Jeff Bauer: ‘We really shouldn’t be doing business with companies that keep us from speaking to someone in their organization. But in practical terms, you can’t exactly cancel your account with Con Edison or Medicare. So Paul English has launched a new website: The site also features consumer rankings of companies and other tips for deal with intransigent customer support departments.’


John in Atlanta: ‘All data re my house were wrong – I mean all.’

John Seiffer: ‘The estimates on houses I know about in Connecticut were high by about 25-50% but the ones in Texas (where there’s no bubble) are priced about right. Guess they’re still getting their algorithms worked out.’


John Peterson: ‘You printed a quote today which implies that all Texas hunters drink while hunting (or before they hunt). I am a hunter in Texas. Alcohol is never allowed before or during my hunts and I have lots of hunting friends with the same rules. The implications of that quote (that we all drink abusively) are insultingly prejudicial to many of us. I am no fan of Mr. Cheney, but he pretty much just messed up like humans do sometimes. Just like someone who makes a driving mistake and injures someone. Texas is a big state. People writing about it (James Moore in this case) should not pretend that we are all the same. (For example, my part of the state went huge for Kerry in the election.)’

☞ No disrespect intended. Accidents do happen, but more frequently, I think, when faculties are impaired. It seems to me that wheeling around and shooting a friend in the face and heart may not be something a sober, responsible hunter would do even by accident.

Mike Lynott: ‘My fellow Idahoans are not sympathetic to the VP’s plight. Thought you’d like to hear a red state paper’s view:’

Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident could easily have been avoided if he followed basic rules, said Idaho Hunter Education Association President Walter Rost of Homedale. . . .

“I am sorry to say, but there’s no such thing as an accident when it comes to firearms,” [fellow hunter education instructor Bob Lytle of Boise] said. “You or someone has to pull the trigger; it doesn’t go off by itself.”

Dan Flikkema: ‘My favorite quote from the Vice President’s office: Mary Matalin, adviser and spokesperson for the Vice President, said he felt ‘bad, obviously. On the other hand, he was not careless or incautious or violated any of the rules. He didn’t do anything he wasn’t supposed to do.’ See, now I would have thought shooting someone in your hunting party would fall into the category of ‘things you aren’t supposed to do.’ If there is no ‘rule’ against shooting your fellow hunters I politely suggest we make it one.’

Carol Vinzant, author of Lawyers, Guns, and Money: One Man’s Battle with the Gun Industry (America has more licensed gun dealers than gas stations): ‘Drunk hunting isn’t necessarily a crime. Depends on the state. Unlike with cars, there’s often no set alcohol limit; you get a hunting license by written, not physical, test; guns have no oversight by the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and owners aren’t required to buy insurance. Another interesting thing about the Cheney shooting: Unlike the typical shotguns that spray a wide pattern, his fancy one shoots a 30 inch circle at 35 yards. So what are the chances Whittington got accidentally in that 30 inch circle with the birds as opposed to Cheney hearing Whittington, turning around and shooting before he identified his target?’

Warren Spieker: ‘Without apology for what happened during Cheney’s hunting accident, quail hunting is known to be one of the most dangerous kinds of hunting – why do you think everyone wears orange vests/hats/etc? I won’t bore you with all the details, but quail hunters are in relatively tight quarters, with no indication which way the quail might ‘flush.’ The hunters then try to track a very fast, very low-flying bird to shoot it. It is both difficult and dangerous.’

Joe Cottrell: ‘Great bumper sticker: ‘I’d rather hunt with Dick Cheney than drive with Ted Kennedy.”

☞ Several of you sent this. To me it says you still haven’t forgiven Ted Kennedy after 35 years but you’ve already forgiven Dick Cheney. Why?

And I have another question (first raised by Maureen Dowd, I think): With Iraq and Katrina still such enormous problems, and North Korea and, well, so much else – doesn’t anybody work on weekends? Quail hunting? This truly is a grand time to be rich and powerful in America – unless you happen to be mistaken for a quail.


Neil (and others): ‘I’m upset by the Paul Hackett story coming out of Ohio. I think he deserves to have equal support in the primary as any ‘inside the beltway’ good old boy. I’m pissed as hell to see this sort of nepotism AGAIN. The reason this party loses is largely because we aren’t raising up dynamic young talent like Paul. Shame on the Democratic establishment. Sorry to rant, but you are the only whipping post I have.’

Lucky me.

Paul Hackett attended Charles’s fashion show last Tuesday, where I got to meet him, and – bang – now this happens. But just so you know . . . For every passionate Dem rightly disappointed by this, there is another who yells at us for not being tough and disciplined, like our opposition – because THE WHOLE WORLD IS AT STAKE. To those critics, it’s hugely important to avoid destructive primary fights . . . using that time (and the millions Democrats would have spent fighting each other) to win the general election and perhaps the Senate. So while I’m not certain those who pushed Hackett out were right or wrong – both choices sucked mightily – I don’t believe we should be angry at them for making this very tough choice. I think it was born of pragmatism, not nepotism.

Just my two cents.

Stephen Gilbert: ‘This is why people like me find it hard to care about your party: ‘For me, this is a second betrayal,’ Mr. Hackett said. ‘First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me.’ I know that Hillary or Al Gore or even John Kerry would each be better than George Bush, but not enough better for me to be very excited about the Democrats.’

☞ That’s where we differ. ‘Excited’ might not always be the word, but for me ‘resolutely committed’ certainly fits – because to me the difference between rushing to attack Iraq and not, degrading FEMA and not, favoring the ultra-rich and not, allowing the coal mining industry to regulate itself and not, impeding stem cell research and not, teaching intelligent design in Science and not, nominating judges in the mold of Scalia and not, addressing global climate change and not – these (and more!) are just too important not to stay in the game.

Tomorrow: Something (anything!) less preachy.


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