The News

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

Late last summer I ordered two pairs of chino trousers from L.L. Bean and a couple polo shirts, which arrived a day or two later. I clothed my upper and lower halves with the new merchandise, and both pieces fit my dreadful flesh-case beautifully.

Where Land's End trousers seem to slip off the spare tire of my middle and threaten to drop down around my ankles just when I'm carrying a heavy sack of groceries in one hand and a gallon of Stoli in the other, these marvels from L.L. Bean look and feel custom tailored. I was thrilled.

When it came time to wash them, I looked at the label to see what the settings should be and discovered the polo shirts were made in Thailand. On the chino trousers label, a line of copy made my blood run cold.

"Made in China."

The Chinese government is brutal, repressive and vicious. In China, a nation of polluters, a new coal-fired plant comes online every 10 days. The brown cloud over Beijing is disgusting. The Chinese are also state-sanctioned killers of girl babies. In addition, they kill other babies (poisoned milk), American children (lead paint in toys), beloved dogs (poisoned pet food) and Tibetan monks, as well as being jailers of dissidents and the press. China's blatant counterfeiting of luxury and everyday products—together with massive theft of intellectual property—is responsible for billions of dollars in losses the world over.

I resent L.L. Bean making me an unwitting accomplice to criminal behavior.

I've been around for 12 presidential administrations—starting with that of Franklin Roosevelt, who died in office when I was 10. In my memory bank are five deeply flawed men who turned the highest office into a national nightmare and were rendered politically impotent during the final years of their presidencies: John F. Kennedy (Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis, assassination), Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam), Richard Nixon (Watergate), Jimmy Carter (Iran hostage crisis) and Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky).

My family was not Democratic nor Republican. Nor am I. I've always voted for whomever I believed to be the best person for the job. As a result, I'm a registered Independent, which means I never vote in primary elections. If that's a cop-out, so be it.

For the record, up to the current administration (on which the jury is still out) I voted Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton.

Only twice in my life have I seen the country crippled and disfigured, resulting in genuine grassroots passion in a presidential election: 1968 and 2008.

The year I got passionate about politics—and dispassionate—was 1968.

Over the past month, I downloaded a boatload of material on the current financial mess for my archive. One story haunted me--the surreal tale of AIG's chief executive officer, Robert Willumstad, who thought he only needed $20 billion to get out of a hole.

Four days later--after a series of reports--he discovered the tab was really $80 billion.

How can a supposedly hands-on, competent CEO misplace $60 billion?

That's $60 billion with a B!

Yahoo! has been instructed not to filter my e-mail for spam. I want to see everything. What are the new trends? How many millions does Mme. Obi-Wan Kenobi want to transfer into my bank account from Darfur? What is the current method of spelling V*I-A*grA? “One mathematically minded blogger who looked into it,” wrote Michael Specter in the Aug. 6, 2007, New Yorker, “found that there are 600,426,974,379,824, 381,952 ways to spell Viagra.” Specter’s 4,600-word article is almost the last word on spam—a monumental discourse on the history, arithmetic (amount of spam and the ROI needed to make a profit), how it works and

I adore trains. I love rip-snorting tales of high adventure and hijinks. When I read the first two paragraphs that appear in the In The News section of this newsletter—a screaming rave review about “The Great Train Robbery,” where a band of Union volunteers traveled incognito into the deep South and hijacked a locomotive with the intention of taking it up north—I decided then and there to order the book. Alas, the reviewer committed one of the Three Deadly Sins of book reviewing, and talked me out of buying the book. The good news: I saved $29.95 plus tax. The bad news: Richard

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