Thursday, January 23, 2020

Davos: Trump opens door to ‘tremendous’ UK trade deal as Mnuchin delivers warning over digital tax

President Donald Trump delivered a defiant defence of his record while his powerful entourage had a sobering message for the absent British government in Davos: the UK will face retaliatory trade sanctions if it persists with plans for a digital tax on the US tech giants.

Steve Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, had barely set foot on Swiss soil before hurling his throw-away bombshell. The British and Italians must suspend their plans for this contentious levy or face the full wrath of the Trump White House.

“If not, they’ll find themselves faced with President Trump’s tariffs,” he said on the margins of the World Economic Forum. A comprehensive trade deal between the two countries after Brexit will be effectively impossible in such circumstances.

Mr Trump was more oblique in his triumphant address to the Davos fraternity. “We look forward to negotiating a tremendous new deal with the United Kingdom: they have a wonderful new PM who wants very much to make a deal,” he said.

There was then a slight hesitation, as if Mr Trump was hedging the signal. The praise for Boris Johnson was not quite as effusive as usual. China’s Xi Jinping got markedly warmer treatment. “We love each other,” he said.

Mr Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal that Britain should heed the harsh lesson learned by France over its plans for a digital tax, which effectively singles out Facebook, Google, and the Silicon Valley names for discriminatory treatment. 

President Emmanuel Macron this week agreed under intense pressure – and faced with sanctions on Gallic symbols such as wine, cheese, and handbags – to suspend the measure until the end of the year as talks continue. Billed as a “truce” in Paris, it looks more like a humiliating climb-down to everybody else.

Mr Johnson included the digital services tax in the Conservative Manifesto despite warnings from his own Cabinet and an avalanche of criticism from both trade experts and free market analysts. “It is a bad idea based on dodgy economics and flimsy evidence,” said Julian Jessop from the Institute for Economic Affairs.

The tax is inherently discriminatory and would be almost impossible to collect. Mr Johnson pre-empted a joint OECD initiative, acting on behalf of 134 states, that is thrashing out a broader solution with Washington. This would go beyond the digital sphere to include a wider range of companies, levelling the playing field between Europe and the US.

Britain’s decision to push its own tax in defiance of the US at this pivotal juncture of the Brexit talks seems extraordinarily ill-judged. The Government has already ruled out trade concessions on agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and access to the National Health Services on terms already enjoyed by EU multinationals. This leaves little to talk about in US-UK trade discussions. The digital tax closes the door entirely. 

Mr Trump’s speech was a provocative romp through American exceptionalism, with a cunning focus on his “blue collar boom”, as if to reproach Davos Man and the pious liberal elites ensconced in their stunningly expensive sanctum sanctorum. “The American dream is back, bigger, better and stronger than ever before,” he said.

Unemployment is the lowest in half a century. The jobless rate for African-American youth is the “lowest in recorded history”. Ditto for disabled workers. “The poorest are making by far the largest gains,” he said.

“America’s thriving, America’s flourishing, and yes, America is winning again like never before,” he said. His listeners are sophisticated enough to know that a fiscal boom and a budget deficit of 5pc of the GDP at the top of the cycle will always buy you a boom, but still his words are unsettling for globalists sitting on a becalmed world economy. Then he twisted the knife.

“We are freeing our businesses and workers so they can thrive and flourish as never before. Today I urge other nations to follow our example and liberate your citizens from the crushing weight of bureaucracy,” he said.

Surely knowing that Greta Thunberg was in the audience, he could not resist a broadside against the “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse". "They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers. I have them, you have them, we all have them,” he said.

“They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 90s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty,” he said.

This was at a summit dedicated almost entirely this year to saving the planet from climate change. The audience could only grit their teeth. But whatever the Davos tribe think of Mr Trump’s brand of “America First” they cannot deny the sheer unbridled dynamism of his country.

Separately, Glenn Youngkin from the Carlyle Group said the US economy’s share of world output has amazingly risen from 23pc to 25pc over the last decade. “If you had predicted that 10 years ago, nobody would have believed you,” he said.

The last word goes to Mr Trump, who told listeners: “America’s newfound prosperity is undeniable, unprecedented and unmatched anywhere in the world.” Touché.



The media’s progressive bias has a propaganda guide — The AP Stylebook

Jon Caldara

Journalists have no idea how their work is perceived by a very sizable percentage of Americans.

At a recent wedding reception, I ran into a lady I’ve known for about 15 years. In her mid-60s she is the sweetest, most proper lady in the world. Never once have I heard a harsh word slip through her lips. When the conversation turned to the media, without prodding she simply asserted a loud, unambiguous, “(expletive) the media.”

When Trump points to the reporter pool in the back of one of his rallies and states, “They are the enemy,” he is singing to people like this. It’s one of the major reasons he became president.

It is fascinating how the built-up frustration to the main-stream media carried Trump to victory. It’s more fascinating that the media has shown absolutely no introspection into their role in the phenomenon. They really think most Americans see them as they see themselves — brave warriors of truth, not torchbearers for progressive ideology.

One only has to listen to NPR reporters and their pee-your-pants excitement at covering Trump’s impeachment to conclude they still have no idea so much of America considers them the enemy.

I have been around the media since the mid-80s as a cartoonist, columnist, talk show host, and of course through my years of political work. I love reporters. Almost universally they are engaging, caring, smart and riotously funny. And almost every one of them I have ever known feels called to journalism.

And not a single one of them recognizes how monolithically progressive the main-stream media is. Few of them will admit their profession is dominated by people with a left-of-center philosophy. And none, I mean none, see that what they pump out is serving the progressive agenda.

Talking to a reporter about how left the media is like talking to an alcoholic about his drinking. He honestly can’t see the issue and will angerly suggest you are the one with the problem.

But instead to turning to AA for an example of how to admit their problem, reporters turn to the AP, the Associated Press, to encourage it. The AP codifies reporters’ progressively loaded language with the AP Stylebook. This yearly updated, dictionary-like guide for reporters and editors is meant to make their work consistent.

What it actually does is cement terminology to promote political conclusions. It declares the winners and losers in political debates.

For reporters, it recommends avoiding terms like illegal alien: “use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person.” The AP instead suggests using terms like “undocumented.” While this is just fine with reporters, because most of them agree, it promotes a side on the immigration debate.

The first rule in winning any political battle is winning the language used to define the issue. In this, the media plays judge and jury.

The AP has updated its style to say that gender is no longer binary and thus declared a winner in this divisive debate. They ruled that, “Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex and gender.”

It’s admirable that reporters want to be compassionate to transgender individuals and those transitioning, as we all should be. But AP reporters first have a duty to the truth, or so they say. There are only two sexes, identified by an XX or XY chromosome. That is the very definition of binary. The AP ruling it isn’t so doesn’t change science. It’s a premeditative attempt to change culture and policy. It’s activism.

The AP, once the guardian of grammar and proper word usage, now allows “they/them/their” as a “singular and/or gender-neutral pronoun.” So, the Associated Press is happy to change the plain grammatical meaning of words to promote an agenda. “They” is singular and up is down.

The terms defined in the Stylebook take at most a phrase or short sentence to describe. “Race-related coverage” takes more than four pages to bob-and-weave through political correctness. No wonder the country can’t have a coherent conversation about race. We’re not allowed to use words.

Even with all the latitude the Stylebook gives reporters to steer left, they still consistently violate AP standards to push their views further.

The AP asserts, “Often, (race) is an irrelevant factor and drawing unnecessary attention to someone’s race or ethnicity can be interpreted as bigotry.” If that is true, the media’s preoccupation with identity politics makes them worse than the KKK.

The AP declares “Music added to AP productions must not have an editorial effect, such as evoking sympathy.” Note to my friends on TV and at NPR: news with sound effects and music, your mainstay product, is commentary, not reporting. So just respect us enough to admit it.

The AP is so brazen as to state, “AP resists being used as a conduit for speech or images that espouse hate or spread propaganda.”

The AP is the conduit for propaganda. If they don’t own up to it and try to change it, they may help re-elect the president they loathe.



Saying that there are only two sexes is the unforgiveable sin

The excellent article on the media above produced a reaction.  Its author was fired.  By firing him, the newspaper confirmed all he said

A columnist at The Denver Post claimed on Friday that he was fired for recognizing only two sexes.

“What seemed to be the last straw for my column was my insistence that there are only two sexes and my frustration that to be inclusive of the transgendered (even that word isn’t allowed) we must lose our right to free speech,” wrote columnist Jon Caldara, the president of a libertarian think tank known as the Independence Institute, in a Facebook post announcing his departure from the paper.

“I don’t care who uses whose bathroom, what you wear, or how you identify. People from this community have rights which we must protect,” Caldara went on, “But to force us to use inaccurate pronouns, to force us to teach our kids that there are more than two sexes, to call what is plainly a man in a dress, well, not a man in a dress violates our right of speech.”

The paper’s editorial editor, Megan Schrader, wrote to the Washington Free Beacon acknowledging Caldara had left the paper, but did not indicate whether he was fired for the reason he claims.

“I am writing a job description as we speak to fill his position,” Schrader said. “I hope that conservative Colorado writers will apply knowing that we value conservative voices on our pages and don’t have a litmus test for their opinions.”

Caldara had published a weekly column for The Denver Post since 2016. The column touched on a variety of conservative and libertarian topics.




FLIMSY CHARGES: McConnell proposes swift impeachment trial with long days (AP)

FINANCIAL AID IN THE CROSSHAIRS: Supreme Court takes up church-state separation in Christian schools case (NBC News)

INDIVIDUAL MANDATE PUNTED: Supreme Court won't rule on ObamaCare before Election Day, declines to fast track (NBC News)

AMBIGUOUS FUNDRAISING NUMBERS: Trump outraises individual Democrats but is behind the pack (The Resurgent)

FOR THE RECORD: Illegal border crossings fall a staggering 90% in Arizona following Trump policy change (The Daily Wire)

AND WHAT DOES SANDERS WANT? Sanders floats "moratorium on 99%" of deportations, demolition of border wall (National Review)

FAILED "REFORMS": Mexico murders rise to record 34,582 in AMLO's first year in office (Bloomberg)

POLICY: Yes, Trump deserves credit on black unemployment (Washington Examiner)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 


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