The trouble with polls these days? They're all biased. Those damn liberals don't ask whether you think George W. Bush is doing a great job in office but whether you'd like to see him kicked to the curb. That, you should understand, is a rigged question. Thankfully, the Heritage Foundation has stepped in to fix the problem; the right-wing D.C. think tank has sent a survey to "Conservatives and Republicans Only," the results of which they promise will end up on the desks of some very powerful people in Washington. Through what can only be an act of Daniel Ellsberg–like political bravery, a copy of that survey arrived at the home of a neither conservative nor Republican magazine writer in the very blue state of New York. So what can we learn about the conservative mind from this leak? Well, according to the Heritage folks, most media surveys are "inaccurate … because they don't ask the right questions." So what are the correct, unbiased questions?
Sony BMG chief Clive Davis doesn't like Kelly Clarkson's music, even though it makes his label a lot of money. Barbara Corcoran dropped trou for a bunch of people who commented that she'd lost weight. Ellen Barkin returned some diamonds she was loaned to wear to a Darfur benefit at Cannes at 3 a.m. Usher has taken to calling in radio stations to complain about hosts who make fun of his fiancée. President Bush promised a bunch of Vietnam vets that he'd read a book that alleges that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, were responsible for keeping soldiers in Southeast Asia even after the U.S. withdrew from the region. In her new book, former venture capitalist Christine Comaford-Lynch compares Barbara Walters to a small action figure.
There's a new Times/CBS poll out today on the Iraq war, and it's bad news for Mr. Bush. "Americans now view the war in Iraq more negatively than at any time since the war began," as the Times bluntly put it. Six in ten say the country should have stayed out of Iraq in the first place, the paper reported. Three of four say things are going badly there. And a whopping 63 percent disapprove of Bush's overall performance as president, with only 30 percent approving. The one bit of good news is that a majority support continuing to finance the war, assuming the Iraqi government meets benchmarks. But it's a poll of all Americans. What do New Yorkers think? We asked the first twenty people we found on Madison Avenue in front of the office. Oddly, only 45 percent said the country should have stayed out of Iraq (we think maybe we phrased that one wrong). Otherwise, the locals are even more pessimistic than the rest of the country. By a lot. The questions and tallies are after the jump.
Moveon.org's "Emergency Veto Rally" converged on Union Square at rush hour last night to protest President Bush's veto of the Democrat's war-funding bill, which set a date for troop withdrawal. The youngest protester looked to be about 3; the oldest no doubt saw plenty of anti-Vietnam rallies as well. There were some college kids, too, but not many. Whither the young radicals? (On the other hand, the college kids probably came up with our all-time favorite rally chant, replacing words in a Ludacris lyric: "Move Bush, get out the way, get out the way Bush, get out the way.") —Everett Bogue
• The City Council overrode Bloomberg's veto and instituted a ban on metal baseball bats in high schools. And council members did the same with his veto of pedicab restrictions. A two-hitter, if you will. [Bloomberg]
• President Bush is in town today for a speech and a photo op at the Harlem Village Academy Charter School, because it's been doing well under the No Child Left Behind act. We're sure the city had nothing to do with the improvement! At any rate, enjoy the gridlock. [amNY]
• Historian David Halberstam, Pulitzer-winning legend of New York journalism died in a Bay Area car crash. Halberstam covered the Vietnam war for the Times and went on to write dozens of widely read books on that and other subjects. [WNBC]
• The condo-weary Upper West Side is making like the Lower East and mulling a height limit on buildings. Under a proposed plan, all new construction west of the park between 97th and 110th Street would top off at about fourteen stories. [NYDN]
• And the Waverly Inn — still not officially opened! — got slapped with 38 points for nine violations by the Health Department, including "mouse activity." We're sure our Grub Street brethren will have more to say, so let us just quickly smile at Mr. Carter's plan for a "Waverly cat" to deal with the mice. [NYT]
Mass public whining doesn’t seem to have deterred either George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton’s political trajectories. So, with all else failed, there’s always voodoo. No, really. Writer Turk Regan — the author of such literary classics as Sports Fan Voodoo and Pimp My Cubicle — has heard the masses who “loath,” “despise,” and “fear” Hillary, he explains. And he feels you, if you want George W. “to pay for the sins of his administration,” he says. So he’s teamed up with Running Press to create George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton voodoo kits, complete with rudimentary doll, pins, and 56-page books of “spells” designed to help you, er, “stick it to them.” The spells are less abracadabra, more snarky explanations of each politico’s wrongdoings. Use the “Problem Child Spell” for Bush “to compel W. to turn in his adult suit-and-tie outfits for a naughty schoolboy uniform like the one worn by the guitarist guy in AC/DC.” And since “Hillary’s hairstyles have been almost as instrumental in her rise to power as her clothing,” the “Bad Hair Decade Spell” — involving pinning while humming music by Poison, Flock of Seagulls, or Bananarama — sends Hill into “an extended coiffure crisis.” Of course, regardless of whether the dolls work, Regan doesn’t have much reason to care. He lives “as far from the political fray as possible” in Montana. —Rebecca Milzoff
And so the "nappy-headed hos" remark has cost Don Imus his job. The final denouement, which came with CBS Radio's canning the I-Man last night, a day after MSNBC dropped the simulcast of his show, has seemed inevitable for most of the week, as protests had intensified, advertisers had balked, and the great and august Ana Marie Cox had announced she would never again deign to appear on such a juvenile broadcast. (Cox first gained fame as the editor of Wonkette, where she was known for her anal-sex jokes.) But it has not always been thus; many, many public figures have uttered bigoted slurs and lived to tell the tale. After the jump, a look back at some Great Moments in Bigoted Slurs.
• Clipper Equity's ingenious PR notwithstanding, the would-be Starrett City buyer was thwarted again. On Saturday, the state's Housing Commissioner rejected the firm's second bid for the complex, concerned with the group's poor track record in the area. [TheStreet.com]
• A blaze in a Bronx apartment building injured 53 people by AM New York's count (the Post has the number at 41), including 14 firefighters. The three-alarm fire began on the first floor and quickly spread up and out through hallways. [amNY, NYP]
• Barack Obama (who evidently can't just come to a city; he either "swings through" or "invades" it) is back in New York for more fund-raising. He'll hang at a couple of good addresses before stopping by the Letterman show. Obama's previous New York City take is estimated at $3 million. [NYDN]
• Bush knew. About Bernie Kerik's past, that is, when NYC's then-top cop was nominated to head Homeland Security. Thus, the doomed pick could have been a purely political gesture. Oh, and Alberto Gonzales had a hand in it, too. [NYP]
• And East Hampton becomes a two-newspaper town: The Press, an import from one town over, is taking on the 122-year-old local institution the Star (as New York reported last month). Get ready for war. [NYT]
Rudy Giuliani's front-running presidential campaign has lost a key staffer with connections to Karl Rove. Margaret Hoover joined Giuliani's Solutions America PAC in September to help direct fund-raising operations, but her greater value was to shore up the former mayor's credentials with conservatives and to signal Giuliani's seriousness about a White House run. Hoover, a great-granddaughter of the 31st president and an intergovernmental-affairs aide to Rove before taking the Giuliani job, brought important national campaign experience to the team, having worked for Bush-Cheney '04.
A federal judge who is George W. Bush's cousin killed a New Haven, Connecticut, police officer in a traffic accident in October, and this afternoon New Haven police decided not to pursue criminal charges. Judge John Mercer Walker Jr., a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, is first cousin to former President George H.W. Bush they share a grandfather, George Herbert Walker and first cousin once removed to the current president. On October 17, in what a New Haven police spokeswoman termed "difficult weather conditions," the 66-year-old Walker was driving an SUV that struck 38-year-old Officer Daniel Picagli, a seventeen-year veteran of the New Haven police department.
• That was fast: Spitzer has earned the epithet "tyrannical" for the first — and probably not the last — time in his gubernatorial tenure. Apparently, the Spitz now tours fellow Democrats' districts to individually rip the legislators for reneging on the comptroller deal. [NYDN]
• Late policeman Cesar Borja became the human face of the post-9/11 illnesses befalling first responders. The Times bursts that heroic bubble today by reporting that Borja wasn't even a second responder; he never rushed to the site on 9/11 and simply picked up a few shifts there, in December 2001, for overtime pay. [NYT]
• The president, meantime, can't keep his mitts off another hero — Wesley Autrey, our bunny-hat-sporting subway savior; weeks after his cameo at the State of the Union, he is back at the White House for some sort of George Bush Cares About Black People shindig. (Among other invitees: Charlie Rangel.) [NYP]
• Chuck Schumer, Christine Quinn, and Hillary Clinton pile on Clipper Equity, threatening to block its Starrett City purchase unless they see an ironclad pledge to keep the complex's 6,000 units affordable. Turns out Clipper "doesn't have a written plan" for its $1.3 billion impulse buy. [amNY]
• And get ready for actual snow, if you remember what the stuff is; a few inches of it are expected this afternoon. But don't get too excited: This bit of real winter will quickly be replaced by that post-millennial stand-in — freezing rain — by tomorrow morning. [4 Weather Plus]
Members of the ten-person Iraq Study Group, which included Sandra Day O'Connor and Vernon Jordan, almost came to blows over a disagreement. Both Paris Hilton and Britney Spears were no-shows at the Heatherette show. Sienna Miller's secret to having a nice rump in Factory Girl? Spray-on makeup. Park Chinois, the haute Chinese restaurant that was to open in the Gramercy Park Hotel, is no more. Owen Wilson ate with the boldfaced names but hung out with the nobodies at the Waverly Inn. After getting dumped by boyfriend Isaac Cohen via phone, Britney Spears went out "partying like a college girl looking to get laid." (And how, we must ask, is that different from all other nights?)
“The Loneliest President,” the cover story in this week’s magazine, keeps resonating with us. Earlier, we wondered aloud whether Bush’s near-delusional state had something to do with the departures of his two pastry chefs. Now we discover that a new memoir, White House Chef , from former head cook Walter Scheib, who was fired by the Bushes in early 2005, supports John Heilemann’s suggestion that W. is an emotionally stunted, narcissistic personality incapable of empathy or growth.
The president was in New York yesterday, and he brought some odd tidings for our city's financial industry. In a speech strategically delivered across the street from the New York Stock Exchange, George W. Bush — who on a trip to New York years ago delivered his famous "Some call you the elite, I call you my base" line — spoke out against excessive executive pay and lush severance packages. Meantime, an editorial in the same day's Wall Street Journal posited that any legislation curbing executive pay would immediately translate into higher taxes. As the person hectoring the gaggle of Wall Streeters about fiscal modesty was the same person who had drastically cut taxes for everyone in attendance, the listeners could be forgiven for mild confusion. The Sun calls the crowd's response "muted." But of course it was: The real target audience for the speech was the general public. "The fact is that income inequality is real," said Bush. "It has been rising for more than 25 years." And you're first noticing that now, George? Pardon the pun, but that's rich.
Bush Warns Wall Street on Pay [NYS]
George W. Bush: The Elite, My Base [YouTube]
Inspired by Italy's Veronica Lario — who in a front-page letter printed in yesterday's La Repubblica requested a public apology from her husband, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, for flirting with and ogling various comely young women and then, even more remarkably, received one — we'd like to see if we, too, can elicit a public apology or two.
To everyone involved in ground-zero reconstruction:
It's been five freaking years, and this is all that's been accomplished? You should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you. (And, yes, at this point that includes you, too, sainted widows and family members.) We think you owe us — all of us, all New Yorkers — an apology.
Sincerely, Daily Intel
A high-level Republican official says that Rudy Giuliani, should he decide to run, won't have the blessing of Bush or Rove. Recently fired Citigroup exec Todd Thomson, who got himself in trouble for flying Maria Bartiromo around, has flown his wife to Montana, on vacation. Diddy has been partying a lot with "friend" Sienna Miller while his wife Kim Porter stays home with the twins. Martha Stewart is a Hillary supporter, and the launch of high-profile Condé Nast business mag Portfolio may not be going as smoothly as planned.
• What were we doing in the days before DNA testing? Well, apparently jailing busloads of innocent people, for one thing. The eighth — eighth! — New York State convict in thirteen months to be exonerated by DNA evidence was released yesterday after fifteen years in jail. [NYT]
• Both tabloids look at the State of the Union address through the eyes of Ceasar Borja Jr., the son of a WTC cop whom Hillary Clinton had flown to Washington. His father died of lung disease hours before Bush's speech. [NYP, NYDN]
• It's not exactly the Oscars, but a consortium of community activists got to nominate the city's worst landlords last night. The runaway winner: Adam Mermelstein of TreeTop Development, who used fake inspectors with prop badges and invalid eviction papers to harass his tenants. [NYDN]
• Now this is a divorce case. Four children, $55 million in assets, $5 million in legal bills, and the heaviest dueling allegations in recent memory (kiddie porn and spousal rape versus drug addiction and mental disease). Welcome to Westport. [NYP]
• And you know you love the Mets a little too much when they have to take out a restraining order against you. An 18-year-old Piazza fan was barred from Shea for three years after faking a press pass to get closer to his idol. [amNY]
• The health of 9/11 first responders finally becomes a major political issue; President Bush will address it in tonight's State of the Union address, and now-official White House contender Hillary Clinton used ground zero to announce her $1.9 billion long-term treatment initiative. [amNY]
• The Sean Bell case began in earnest yesterday, with the 23-member grand jury beginning to parse the evidence in the infamous 50-shot police slaying of an unarmed man. The presentation will take close to a month; detractors say the D.A. is using the occasion for a "minitrial." [NYP]
• A side effect of being rich and famous is that people think they don't need to make good on their debts to you. For instance, New Delhi owes New York City $16.4 million (in real-estate taxes for the properties India owns here). Our courts are tempted to tweak the laws so the city can sue. [DNA World]
• "Come on, guys, we can get more mileage out of this antique-dealer-suing-bum story. Angles, think angles." "How about the bum's son comes to town to reconcile with him?" "Perfect." [NYDN]
• And a mass evacuation of New York City will commence today via the Brooklyn Bridge, under the cover of Coast Guard cutters and military helicopters. Luckily, it's all so that Will Smith can save the earth or become a stockbroker or something. [7Online]
So now it's official: Bush wants to send 20,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq. And, as we know, congressional Democrats think that's a bad idea; indeed, Senator Ted Kennedy introduced legislation earlier this week that would require Congress' approval before any additional forces could be considered. So do New Yorkers support Bush's plan? Do they support Kennedy's? And do they think 20,000 more troops will make a difference in Iraq, anyway? It's 20-Person Poll time, and random passersby on Madison Avenue say no, no, and no.