," Brown said. "But it’s important that volunteer response is coordinated by the professionals who can direct volunteers with the appropriate skills to the hardest-hit areas where they are needed most. Self-dispatched volunteers and especially sightseers can put themselves and others in harm’s way and hamper rescue efforts."

Here is a list of phone numbers set up solely for cash donations and/or volunteers.

Donate cash to:

American Red Cross
1-800-HELP NOW (435-7669) English,
1-800-257-7575 Spanish;

Operation Blessing

America’s Second Harvest

Donate Cash to and Volunteer with:

Adventist Community Services

Catholic Charities, USA
703 549-1390

Christian Disaster Response
941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee

Church World Service

Convoy of Hope

Lutheran Disaster Response

Mennonite Disaster Service

Nazarene Disaster Response

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Salvation Army
1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)

Southern Baptist Convention — Disaster Relief
1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440

United Methodist Committee on Relief

For further information: visit the website for the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).

Justice For Sale

The Los Angelese Times published a story today proving that, contrary to popular belief, justice is not just not blind, but that it’s got 20/20 vision when checking out the balance on it’s own personal checkbook. Today Justice is officially for sale–and at the nation’s highest court, no less.

We discover this because under a federal ethics law, the justices of the Supreme Court were forced to reveal high-priced gifts they received. The greediest justices from 1998 to 2003 were, in order: Clarence Thomas ($42,200 in gifts); Sandra Day O’Connor ($5,825 in gifts, and an another $18,000 "award" that she listed as income); and Chief Justice William Rehnquist ($5,000, which was an "award" from Fordham University that, unlike O’Connor, he categorized as a gift). Those are the conservatives on the court, okay?

The liberals? Ruth Bader Ginsburg recieved a mammoth $100,000 from a foundation but gave it all to charity. Justices Breyer and Souter turned down all gifts.

Notice a contradiction here? Conservatives are the first people to jump up and down and scream and call people immoral and unethical but when it comes to themselves, it’s merely a "a bizarre effort to over-ethicize everyday life." That’s according to John Yoo, a former clerk of Justice Thomas. Yoo was both defending his former boss from the indefensible, and commenting on an ABA effort to tighten ethics rules so that judges couldn’t accept any expensive gifts.

Let’s apply to the ABA proposal a legal concept that will be familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of basic law: The Reasonable Person test. In light of the extracurricular income the conservative justices on the court are depositing in their bank accounts, would a reasonable person believe that tightening the ethics rules to prevent such gifts to be, well…reasonable?

Of course they would. Even lower court judges make a lot of money. Good for them; I’m all for making a lot of money but not at the expense of fairness in the legal system.

This story perfectly illustrates the values conservatives and liberals hold.

The conservative ethos is fundamentally and inherently self-centered. Their creed is built partly on individualist philosophies such as Libertarianism, especially the aspects of that philosophy that deal with the role of government and property ownership. Put simply, conservatives want to reduce the role of government as much as they can so that they can own more things.

Now, I have lots of things myself and I’m very fond of them. And there are lots more things that I want to get and once I get them, I’ll be very fond of those, too. I like stuff, I like getting stuff, and I like keeping stuff. So, I’m all for acquisitiveness, for what it’s worth. Call me old fashioned, but in my book, it’s not worth Justice.

Notice that the liberals on the court either declined gifts entirely or they gave their gifts to charity. That illustrates more differences between the two philosophies. Conservative philosophy causes Justices Thomas, O’Connor, and Rehnquist to favor their own enrichment over their official duty to impartiality (Duty: there’s another supposed "conservative" value), while the Liberal justices recognize the harm done to all of us by destroying their impartiality. Steeped in their individualist philosophies, conservatives are seemingly incapable of protecting those interests we all share–such as a system of justice that is blind.

But, hey: Expect more of the same. Bush believes he will have the opportunity to appoint at least two Supreme Court justices and his administration and the conservative Congress are doing everything they can to pack the lower courts with not merely conservative (lower case C), but extreme right-wing justices and judges.

At least I’ll know who to pay if I ever find myself before the Supreme Court.