Link(s): Wed, May 19th, 11am

[In case it needs to be said: I don’t agree with every word of everything I link to. –L.]

What Tuesday Really Meant (FiveThirtyEight)
There were five races that we were tracking closely over the course of the evening — and I've already seen analysts drawing flimsy conclusions from each of them…
Bailouts Unlimited: Republicans Demand Corporate Welfare for Oil Companies (Firedoglake)
Currently, the laughably low $75 million cap privatizes the profit but socializes the risk of a catastrophe like we are now seeing in the Gulf of Mexico. Democrats want to raise the cap and by doing so, force companies to bear full financial responsibility for their actions.

[I don't like this writer's simplistic division of politicians into Evil Repubs and Decent Demos, but keep reading. -L]

The Republican argument against raising the cap is that without corporate welfare and the promise of a government bailout if anything goes wrong, some companies might find the risky business no longer profitable enough to undertake…

That is an amazing statement from a supposed believer in the “free market.” It’s also complete nonsense. Smaller companies don’t need to weather the liability alone. They can buy insurance to spread the risk. If, without a corporate welfare program, a company no longer takes an action because the cost of insuring against potential liability makes that action unprofitable, that is a good thing. […]

They fought against universal single-payer government-run health insurance for middle-class families, but they think a de facto version for oil companies is a great idea. That’s what the liability cap is: the government insuring corporations against their own risky behavior. […]

If Democrats can’t capitalize on this ridiculous hypocrisy, they don’t deserve to win either.

[There. That. -L]

Jerry Guerinot: Most Dangerous Defense Attorney Ever? (ACLU Blog)
An article in Monday's New York Times underscores an observation we have made before: one of the biggest predictors of who gets sentenced to death has nothing to do with relevant factors such as the heinousness of the crime, the culpability of the accused, or the life history of the accused. Rather, the quality of the lawyer representing the accused very often predicts who lives and who dies.

The Times reported that Jerry Guerinot has represented 20 people sentenced to death in Texas, more people than on death row in half the 35 states that have the death penalty. The article begins with this horrifying fact: "A good way to end up on death row in Texas is to be accused of a capital crime and have Jerry Guerinot represent you." […]

One of the 20 unlucky people to have been assigned Guerinot as counsel is Linda Carty, a British national on Texas's death row. The Times article illustrates some of Guerinot's abysmal failings in the Carty case. You can support Carty by petitioning against her execution or to ask Texas Governor Rick Perry to spare her life.

Don't Fall For Arnold's Wedge (Calitics)
[Recaps the last few years of California budget battles, which have resulted in everyone taking painful hits in order to pay for corporate tax cuts.

It's also explained, not here but in an earlier Calitics article, that if CalWORKS is ended, California will be the only state without a welfare-to-work program.

<s>L]

…the biggest cut, the elimination of CalWORKS, is designed to wedge the middle-class and the working</s> and underclass apart from each other. It's a replay of the "demonize the poor" tactic that worked so well for Reagan in the '80s and Republicans in the '90s. Arnold is implicitly telling the middle-class "either you screw these poor families or we're cutting something you want" and counting on the middle-class to react the same way they did in the '80s and '90s – by saying "go ahead, we won't stop you."

CalWORKS is itself a shell of its former self. Cuts in 2008 and 2009 have already reduced the maximum grant to a lower number than a family could receive in 1989, despite the fact that the cost of living is much higher today – and despite the fact that we're in a recession. The elimination of CalWORKS and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families is going to cause widespread suffering among many families, especially to children, and will make it more difficult for many Californians to find work, dragging down our state's economic recovery and in turn worsening the budget deficit.

The Terrible Texas Textbook Showdown (Crooks and Liars)
On May 19th, the Texas Board of Education will meet to approve the final Social Studies curriculum and textbook changes that caused such a stir back in March.

Since that meeting, even more changes have been proposed which, if adopted, promise to rewrite history for Texas schoolchildren to the conservative narrative. […]

The assault on public schools, teachers' unions, and public education in general isn't unique to Texas. Jennings and Bell-Metereau stressed the urgency for all citizens in all communities to become involved and engaged in their own school districts' struggles to survive. Some examples of other efforts around the country to undermine the value of a public education include…

I'll be watching the Texas Board of Education debate this week. They are at a crossroads. If even one conservative is elected to to replace an outgoing member, these standards will be incorporated into Texas Social Studies curricula and textbooks for the next 10 years. As Jennings said last week, they are at a point where it's "do or die".

If we stop paying attention, they'll win.

Transocean REALLY Cleans Up From Oil Spill: They Pocket Profit Of $270M
Apparently, there's a profit center in causing an ecological catastrophe…

The story behind the oil spill is one of such gross negligence and choosing shortcuts to safety in the name of profits that it's absolutely disgusting to see Transocean profit this way, when we all will be paying the costs of their negligence for years and years to come.

Meanwhile Senate Republicans have stalled legislation that would require oil companies to pay fully for their accidents.

Why Are Incumbents Faltering? Check Out The Election Night FinReg Massacre
Yesterday’s results in the election showed what has now become conventional wisdom: an “anti-incumbent mood,” something the media will parrot from now to November. Have they explored why? Have they tried to understand why people are so angry with the current crop of politicians in Washington?

[Explicates the mediocrity of yesterday's financial reform bill. -L]

It’s not that voters had any knowledge of this when they went to the polls yesterday. It’s that they’ve seen shenanigans like this consistently for the last five years.

Quote of the Day (Shakesville)
"I actually choose the way I eat according to the way animals have sex. I think fish are very dignified with sex. So are birds. But pigs, not so much. So I don't eat pig meat or things like that. I eat fish and fowl."—Nicolas Cage, being Nicolas Cage.

[*headtilt* -L]

“Nothing Short of Whore Antics” (Pursuit of Harpyness)
Seriously, this is the funniest thing I’ve read all week: “Vajazzling, The Newest Threat to Your College Son.”

Becky covered this story a while back, and while I find the trend ridiculous, ugly, and did I mention ridiculous?, and ugly?, this take on it almost makes it worthwhile as a faux-trend.

Christwire.org, in case you haven’t heard of it already, is a spoof site…

Never Wear Red, The Cake Is A Lie, And Other Geeky Lessons [Geek Alphabet]
Sure, you could teach your preschooler the alphabet using boring animals and fruit. But why bother when the Geek Alphabet will help your toddler understand the wonders of the occipital lobe, gaming, cosplay, and the the Uncertainty Principle?
Tokyo Couple Wed By Fairy Robot: Adorable Or Disturbing? [Please God No]
Satoko Inoue and Tomohiro Shibata were recently wed by I-Fairy, a four-foot tall pigtailed robot made by Sanrio subsidiary Kokoro. The I-Fairy, which costs ~$70,000, was the first robot to ever conduct a wedding. Is this cute or creepy?
In The 1930s, The US Conducted A Fake War Over The New York Skyline [Retrofuturism]
In the 1930s, military drills weren't just for top-secret bases. No, they occurred right above New York City, where 672 fighter pilots once convened to lay smoke screens and drop fake bombs over Wall Street.
Looking Down at Clouds in the Sky [Cloud Porn]
While one could spend hours gazing up at the endless variations of clouds, satellite imagery has revealed that looking down on them can be even more astonishing.
What it looks like when Shoggoths invade your home [Concept Art]
Shoggoths are giant, polymorphous beasts who were once slaves to aliens. But with their former masters long dead, the creatures sometimes erupt from basements to feed. This is just one of the fantastical photo-manipulations we've got from Jim Kazanjian.