February 03, 2007


For first time readers, it is the editorial policy of Goat Rope during the week to feature posts on current events, economic justice, culture, etc.

During the weekend, however, this blog features commentary by various talking animals in and around Goat Rope Farm.

The views expressed by the animals in question are not necessarily those of the Goat Rope staff (although they might be).

We are pleased this weekend to feature another film review by boxer and film critic Sandor Sege (pronounced Shandor Sheg-AY). We must remind readers that Mr. Sege suffered a head injury by crashing into a wall whilst chasing a squeaky toy. As a result, he sometimes transposes the plots of the films he discusses.

Nonetheless, we believe that his unique insights into the world of cinema more than compensate for this regrettable shortcoming.

Indeed, if you look at his photo, it is clear he ought to be in pictures.


OK, so here I am back again. I want to talk about one of the coolest movies ever made, which is Enter the Dragon by Bruce Lee.

Doodus says the thing that's wrong with the world today is that people don't watch enough Bruce Lee movies. Or listen to enough Alice Cooper music. Moomus agrees but also says Doodus is a dork.

Anyway, in this movie Bruce Lee is like this kung fu guy who gets recruited to go on a secret mission to the island of the evil Dr. Han.

Dr. Han is like this one handed bad dude who runs an international crime ring and has a martial arts tournament to get more tough bad guys to work with him.

Everything goes good for Bruce until the Civil War comes and Bruce falls in love with this Red Butler guy who thinks his name is Frank Lee and doesn't give a damn. Then he pulls a carrot out of the ground and eats it and throws up when the South loses the war.

That was the best part.

The only part I don't understand is why Bruce wears all those big puffy dresses cause that makes it hard to kick the bad guys.

Maybe the reason Bruce threw up the carrot is cause he should have been eating popcorn instead.

I want some popcorn too. The only time I threw up is when Doodus spilled some beer and I drank it.

The weird thing was that after Bruce threw up, his head rotated clear around and he floated above the bed and said bad words to the priest.

That part was kind of confusing. Maybe they should have stopped with the carrot...


February 02, 2007


Goat Rope...It's not just for people. Do your animals read it?

We received the following note and this photo yesterday from the Direct Action Welfare Group (DAWG), an allied organization.

According to DAWG, the feline Goat Rope fan is

one of three children born out of wedlock to Wednesday, a single mother we rescued from the homeless cat shelter just in time for her to have triplets. Soon as she can find a daycare she will be out pounding the pavement for a minimum wage job but currently she is receiving welfare and foodstamps to help feed her brood.

It looks like his mom will be working for a higher minimum wage soon.

(Random thought: if you have a cat, grab it and show it this post. Then it will be a cat looking at Goat Rope looking at another cat looking at Goat Rope. Then, if you have a camera, take a picture of the cat looking at the picture of a cat. That would almost be an infinite regression. That would rule...)

Lots of news today, first,

SENATE PASSES MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE 94-3! That's a positive development, although the bill wasn't clean (meaning that it had extraneous amendments attached). Now it goes to conference with the House. Ideally, the amendments would be removed but that remains to be seen. Congratulations though for everyone who worked on this! We've come a long way...

Did I mention that El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia (ECBSWV) was the first state under the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign umbrella to increase it at the state level? (OK, so others had done it before the campaign kicked off, but let's not get too technical.)

HERE'S SOME GLOOMIER NEWS that reflects the current state of (the lack of) economic justice in the U.S. According to the AP, personal savings have dropped to their lowest level in 74 years (that would be 1933, not exactly a banner year for shared prosperity):

People once again spent everything they made and then some last year, pushing the personal savings rate to the lowest level since the Great Depression more than seven decades ago.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the savings rate for all of 2006 was a negative 1 percent, meaning that not only did people spend all the money they earned but they also dipped into savings or increased borrowing to finance purchases. The 2006 figure was lower than a negative 0.4 percent in 2005 and was the poorest showing since a negative 1.5 percent savings rate in 1933 during the Depression.

BUT HERE'S SOMETHING A LITTLE BETTER: There are signs that the new Congress will no longer rubber stamp "free" trade agreements. This item from The Hill indicated that Democrats may delay moving on trade deals unless labor and environment standards are strengthened.


February 01, 2007


Caption: Seamus, like his fellow rebel, Frida Kahlo, fights for bread and roses.

I don't get to Washington very often, but when I do I gravitate to three monuments.

One is dedicated to Jefferson, the brilliant but flawed poet of freedom. Another is dedicated to Lincoln, its suffering servant.

The third is for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who demonstrated that in modern societies, freedom and economic and social justice are compatible.

Roosevelt's reforms not only helped save the nation from depression, competing totalitarian visions, and the unrestrained greed of what he called the "economic royalists"--they have made possible a better, more dignified life for working people, the elderly, and the less fortunate.

Recently, I came across this passage by Latvian-born British philosopher Isaiah Berlin which elegantly sums up his accomplishments:

...Roosevelt's greatest service to mankind (after ensuring the victory against the enemies of freedom) consists in the fact that he showed that it is possible to be politically effective and yet benevolent and human; that the fierce left- and right-wing propaganda of the 1930s, according to which the conquest and retention of political power is not compatible with human qualities, but necessarily demands from those who pursue it seriously the sacrifice of their lives upon the altar of some ruthless ideology, or the practice of despotism--this propaganda, which filled the art and talk of the day, was simply untrue. Roosevelt's example strengthened democracy everywhere, that is to say the view that the promotion of social justice and individual liberty does not necessarily mean the end of all efficient government; that power and order are not identical with a strait-jacket of doctrine, whether economic or political; that it its possible to reconcile individual liberty--a loose texture of society--with the indispensible minimum of organizing and authority; and in this belief lies what Roosevelt's greatest predecessor once describes as 'the last best hope of earth.'

For the last few decades, we've been force-fed the poisonous notion that justice and freedom cannot mix--and as a result both have suffered. Roosevelt showed that both are not only necessary but possible.


January 31, 2007


Caption: Big Jim Fuzzy Rooster wasn't sustainable...a possum got him. R.I.P.

El Cabrero has run across a few of what you might call vulgar Marxists in his day.

Those are people who attribute every action by governments to the dictates of the ruling class of corporate magnates.

(Admittedly, sometimes that explanation works pretty well...)

But while the Bush regime continues tacking to the hard right, some major corporations are moving significantly in a different direction. Not so much left as forward.

An interesting discussion of how some corporations are moving in a more socially and environmentally responsible direction can be found in "Beyond the Green Corporation," which appeared in the Jan. 29 Business Week.

It's worth reading and I won't try to summarize, but a significant number of major corporations are looking at environmental impact and sustainability, labor practices, global health, and poverty reduction. Some do it better than others. Some do it the easy way (i.e. voluntarily) while others need a little...help.

(One could cynically attribute this to the desire for good PR, but El Cabrero believes that all human motivations are inherently ambiguous, particularly his own.)

Here's the strategic thing to think about: progressive people spend a whole lot of time trying to influence government policy at various levels. As well they should. But given the enormous power wielded by corporations, people can and do have a huge impact by influencing their actions and behavior.

Some corporations are pretty harmless to start with. Some adopt better policies and procedures spontaneously. Sometimes this can happen with sweet reason, dialogue, and discussion. That's the easy way.

Sometimes, particularly in cases of major irresponsibility, labor disputes or promoting workers rights, it takes a coordinated corporate campaign. That's the hard way.

But at times it can be worth worth doing.

The easy way if at all possible. And, if absolutely necessary, the hard way.

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE. The U.S. Senate voted 87-10 Tuesday to end debate on the minimum wage bill. A final vote is expected this week. The Senate version includes $8.3 billion in business tax breaks, while the House wants a clean bill. If it passes the Senate, it will go to conference, which should be interesting.

It's still not too late to call your Senator using the American Friends Service Committee's toll free number, which will be working until the increase passes. That number is 1-800-459-1887.

Calls are especially needed from states with senators who have not been supportive of a clean increase. The "ask" is that they pass the increase without further delays or amendments.


January 30, 2007


Caption: Militant goat union leader Arcadia S. Venus threatens to "eat the National Arboretum" unless the Senate passes a decent minimum wage bill.

One part of the story of the fight to raise the minimum wage that is little-known is that many business people support the increase.

A number of these have signed on to a statement called Business Owners and Executives for a Higher Minimum Wage, which has signers from nearly every state (by the time this comes out, it may be every state).

The statement says in part:
We, the undersigned business owners and executives, support an increase in the minimum wage to benefit workers, business and our economy. We know that a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is simply not enough for workers to afford necessities for themselves and their families. We know that a fair wage floor is
essential to healthy businesses and communities, and enduring economic growth.

We expect an increased minimum wage to provide a boost to local economies. Businesses and communities will benefit as low-wage workers spend their much-needed pay raises at businesses in the neighborhoods where they live and work. Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation. In a recent National Consumers League survey, for example, 76 percent of American consumers said "how well a company treats/pays employees influences what they buy."

States that have raised their minimum wages above the inadequate $5.15 federal level have had better employment and small business trends than the other states. Studies by the Fiscal Policy Institute and others show that in states with minimum wages above $5.15, the number of small businesses and the number of small business employees grew more than the other states -- contrary to what critics predicted. Likewise, after the last federal minimum wage increases in 1996 and 1997, the nation experienced lower unemployment, low inflation, robust growth and declining poverty rates.
Among the many who have signed on are Jim Sinegal, CEO, Costco; Eileen Fisher, chief creative officer, apparel company Eileen Fisher; John Arensmeyer, CEO, Small Business Majority; and Margot Dorfman, CEO, US Women's Chamber of Commerce.

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a project of Business for Shared Prosperity in partnership with the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign.

Meanwhile, Senator Reid has filed for cloture on the bill, which will "ripen" today. What El Cabrero thinks that means is that some of the loonier debates will end and some of the loopier amendments not germane to the bill may be stripped away. There may be a final vote in the Senate this week.

WEST VIRGINIA MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE. Last year, the WV Legislature passed a bill raising the minimum in three steps to $7.25 by June 30, 2008. That was the good news. The bad news was that due to definitions in state code, the law did not apply to businesses covered by federal labor standards (although some of them gave raises too, either through responsibility or confusion).

It's still an open question as to whether the state will amend its law so that future wage increases will cover more workers. There is at least some interest in this in the legislature.Stay tuned--same bat time, same bat channel.


January 29, 2007


Caption: They've really done it now. Seamus is not amused.

Not only did a handful of U.S. senators (none, thank God, from El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia) vote last week to block a clean minimum wage increase--that would have been bad enough--but a sizable minority voted on Jan. 25 to eliminate minimum wage protections for workers altogether.

Here's a list courtesy of BobGeiger.com:

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thomas (R-WY)

Geiger also mentions that Alexander, Bennett, Chambliss, Cochran, Cornyn, Craig, Enzi, Graham, Hagel, Inhofe, McConnell and Sununu are up for reelection in 2008 and that Brownback and McCain are probably running for president.

Just in case you're updating your Christmas card list.


Here's a good article from Sunday's Gazette-Mail about minimum wage issues at the state and federal level. And, at no extra cost, here's a rant by yours truly about state Medicaid and health care problems.

RANDOM DAILY ITEM: El Cabrero believes that legislation should be passed requiring all radio stations playing 80s music to play "Safety Dance" and "Walk Like an Egyptian" at least once every two hours.