Posts Tagged Donald Trump

The bad haircut behind the Benghazi investigation has had it with Trump and partisan politics

You may know Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) as a man with the most notorious haircut in Congress, but he also has wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humor.

It’s something U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), knows quite well. The two frequently rib each other, with most of the jokes centering around the mangled mop on top of Gowdy’s head.

It’s a bond that’s so strong and genuine the two have even penned a inspirational book together, “Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country.” It’ll hit stands April 3.

And then there’s Gowdy’s 2016 barber shop-set, campaign ad which trumpeted his conservative credentials, while also poking fun at his series of bad hair days. The tagline: “Trey Gowdy: Consistent Conservative, Inconsistent Haircuts.”

All of this is in stark contrast to the role Gowdy played during the Benghazi hearings.

Gowdy attacked the investigation with the ruthless tenacity that made him a champion prosecutor. But his critics said his task was less about uncovering the truth of what happened on Sept. 11, 2012, than it was to paint a case that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to protect U.S. citizens — and then tried to hide the facts about the attack.

Unbeknownst to the public, the Congressman had grown disillusioned with Washington. And on

Jan. 31, 2018, Trey Gowdy announced he wouldn’t be running for re-election. Instead, he hoped to return to law, where, he said, there are jobs that “both seek and reward fairness.” It was a clear jab at Congress.

Not long after, a different image of Gowdy began to emerge, one that frequently supported Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russian investigation.

Although Gowdy tsk-tsked Mueller for not cracking down on leaks, the Congressman praised the former FBI director’s apolitical, blemish-free career.

Gowdy was also one of the few Republicans to counter the House Intelligence Committee declaration that it had found no evidence that Russia had attempted to get Trump elected, saying, “It is clear, based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy.”

Prior to that, Gowdy took issue with the common assertion that the Devin Nunes’ memo offered proof that the Russian investigation was a Democratic-led witch hunt against Trump, a witch hunt solely supported by the partially discredited Steele dossier.

According to Gowdy, there were plenty of other reasons for the investigation, like the meeting at Trump Tower, the email sent by Cambridge Analytica, and George Papadopoulos’ meeting with an Australian official. And there are few more authoritative voices on the memo than Gowdy: He co-wrote it.

Flash forward to this week. Gowdy may have defended Trump’s firing of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the Congressman condemned any move to fire Mueller.

On Sunday, Gowdy spoke very pointedly, telling Fox News’ Chris Wallace, “When you are innocent, if the allegations are collusion with the Russians and there is no evidence of that, and you are innocent of that, act like it.”

Gowdy even issued Trump a very clear warning if he tries to stop Mueller: “I would just counsel the president, it’s going to be very, very long bad 2018.”

Clearly, Trey Gowdy is no longer bound by partisan obligations. You might even say he is well on his way back to a world where fairness matters and those who seek it are rewarded.

Chris Haire is a political columnist for the Charleston City Paper who sheepishly admits that brisket is better than pulled-pork barbecue.

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Trump’s tariffs will make the housing industry slowdown even worse

According to some misguided narratives, Donald Trump thrives in a chaotic environment, purposely sowing confusion and discord with each heavy-handed pronouncement.

Those wishing to craft some reason for Trump’s behavior are every bit as hungry to assign a strategy to his actions where there is little more than erratic doodles on the page, the kind you might find in the notebook of a pre-teen girl where loopy love notes to “Tiger Beat”-boy of the year Johnny Orlando are written alongside hurried sketches of Hello Kitty, rainbow riding unicorns, and a flood of hearts capable of drowning the pharaoh’s army.

When it comes to public policy, Trump isn’t so much a bull in the china shop as an attention-deficit toro who isn’t even aware he’s in a china shop, despite the sound of crashing plates, the sharp shards cutting into his shanks, and the display cabinets filled with rows of porcelain finery. It’s all right there before his eyes and yet he simply doesn’t see it.

This is not a plan. It’s a problem.

And few industries are beginning to be impacted by Trump’s room-wrecking taurus then the housing industry.

Although the industry has bounced back from the disastrous days of the Great Recession, it still hasn’t reach the highs of the reckless Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac era, when loans were thrown out as wantonly as condoms at the Olympic village — the chief difference between the two: in one case the customer was protected, in the other … not so much.

While 2017 was a reasonably good year — new home starts jumped from 1.17 million to 1.2 million — 2018 isn’t off to a good start.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, single-family home sales were down 7.8 in January 2018, followed by an additional drop of 0.6 in February. The price of homes has also gone up 0.6 from January and 9.7 percent from February 2017.

One significant factor at play here: the lack of skilled laborers. As a result, houses are taking longer to be finished and costing more to build.

These aren’t bad jobs, of course. They’re well-paying, and although physically demanding, good honest work, the kind that the American dream is built on, the kind that sent scores of kids to college, the kind that built the suburbs where so many of us live.

Today, many of those jobs are increasingly held by foreign-born workers, many who are targets of the Trump administration.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, immigrants made up 24.4 percent of laborers in the construction industry in 2016, a number that has risen steady from 19.9 in 2004. Even at the construction peak before the Great Recession, the percentage of the immigrant workforce topped out at 22.8.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15.1 of male foreign-born workers are involved in the construction business, compared to 8.1 of native-born male citizens.

All of this is why the NAHB has called for measures that are more in line with the look-the-other-way, laissez faire attitudes of the pre-Great Recession era and less like the nationalistic, build-a-wall and deport-them-all policies of the Trump administration. Simply put, the association wants more immigrant workers and they want to make it easier for them to work in the U.S.

Even though the NAHB repeatedly claims they want to protect the nation’s borders — they never actually say how — if you read between the lines, you’ll see the builders association really doesn’t want much reform at all. In fact, they want to make sure that employers remain only responsible for the immigration status of their direct employees, not their subcontractors. This, of course, allows big contractors to ignore the vast of number of unauthorized workers on their sites while they put on a Make America Great Again cap to block out the hot summer sun.

With Trump in office, and his rhetoric remaining fiercely antagonistic toward the immigrant labor force, you can bet that current worker shortage is only going to get worse. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that fewer and fewer skilled hands are willing to risk traveling to a nation which has branded them murderers, drug dealers, and rapists and where white nationalism is dangerously on the rise.

But that’s that only part of how Trump policies are harming the home building biz. Trump’s recent softwood tariff has made lumber prices skyrocket, while the new tariffs on steel and aluminum are sure to take off as well.

According to the Associated Builders and Contractors, the price of softwood lumber has increased 15.6 percent since February 2017 while iron and steel are up 7.1 percent for the same period — and the tariffs have only recently gone into effect.

As a developer, you’d think that Trump understands just how important a system favorable to immigrants and lower tariffs are to the continued vitality of the construction business. And you know what, he probably does.

But he’d rather appeal to his base than help a vital American industry and the men and women who desperately want to move into a new home without breaking the bank.

Chris Haire is a political columnist for the Charleston City Paper who sheepishly admits that brisket is better than pulled-pork barbecue.

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