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Mar 23, 2005 8:05 am

In Case You Missed Them ...

David Brooks,"Masters of Sleaze" NYTimes, 22 March. When Brooks is good, he's very, very good and, when he's bad, he's pretty bad. Well, he's very, very good here and more power to him. Makes you think that he'd read Jay Bookman's"Reed Can't Escape Bad Gamble" Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 21 March. As Bookman points out, Ralph Reed sees a future for himself as Georgia's Lieutenant Governor; but he'll have to face down the sleaze of his Indian casino connections and square them with the moralism of his base in both a Republican primary and a general election.

At Easily Distracted, Tim Burke's"Shame" urges us to think about shame as a bottom line to which appeal can be made. Its absence, in regimes abroad or at home, is a crucial warning signal. The behavior of the administration and congress in the Terry Schiavo case suggests that we've become near shameless.
Update: At 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Atlanta's federal appeals court declined to intervene in the case.

Marc Lacey,"Beyond the Bullets and Blades," NYTimes, 20 March, looks at persistent war in the Congo through the eyes of two young boys, both named"Innocent." As D. B. Light says, they are the face of"pre-modern war". Why must they be so condemned in a"post-modern" world?

Richard Norton Smith's"Our Literary Leaders: Books Are at Home in the White House" The Weekly Standard, 28 March, is a first-rate essay on the reading habits of the presidents.

Congratulations to our colleague, Sharon Howard, whose article,"Investigating Responses to Theft in Early Modern Wales: Communities, Thieves and the Courts", appears in the current issue of Continuity and Change. At Early Modern Notes, Dr. Howard has also posted two short essays, with bibliography, on doing Women's History.

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Jeremy Rich - 3/24/2005

I guess I am a bit taken back by Tim Burke's piece. If a large number of individuals can put pressure on their representatives to intervene in shaping fate of one particular person's life, then I would see it as a sign that politicans have responded to public outcry. This is a major goal of Amnesty International - to force governments to step in to protect individuals. If a government acts due to outside pressure, is this a shameful moment?

Is this a matter of politicals pandering? It may well be. Would I prefer that events in Darfur and Congo would get as much attention from Congress as this case does? Yes. But I'm not going to lament the decline of democracy - this is an example of democracy at work. This cause has led to a far more organized grassroots movement than many other issues that both liberals and conservatives hold dear. Instead of wondering how Terrie became such a cause celebre, maybe it is time to think about how to draw public support to other causes in the same way that this one has.

A final point - even Omar Bongo, plutocrat #1 that he is, responds to shame. Appeals by human rights groups helped lead to the liberation of some opposition members last year in Gabon. It certainly isn't much of a sacrifice on his part, but it still suggests he worries about his international image.

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