November 10, 2006


Goat Rope is pleased to continue alpine goat Cornelius Agrippa's ongoing series on ancient Greek culture and tragedy.

Cornelius is Goat Rope Farm's Dean of Classical and Alchemistical Studies. Check out his earlier weekend commentaries in the GR archives


OK, like sometimes in Greek tragedy people get full of hubris and then suffer a stunning reversal of fortune.

Good thing that never happens in real life, huh? Especially like if you were in a position of power or something.

Anyway, this week I'm going to talk about Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles.

Have you ever noticed that the more you try to avoid some things, the more they kick you in the butt?

Or that sometimes you think you want to know something that you find you don't really want to konw when you finally know it?

That's pretty much it. And if you think your family life bites, this play will make you feel a lot better.

Here's the backstory. An oracle revealed that Oedipus was destined to kill his pops and marry his mom. So his dad Laius orders him exposed. Except like this shepherd dude feels sorry for him and saves him and he winds up being raised by another king in Corinth instead of Thebes.

Young Oed thinks his adoptive parents are his real ones so he bugs out and runs away when he hears about the oracle. Then he kills this jerk on the road who later turns out to be his dad.

He gets to be ruler of Thebes and marry Queen Jocasta (you guessed it)because he solves the riddle of the sphinx. Something about how many lightbulbs...

Then this plague breaks out and Oed says he'll get to the bottom of it. He calls in the blind seer Tiresias to find out who committed the crime that caused the plague (it wasn't the drinking water). The blind dude doesn't want to tell him and Oed gets an attitude about it. Finally he tells the truth.

Oed didn't believe it but he gets proof. His mother/wife kills herself and he pokes out his eyes.

I hate it when that happens.

But here's the deal. The blind guy is blind but he sees. Oed can see but is blind. And when he finally does see he puts out his eyes. So like at first he sees but doesn't see and then he doesn't see but sees.




Caption. Castor is taking a look.

If the Gentle Reader gets a chance, El Cabrero recommends checking out "The Politics of Jesus," which appeared in the print version of the Nov. 13 Newsweek.

Although the issue appeared before the election, it may be more relevant after. The subtitle is:

Sex or social justice? The war between the religious right and believers who want to go broader.

Since evangelical Christians emerged as a political force in the 1970s, the most vocal and visible were religious right groups whose message was often divisive, sometimes harsh, and occasionally hateful.

This was something cynical politicians were glad to exploit for their own purposes, using that portion of the faithful as a rent-a-crowd to achieve goals that had more to do with greed than that vision of God.

As former Bush administration aide and evangelical Christian David Kuo notes in his book Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, the lure of apparent political power and influence led some far from the path of Jesus, who "needs to be about more than being precinct captain."

It's an encouraging sign that many evangelicals are turning their attention to issues such as poverty, the environment, and human rights.

And it's important to remember that many other engaged Christians have long been on the front lines of struggles for social and economic justice.

In El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, appeals to hot button issues fell flat in a certain recent effort to purchase the legislature, demonstrating that the average voter here is sharper than Pavlov's dogs automatically responding to classical conditioning.

Soul searching in general is a good thing. Whatever the future holds, more Jesus and less jihad would a step in the right direction.


November 09, 2006


Caption: It's OK for roosters to crow sometimes. Just ask Stewpot.

El Cabrero trusts that Goat Rope readers have passed an uneventful day since the previous post.

On such a slow news day, it's hard to think of anything to write about, but here are a few items.

*This could explain some things. A New York Times story today reports that scientists have found genetic evidence to shed light on the question of whether early humans interbred with Neanderthals. "The answer is: probably yes, but not often."

Apparently it happened often enough...

*Losing the ring. The big story in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia is the abject failure of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's effort to purchase the legislature despite spending millions of his own dollars.

It's probably fair to say that voters responded with revulsion to a media blitz that included appeals for cultural jihad from the domestic Taliban on issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc.

Gazette report Scott Finn provides a good summary.

As a counter to the "And for the sake of the kids" media blitz, many raised the slogan "West Virginia is not for sale."

As El Cabrero's late father used to say, "I can be had, but I'm not easy."

*We hope the reader will excuse a little crowing about the nonpartisan issue of raising the minimum wage. One of the most successful current issue-based campaigns is the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, which includes over 80 faith-based, labor, and community organizations.

Since LJR officially kicked off its campaign to raise the minimum wage at the state and federal level in the fall of 2005, four states by my count have passed increases via legislation and all six ballot measures passed in Tuesday's elections. It now looks like a federal increase is likely due to some apparent shifts in the earth's magnetic field.

Anyhow, the FIRST state to win a victory since the campaign kicked off was El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, where the legislature passed a bill in March after a nailbiter.

(If you check the dusty Goat Rope archives for that period, you'll get a sense of the back and forth before the bill passed.)

OK, so the legislation that passed had enough loopholes to float a barge through, but it started the momentum. The main question now is whether Gov. Manchin will win a race to expand coverage of the state minimum wage before congress gets a chance to raise it for everyone.


November 07, 2006


Caption: Seamus McGoogle claims exclusive credit for six state minimum wage ballot victories. The devil (left) is disappointed.

Heard any interesting news lately? Neither has El Cabrero, nor would he be disposed to discuss it if in fact he did.

Regarding his beloved state of West Virginia, he will confine himself to one comment apropos of nothing: Sauron did not get the ring.

Meanwhile check out the minimum wage state ballot news. It looks like all six states with a minimum wage increase on the ballot passed them (Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio).

These measures were supported by the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, a nonpartisan program of over 80 faith-based, labor and community organizations.

In another sign of growing support for a long overdue increase, some unusual suspects have issued a Business Owners and Executives for a Higher Minimum Wage. Interested people can still sign on.

Here's a sample from the statement:

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.

Here's hoping we "complete the mission" at the national level soon.



In a rare departure from its longstanding policy of militant direct action, goat union leader Arcadia S. Venus issues this urgent press release and public service announcement.


Since you guys are not cool enough to act like goats and jump over the fence and rampage around, the least you can do is haul your sorry bipedal carcasses to the polls and vote today.


November 05, 2006


Caption: Is election lunacy driving you crazy?

El Cabrero doesn’t know about y’all, but this election is getting on my last nerve.

It is, of course, the official policy of Goat Rope not to endorse any human candidate, although a number of the talking animals that appear in this blog are encouraging readers to write their names in for random offices.

(Ideological lines seem to be divided between militantly egalitarian goats and a free-market bantam rooster.)

Whatever happens tomorrow, people who care about the future of democracy should turn their attention to the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else.

This article, which was picked up yesterday by the Associated Press, sums it up pretty well:

Over the past quarter-century, and especially in the last 10 years, America's very rich have grown much richer. No one else fared as well.

In 2004, the richest 1 percent of households - 719,910 of them, with an average annual income of $326,720 - had 19.8 percent of the entire nation's pretax income. That's up from 17.8 percent a year earlier, according to a study by University of California-Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez.

That's just income. The gap is much bigger when wealth--defined as what you own minus what you owe--is factored in. Median family incomes and assets have been largely stagnant for the last four years while the number of people in poverty and without health insurance has grown.

The article predicts that

In coming years, income inequality is sure to be a rallying cry in political debates over everything from raising the minimum wage to federal spending on education to overhauling the tax code.

I hope so. It's about time conversations about domestic issues moves beyond bogus culture wars to talk about something real.