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Glitter may hide dross




December 24, 2003








Though Christmas is still a day away, gifts galore seem to be popping into and out of the hands of those who serve the public.    


President Bush received his big Christmas package when Saddam Hussein clambered out of his hidey-hole, looking for all the world like some strung-out rock singer rising from the muck at Woodstock. This disheveled hulk, proclaimed Bush, would be  deloused and put on trial for the murder of his own people.


Not unexpectedly, the president failed to mention that we have killed thousands of Iraqis in our search for Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. Many of those Iraqis, like the fifteen children recently killed by our forces in Afghanistan, were innocents caught up in the bloody purchase of this particular Christmas gift. No trials are pending in conjunction with their deaths. 


Adding to the president’s Christmas cheer is the fact that even more Americans (53%)  now believe that Saddam was directly involved in the attacks on 9/11. Whoever would have thought that ignorance could be induced by adorning it with such fancy demagogic bows?  Merry Christmas, Mr. President.


Yet, in the spirit of the holiday, Bush is giving as well as receiving. Two weeks ago, he bestowed on congress an $820 billion spending package chock full of porky pleasures. For instance, $50 million will go for an indoor rain forest in Iowa, while $2 million of our tax dollars will help establish a program to teach future corporate CEOs how to play golf. And, though our children may be left behind in this bill, our wild turkeys won’t, since a $225,000 boon will fall into the laps of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Merry Christmas, turkeys.


Closer to home, Gov. Mark Warner wrapped up for our legislature his gift of fiscal sanity in the form of a new tax restructuring plan and a budget that would add a much needed $1 billion to the state coffers by 2006.


Unfortunately for Warner, the recipients of his gift are the spawn of Tolkien’s Orcs. The head Orc and master of deficit budgetry, former Gov. Jim Gilmore, immediately declared Warner’s restructuring plan dead in the water and labeled his budget “the biggest tax increase in the history of Virginia.” The rest of the Orcs, with “No Tax Hike” inscribed on their heads, chortled in agreement. 


Bowing to the great god Status Quo, the Orcs will waddle on down their own do-nothing budget trail and concentrate on more important issues. Topping their Christmas list are measures to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling on privacy for gays and the retention of the “crimes against nature” law so cherished by Attorney General Jerry Kilgore. Other New Year’s resolutions include a Constitutional amendment to allow school vouchers, stricter regulations on abortion providers and a ban on emergency contraceptive medication in Virginia’s universities. Happy New Year, Regressivists.


In James City, meanwhile, the Community Center bestowed its gift of appreciation on swimmers and swim teams by closing its pool for the entire month of December to install new lights. Evidently the moles from Camp Peary are doing the work, since the pool windows have been swathed in a morass of plastic bubble wrap, lest peering eyes discover what’s really going on in there.


As if that weren’t bad enough, a suspicious posting appeared recently on the front door of the center, indicating the pool is “tentatively” scheduled to reopen on January 2. One astute observer posited that we’ll be lucky if it’s open in time for the Jamestown 2007 celebration. As a sop to its natant patrons, and in order to avoid prorating fees, the Center sent its swimmers off to the arctic waters of the William & Mary pool. Merry Christmas, lap-laners.


But perhaps the real grinch-of-the-year award goes to Colonial Williamsburg, which, according to a recent Gazette article, will close its Tazewell Club Fitness Center next year. Rather than preserve what is one of the finest private recreational facilities in the area, CW has decided to zero in on the bottom line once again and construct a new facility across the street that will be staffed by an outside organization. As a result, the long-time CW employees who now run the Tazewell Club may well join the ranks of other recent CW pink-slippers who mistakenly thought that their jobs and medical benefits were secure.  Merry Christmas, Tazewell Club members and employees.


Finally, Williamsburg City Council last week sent its bundle of Christmas cheer on to the WJC School Board. Once again thumbing its nose at the voters, the entrenched pols on the Council opted for recycled cronyism over innovation and diversity. Merry Christmas, Sharrieff De’Johnette.  


It’s hard to tell whether most of us have been naughty or nice this year. Whatever we’ve been, however, we should probably examine carefully the gifts our public servants are doling out. While some may glitter with the gold of truth, others will be as illusive, phony and fraudulent as those Iraqi weapons of  mass destruction.     














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