The Publicity-Shunning Valerie Plame?
Tuesdays front-page story from Scott Shane, In Leak Case, Half a Couple Maintains Veil, leaves off some interesting parts of the Valerie Plame (now Valerie Wilson)-Joseph Wilson controversy: For nearly two years, the investigation into the leak of a covert C.I.A. officer's name has unfolded clamorously in the nation's capital, with partisan brawling on talk shows, prosecutors interviewing President Bush and top White House officials, and the imminent prospect that reporters could go to jail for contempt of court. But the woman at the center of it all, Valerie E. Wilson, has kept her silence, showing the discipline and discretion that colleagues say made her a good spy. As her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, has become a highly visible critic of the administration and promoted his memoirs, Ms. Wilson has ferried their 5-year-old twins to doctors' appointments, looked after their hilltop house in the upscale Palisades neighborhood of Washington and counseled women with postpartum depression.
Heres the laugh-out-loud bit: Meanwhile, Ms. Wilson, 42, whose husband said she has used her married name both at work and in her personal life since their 1998 marriage, declined to speak for this article. She has guarded her privacy, with rare exceptions. She posed with her husband for a Vanity Fair photographer, wearing sunglasses and with a scarf over her blond hair.While his wife has shunned publicity, he has become an always-available news media voice, lending the weight of international experience and insider status to criticism of Mr. Bush's conduct of the war.
Which no doubt explains another undisguised photo that appears in the latest issue of that obscure rag Vanity Fair.
Shane continues by giving the erstwhile and discredited diplomat Joseph Wilson the benefit of the doubt on his partisanship Despite conservatives' efforts to portray him as a left-wing extremist, he insisted he remained a centrist at heart. But after his tangle with the current administration, he admits it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a Republican, even for dog catcher.
To read more about Plame guarding her privacy, click here.
Dont Bother Looking for the Liberal Label
Shaila Dewan pens United Church of Christ Backs Same-Sex Marriage for Tuesdays Times: The United Church of Christ became the first mainline Christian denomination to support same-sex marriage officially when its general synod passed a resolution on Monday affirming equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender.
Dewan never identifies the left-wing politics of the UCC, instead letting the group define itself in flattering terms: The United Church of Christ prides itself on being in the forefront of human and civil rights issues. On its Web site, the denomination says it and its predecessors were among the first churches to take a stand against slavery, in 1700, the first to ordain a woman, in 1853, and the first to publish an inclusive-language hymnal, in 1995. Its slogan, God is still speaking, is meant to suggest that the Bible is not the sole source of divine instruction, and that Scripture must be interpreted in today's context.
A living Bible to go with the liberal idea of the Constitution as a living document.
James Dao also does his part for liberal label avoidance Tuesday in At N.A.A.C.P. Helm, an Economic Approach to Rights, in which he writes about problems in the organization, including a resurgent political conservatism, without balancing out the sentence by terming the NAACP liberal: Those conflicting reactions say much about the divergent views many blacks and civil rights leaders have about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights group, which is struggling to redefine itself in an era of resurgent political conservatism. For more than a year, the organization has been beset by problems - including a revenue shortfall, stagnant membership and ethical complaints about its last president - that have raised concerns about its vitality and ability to recruit younger blacks. Republicans have also attacked it as biased in favor of Democrats, an assertion the N.A.A.C.P., a nonprofit group, strongly denies.
To read the rest of Dewan on UCC, click here.
For more of Dao on the NAACPs woes, click here.
Flagging Bushs Popularity Decline
Anne Kornblut looks to lapels for dawning public dissatisfaction with Bush in her Sunday Style section story, Oer the Lapels of the Free, Fewer Star-Spangled Pins.
The American flag has long been a lightning rod in the culture wars, worn upside down and burned by protesters during Vietnam, claimed as conservative property in the years that followed and reclaimed periodically by indignant Democrats. So what does it mean that the lapel pin, once worn uniformly throughout government, has lost some of its luster? Does its waning mirror the fracturing of opinion about the war on terror that for a time, beginning Sept. 12, 2001, was nearly unanimous?....Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman (who always wears the pin on camera), acknowledged a decline in flag pin wearing in the general political populace. But he recoiled from the suggestion that it stemmed from any shifting sentiment in the electorate. Could it reflect a drop in support for the administration? Dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq?
For the rest of Kornbluts accessory analysis, click here.
Pessimistic economics reporter Louis Uchitelles banner front-page story in the Sunday Business, Were the Good Old Days That Good? Maybe Not, but the Standard of Living Was Climbing Much Faster. It tries to answer a question no one appears to be asking: Are people really better off now than they were a generation ago?
He starts with fiction: Tom Rath, protagonist of the 1955 novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Rath had his share of problems but according to Uchitelle didnt have to fret over medical bills, job security or the quality of public schools for his three children.
But people in todays real world do: In other words, can it be that living standards are actually slipping in America? No economist, demographer or historian would make that case. Living standards, after all, almost never go backward, at least not in a material sense. Indeed, the economy today is growing, consumer spending is plentiful and new technologies - from the Internet to laparoscopic surgery - make life better than ever, as they do in every generation. But for the DeSistos and their contemporaries, the trajectory is no longer the steadily upward line that the [fictional] Rath family enjoyed. Instead, the line appears to be climbing erratically. That is certainly true of the traditional measures of standard of living. After 20 years of very small gains, the rate of improvement surged from 1995 to 2000 - only to fall back toward zero over the last four years, a reversal that puzzles analysts.
His examples are rather thin: Home ownership is at a record high for the population as a whole, but it has dropped since the 1970's for some groups - working families with children, for example, according to the Center for Housing Policy. In overwhelming numbers, Americans say they are satisfied with their standard of living, a Gallup poll reports. But 25 percent of the nation's families also worry all or most of time that they won't be able to pay their bills. That is up from 21 percent in the late 1990's. And in many cases, public services are not holding their own.
It seems only Uchitelle has even noticed the alleged problem: Not since World War II have productivity and income diverged so sharply, yet that phenomenon barely registers in public opinion surveys. Nearly 9 in 10 people surveyed by Gallup say they are satisfied with their standard of living, a higher proportion than in the 1960's. In answering that question, however, those surveyed make no comparisons with the past, said Lydia Saad, a senior editor at Gallup, so they don't know whether they are falling behind on some treadmill of life.
Uchitelle cites a Northwestern University economist: To him and others, living standards cannot be truly rising if the improvement is so unevenly distributed; in addition, they say, earning a living has become increasingly stressful. Job security, which Tom Rath took for granted, has deteriorated.
Uchitelle leaves out demographic and crime factors to state baldly: Health problems also undermine living standards. Life expectancy at birth is one symptom. At 69.7 years in the late 1950's, life expectancy in the United States was slightly ahead of that of Germany and France, and well ahead of Japan's. Now Japan is far ahead at 80.5 years, compared with 78.5 in France, 77.5 in Germany and 76.5 in the United States. Infant mortality, at more than six deaths per thousand live births, similarly trails the rates in France, Germany and Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Height, too, is no longer an American hallmark.
This statistic seems particularly sketchy: Average height has been stuck at less than 6 feet for a decade or more while Europeans have grown past that mark, suggesting that they are somehow healthier. Wouldnt a nations genetic mix have more to do with height than a temporary lull in the increase of the living standard? And is Uchitelle really saying that the average height of a European, man or woman, is now over 6 feet?
For the rest of Uchitelle, click here.
New Yorks Olympic Team Puts a Star on the Pedestal - Clinton, Wooing the Adoring Crowds, Gives Bid by NYC2012 a Last-Minute Lift. - Headline to Wednesday mornings story by Jim Rutenberg and Lynn Zinser, which states: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was greeted like a rock star as she made her way around this Asian island on Tuesday promoting New York for the 2012 Summer Games.
Later in Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee picked London to host the 2012 Games.
To read the rest, click here.