Today's Blogs

A Judicious Compromise?

Bloggers are analyzing the Senate compromise over judicial nominees; they’re also watching a dissident video smuggled out of North Korea and discussing cyberlawyer Lawrence Lessig’s involvement in a sex-abuse lawsuit against the American Boychoir School.

A judicious compromise?: A group of Republican and Democratic senators reached a compromise last night on the judicial-nominee approval process. According to Newsday, the deal will “preserve the Democrats’ potential to block judicial nominees while allowing a vote on most of those who have been blocked.” The Democrats will filibuster only under “extraordinary circumstances.”

Conservatives are furious with the Republicans who brokered the deal. Weekly Standard contributor and radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt thinks Sen. John McCain effectively lost the 2008 presidential nomination. He also calls for the defeat of moderates Lincoln Chafee and Olympia Snowe: “[C]enter-right coalitions hang together on ideas, not interests. If there’s any hope of keeping that coalition together and in charge for a good run of years, there have to be consequences for betrayal of the coalition. Loss of office and/or status should be the consequence of unprincipled political behavior.” And conservative Penraker pooh-poohs the idea that a real compromise was reached: “They all sound like statesmen this morning. But they are a Neville Chamberlain - kind of statesmen. They are putting off the squaring of accounts to a later date, holding up a piece of worthless paper, and hoping the trouble will go away. It won’t.”

Slate’s own Mickey Kaus agrees that senators have been playing “kick-the-can” and adds that Democrats have come out on top. Noting that the compromise paves the way for fisticuffs about the meaning of “extraordinary circumstances” and “bad faith,” he writes that Bush will have to narrow his nominee list. However, he cautions, “If the Democrats have just given Janice Rogers Brown a free pass to the Supreme Court, maybe the deal isn’t as favorable to them as I think it is.” But Carpetbagger Report’s freelancer and political consultant Steve Benen feels differently. Claiming that nominees Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, and Bill Pryor are “true embarrassments,” he insists that the “potentially vulnerable Republican senators who will have to vote, up or down, on whether to give these three jurists lifetime positions on the federal bench” might be unwilling to defend them after all.

Read more about the compromise. ReadSlate’s Chatterbox on the connection between the agreement and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and BloggerRadio’s close reading of the Senate memo.

Dissent under the bridge: Many bloggers are riveted by a video showing men hanging an anti-Kim Jong-il banner under a bridge. Since being smuggled out of North Korea, it has caused a furor in Japan and South Korea; “it is the first evidence of a nascent dissident movement inside North Korea.”

“There is controversy over what motivated the filmmakers—pure hatred for the regime or the knowledge that Japanese television stations would pay thousands for such footage. But why should it matter? It’s solid proof of dissent in a nation of people supposedly brainwashed into slavish reverence for a dumpy, bespectacled tyrant whose entire wardrobe consists of khaki windbreakers,” opines Kerry Howley on Hit & Run, Reason magazine’s blog, which links to the video. Mutant Frog Travelogue’s Adam Richards, who posted a video of a North Korean public execution on his Web site earlier this year warns, “Watching idly and wondering if everyone’s OK is unacceptable because we know exactly what’s being done to the North Koreans. Think before you watch.” And conservative Ace of Spades HQ writes that this is “a force for truth, justice, and, dare I say, the American way of life.”

Read more about the North Korean video.

Boychoir outcry: Stanford lawyer Lawrence Lessig is best known for founding Creative Commons and helping redefine copyright law in ways that promote both artistic and technological innovation. Now he’s taking up a very different cause: Lessig in 2003 took up the lawsuit of John Hardwicke *, a man who claims that he was molested and raped while a pupil at Princeton’s famed American Boychoir School. As thisNew York magazine piece reveals, Lessig also was molested by the choir director while he was a student there.

“Lawrence Lessig was a hero of mine before I read the article,” writesSeedlings and Sprouts’ Julie Leung, a former microbiologist. “Now he’s more of a hero to me. Few people are brave enough to do what he did.” culturekitchen’s Liza Sabater, who also admires Lessig for helping her artist husband deal with an intellectual property lawsuit, notes that the choir director told Lessig that “by sexualizing the students he was transforming them from innocents into more complicated creatures, enabling them to render choral music in all its sublime passion.” She writes, “What is astonishing to me is that, if you take away the sexual abuse language of this paragraph and substitute it with ‘high education standards’, or ‘stricter academic work ethic’, or ‘pushing harder to succeed’, it reads almost exactly the same—but far more acceptable. We live in a culture that does really infantilize children—it bashes will and creativity out of them to create eunuchs.”

Read more about Lessig and the Boychoir School.

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Correction, May 25: This piece originally stated that Lawrence Lessig initiated a lawsuit against the American Boychoir school. In fact, he joined the case during the appeals process. (Return to the corrected sentence.)