Trump – The Boy Who Cried Hoax, Outsmarts Himself
Early Friday morning, President Donald Trump disclosed that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, the virus at the center of the pandemic spread throughout the world.
My initial reaction to the news was abject anger. Trump’s attitude and behavior during the past ten months was a calculated gamble designed to avoid damaging his re-election chances.
This led him to first conceal his knowledge of the pandemic, then to publicly downplay it despite confiding to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that he knew how deadly the virus is. As the pandemic spread, Trump dismissed it as a hoax, disparaged it as no more serious than the flu, and disputed his own medical science officials with baseless conspiracy theories and remedies without evidence of their effectiveness in treating COVID-19.
Trump’s task force – hastily put together after the President dismantled the one established by his predecessor, determined that a national response wasn’t necessary because the greatest impact was felt in “blue” states – states governed by Democrats.
That political decision forced a patchwork of more political decisions in which the type of response depended upon which party that state’s governor was affiliated with.
There were some exceptions in a few states where Republican governors initially took an aggressive stance toward the pandemic, but those governors faced such fierce opposition from members of their own party that they were forced to capitulate to them in rolling back the restrictions they established, forced instead to make impotent pleas to their citizens to abide by “guidelines” for their own safety.
The predictable result is that COVID-19 has seen bigger outbreaks in “red” states whose attitude toward the pandemic helped create super-spreader events of mass gatherings of people assembled without facial coverings or observing personal space conventions, most notably the Sturgis bike rally in South Dakota, accused of causing more than 266,000 new infections.
Fact-checkers have since debunked this number as overstated, but that analysis underscores the difficulty of making contact tracing projections.
What is indisputable about this, however, is that President Trump’s actions, driven by deceit and dishonesty, helped make the number of infections and consequential deaths much higher than it might have been with a coherent, aggressive, national response to the pandemic.
Due to his dishonesty, many are taking the news of his and Melania’s positive tests with a measure of skepticism that, fairly or not, is well-deserved. This is the outcome of compulsive lying: it causes people to disbelieve you even when you tell the truth – if in fact this news is true and not just another calculation designed to help his re-election chances.
The reactions to the news – skepticism, amusement, and recrimination, among them – are natural reactions by both the President’s critics and supporters.
Mine? I’m still angry for those who might still be with us but for Trump’s sacrificing those lives for the sake of his political fortunes.
by Robert E. Blackwell
Rated PG – for violence, mild language, and some thematic elements
Available on Disney +, and most streaming services
A chance encounter with the past. A curse that expands generations. And, an unexpected treasure hunt. History, danger, and a little quirky comedy, tossed in for good measure. This is the premise of yet another underrated gem, Disney’s “Holes.”
Based on the Louis Sachar book of the same name (who also penned the screenplay), “Holes” is the story of a wrongfully convicted boy, Stanley Yelnats III (Shia LaBeouf), who has been sent to Camp Green Lake as punishment, where he’s forced to dig holes in the hot, dry Texas desert all day.
Why must these boys dig hole after hole in the hot, dry desert? To build character, of course.
As Mr. Sir (Jon Voight) explains, “You take a bad boy, make him dig holes all day in the hot sun, it turns him into a good boy. That’s our philosophy here at Camp Green Lake.”
But, as Stanley soon learns, the truth is a little more complicated.
After meeting an assortment of characters, including the camp’s staff, including Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) and the Warden (Sigourney Weaver), Stanley forges an alliance with a kid called Zero (Khleo Thomas) and the other convicts as they try to uncover the secret history of the camp itself. A history more personal than either Stanley or Zero could’ve ever realized.
Known for the “Wayside School” stories [which the author’s teacher, Ms. Sloick, would read to her fifth grade class], Sachar weaves a complicated cast of characters and story into one, cohesive mystery that the kids must solve in order to make it home. And, as he did with “Wayside,” weaves plenty of humor into the plot along the way.
The history of Camp Green Lake is connected to the tragic history of the once thriving community that sat on the edge of the now dried-up lake. It’s here that Sachar displays his serious side, as the issues surrounding prejudice, interracial relationship, between schoolteacher Kate (Patricia Arquette) and onion farmer Sam (Dule Hall) in 1900’s Texas, and jealously from rival “Trout” Walker (Scott Plank), are brought to the forefront.
It’s this history that becomes the catalyst for everything that follows, including why Stanley and the boys are forced to dig so many holes.
It also involves the sorted history of the Yelnat’s family, whose continual string of bad luck, and Stanley’s wrongful incarceration, are all attributed to his, “No good, dirty rotten, pig stealing great-great-grandfather.”
Well, the backstory of the Yelnat patriarch is a little more complicated; involving a forgotten promise to an enchantress (Eartha Kitt), a broken heart, and yes, a pig.
In a world with clever, yet forgettable “family entertainment,” Louis Sachar’s “Holes” stands out. It’s a clean story, filled with drama, adventure, mystery with a social justice message and some comedy, all woven into a story that will keep you guessing until the very end.
by Tiffany Elliott