Bloggers are laying down odds on the identity of the new pope, chastising Bill Frist for his efforts to end the judicial filibuster, and dishing on the settlement between Rosa Parks and OutKast.
Handicapping the conclave:The conclave of cardinals will gather Monday in Vatican City and begin the secretive, deliberative process of selecting a new pope. Reports from Italian newspapers suggest that an early front-runner, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, has already secured at least 40 of the 77 votes required. With an acclaimed performance at John Paul II's funeral and the well-timed release of his new book on Christian values, Ratzinger has recently solidified "the aura of vice pope" he had developed in years as the Vatican's guardian of orthodoxy.
At conservative group blog The Corner, Michael Novak briefly profiles Ratzinger, describing him as a close friend and frequent interlocutor of John Paul II. "Ratzinger's theological mind is encyclopedic, sweeping over nearly all of Christian history," Novak says, "and his interests draw him into excited engagement with contemporary problems." At Recta Ratio, Catholic blogger G. Thomas Fitzpatrick writes that Ratzinger's theological proximity to John Paul makes him an attractive successor, while his advanced age makes him a putative pope with an expiration date and therefore a safely noncommittal choice. "I think the conclave will be over in less than 10 days," he predicts.
Belgian blogger Wim Wylin has provided daily rumors and spirited analysis of the upcoming conclave at nieuws over de kardinalen en het conclaaf. "By virtue of his office …Cardinal Ratzinger has had an unparalleled platform from which to display his aura of authority," Wylin writes but adds that Ratzinger's conservative integristi supporters face a stiff, if disorganized, challenge from progressive riformisti cardinals. Progressive votes, he reports, are divided among cardinals from Milan, Belgium, and Westminster. Conservative Mark A. Kilmer objects to the treatment of the conclave as a political horse race.
Other bloggers have a bit more fun with the papal circus. "Wow, Cardinal Ratzinger's nicknames just don't stop coming," writes atheist-turned-Catholic Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester. "Though 'God's Rottweiler' is much preferable to God's French Poodle or some other poofy dog. I have read in previous stories that his nickname was John Paul III, The Enforcer, Panzerkardinal (Iron Cardinal), Cardinal No," he continues. "By his various nicknames you would assume he could either star as a James Bond villain or in an old school Clint Eastwood movie (when Clint use to kill bad guys and not disabled persons)."
Endless recitation of filibuster news:Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced he will participate in a telecast designed to portray the Democratic use of filibusters to block judicial nominees as a strike against people of faith.
"Jumping the shark for Jesus," laments critic Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine. "The Republicans just can't stop from allying themselves with the religious fringe." Liberal bloggers exhibit fascinated disbelief. "I don't know which is more amusing -- the wingnut jihad against a federal judiciary that is already predominantly Republican or the fact that the intellectual and often literal descendents of the upholders of Jim Crow now seek to enlist the dark legacy of segregation as some sort of arrow in their rhetorical quiver," says kingpin liberal blogger Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo.
At right-wing dynamo Power Line, Paul Mirengoff has a different interpretation of the response to Republican activity. "Democrats have done poorly enough in elections over the past dozen years that their power now rests mainly with unelected judges and unelected bureaucrats," he writes. "Maybe that's why they've been getting so upset when these folks receive criticism."
Generation gap: On Thursday, civil rights icon Rosa Parks and dynamic rap duo OutKast settled a 1999 lawsuit in which Park alleged both defamation and copyright infringement in the hit song "Rosa Parks."
At the Loosh Spot, D.C. resident Luke explains the settlement. "The suit was initiated by Parks' seedy handlers (she suffers from dimentia) years ago," he writes, but more recently, her new guardian "admitted there was no fault on the part of Outkast, and came up with a cuddly plan where the two parties will work together to promote a cuddly idea"—developing programs to teach America's youth about Parks' legacy. Luke agrees with Ted Frank of Overlawyered, however, that the settlement reeks of self-promotion. He calls Parks "the most over-rated figure of the 20th century."
Read more blog posts about the lawsuit.