Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, February 9, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, February 9, 2019 

JOHN Micek

Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 




Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton


Here’s another reminder that, when it comes to the Trump 
administration, it’s more important to watch what the White 
House does, rather than what it says.

 The payday lending industry scored a huge win this when the 
U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed to weaken 
Obama-administration rules governing an industry that makes 
its money by exploiting people in desperate financial straits.

 That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what the agency was created to do. But, hey, this 
is Donald Trump’s Washington.

 Payday loans, sometimes known as paycheck advances, are short-term loans that you have 
to repay by the time you get your next paycheck. As the online news site reports, 
lenders charge prospective borrowers - who usually can’t get a loan anywhere else - a fee plus 
punitive interest.

 Though they offer the lure of quick cash, the loans are really a debt trap.

 According to research by The Center for Responsible Lending, the APR offered by some 
payday lenders can range from a crushing 533 percent to 792 percent.

 Those are rates only a loan shark could love.

 As The Washington Post reports, under the Obama-era rule, which was to take effect in 
August, lenders were supposed to make sure that borrowers could afford the loans they’re 
being offered. But as the Post notes, the latest proposals would lift that requirement and 
delay the rule’s implementation until 2020.

 The industry had been lobbying officials to get the rule reversed. And when those efforts 
failed, they got to work on winning over new CFPB boss Kathy Kraninger, a Trump 
appointee who took office last December, the newspaper reported.

 If the Post’s reporting is any indication, the effort appears to have worked.

 “The bureau will evaluate the comments, weigh the evidence, and then make its 
decision,” Kraninger said in a statement released to the Post.

 If this effort pays off, it will be a huge win for payday lenders, who have ridiculously 
claimed they’d face financial ruin if they’re required to actually make sure people can afford 
the loans they’re taking out.

 Among the real losers here, ironically, are those MAGA-hat wearing Trump loyalists in 
Rust Belt states who can least afford to afford the mafia-level interest rates.

 Last year, the industry tried to convince Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled House of 
Representatives to approve a bill that would have opened a massive loophole in the state’s 
very strong safeguards against predatory lending.

 The bill would have allowed payday lenders to pose as “loan brokers,” which would have 
allowed them to get around interest rate caps and charge unlimited fees to borrowers.

 Among those who would have been hit were the veterans that Trump professes to love 
so much and vows to protect during his hockey stadium rallies. Active-duty soldiers are 
already protected from such practices under a federal law that caps interest rates at 36 percent 

 The loan-broker bill never cleared a critical Pennsylvania House committee. And it died 
at the end of last year’s legislative session. But there’s every reason to expect the issue will be 
re-litigated during the new legislative session that started in January.

 And as the recent push at the federal level shows, the industry is tireless when it comes to 
trying to advance its interests.

 That’s bad news for consumers, one advocate says.

 “The CFPB is proposing to unwind the core part of its payday loan rule - that the lender 
must reasonably assess a borrower’s ability to repay before making a loan,” the bureau’s 
former director, Richard Cordray, posted on Twitter this week. “It’s a bad move that will 
hurt the hardest hit consumers. It should be - and will be - subject to a stiff legal challenge.”

 Some in the industry, however, believe the proposed rule change doesn’t go far enough, 
The Post reported. A top executive with one of the industry’s largest trade groups, The 
Community Financial Services Association of America, told The Post the rule should be 
repealed entirely.

 It’s eternally easy to get lost in Trump’s bluster - to be outraged by his latest bullying Tweet 
or bald-faced televised falsehoods.

 But it’s in the nuts-and-bolts of policymaking, in the White House’s ongoing efforts to 
undermine government institutions that the 45th president is doing the most damage.

 And, as ever, it’s those who are cheering the loudest for him that will end up suffering the 

 An award-winning political journalist, John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The 
Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at jmicek@penncapital-star.
com and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.

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TOM Purcell

DICK Polman


As I soldiered through Chris Christie’s spin-memoir “Let Me Finish,” 
I found myself flashing back to September 2011, when he was being 
widely touted as the GOP’s “Next Big Thing.” One particular ego-
stroking incident at the Reagan Presidential Library must surely be one 
of his personal favorites.

 With the 2012 White House race on the horizon, guest speaker Christie was serenaded by a 
woman in the audience who tearfully begged him to run for president. When he said he had no 
plans for 2012, his listeners groaned. They wanted him so badly, they actually groaned.

 That incident is not recounted in Christie’s book, but in a way it permeates every page of a book 
that could easily have been subtitled with the closing of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley: “I was 
once Ozymandias, King of Kings / Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! / Nothing beside 
remains. Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands 
stretch far away.”

 Translation: This is a guy who cratered his second gubernatorial term with a 15 percent 
approval rating, who crashed and burned as a 2016 presidential candidate, who then signed on 
as toadying manservant to the most notorious con artist in presidential history…and whose new 
book is basically a desperate plea for any future slice of the action.

 You may have noticed last week that Christie touted himself in a whirlwind media tour, 
damning Trump with faint praise and praising Trump with faint damns. It was obvious what he 
was doing. I agree with Christie biographer Matt Katz of WNYC, who tells me:

 “He did Hannity, Colbert, Morning Joe, Daily Show and NPR… He gave different Christies 
to everyone, depending on the audience,” said Christie biographer Matt Katz of WNYC. “He’s 
trying to look like the adult in the room, and remain a known entity to everyone - the MAGA 
crowd and MSNBC baby boomers - for yet another attempted comeback in 2020 (if Trump is out) 
or 2024.”

 Maybe it’s shrewd to defend Trump while selectively knocking Trump, but his naked 
calculations strike me as mostly pathetic. Christie’s book basically argues that Trump is held back 
from greatness by the grifters, schemers, and charlatans who surround and ill-serve him, and 
contends that if only Trump had better people in his employ, his “deal-making prowess” would 
shine through.

 The glaring flaw in Christie’s argument - the one he never manages to address - is that Trump 
is surrounded by grifters, schemers and charlatans because they are his hires. Christie never 
invokes Trump’s boastful promise to hire “the best people,” and never measures the chasm that 
separates promise from the performance. He lauds Trump for running the 2016 campaign (“he 
always made the decisions himself”), but he absolves Trump of all decision-making in the White 
House, blaming everything on the underlings. In Christie’s telling, the buck stops everywhere - 
with the exception of the Oval Office.

 Supposedly, the original sin was committed shortly after the 2016 election, when Christie was 
fired from his job running the Trump transition. According to the book, Christie had assembled 
“a first-class lineup” of prospective Cabinet nominees and stellar personnel. But at the apparent 
behest of princeling Jared Kushner (avenging his dad, whom Christie had prosecuted as a U.S. 
attorney), all of Christie’s transition work went into the trash.

 Yet Christie willfully fails to connect the most obvious dots: Trump is surrounded by idiots 
because he is an inept executive who condones and excuses ineptitude. Christie somehow refuses 
to blame the guy he still calls “my friend Donald.” In fact, Trump has “many of the qualities that 
have defined America’s leaders,” even though he fails to enumerate what they are. He describes 
the Trump administration as a “tragedy,” but refuses to blame the tragedian-in-chief.

 In truth, the original sin in the Christie saga is that he attached himself to Trump in the first 
place. Christie writes virtually nothing about candidate Trump’s serial lies and demagoguery, 
and even though he says that Trump “knowingly” lied about him on the trail, he was oh so 
flattered when Trump phoned him, on the night of the New Hampshire primary, and said, “I 
so admire and respect you.” Within weeks, Christie was out of the race in toady mode, standing 
mute behind Trump on a stage in Florida: “Standing all alone, it’s very difficult to know what to 
do…I should have known better, and I should have just walked off that stage.”

 But he still wants to be on that stage, and he’ll abase himself in a book if that’s what it takes. To 
borrow an image from “Citizen Kane,” that begging woman at the Reagan Presidential Library 
was his Rosebud sled. He dearly hopes it hasn’t gone up the chimney.

 Dick Polman is the national political columnist at WHYY in Philadelphia and a “Writer in 
Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. Email him at


While organizing my home office a few weeks ago, I came 
across a letter my grandfather wrote back in 1924.

 He wrote that eloquent letter to his best friend’s wife, 
consoling her on the loss of her mother. His cursive 
handwriting was artful - perfect penmanship.

 He wrote the letter when he was 21. Since he died at 34, 
when my father was only 3, it is among the most cherished items I have from a 
grandfather I never got to meet.

 Such is the power of the handwritten letter, an art that has died along with the art 
of cursive handwriting.

 You see, many American schools have phased out lessons in cursive. There is a 
waning need for it in the modern era, some argue, and the classes take too much 

 Cursive originated centuries ago. It’s the result of technological innovations such 
as inkwells and quill pens made from goose feathers.

 Because ink dripped when the quill was lifted from the paper, it made sense to 
connect letters in words together in one flowing line - and the art of cursive writing 

 Cursive became less necessary with the invention of the ballpoint pen, which 
does not leak and, technically, does not require cursive writing.

 Changing technology, which led to electronic documents completed on 
computers, has also contributed to less need for handwritten signatures.

 As a result, millions of younger Americans have not been taught cursive 
penmanship. But that’s being rethought by no small number of educators.

 Fourteen states have passed laws mandating that students become proficient in 
cursive writing.

 Proponents of cursive argue that it must be taught for several practical reasons.

 How can someone who can’t read cursive read and appreciate a handwritten note 
from Grandma - or original, historic documents such as the U.S. Constitution?

 Proponents also argue that students who take notes using longhand, rather than 
a keyboard, are more likely to master subjects.

 In Psychology Today, William Klemm, Ph.D., a senior professor of neuroscience 
at Texas A&M University, argues that cursive writing “helps train the brain to 
integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity… To write legible 
cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers. You have to pay attention and 
think about what and how you are doing it. You have to practice. Brain imaging 
studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in 

 There are other important reasons to carry on the art of cursive handwriting - 
and the art of the handwritten letter.

 When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? The last time you 
wrote one?

 Is there anything more wonderful than opening your mailbox to find an envelope 
with your name and address, and a friend or family member’s name and return 
address, handwritten on it?

 I hate to admit it, but the last time I received such a letter was years ago, when my 
sisters and I sent our newly retired parents on a trip to Florida. Each day that week, 
our mother wrote a letter and mailed it to one of us.

 She and my father both have impeccable penmanship. Her letters look more 
like art than a form of communication. My sisters and I spent hours sharing those 
letters and laughing out loud.

 We still have those letters, and they still make us laugh out loud.

 That’s the power of a letter handwritten in cursive.

 Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood,” a humorous 
memoir available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist.

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