His aides-de-camp surround him, zealous and respectful. uttering admiring exclamations at each of his strokes

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I found this nice diary entry on Jane Jacobs the author and sociologist at Daily Kos, Jane Jacobs by Amory Blaine,

Jane Jacobs, for my money the greatest thinker of the 20th century, died last week, aged 89. Her influence on urban planning is incalculable. In the 50s, when she began to write, the orthodox solution to urban problems was building high-rise tower blocks. She recognized the vibrancy of neighborhoods, of street life, of mixed use and she is in large part responsible for the salvation and regeneration of our great cities.

She first came to be known for leading a group defending Greenwich Village from Robert Moses' plan to destroy it so as to build an expressway through the heart of lower Manhattan. At the time, highways were seen as the solution, urban neighborhoods the problem. Jane Jacobs saved lower Manhattan from death. That alone would be a worthy accomplishment for anyone but that was just the beginning for this brilliant woman who never went to college.

One of her essays was required reading in a class I took years ago. While the essay itself was thoughtful and well written what struck me most was that someone saw cities and the way people lived as worthy of study. I had never thought about it in those big picture terms, I had just seen the country as city people versus rural/suburban. What an eye opener that was. How we planned our cities had both cultural and moral implications. Mr. Blaine is right to point to a an example of a success due to Jacobs at her passing, but if I was keeping a coast to coast score I would have to give the overall win to those who buildt and planned our cities blinded by poorly planned short term goals that were wrapped in greenbacks. Most of our cities are a mix of good and what could have been. In every city I've lived in the city council is composed of real estate agents, mortgage bankers, and even a general contractor or two. No doubt many of the powers that be on city councils have visions of modern thriving people friendly metropolisis in their heads, but in practice we too often get poorly planned shabby neighborhoods of the future. The suburban sprawl is worse in some ways forcing us to spend an unhealthy portion of our lives stuck in traffic and finding ways to pay for the privledge. An armchair estimate to be sure and I do try and avoid those, but it wouldn't surprise me if we could put everyone who wanted to go to college through school with the money and time saved if even half of us didn't commute.

I've mentioned several times on this blog that one of my biggest issues with the Bush administration is that they absolutely suck at fighting terrorism. Bush has gotten through his life ( and Dick Cheney too for that matter) having bungled everything he touched in spite of having economic and educational advantages that most Americans can only dream of. He is the 21 century boy with the black cloud ober his head. Bush sits back and calculates and sure enough he puts in the wrong operater. US 'allowed Zarqawi to escape'

The United States deliberately passed up repeated opportunities to kill the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before the March 2003 US-led invasion of that country.

The claim, by former US spy Mike Scheuer, was made in an interview to be shown on ABC TV's Four Corners tonight.

Zarqawi is often described as a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, whose supporters masterminded the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Mr Scheuer was a CIA agent for 22 years – six of them as head of the agency's Osama bin Laden unit – until he resigned in 2004.

He told Four Corners that during 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi's training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Mr Scheuer claims that a July 2002 plan to destroy the camp lapsed because "it was more important not to give the Europeans the impression we were gunslingers".

"Mr Bush had Zarqawi in his sights almost every day for a year before the invasion of Iraq and he didn't shoot because they were wining and dining the French in an effort to get them to assist us in the invasion of Iraq," he told Four Corners.

Much better to leave al-Zarqawi where he was so that over 2000 Americans and over 40,000 Iraqis die all to save the Iraqi people of course.
How to make yourself emperor without firing a shot and why not enough Americans care, Examples of the president's signing statements

Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has issued signing statements on more than 750 new laws, declaring that he has the power to set aside the laws when they conflict with his legal interpretation of the Constitution.

What is it when the president makes the law, interprets the law, enforces the law, and decides what laws he'll obey? Presidential activism. Why have Congress pass any laws, why have a Supreme Court if the president is the final arbiter of what the laws means and how it is implimented.
Shakespeare's Sister has more, Bush the Criminal-In-Chief

"This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy. There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."

That block quote was from Bruce Fein, a former member of the Reagan administration, with which I strongly disagree. We are not moving toward unlimited executive power, we're already there. If we had a Congress with any cajonies they would vote tomoorrow to cut every last cent that goes to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan until Bush rescends every sigining statement.

He stands there, as grave as in battle, in full uniform, his breast covered with medals, with kindled eyes, flushed cheeks, excited by feasting, grog, and the game. His aides-de-camp surround him, zealous and respectful. uttering admiring exclamations at each of his strokes. When the marshal makes a point, they all hasten to mark it; when the marshal is thirsty, they all rush to prepare his grog. There is a constant rustling of epaulettes and plumes, a jingling of medals; and to see all those sweet smiles, those artful, courtierlike reverences, all those new uniforms and embroidery in that lofty apartment, with its oaken wainscoting, looking upon parks and courts of honour, recalls the autumn days at Compiègne, and affords the eyes a little rest from the stained cloaks that shiver yonder along the roads, forming such sombre groups in the rain.

from the story The Game of Billiards by Alphonse Daudet