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Dirty Rubles


Dirty Rubles


On Inception, Gaslighting and Trump/Russia: Or how Dirty Rubles Connects the Dots on a Story You May Think is Confusing, But Really Isn’t So Confusing After All.

Every time I speak to someone about Trump/Russia and they tell me how confusing it all is, I think, is it, really?

And then I think about Inception.

You remember Inception, right? If you’ve seen it, you may recall it as, well, confusing, or feel that you are supposed to do so, and if you haven’t seen it, you probably recall it as a movie people said was… confusing.

This is what Entertainment Weekly wrote when it was released (7/10):

“Is there anyone else out there who simply didn’t get Inception? Who watched it, as I did, in a state of near-perilous confusion? Please, if you’re there, come out of the woodwork. If only so I can stop feeling like I’m the only dummy in the room.”

I suppose that review could be tongue-in-cheek, but it begs the question: why is the trope of confusion the narrative we are asked to associate with the viewing of this movie?

Isn’t Inception about someone going into other people’s lives (their dreams in this case) and constructing an alternative version to what they think they know so he can extract information to help corporations be better informed when looking to close business deals?

Yes, it is, really, that’s not actually up for debate, and so what about that is confusing? There are the weird details, the dead wife and the possibility of one getting endlessly stuck in a dream, but are we confused by this, or are merely deciding we are confused because the popular, and yes, endless conversation, found it entertaining to say it must be so? Is it possible we might be able to understand if we were just willing to do the work of understanding it? And if that is true, is talking about Trump/Russia any different than any of that?

The facts as we know them are being reconstructed by a self-promoting con man with the help of a vast and arguably unethical team comprised of criminals, grifters and shape-shifters, to support his vision of restructuring our vision of the world to match his preferred vision, through lies, manipulations and building walls.

The story lines are not that different, except for this one fact: one is a movie and the other is the narrative of how the current administration has come to be and how its decisions both prior to, and following the election, profoundly impact the lives of everyday people and the country they love.

The challenge, for me anyway, is that I can’t insist, as I do with my children, and anyone who will listen on Twitter, that one is obligated to seek a greater understanding about what is going on with Trump/Russia, but I can tell you that the hope, my hope, is that if you did seek to understand it, or tried to, things might be different.

And now I’m going to contradict myself, because I’m not truly sure what I’m saying is true, because I don’t think those who support the current administration will be swayed by anything they read, and those who don’t support the administration, or just don’t care, may not need convincing, or ever care, about what Trump/Russia is, or is not.

I also believe that if the current administration has been effective in doing anything, it is has been in the manufacturing of the confusion so rife in this discussion. I would argue though, that the question of obligation and being informed in a democratic society is worth arguing about. To truly argue about our difference in opinions requires utilizing actual facts and to understand the facts we must push back against the reams of misinformation, double-talk, denials, and obfuscations.

To do that we need a guidebook, which we have, and for that we can thank Dirty Rubles and author Greg Olear. Before I go on, I should note that I’m not remotely subjective about this topic, this author, or this book, for any number of reasons, though there are two in particular that might stand out for you. Let me outline them:

(1) I believe that if we can agree on anything, it’s that Trump is a racist, homophobic, and xenophobic, misogynist, charlatan, who embraces white nationalists, brags about sexual assault, spews hate, embraces despots and runs a criminal enterprise, masquerading as a family business.

(2) I’m helping Greg Olear, who I am a big fan of, and who I believe is an American hero, as well as both a friend and a client, push Dirty Rubles out to a mostly, though not entirely, unfriendly, though maybe worse, un-receptive public, who doesn’t think they have time to read this book, or maybe any book, on anything, anyway, much less one about Trump/Russia.

And yet, am I asking you to ignore these things? I am, and am I asking just because of the above?

Yes… and no.

I’m asking because I think understanding the plot points in this story is important and because I don’t think Trump/Russia is that confusing, but if you’re not sure it’s important, and you are definitely sure it’s confusing than Dirty Rubles will disabuse you of all of those feelings.

Olear has undertaken a task that the traditional media has not had the time or the bandwidth to tackle (something he covers in Dirty Rubles): he connects the dots for you. That’s it, and maybe it takes a fiction writer to do so. But there it is, waiting for you, laid-out, simply, with evidence.

For example, there are all the lies:

“I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.” – Donald J. Trump, February 16, 2017

“I have had dealings over the years where I sold a house to a very wealth[y] Russian many years ago. I had the Miss Universe Pageant… I had it in Moscow a long time ago. But other than that, I have nothing to do with Russia.” – Donald J. Trump, May 11, 2017a

There are so many lies, and they are repeated so many times, and why, because if you tell these lies, again and again, they start to become a kind of truth, which is nothing but gaslighting, pure and simple. Psychology Today (January 2017) defines gaslighting as “… a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think.” They go on to say, that among other things, gaslighters engage in this behavior because:

“They know confusion weakens people. Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.”

That also happens to be the President of the United States.

And yet, the lies and the gaslighting, and Olear’s exposure of said lies, is just the beginning of it. He goes on to neatly and succinctly lay out the players, the thieves, the roles of Comey and the FBI in this whole mess, and how the media, and yes, even President Obama, dropped the ball on reporting, and ultimately acting, on this story, which I will again suggest is not so very confusing at all.

Once you read Dirty Rubles, you may decide that you don’t care about any of this, and again, I’m not sure many of you do. But you will be informed in your not caring, and unlike with Inception, you will truly know what it is, that you do not, though ideally, do care about, and how to explain it to everyone else with confidence.

Said differently, after Dirty Rubles, you may not care anymore than you ever did, but you definitely won’t be able to say you are confused about of it anymore either.

And that’s something too.



About the author

Ben Tanzer is an Emmy-award winning creative strategist, writer, podcaster, and teacher who lives in Chicago with his family. He has had work published in Punk Planet, Clamor, Men’s Health and Rhapsody magazine and written a series of award-winning books including Be Cool – a memoir (sort of), SEX AND DEATH, Lost in Space, and Orphans. Ben also regularly speaks on topics such as branding, publishing, and writing personal narrative; serves on the board of Hypertext Magazine & Studio and curates the cultural website This Blog Will Change Your Life.

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