Pardons And Predatory Loans–A Day In Trumpland

Like a broken record, I keep coming back to one question: what can his supporters be thinking? 

In just one November week, the President of the United States pardoned three war criminals and endorsed a measure facilitating predatory payday loans. A report in Talking Points Memo has details of both.

President Trump’s pardons: “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio. Michael Behenna. And this week, three convicted or accused murderers: Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, both of whom Trump pardoned, and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who Trump granted clemency.

Gallagher, the best-known of the trio, was acquitted of charges that he murdered an teenage Islamic State captive. But he was convicted of posing with the boy’s body. And his own SEALs testified against him, including SEAL Dylan Dille, who testified that he witnessed Gallagher shoot innocent people with a sniper rifle. Another SEAL under Gallagher’s charge testified, “I shot more warning shots to save civilians from Eddie than I ever did at ISIS.”

 “I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state,” Trump said Tuesday. In this case, that apparently means the Defense secretary, the (fired) Navy secretary and military prosecutors.

If Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, who was forced out over his strong denunciation of the pardons, is a member of the “deep state,” then we need more deep state operatives.

In his letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Spencer criticized Trump for interfering on Gallagher’s behalf.

“…I no longer share the same understanding as the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline,” he wrote. “I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Among the multitude of concepts that elude our Moron In Chief is the fact that his pardons endanger American troops. If we do not obey the rules of “good order and discipline,” our antagonists will feel no compunction to treat American prisoners humanely. You can visit Lawfare for a perceptive discussion of the other damage these pardons do.

Allowing lenders to profit from imposing outrageous interest rates on those least able to pay them may not be as monumentally evil as encouraging war crimes, but it is appalling nonetheless.

Want to make payday loans in states where it’s outlawed? Rent a bank! Laws governing interest rates on predatory loans vary widely from state to state. Predatory lenders hate that. They want to be able to charge 120% APR in Colorado just like they do in, say, Wisconsin. How do they do that now? They use the bank in Wisconsin to process a high-interest loan that, in all other respects, was effectively carried out through a storefront in Denver. Yes, this really happened, and yes, the Trump administration has taken the banks’ side in the ongoing legal battle.

A 2015 court decision has hampered this effort somewhat for predatory lenders, but the FDIC and the Comptroller of the Currency want to change that, announcing a proposal that would actively promote the practice.

FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams “is doing the bidding of loan sharks who have a decades-long history of trying to get around state consumer protection rules,” Americans for Financial Reform spokesperson Carter Dougherty observed. “And now a federal regulator is helping them do it.”

These two actions weren’t the only measures the administration took that week to unravel safeguards and undermine the rule of law, but even if they were–even if they stood alone–how do Trump’s supporters defend them? What sort of people continue to wear their MAGA hats, and proclaim that Trump was “chosen by God” and “a better President than Lincoln?”

The only answer I can come up with is: people who believe in a God who wants White Christian men to dominate others, and people who still resent Lincoln for freeing the slaves. (They were, after all, black people.)

I always knew there were some people who held these views. What is heartbreaking is that there are so many of them.


  1. When I was stationed in Virginia I found the state had no laws against predatory loans. As branch officer with about 80 to 100 men under me I often had to deal with the collection agents after one of my guys did something stupidm usually regarding buying a used car with a car loan at an absurd rate ( one case, not my guy but an enlisted guy senior enough to have known better, a used Yugo ( so 3- 4 years old at the time) with a 40% interest rate. This type of loan ws common in the tidewater area. So much for supporting the troops. The state was fine with it, happy to allow car dealers and loan sharks to screw ignorant military and, I assume, poor ( usually black) minorities.

  2. When I lived in Las Vegas in the early 1980s, check cashing businesses did a booming business charging 40% of the amount of out of state checks. Predatory doesn’t even cover that; do the payday loan shops do the same with out of state checks as payday loans?

    As for Trump and “what can his supporters be thinking”; they have said time and time again that “he speaks his mind” which means he is speaking their mind. Doesn’t have to make sense or contain any facts; he speaks for them, the super wealthy and the racists and bigots alike. He makes them laugh with his insults and fills them with hope with his threats and lies.

    I watched the meeting between Trump and the Secretary of NATO early this morning from London; finally shut off Trump’s unending campaign speech before the world filled with the same lies he spouts at rallies before his screaming supporters. I kept thinking to myself this morning; is there no one or no way to stop this man’s mouth from spewing lies about Americans with nothing to do with NATO? The only way I found was to shut off my TV and get out of bed shortly after 5:00 a.m. Wish it was that easy to shut of the man.

  3. as corporate america moves ahead, conservitives in senate have dispatched their view of the impeachment,there is fitting this days subject is tied with the senates defense to understand right from wrong,ethics,honesty,etc,etc,etc. now we have a absolute corrupt senate too.. what next.. though many will critic me in saying it, the rich and wealthy,with the power of capital, has made the right wing,and those limousine liberals,whores to the game,at the peoples costs..they signed the contract,now its time to remove them all…im glad to see robert reichs new piece,kinda makes it all simple,except, its been the game plan for 40 years…

  4. It’s as if all of the evil aspects of our world have joined together in the specter of one man who has molded together a political force with the intent to destroy the nation. Topping that list of evil aspects is, of course, the greed for money and power that comes from capitalism. Next in line is the delusional thinking and hypocrisy of fundamentalist religions. There follows a disregard for truth, education and science all of which comes on the heels of intolerance and meanness and a total disregard for human life. I shutter to think what is coming next.

  5. Trump declared himself the “King of Debt” during his campaign. Of course, the king has hundreds of LLCs to which he can move his debt or his assets prior to a bankruptcy filing, so interest rates are nothing to worry about for him. Too bad the rest of us sapsuckers are so lucky.

    BTW, Gallagher did an interview criticizing his superiors while on active duty. That should get his rank reduced, but we know Esper won’t do anything his Dear Leader doesn’t want.

  6. “I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    Every elected Republican, at least the ones in the Senate, should have this epiphany.

  7. Theresa wonders what is next with Trump and his followers.

    The heretical Evangelical preachers are now claiming that Trump critics are demonically possessed. This, of course, means, all of you us writing on this blog are devil worshippers and doing the work of the devil.

    It’s heading in that direction because Trump was called by God to perform his duties as POTUS.

    Christian logic would then follow that all those opposing God’s choice for POTUS are demons.

    How many psychos will claim to be doing God’s work when killing off demons because you know they will start naming/labeling people/groups who are controlled by Satan. Defense lawyers won’t need case law since they have the word of God.

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street owned Centrist Democrats will hand Trump another four years instead of allowing a progressive in the White House.

    Welcome to the exceptional U.S.A.

  8. We have to stop calling Trump stupid. He knows what he is doing. His supporters are indeed stupid. He is just a con man, telling his mark what he wants to hear. Trump’s genius was realizing that the GOP had been a giant long con since 1980 and that he could easily outdo the standard republican politicians who had deluded themselves into thinking they could maintain some dignity. He IS the ultimate expression of what the GOP is. He is no fool — he simply has the advantage of no constraint of conscience.

  9. Why is this shocking?

    I worked in the utility field as a lineman for many years. The guys that were there way before me were so bigoted, the KKK didn’t have anything on them. They would make life so miserable for anyone who wasn’t white but got hired, quit! And this was with the blessing of management. I could go in to detail, but suffice it to say, it was not a pretty picture. I had gotten into physical altercations on more than several occasions because of these attitudes of those who claimed to be coworkers.

    Because, many didn’t know my background, they decided it was okay to talk about things in front of me. Others, would make sure I was excluded and ostracized because they were aware by background. I will tell you this, there are a lot of people who are plain out and out evil! They consider themselves patriots, LOL, and they never heard a conspiracy they didn’t like! They like to cloister themselves together to develop a common bond. A bond that can survive anything, including, lies and deceit, insanity, self-delusion, bullying, assault, entitlement, cheating, misogyny, mob mentality, and lemminglike behavior!

    So, if the average American lunatic is involved this deeply in the dismantling of the American fabric, how many who are involved in politics, religion, and business, are doing the same thing. Look at Donald Trump today tearing into the French president, and levying billions of dollars in tariffs against an ally that was instrumental in the formation of this country. When you listen to him speak, you realize the level of insanity is unbounded. And his sycophantic boot licker’s all stand around and approvingly applaud.

    So one would have to ask, why? The the pushback for the conspiracies have not been forceful, these have become entrenched partly because of a lack of urgency and some really deft foreign spy and intelligence agencies working diligently to destroy the “Great Experiment.” There are definitely without a doubt those who are acting as foreign agents at the highest level of government. And of fairy large portion of the American population supporting that action. I have cousins who love this whole fiasco, and the stuff that they post is mind-boggling. I say to them, “do your research” and basically they gravitate towards the alternate reality, the bizarro world of the Internet.

    They are like American suicide bombers, they are so brainwashed, they will destroy themselves just to take those crazy liberals with them! Pres. Trump, Atty. Gen. Barr, many in the Senate, religious sycophants and corporate con artists have revealed their true nature, they have finally achieved anarchy. They can loot with impunity, the dangling of money, is a powerful tool. Look at Giuliani!

  10. Right. His supporters DON’T think. They have decided, for any number of reasons, that this guy is their savior. It doesn’t matter that they’re being screwed and that the world is in grave danger of falling into total anarchy. They are SO stupid that they could NEVER admit they were wrong. If they did, their entire psyche would collapse.

  11. Fellow “Sheilalians” – now is the time for all good folks to come to the aid of their countrymen and countrywomen. If you believe that a significant majority of people are good and decent, then let’s get them to take those traits as weapons to the ballot box. Many do not think a vote matters…

    If you think that a majority of people are evil, selfish and bigoted, we better start another country…

  12. Not to worry. Biden will save us with his ‘No Malarkey’ bus tour. But those under 60 can be forgiven for not being familiar with “malarkey”. As Trevor Noah says: “What does that word even mean? It sounds like the dish your vegan cousin serves at Thanksgiving.”


  13. A SUPER-MAJORITY of people are evil, selfish and bigoted…because we let them get by with it. The reason we don’t bitchslap them into decency is we fractionally agree enough with them that their behavior does not outrage us enough.

    I am developing the opinion–new to me–that Senator John C. Frémont (Calif.), Senator Charles Sumner (Mass.), Representative Thaddeus Stevens (Pa.), and President Ulysses S. Grant (Ohio) should have been given free reign to punish southern bigots, as they and fellow Radicals wanted.

    And maybe they should have provided a “reservation state” somewhere in, say, Iceland to be set aside as a place to expel American whites who favored slavery. Give slave proponents a chance, in a nation of their own, to contemplate their sins and change their ways, and then, the first time they, in their new state, acted upon their evil whims against the family of sane nations, bomb them into oblivion.

    Turning one’s cheek for more abuse is a very narrow virtue. It is only a virtue when the cheek one turns is his or her own alone. But when the cheek you turn for another round of abuse also exposes my cheek and millions of other people’s cheeks to abuse, as happens when leaders turn their nation’s cheek, turning one’s cheek becomes evil rather than virtuous.

    Sometimes liberals are too damned liberal, liberal to the point of self-destructive permissiveness.

  14. Entertainment and social media has won. They have created a genuine following with their message of, above all be comfortable. Be who you want to be. Hate who you want to hate. Lie with every mouthful if it helps get what you want. Nothing matters. Accomplishment is an illusion. Your local gang no matter its name is the closet friend you have. Be a hero to them and you will be as good as you need to be.

    They are not coming back to normal but they are going to die. Wait for it.

    In the meantime there are enough left of the old school to carry on with the government we have always had. We will make do with only one party for the time being. We do at least have to make it to the polls to maintain order while we are waiting.

    That’s all a holding action, no victory. No progress.

    Then the hard part. What will work for 7B+ going on 10B immersed in rapidly emerging almost unimaginable technology but dwindling natural resources?

    I can’t imagine.

  15. Another way to say what Larry did is that liberalism and extremism are incompatible because the basis of liberalism is freedom – the mitigation of people living at the expense of others broadly defined. What could extreme freedom not at the expense of others even be?

    It can be unpopular because it conflicts with __________ superiority, fill in the blank, and it appeals to those who are comfortable in their own story and appreciate the fact of human diversity.

    As simple and universal as all of that is it is under attack by those who need power to impose what they need on others. Their pitch is if we don’t grab it others will because freedom is an illusion. Slaver or slave are the only choices.

    We all choose.

  16. Pete, really – “slaver or slave” are the ONLY CHOICES. What would Jesus say? What would Moses say? What would Mohammad say? What would Buddha say?

  17. Perhaps the language of the U.S. Constitution, as beautiful and near-perfect at it is, is far more inadequate than we think. The gray shades of justice and freedom and happiness exceed fifty, and certainly exceed our ability to code them in detail or condense them to fundamentals of governing.

    The myth of the Constitution’s authors being “inspired”, as if they were called to write a new chapter for a Holy Book, grows weaker by the hour. Yet, the Constitution continues to be a powerful force in our lives and pursuits.

    Keeping in mind that those abstract persons accused of doing the work of the deep state are actually appointed individuals and civil servants carrying out their specific governing tasks according to the limits and duties expressed in the Constitution; and knowing that many who condemn “the deep state” are unaware that by such whining they are actually condemning the Constitution, WE SHOULD ACKNOWLEDGE AND CELEBRATE THE FACT THAT THE CONSTITUTION, WITH ITS STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES, IS THE DEEP STATE.

    I suggest that at least 40 nations in Africa alone wish they had a deep state as strong as ours.

  18. Our USA is a War Criminal on a World Wide Stage. So, what would you expect, our soldiers go off the rails carrying out the Imperialist Agenda, at a point discipline breaks down.

    Back during the Regime of Bush the Younger, through some convoluted reasoning torture was not only acceptable it was given legal cover. Also when the Team of Bush the Younger lied about the Weapons of Mass Destruction, we trashed Iraq. The “Leadership” emerged unscathed. The Generals and Admirals followed orders.

  19. So, today, after completing my honey do list, I took my wife to the train station. She is a very empathetic person. There was a young woman crying, she had a daughter who must’ve been about 6 years old. They were from Honduras. She had spent the night on the street, it was 25° last night. She was trying to get to Kansas City where she had family. The crazy thing, you have people who were in this country illegally at one time, threatening to call immigration on this young woman and her daughter. My wife told her that she would help her get on a bus once she got to Chicago. My wife had texted me that she was on her way to Kansas City.

    I cannot, for the life of me, see how this woman and her child would be a threat to the security of this country. One thing I have noticed, because the head of this country is rotten, the rest of it, or those that are so inclined, flock to the grift and graft. Local politicians don’t really try to hide it so much anymore. They are bought and paid for by these PACs or deep pocketed lobbyists. The corruption is breathtaking. The ones not feasting at the trough are in the minority. By time the next election rolls around, they will have picked the bones clean if they are allowed to remain.

    The magnitude of evil works is astounding! Anyone believe that he will leave office if he is defeated in the election? People told me I was ridiculous for saying this before, but, I do not delude myself. This wouldn’t be the only historical example of something like this happening, but living it “is a whole nutha smoke.” So far, our enemies have WON the war, even though the rest of us might’ve WON many of the battles.

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