Dirty George and the War Pigs

The president's war, his brother's fib, a black man's past, and Mayor Griffin's demise

Out on the Crawford ranch, the president morphs into Dirty George. He gets that swagger down, walking with his spurs about four feet apart. His arms he keeps bowed out like he might draw a pistol. He's the cowboy-hatted Bush who appeals strongly to his rural white base.

Sometimes he gets a squinty-eyed stare going, as if he were trying to channel Clint Eastwood. The man badly wants to be a tough Texan, to wipe away the wimp image that haunted his Eastern-elite daddy. Even as he declared war on Monday, Bush hearkened back to old west myth when he gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave town. But the president doesn't live up to the dark brand of archetypal American justice found in Eastwood's best films. He's more like the nervous cowboy who shoots before the other guy reaches for his gun.

Think of Harry Callahan's two most famous lines: "Do you feel lucky?" and "Go ahead, make my day." With both, he was daring the criminal to make a move, to give him one excuse to fire his .44. Why? To gain justification for the kill. Harry was a rogue, but he operated under a crude moral code. If he killed a defenseless villain or two, it was because the guy was a proven menace to his city, and it was the last resort.

Bush, though, is about to relentlessly bomb a country that has its hands in the air. He's about to murder thousands of innocent men, women, and children for no reason. And he's about to trudge our troops into war without any real evidence. The president's rationale, if we can call it that, is supposedly based on Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, the dictator's ties to al Qaeda, and the need to bring God and His freedom and democracy to the Arab world. These all have one thing in common: They completely lack an empirical, factual basis.

Bush is no Harry -- he's just harried. And it's painfully obvious that he fears U.N.-led Iraqi disarmament more than weapons of mass destruction. Cooperation from Saddam steals his chance to attack. Hence, the hurry to start bombing. The sad irony is that Bush's insincere maneuverings at the United Nations have actually led to a great diplomatic victory. But the president's bloodlust won't let him accept it.

Bush, the new policeman of the world, is a very bad cop. And he's about to put a lot of young American men and women at risk for no good reason. I wish our troops as swift and bloodless (on both sides) a victory as possible, but I'll never support the president's decision or the war pigs that helped him make it.

As for the swine, I'm talking about fundamentalist Christians cheering on Armageddon, ultra-Zionists thirsting for Middle Eastern conquest, defense contractors, ideologues of world dominion, cunning political strategists, and, yes, the oil companies. They are the ones telling you that Saddam is about to nuke your kitchen, saying that their war has nothing to do with oil or Israel (how dare you!), and insisting that containment is impossible.

And mainstream media have failed to investigate this war's roots. Take the Sun-Sentinel, which has given Bush tacit approval in its editorial pages and neglected to question his motives.

After the president's State of the Union address in January, when he told us he believed America has a duty to spread the freedom God gave us, the Sentinel's meandering editorial didn't question Bush's Messianic tone. Instead, the headline was, "Case for War Gets Stronger."

"The new details about Iraq, including evidence of ties between Hussein's regime and the [al-Qaeda] network of terrorists, may give him the ammunition he needs to begin reshaping public opinion," the unnamed editorialist wrote.

The problem, of course, was that there really was no such evidence. But why let that get in the way of a good war?

In an October 12 editorial, the paper bought another Bush administration whopper -- that it had evidence Saddam was trying to build nuclear bombs. That claim was based on letters between Iraq and Niger that have proven to be cheap forgeries.

While the Bush team was spreading third-party lies to support its war, the press wasn't skeptical. Instead, it ate it up. "The United States can't stand idly by as Hussein seeks nuclear weapons and works to refine his other weapons of mass destruction," the Sentinel expounded.

And when the president's plan for world domination and unilateral preventive wars was unveiled last year, the editorialists gushed, "The president's doctrine is justified."

True, the Sentinel has also recommended caution and urged Bush to get U.N. support before acting, but that just muddled the message enough to obscure any meaning at all. When did newspapers start hemming and hawing like gutless politicians? All the media has done is allow Bush and the war pigs to get away with lie after lie, which brings us to...

...Brother Jeb's big fib. When the class-size amendment was put on last year's ballot, the Florida governor, in what he thought was a quasi-private moment, blurted out that he had "devious" plans to subvert it. During the final McBride debate, mediator Tim Russert asked Jeb: "If it did pass, you wouldn't sabotage it? You would implement it?"

His magnanimous response: "I think we'd have an obligation to do it."

But the governor apparently isn't such a big man after all. Early this month, he was calling for, of all things, a recount. He wanted a special election to repeal the amendment, but the idea was shot down not only by Democrats but by members of his own party.

But Jeb is just thinking of the children. He wants tax dollars to fund Christian schools, where kids can get a real education. The man is trying to save us from ourselves. Which brings us to...

...Sarcasm. When I wrote a little ditty about Broward elections supervisor Miriam Oliphant last month, a few readers fell short of the point. The phrase "Nubian nabobs of negativism" might have given it away, if not my calling her the "one bad seed in our political garden, that malignant tumor on our collective lung, that personification of all that is bad in our hearts," etc.

The real targets, of course, were Oliphant's self-righteous attackers, namely Broward commissioner Lori Parrish and Democratic state Sen. Skip Campbell.

One guy who missed the point was a radio personality who calls himself "Michael the Black Man." People told me that he had called me the devil and a bunch of other things on the air for attacking Oliphant. I had never heard him before, mainly because the Miami station, WBOS-FM (104.1), doesn't come in that well in Broward County (and, incidentally, isn't licensed by the FCC).

Michael actually goes by Maurice Symonette, but that's not his original name. According to old court records, it's Maurice Woodside. As a young man, he became a devout follower of Yahweh ben "Locked Up" Yahweh and changed his name to "Mikael Israel."

Yahweh, of course, is the homicidal religious cult leader who believes himself to be God and the king of the real Jews, who he claims are black. Yahweh was released from prison in 2001 after serving ten years on racketeering and murder-conspiracy convictions.

Mikael Israel, it turns out, was charged with committing murder for Yahweh but was acquitted in 1992. Robert Rozier, a former professional football player and Yahweh convert who was a government witness in the case, claimed that Mikael also collected protection money for the cult from Miami drug dealers.

I tried to ask Maurice Mikael Woodside Symonette some questions, but he never returned my call. With the help of a carefully placed five-iron on an antenna, I was able to tune into his rants, though.

And now, I'm proud to say, I'm a dedicated convert.

We must all thank Yahweh that Mikael is on the airwaves. He has the courage to defend that most abused and put-upon sector of society, the deadbeat dads. He is one himself, owing more than $50,000 in child support. And he rightly eviscerates those evil single mothers who try to force fathers to take responsibility for their kids.

Because of those terrible vipers, we now dwell, as Mikael puts it, in the land of the lesbian, the land of the amazon, and the land of hell itself. Amen.

Mikael also is a proud Republican who says he believes Democrats are tools of the great Satan. During the 2000 election debacle, he showed up in Palm Beach County to shout down Jesse Jackson. Mikael preaches that the GOP will lead us back to God and keep us from paying taxes. Uh-huh.

And, bless the guy, he keeps giving shoutouts to Yahweh on the air, which is a good thing, because it's about time the real Jews stood up, instead of all these counterfeits, especially the posers who survived the Holocaust. That's right.

What I love most about Mikael is that he's a fighter. He managed not only to beat a murder charge but to run a radio station for months without a license. The man is wily, which brings us to...

...Michael the white man. I'm talking about Michael Swerdlow, who has now ended more Broward political careers than graft and grab-ass combined. Just last week, the dashing developer inadvertently garroted Pompano Beach Mayor Bill Griffin, who was spearheading Swerdlow's International Swimming Hall of Fame. The project was well-balanced, with two parts land-grab and two parts boondoggle, so it shocked no one when I reported last July that Griffin was on the take. Turned out Swerdlow helped the mayor land a job at Turner Construction, a company that had worked with the developer in the past and was bidding to build the swim hall and two high-rise condos.

Griffin didn't stand a chance. Susan Foster, a not-so-impressive political newcomer, beat him in last Tuesday's vote after she promised to bring honesty to city hall and save the beach from Swerdlow, who now will almost surely have to peddle his Olympic-sized pool in another town.

The mayor's fall came just one month after the Miami Herald reported that Swerdlow's development firm paid Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele more than $100,000 for legal work last year while angling for projects in Teele's jurisdiction. The commissioner remains in office, but now that he has that Swerdlow stink on him, he should be exiting public life fairly soon. Teele can commiserate with Griffin, as well as Sylvia Poitier and Norman Abramowitz, two former Broward County commissioners who were voted out of office after they supported Swerdlow's financially disastrous 1998 Port Everglades land deal.

Most consider Swerdlow a problem, but I'm beginning to see him as the solution. He serves a valuable function, one that Broward State Attorney Michael Satz has failed to fulfill for the better part of two decades. In a Darwinian process, he exploits and exposes bad government leaders and, ultimately, causes their demise.

Which brings me to my proposal: We must, for the sake of peace, send Swerdlow to Iraq. We don't need a MOAB; we need a man. Once Swerdlow starts negotiating with Saddam, the outraged Iraqi people will surely find the courage to oust the dictator. But it may be too late. Even as you read this, Dirty George has probably already pulled the trigger.

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