Wake up, America

The Swindle "Bad" PennyLike a bad penny. This time I found him on my doorstep. He’s written an op-ed for the Florida Times Union, the major paper in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, pretending to be a movie reviewer and touting something put together by Dinesh D’Souza:

The author and co-director is Dinesh D’Souza, an intellectual; a distinguished author and journalist; a conservative; and an honest man in every respect.

Right. And, in typical conservative fashion, Swindle touts his own “credentials” in support of what would seem to be a hatchet job on the President of the United States, of whose supporters he writes:

If you watched the convention speakers, you have seen them denigrating the country I love; the religion I grew up with; the hard work, the traditions and history I treasure; the independence and freedom that have been America; and the honor of those who sacrificed so much for us.

Orson Swindle III does not like us. But, that’s not why we should take note of him turning up on the political stage again.

The first time I ran across Orson Swindle was in 2003, before John Kerry was even the Democratic nominee, when he and his buddy William E. Franke were organizing something that was to become known as the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth on behalf of John McCain, whose career Swindle had been promoting ever since they were prisoners together of the North Vietnamese — an endeavor made necessary by the fact that there were some prisoners who insisted that, contrary to the myth propounded by Swindle, McCain and the North Vietnamese, McCain had enjoyed a privileged status and hadn’t suffered at the hands of his captors as he claimed.

In other words, Swindle was in preemptive mode to insure that the reputation of his friend would not be marred by smears from disaffected military folk. Then, when George W. Bush got the nomination and McCain threw him his support, the Swiftboat guy just happened to be in place to go after John Kerry’s war record with a generous infusion of money from some Texas friends. It was the success of those efforts which allowed McCain to claim in 2008, when it was his turn to be the Republican nominee, that he’d done “everything I could” to get George W. Bush elected. The Swiftboating of Kerry took the spotlight off Bush’s poor showing. Though, in his case, I would argue that the AWOL actually stood for Absent With Official Leave. Since he kept getting lost flying over Mexico, the National Guard was probably glad to have him grounded.

In any case, while Swindle and Franke were orchestrating the Swiftboaters and making presentations all over the country, it just so happened that Franke’s Gannon Technologies Group had come up with a unique computer operating system which they had sold to the Ohio Secretary of State to run the election servers. Remember this was 2004 when the totals in Ohio, rather than Florida, were crucial and John Kerry ended up conceeding before the recount was complete. Was the proprietary OS significant? Nobody knows. According to latest reports, Gannon Technologies is on its last legs. Which should not come as a surprise because, after all, Franke got his start in real estate by scamming the government and stiffing his wife in a divorce.

Although going after John Kerry may have been an inadvertent opportunity, there may well have been some personal interest on Franke’s part, considering his business interests in Vietnam, which were similar to those of John Kerry’s brother, as well as the interests of Cindy McCain, the beer business heiress. There was keen interest in the commercial exploitation of Vietnam. However, if the reports are correct, things haven’t been going too well, lately.

Greene’s first legal skirmish with his ex-boss date back to earlier this year when he and another former Gannon executive, Walter Blocker, sued Franke in St. Louis County Court regarding a Vietnam business deal gone bad. Greene and Blocker, who ran Gannon’s Southeast Asia operations, say Franke promised them an ownership percentage in Gannon’s Vietnam holdings. According to the suit filed in May, Gannon and Franke are now seeking Vietnamese governmental approval to sell a milk factory in the Asian county to Nestle for $10 million without paying Greene and Blocker any proceeds from the sale. The men believe they’re owed $1.5 million and $3 million, respectively.

Perhaps McCain’s recent attacks on President Obama’s foreign policy positions reflects some dissatisfaction on the part of his friends that their business interests in the far East aren’t being sufficiently protected from the competition being offered by the region’s entrepreneurs. After all, American enterprise has gotten used to having our military at its back and not just in dealing with pirates off the coast of Africa.

Or maybe it’s just a matter of some people being too full of themselves. Perhaps Swindle is just in a personal funk and that’s why he proclaims,

We must defeat Obama, and, I say again, my tolerance for his supporters has ceased to exist, as likely will a few friendships. But, that is OK.

Wake up, America. It is almost too late.

Since he’s only 75, he may turn up again. I sure hope not. But, what we should note is that not all subversive politics can be laid at Karl Rove’s feet. The acolytes of Whitaker and Baxter, the inventers of deceptive political advertising, as described by Jill Lepore in the current New Yorker, are multitudinous.

The Swindle "Bad" Penny: Base coin public domain via Wikimedia then altered a bit by LikeTheDew.com turning it into a bad penny with Swindle's face using a photo by Rudi Williams.

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."