Want to know what went on at those tete a tetes between Individual One (US version) and his lushchi droog, (best friend) Individual Odin (Individual One -Russian version) ? So glad you asked. Better late than never— but the hard questions have been left so late it’s no wonder Individual One expects he can continue playing the stonewalling game, which has worked so well for him up until now. Just lately though the ship of state has sprung so many leaks that in spite of his enabler-apparatchiks scurrying around frantically bailing water Individual One is still a little nervous. He’s clamouring for his wall, but he’s really demanding, in metaphorical terms, a Wall that keeps his crimes hidden from view.
Breaking down the pathological projection which informs Individual One’s rhetorical style is pretty easy: 1) Individual One communicates his true intentions by projection—every time he calls out for someone else to be locked up he is tacitly confessing to crimes he knows he should be locked up for, his lying rants are all about how everyone else lies and so on. 2) from his perspective “build a wall protecting our borders” means “build a Wall around me and my crimes so they stay hidden from view.” 3) By the same token “national crisis” means “personal crisis.” The phrase “crisis of the soul” is almost poetic once we understand that the Trump Empire is the soul in crisis. 4) He got close to the real explanation for his Wall frenzy when he projected/ lied about the Obama’s non-existent wall around their house. He can’t compromise on the border wall because it very much threatens his personal Wall—the one keeping the Trump family crimes hidden from view. Breach It and all the information about all the crimes, and my heavens, there’s so many! comes gushing out. What starts as a trickle will end up a flood. 5) From his POV he’s right, he must have that Wall. No matter what. From the perspective of everyone still sane (hopefully we’re still the majority) it’s just as important he not get his Wall. Because…6) What must absolutely stay hidden? Pretty obvious in light of recent activities. The master-puppet relationship between Individual Odin and Individual One explains so much of Individual One’s inexplicable behaviour. Lifting sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, pulling out of Syria, and now, in his latest desperate move, pulling out of NATO. Let’s hand Europe to Russia shall we?
So many questions begging for answers now. Suppose the final bit of damning evidence, written on a scrap of pastry wrapper and smuggled out of a secret meeting room, sees the light of day? Is Individual Odin escalating his demands because he knows his butt boy’s usefulness is coming to an end? Might he even take preemptive action before Individual One goes from being an asset to a non-performing liability? Maybe the oligarchs are doubting that he’ll be able to deliver the big payoff that will wipe out his debt, and setting the vig so high Individual One is having trouble meeting the payments? Maybe Individual One, who’s played this game many times before, thinks it’s time to pull the plug. He won’t or can’t pay more vig, and as for delivering the big kahuna, he’s running into obstacles. He may be telling himself he’s a master at welching out of a deal and this is just another scrape he’ll bully his way out of. In the meantime scampering in the hamster wheel of his mind is the notion that if he holds fast on the Wall battle he will somehow win the day.
Will he? He still has his fanatical followers, but they’re not his protection. No, it’s his crew, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and the other geriatric white males who are ready to go down with their captain. For them too the Wall fight is everything. If Individual One loses that fight it throws into the spotlight so many of his closely held secrets, including the most damning one. His position as capo to the Big Boss in the Kremlin will be revealed, and when that happens his usefulness will surely be over. But what one has to wonder in all this is why it matters so much to his crew—sure, there’s loyalty to the boss (Hitler in the bunker still had his Goebbels, and all the little Goebbels) but when the boss has crashed the ship into the iceberg the sane person runs for a lifeboat. So what gives? Here’s one explanation, a speculative spin of cotton candy based on a true story. The names have been not changed because there are no innocents, and in our post-factual era it no longer matters who accuses whom of what.
Setting: a very large room in an undisclosed location, though occasional blasts of winds and snow buffeting the uncurtained windows suggest it is somewhere in the frozen North. The room contains a large wooden table flanked by three chairs. A samovar sits in the middle of the table, and it is surrounded by tea cups and plates of scones, buns, tea cakes, petits fours and other nibbles. A ceramic stove sits in the corner, burping out an occasional wisp of smoke.
Three figures form a single file at the doorway. First in line is Vladimir Vladimirovich, a slight figure wrapped in a fur coat, fur hat and boots up to his knees. He could pass for Tsar Alexander III, the penultimate Tsar and one of the few Tsars to die in his bed. He was succeeded by Tsar Nicholas, whose reign ended in tears for the Romanovs, and cheers for the masses.
Vladimir Vladimirovich: (removes his coat and hat to reveal a cotton tunic and baggy pants tucked into his knee length boots, muzhik style. He hangs up coat and hat, then goes to the window to stare out at the wintry scene. )
Vlad: Aahhh, beautiful. Winter is my favourite time of year.
Sits down at the head of the table.
Don Fredorovich shuffles in, slams the door behind him, then slumps in one of the chairs.
Don F. Christ it’s fucking cold. Can someone turn up the stove?
A timid knocking comes from outside.
Vlad: Durak! You shut the door on Marina. So very rude you are, Don Fredorovich. (Gets up and opens the door to a small woman wearing nondescript outer wear. She hangs up her coat and hat and stands by the third chair to unpack her briefcase and lay a note pad and two pencil on the table. She holds the empty briefcase up for inspection, and after a nod from Vlad she puts the briefcase outside the door and comes back to the table)..
Marina Gross: Tea, anyone? She pours out tea for Vlad, who fills a plate with tea cakes and amuse-bouches. She looks inquiringly at Don F.
Don F. Do you have coke? and I could do with a burger. Or two. And some french fries. Real food.
Marina fills a plate with pastries, pours herself a cup of tea and sits down.
Vlad: Donny boy. Business first. Eat later. Now, about your repayment schedule…
Don F. I’m behind on the vig because Sergei keeps raising it…
Vlad He keeps raising it because you’re behind on the deliverables. We need sanctions lifted. Where are you with that?
Don F: Ehhh, congress, they’re not playing ball. I got some nice apartments for some of your guys. Really nice. And some beautiful girls as part of the furniture. Mirrors on all the ceilings.
Vlad: (mutters in Russian. Marina does not note it down) Quit diverting, Donald. It works with your public, but it’s not paying the bills. Do you even have any idea how much you’re into our friends for? It’s billions, and now you tell me you need more? Billions, Doony boy. Our friends are losing patience.
Don F. In dollars? So I am a billionaire. Those people who say I exaggerate my net worth are lying.
Vlad: (drinks more tea) That’s how much you owe, not how much you own.
Don F. (Smiles and taps his finger to his nose.) No, I’m smart. I know how to play this game. Oweing is the same as owning in my book.
Vlad: (in an icy tone) Ah. Because you have no intention of paying it back? Better not let our friends hear you say that.
Don F. (looking nervous) Well, I mean, I don’t mean that personally Vlad. You know how much I respect you. I would never ever think of stiffing you. Not ever. I only reserve stiffies for suckers. And women. Which are the same thing, come to think of it. (Chuckles evilly.)
Vlad: Don Fredorovich. When someone stiffs you what do you do about it?
Don F. (smugly) That never happens. I am much too smart. And besides, we teach the rat a lesson he won’t ever forget.
Vlad: Such as…
Don F: Since I was elected President by the biggest popular vote in history…
(Vlad glares at him)
Don F: I mean, since you made it possible for me to occupy the Oral Office…
(Marina raises an eyebrow at Vlad, who nods at her to take down every word, mistakes and all.
Don F: It’s easy. You don’t have to break legs, whack family members, nuthin’ like that. You just say to the politicians something like we’ll sell your elected seat to the nearest gay child molester and they cave like, like little whiney kids when you take away their mothers—I mean their desserts. Speaking of—do you have any Hostess Twinkies? Do you know what they are? I can send over a shipment, you’ll love em. (Grabs a tea cake and pours out a cup of tea.) After you’ve had some real American food you’ll never go back to this stuff, I gotta tell ya. (Drinks, then shudders) No taste.
Vlad: (To Marina in Russian) I’ve had more intelligent conversations with my goldfish.
To Don F: You’ve got that right Don Fredorovich. No taste. Listen Donychka, I don’t know how to make you see the seriousness of the position you are in. We bailed you out countless times, forgave many of your loans and even increased your ability to borrow once we put you in the perfect position to pay us back. Do I need to spell it out? if you don’t step up your RealPolitick payments there will be repercussions. It’s time to start seriously bankrupting your country so you can sell us the assets. For cheap.
Don F: Well, it’s not that easy Vlad. Not everybody likes the idea.
Vlad: We didn’t like it when you did it to us. But what goes around comes around.
Don F. (conciliatory) yeah, well I’ve got my own problems. Don jr—well if he wasn’t my son he’d be flipping burgers.
Vlad: (with a creepy smirk) Instead of flipping agents? He’s remarkably bad at it. But that’s not my problem. Seeing that our friends are satisfied is. They’ve been remarkably patient. But their patience is going to run out if they don’t see some signs of movement from you.
Don F: (turning orange-red and blustering) So what are you going to do to me? Break my fingers?
Vlad: That would be sad. You would not be able to bleat.
Don F:. (Angrily) Tweet. It’s tweet. Have some respect. I’m the President. I’m the Teflon Don. You think you can blackmail me with your lousy pee tape? So I watched whores pee on a bed. So what? It’s no worse than what Obama did when he was there. He slept in that bed that should have been reserved for whites only. And my mother’s dead so you can’t tell her. My base? They love that kind of stuff. I’m their hero.
Vlad: (looks disgusted) Marx was right. The rewards of capitalism go to the most corrupt and depraved, who ultimately destroy the system from within. I don’t have to do anything to ruin you, you are doing a wonderful job all by yourself. But do remember—we’ve got all the promissory notes on you, all the loan documents. We have all your tax returns. We can bury you. And if we have to we will.
Don F: (Holding up his hands in a gesture of defeat) Wait wait Vlad, did I ever say I wasn’t playing along? My god I’m trying. They’re just not giving me what I want. (Pause) If you put the screws on a few key guys it would really help me..
Vlad: If it’s anyone high profile it’s going to raise suspicions.
Don F: You know how to do that stuff. It’s one of the reasons I admire you. Poison gas, I love it. But I don’t mean whack them. Just threaten to. Then they’ll play along no matter how bad it gets. Here, I’ll write a list. (Grabs the pastry wrapper from his tea cake and scribbles on it, then pushes it towards Vlad. )
Vlad: (glances at the list, then pockets it). Okay, we can do this. But if we do, we expect results.
Don F gets out of his chair and reaches over to tries to shake Vlad’s hand, using the two handed powergrab. Vlad evades it by lifting his teacup daintily to his mouth. Don F. shrugs and leaves.
Vlad hands the list to Martina, who is looking stunned.
Vlad: Make ten copies of all your notes and the list before you leave, then bring the originals to me.
Marina: Yes, of course. Uhh, Vladimir Vladimorich? I can’t believe what I just saw. I’ve never questioned my loyalties before but…
Vlad: (Smiles craftily) Yes, and now I’ve got the piece of paper that proves he’s a traitor. You know what you should tell him, Marina, when he comes to his senses and comes crawling back to you wondering whatever happened to the incriminating pastry wrapper?
Marina: No what?
Vlad: Say that Vlad said to tell him this: “let him eat tea cake.” He laughs delightedly at his own joke.
Marina: Vive la revolution.
Vlad: That’s my girl.