Monthly Archives: July 2006

Joe Lieberman Takes It In The Shorts

Sorry for the iconoflatulence (a term coined by my high school buddy Verde, who I think should retire to a life as a Northern Neck writer. Anyone who can come up with such a term should be writing.) But as you no doubt by now know, I can’t help myself.

I must admit I am taking great pleasure in the demise of Joe (2%) Lieberman to, the heretofore unknown, Ned Lamont in his bid for a fourth Senate term. (2% is about the most Lieberman received in votes in any of the 2004 democratic presidential election primaries.) That well publicized Bush kiss and his gushing praise for Bush’s Iraq policies are coming back to bite the arrogant bastard in the butt. Realizing that he will lose the democratic primary in early August, Lieberman has filed the necessary signatures to enable him to run as a repubdependent.

Lamont is leading the three term senator in all demographic groups except those over 65 and even the NYT has turned against him.

The establishment media and pundits are blaming the “netroots” for Lieberman’s political problems. I think his problems have more to do with his hubris, and his sense that he is entitled to his senate seat.

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I Think Hugo Chavez It Exactly Right

“After almost 200 years, we can say that the United States was designed to fill the entire world with poverty as if in the name of freedom,” he said according to Interfax.

“The United States’ empire is the greatest threat which exists in the world today. This is a senseless, blind and dumb giant, which does not know the world, does not know human rights, and does not know anything about humanity, culture, conscience, or consciousness.”

He said the “winds of war” were blowing in the Middle East and were a “product of hegemony and imperialistic aspirations, which reveal Washington’s bid for power over the whole planet”.

Read the entire Guardian report here.

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Villahermosa

Tonight I am in Villahermosa, with one days drive left to Merida. I’m pretty sure I will never return to this city. This afternoon I paid my first ever bride in the time I’ve been in Mexico.

Driving around the city looking for a place to stay for the night I pulled into a traffic lane reserved for buses and cooperatives. A police officer pulled up behind me and motioned for me to do a U turn and pull over. He explained the lane was reserved, I apologized and he asked for my driver’s license and registration. After telling me he would have to write me a ticket and that I would have to go tomorrow to pay it he began to walk toward his car. He turned around, came back and began explaining that if I put something in his mano he wouldn’t write me a ticket. I asked how much and he answered whatever I thought. I gave him $100. pesos and we both went on our ways. A violation of my principles, to be sure, but in this case expediency prevailed.

The best thing I can say about Villahermosa, of the limited area I saw, is that it has a highway that runs right through the middle of it which permits one to transit the city without stopping.

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July 20th

Tonight I am staying in the El Castillo (which looks like a castle) another drive in hotel with private garages, though this one just has a curtain for a door. The room is quite plush and very dark. There is not enough light in the room for me to type on my laptop, so here I am in an internet café.

I have come to the conclusion that the hotel with the garages are places for discrete rendezvous. The room I’m in has a huge mirror at the head of the bed, colored lights above the bed, piped in music, and a price list on the wall that includes drink, toiletries and condoms. There is also a wooden rotating shelf in the wall between the room and the garage through which the staff can deliver items without opening the door or seeing in the room.

Generally having my head in the clouds, it usually takes me a while to figure these things out.

I expect to arrive in Xalapa during the early afternoon tomorrow. I will unload my household goods there and return to Merida.

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Back in Mexico

I am back in Mexico, having tracked down a customs broker and successfully entered the country with a truck load of household goods.

I am feeling quite relieved to back in Mexico and to have crossed the border with my household goods with no problems. I now have no property or possessions, other than bank accounts, in the USA.

As it happened I was able to track down one of the customs broker with whom I had been communicating through email, though it took a bit to find his new location. I arrived at his office at about 9:00, provided him with copies of the “menaje de casa” visa issued me by the Mexican consulate in Seattle. He called his contact in Matamoras and informed me of the fee.

While I went to the nearest bank to get some cash, he made copies and arrangements with the broker with whom he works in Matamoras. When I returned to his office he instructed me to follow him to his warehouse where I would leave my truck while we crossed to Matamoras and went to the Mexican broker’s office to deliver the paperwork.

The USA broker took me on a driving tour of Matamoras for about an hour while the Mexican broker was preparing the “pedimento”. After a bit he suggested we stop at his favorite bar for a Clamato and vodka, which has to be about the most wretched drink I’ve ever tasted. I drank about half and pawned the rest off on him, explaining that I was getting a bit light headed and wanted to be completely sober for my border crossing.

We returned to the Mexican broker’s office, picked up the pedimento, and returned to his warehouse in Brownsville to await a call from the Mexican broker’s office with instructions on when to leave for the border. The call came and the Brownsville broker led me to the proper border crossing and left me with instructions of which line to get in and that a person from the Mexican broker’s office would meet me at the border with the necessary paperwork.

Sure enough the fellow was there with the papers and stood by as I made my way across the border to be sure everything went smoothly.

After crossing I parked my truck, went to the immigration office to have my visa stamped, and then moved my truck into an inspection bay where I waited for about a half an hour for my pedimento to make its way from the border crossing gate to the inspection area. Soon a fellow approached and asked me to open the back of the truck and to begin removing the stuff for his inspection, but after I had removed only a few items he indicated that he’d seen enough and a couple of fellows helped me reload. Everyone was quite jovial.

So off I was with one more gate to pass and perhaps another inspection. The fellow at that gate took a quick look at the pedimento and waved me through. About 10 kilometers down the road I had to pass through another inspection point but the fellow there also waved me through after a quick look at the pedimento.

So here I am in Ciudad de Victoria spending the night in a luxurious motel, with my own garage with an electric door, for $360 pesos. After getting settled into my room I notice there are 4 and 12 hours rates posted on the back of the door. I think I’ll call for room service, so to speak.

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July 18

I arrived in Brownsville at 6:00 this evening and am settled in to a room at the Red Roof Inn with a high speed LAN connection. Tomorrow I go looking for a customs broker. One of the brokers with whom I’ve been communicating informed me today that her Mexican broker is no longer doing “menaje de casa”” work and I have not heard back from the other since I sent him a message informing him that I would be at his office early Wednesday morning.

During my four days of driving since leaving Elma last Saturday morning I have covered 2741 miles, or an average of 685 miles per day.

The drive today and my drive through the Cascades on Saturday were by far the most scenic. Today I left the dessert Southwest, which often looks like one big strip mine, and South of San Antonio drove through what I suppose one would call a coastal plain. The area between Corpus Cristi and Brownsville is particularly nice with lush, green grasslands, shrubs, and trees. (Did you know that Arbusto, the name of Bush’s failed oil exploration company, is Spanish for shrub or bush?)

US Highway 77 from Corpus Cristi to Brownsville is a beautiful highway that is more like a boulevard, with a very wide grassy median with occasional palm trees. The only draw back was the storm of flying insects through which I drove most of the way.

This morning, a bit East of Fort Stockton and South of Odessa and Midland, in an area predominated by mesas, I came upon hundreds and hundreds of very large wind powered electric generators, such as one may see in the Columbia Gorge. And just outside of Ozona I left the freeway to get gas and came upon a very pleasant young couple who waved me down for help.

All but two of the lugs bolts had broken in a rear wheel so they had pulled over with their SUV at a slant on the shoulder. They had jacked the beast up, I suspect with the jack parallel to the slant; the jack buckled; and when I came upon them the wheel was setting on the dirt. Fortunately neither was hurt. I pulled out my jack and as I was positioning it under the leaf spring, thinking it would probably not jack the rig high enough, two fellows in service trucks stopped to help. I was able to use my jack to get the leaf spring far enough off the ground to enable one of the other fellows to get his jack under the spring and raise the vehicle far enough to get the wheel on so they could limp the two miles to town in search of a permanent fix.

One of the fellows who stopped to help, the one that actually did something, was all business while the other was a big, round, very friendly bubba type with a wad of chew and lots to say. It was heartening to see folks stop to help the couple.

The couple noticed my Yucatan license plates and commented that I must be learning to speak Spanish and indicated that they are they are learning English. We spoke a bit in both Spanish and English, bid farewell with warm thanks, and I was on my way.

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July 17

I am staying tonight in Fort Stockton, Texas, having driven the almost 800 miles from Flagstaff and enjoying the morning rush hour in Phoenix with lot of stop and go and the smooth evening rush hour in El Paso. I-10 in Texas is a far better roadway than it is in Arizona or New Mexico and with a speed limit 80 mph I was able to cover quite a bit of ground. Given that Texas is fairly flat I was actually able to drive 80 most of the day.

Tomorrow I should arrive in Brownsville, where Wednesday morning I will visit a customs broker who will help with the process of moving my truck load of stuff across the border.

Once again I am in a hotel without wireless internet access but am able to connect to an unsecured wireless network located elsewhere.

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