Stranger danger

Leave that kid alone: Bites’ favorite juvenile delinquent, Nibbles, was cruising past The Bread Store last week, when he noticed four jungle-camo- and combat-boot-wearing military types resting their berets at a sidewalk table.

One of these soldier boys offered Nibbles, who is not yet 18, a smoke. He didn’t agree to give the kid a cigarette. He flat out, out of the blue, hey-little-boy-want-some-candy lured Nibbles to the table with his pack of cancer sticks.

Being young and dumb, Nibbles promptly forgot all of his pacifist training—not to mention Bites’ constant do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do-boy lectures about the evils of smoking—and stopped to kill some time.

Soon, young Nibbles was being offered a $20,000 recruitment bonus—$10,000 now and the rest over a four-year period—if he’d just sign on the dotted line and join the National Guard.

Not having any qualms about contributing to the delinquency—or untimely explosion—of a minor, they promised another 50 grand for college and between 5 percent and 10 percent off all Ford model cars and trucks. Then there was a whopping $450,000 life-insurance policy to keep the folks back home in Camels should Nibbles stop a bullet.

Back at the Bitescave, Nibbles endured another nagging lecture, the one about getting shot at, and his soldiering days were over before they had begun. At least he nicked a smoke from the deal.

Show Manas the money: Caltrans engineer Manas Thananant wanted to know what the state was doing with his money. Like many state workers, Thananant has the option of giving to the cause of his choice, rather than paying union dues. Every month, $33.73 comes out of check, and it’s supposed to go to Greenpeace.

The charitable deductions are handled by the United Way. For a couple of months, Thananant was getting notices from Greenpeace that the eco-warriors were getting his donations, thank you very much. Then the notices stopped. Six months and $159.25 later, Thananant still had no idea where his hard-earned wages had been going.

United Way spokeswoman Lisa Hein told Bites that the organization has documentation that Thananant’s money is getting to Greenpeace; it’s just been getting lumped in with a bunch of other donations and not showing up under his name.

That’s great news, and finding a pro-environment Caltrans engineer was pretty cool, too. See, you really can’t sink a rainbow.

Running man: It’s not every day that a bona-fide presidential candidate stops by for a chat at the old News & Review. In Bites’ memory, it’s happened thrice. There was the day Ralph Nader came to lay it on us in 2000. Before that, Bill Bradley glad-handed his way around our lobby. And then there was last Monday, when Glenn R. Stine walked through our door.

Stine is a pig farmer from Perry, Iowa. He had an Iowa driver’s license, a newspaper clip from the Perry Chief detailing a previous run for the White House, and a suit that fit at least as well as Nader’s.

Despite all that, Stine obviously has had a hard time getting the media to listen. Back home, the editors at the Des Moines Register told him never to darken their door again. A $458 plane ride later, Stine was in Sacramento. The editors at The Sacramento Bee told him to buzz off. They can be so mean over there.

Stine explained that he was in California seeking a running mate. Who was on his short list? Stine wouldn’t say, other than to let it drop that his choice for vice president was a Republican and a former California governor. And he was still alive. Oh, and it wasn’t George Deukmejian. In fact, he was on his way to court said candidate, via “Greyhound Airlines,” that evening. Stine was hopeful even though, he admitted, his quarry had hung up on him the last time he’d called.

Bites was about to write Stine off as a lost, and somewhat nutty, cause until he mentioned his exit strategy for Iraq: “We’re going to be out of there by March 17, 2009. And we won’t leave them in chaos and anarchy. We’re going to leave them with a king.” That’s right. Stine says a qualified autocrat is the only way to repair that shattered nation. Bites thinks Stine might be on to something. The monarchy is running smoothly enough over here.