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The Talented Mr. Kim

Today on the Daily Standard Podcast, Jonathan V. Last and Jim Swift talk with host Charlie Sykes about President Trump's historic meeting in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, the wake of the G7 Summitread more weeklystandard.comOriginal Article

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Small Business Optimism Jumps to Second Highest Level in Measure’s 45-Year History; Tax Cuts Credited

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in May determined small business enthusiasm to be at its second highest point since it started tracking the measure in 1973. The NFIB's small business optimism index reached 107.8 in May, a 3 point increase from the prior month and the highest since the record of 108.0 in 1983, CNBC reported. Commentary in the NFIB report credited the tax reform signed into law by President Donald Trump at the end of 2017. "The new tax code is returning money to the private sector where history makes clear it will be better invested than by a government bureaucracy," it read. "Regulatory costs, as significant as taxes, are being reduced." The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, amongst other reforms. Expectations for business expansion and positive earnings reports hit record highs and expectations for strong increases in real sales hit their highest mark since 1995. Other economic indicators are also up, including expectations for overall economic growth and plans to increase employment. The NFIB's report is mostly good news all around, although it did note increasing prices and concerns about labor quality. Concerns about labor quality can partially be explained by a tight labor market with low unemployment and an abundance of jobs. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement, "Small business owners are continuing an 18-month streak of unprecedented optimism which is leading to more hiring and raising wages." "While they continue to face challenges in hiring qualified workers, they now have more resources to commit to attracting candidates," he continued. The post Small Business Optimism Jumps to Second Highest Level in Measure’s 45-Year History; Tax Cuts Credited appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Cotton: We Have to Continue Our Campaign of Maximum Pressure on North Korea

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said on Tuesday that while negotiations with North Korea are ongoing, the United States must continue its maximum pressure campaign on the regime. "In the meantime, we have to continue our campaign of maximum pressure from an economic standpoint and avoid the mistakes of past administrations of both parties in dealing with the Kim regime, which is that we don’t grant up front concessions in return for easily reversed promises," Cotton said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. During this week's summit in Singapore, Trump became the first U.S. president to meet face-to-face with a North Korean head of state. The Trump administration has pushed for North Korea to denuclearize, while promising security and prosperity in return. The joint statement Trump and Kim signed gave few details on how the two countries will move forward with denuclearization of the peninsula. "President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the statement said. Hewitt played a clip that showed Trump saying the agreement with North Korea depends on the United States being able to verify if Kim is taking steps towards denuclearization. "That’s the key, Hugh," Cotton said. "Again, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating in the coming months. Heads of state don’t negotiate the technical details of a verification regime. That’ll be left up to Secretary Pompeo and other members of our national security team." Hewitt asked Cotton about Trump's surprise announcement that joint-military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea would stop, and if the exercises would be back on if North Korea cheats. "I believe that Donald Trump is going to continue the campaign of maximum pressure, and he will not grant one-sided unilateral concessions," Cotton said. "And if Kim Jong Un reverses his commitments on a much bigger issue than trade negotiations, than what the president said about Justin Trudeau will be repeated tenfold about Kim Jong Un." Critics of the summit argue Trump giving Kim a face-to-face meeting will legitimize the dictator without any serious concessions from the dictator. Cotton, who was a vocal critic of former President Barack Obama's decision to normalize relations with Cuba and Iran nuclear deal, said Trump's meeting with Kim is different. "There is a school of thought that the United States should not sit down, that the United States president should not sit down with two-bit dictators. I think there’s some validity to that school of thought, with an exception once those dictators have nuclear weapons," Cotton said. "You know, countries like Iran and Cuba and other two-bit rogue regimes don’t have nuclear weapons, yet. They can’t threaten the United States in that way." "Once North Korea had nuclear weapons, once they have missiles that can deliver them to us, I would liken it to past presidents sitting down with Soviet dictators. It’s not something that we should celebrate. It’s not a pretty sight. But it’s a necessary part of the job to try to protect Americans from a terrible threat," Cotton added. The post Cotton: We Have to Continue Our Campaign of Maximum Pressure on North Korea appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Alec Baldwin: ‘I Would Absolutely Win’ if I Ran for President Against ‘Maniac’ Trump

Actor Alec Baldwin said he would "absolutely win" if he ran against Donald Trump for the presidency in 2020, calling him a "maniac" and "weird guy." Baldwin, who lampoons Trump on "Saturday Night Live" and is an outspoken critic of him and the Republican Party, was jokingly put up for the White House bid by shock jock Howard Stern on Monday. "If I ran, I would win," Baldwin told Stern. "I would absolutely win. 1,000 percent." "Hands down," he added. "It would be the funniest, most exciting, most crazy campaign." He added he was not the "hope" of the Democratic Party, and he hoped someone great would emerge as the party's standard-bearer. "The only reason I say that is because I'd love to run for that kind of position to have things just be very common sense," Baldwin said. "There's so many things this country needs to do that are so obvious." Baldwin claimed in the same interview First Lady Melania Trump loves his SNL impression of her husband, according to anonymous White House insiders. "She must know what a maniac he is and what a weird guy he is," Baldwin said. Baldwin has stated doing the Trump impression is "agony" and would do anything to see he is voted out of office. "I'll vote for Mitt Romney. I don't care. Anybody over this guy. It doesn't matter. We have to get rid of him," he told the Hollywood Reporter. The post Alec Baldwin: ‘I Would Absolutely Win’ if I Ran for President Against ‘Maniac’ Trump appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Steyer-Led Petition Effort in AZ Accused of Employing 27 More Felons

A group opposed to a Tom Steyer-funded petition drive that would put a higher renewable mandate question on the Arizona ballot this fall is accusing the group gathering signatures of employing 27 felons in addition to the five already alleged to have been employed earlier in the year and acknowledged by one of the drive's organizers. Arizona law requires anyone gathering signatures for a petition to be eligible to vote. Those with felony records can lose their voting rights for a period of time after their release from prison depending on the situation and the sentence, and Arizonans for Affordable Electricity says it has not seen proof that the signature gatherers in question have had their voting rights restored. "Given the severity of many of these offenses—including murder, kidnapping and armed robbery—it is unlikely the individual would be a candidate to have his/her rights restored," said Matt Benson, director of AFAE. Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona (CEHA) is hoping to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot asking Arizona voters to increase the mandate on the state's renewable portfolio from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent by 2030. To do so, they'll need to supply roughly 260,000 valid signatures by July 5. AFAE filed a similar complaint with the secretary of state's office in May of this year, saying that CEHA had employed at least five persons with felony convictions on the petition drive, and asked that all of the signatures gathered and submitted by those people be thrown out. According to the first-quarter campaign finance filings, the most recent time period for which data is available, the CEHA campaign had received just over $957,000 in contributions from NextGen Climate Action, the political action committee of Tom Steyer, the California billionaire and political activist. Arizonans for Affordable Electricity is mainly funded by Pinnacle West, which owns the main energy supplier in the state, Arizona Public Service (APS). "The energy campaign's blatant disregard for state law represents a clear and present threat to public safety and the integrity of our state's initiative process," Benson said. "We respectfully request that the Arizona Secretary of State's Office investigate these serious claims and invalidate any signatures collected in violation of state law." Benson told the Washington Free Beacon by email that he hasn't seen any movement from the secretary of state's office yet on the first complaint filed in May. The secretary of state's office did not return a request for comment. The director of Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, Rodd McLeod, also did not return a request for comment. McLeod told a columnist for the Arizona Republic in May, "We hired a bunch of people and a few slipped through the cracks and they are no longer working for us." Nationally, Steyer has increased his visibility thanks to his "Need To Impeach" television ads and town hall campaign against President Trump. However, the former hedge fund manager has a longer political history promoting political campaigns related to climate change and the environment. The post Steyer-Led Petition Effort in AZ Accused of Employing 27 More Felons appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump on Past Rhetoric With North Korea: I Felt ‘Foolish’ at Times, But It Was Necessary

President Donald Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that his past rhetoric toward North Korea – exemplified by language like "fire and fury" – made him feel "foolish," but he said it was necessary for progress. In an excerpt of an interview with Hannity that will air in full Tuesday night, Trump reflected on past comments he made about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. "Well, I think without the rhetoric, we wouldn't have been here. I really believe that," Trump said. "You know, we did sanctions and all of the things that you would do, but I think without the rhetoric, you know, other administrations, I don't want to get specific on that, but they had a policy of silence." "If [North Korea] said something very bad, very threatening, and horrible, just don't answer," Trump said, describing the approach of past administrations. "That's not the answer. That's not what you have to do." "So I think the rhetoric – I hated to do it, sometimes I felt foolish doing it, but we had no choice," he added. Earlier in Trump's tenure, the White House and North Korea had been in a war of words. Trump notably called Kim "Little Rocket Man" because of North Korea's missile launches, said North Korea would be met with "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten the U.S. and its allies, and responded to a threat from Kim about his "nuclear button" to say he had a "bigger and more powerful" button. Trump and Kim completed their first meeting in Singapore on Tuesday with a joint document signed by the two leaders and comments indicating further talks will occur. Trump said in due time he may invite Kim to the White House and that he may travel to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to meet again. The post Trump on Past Rhetoric With North Korea: I Felt ‘Foolish’ at Times, But It Was Necessary appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump Showers Praise on Kim Jong Un: ‘He’s Smart, Loves His People’ … ‘I Think He Liked Me and I Like Him’

President Donald Trump effusively praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in an interview with Voice of America airing Tuesday, saying Kim "loves his people" and "has a great feeling for them." Trump met face-to-face with Kim in a historic summit in Singapore Tuesday, as the two men who had traded belligerent threats over the past year shook hands and posed for pictures. They later emerged with a signed agreement to seek full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula that was light on details. Speaking with former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, Trump spoke warmly of Kim, the leader of one of the nation's most repressive regimes presiding over abysmal human rights conditions. Trump told her they were going to "denuke North Korea" and that Kim was "funny," had a "great personality" and was a "great negotiator." "I think he liked me and I like him," Trump said. "And I understand the past and, you know, nobody has to tell me, he’s a rough guy. He has to be a rough guy or he has been a rough person. But we got along very well. He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country. He wants a lot of good things, and that’s why he’s doing this." Van Susteren noted Kim has starved and brutalized his people. "Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done, if you look at it. But, I really have to go by today and by yesterday and by a couple of weeks ago because that’s really when this whole thing started," Trump said. Asked why he was confident North Korea wanted to make a nuclear deal, Trump said Kim "knows that we mean business." The Trump administration has pointed to tough sanctions against North Korea as helping get the rogue regime to the negotiating table, and Trump said the sanctions would remain on until it started dismantling its nuclear weapons. Van Susteren asked Trump what he wanted to say to North Korea's people, and he again heaped praise upon Kim. "I think you have somebody that has a great feeling for them," he said. "He wants to do right by them and we got along really well. We had a great chemistry—you understand how I feel about chemistry. It’s very important. I mean, I know people where there is no chemistry. No matter what you, do you just don’t have it. We had it right from the beginning, I talked about that, and I think great things are going to happen for North Korea." The post Trump Showers Praise on Kim Jong Un: ‘He’s Smart, Loves His People’ … ‘I Think He Liked Me and I Like Him’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump Announces ‘War Games’ With South Korea Will Stop, Calls Them ‘Provocative’

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the United States will stop joint military exercises with South Korea as part of the agreement coming out of the U.S.-North Korea summit. "We will stop the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money," Trump said during a press conference. "Unless and until we see the future negotiations is not going along like it should." The announcement appeared to catch South Korea by surprise. "At this moment, the meaning and intention of President Trump's remarks requires more clear understanding," a South Korean Blue House spokesperson said. South Korean Blue House spox: "At this moment, the meaning and intention of President Trump's remarks requires more clear understanding." — Elise Hu (@elisewho) June 12, 2018 Trump also adopted a common North Korean talking point in calling the joint-military exercises as "very provocative." "Plus. I think it's very provocative," Trump said. During the summit in Singapore, Trump became the first U.S. president to meet face-to-face with the leader of North Korea. The Trump administration has pushed for North Korea to denuclearize, while promising security and prosperity in return. The joint statement that both Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed gave few details on how the two countries will move forward with denuclearization of the peninsula. "President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the statement said. A reporter asked Trump what assurances he would be willing to give North Korea and if they include reducing the U.S. military presence in the region. "Can you be specific of the assurances you are willing to give to Kim Jong Un? Does that include reducing military operations?" the reporter asked. "No, we're not reducing anything. We're not reducing anything. At some point. I have to be honest. I used to say this during my campaign, as you know better than most, I want to get our soldiers out," Trump said. "I want to bring our soldiers back home. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea, and I would like to be able to bring them back home." "That's not part of the equation right now. At some point, I hope it would be," Trump added. The post Trump Announces ‘War Games’ With South Korea Will Stop, Calls Them ‘Provocative’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump: Kim Jong Un is ‘Denuking’ the Whole Place, He’s Going to Start ‘Very Quickly’

President Donald Trump said during a Tuesday interview on "Good Morning America" that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is "denuking" his country and is going to start "very quickly." "He's denuking the whole place, and he's going to start very quickly. I think he's going to start now," Trump told ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos. During the summit in Singapore, Trump became the first U.S. president to meet face-to-face with a North Korean head of state. The Trump administration has pushed for North Korea to denuclearize, while promising security and prosperity in return. The joint statement Trump and Kim signed gave few details on how the two countries will move forward with denuclearization of the peninsula. "President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said the statement. In addition to signing the joint statement, Trump said North Korea will soon announce steps they will take. "They'll be announcing things over the next few days, talking about other missile sites because they were, as you know, they were sending out a lot of missiles," Trump said. "They are going to be getting rid of sites." "Is he going to stop testing?" Stephanopoulos asked. "He already has. We have—how many months has it been, George, seven, where there's been no missiles going up?" Trump said. Trump added he believes Kim is committed to not start testing his nuclear weapons again and that it will take time for him to dismantle his nuclear program. "Somebody said 15 years if you go rapidly, but when you're in a process of doing it, you're really dismantling. In other words, you can't do anything during that period of time, but they have a process for getting rid of nukes that does take—it's not like, oh gee, we'll get rid of them tomorrow," Trump said. The president appeared to reference North Korea destroying parts of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site as evidence that the country is serious about denuclearization. "They've really already started. They blew up a site which was the real deal site. That was their big site. They've blown it up," Trump said. "They're getting rid of things that haven't been mentioned in the document. They're getting rid of certain missile areas, and they're not going to be sending missiles up." The post Trump: Kim Jong Un is ‘Denuking’ the Whole Place, He’s Going to Start ‘Very Quickly’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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