David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome the news that U.S. sanctions are inflicting a devastating economic toll and putting a lot of political pressure on North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un. They also cringe at reports that President Trump promised China two months ago that he would not condemn a Chinese crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. And they hammer PolitiFact for refusing to criticize Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris over their characterization of Michael Brown’s death as murder. PolitiFact says, “Legally, it wasn’t. How much should this word choice matter?”
Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleased to see President Trump walk away with no deal with Kim Jong-Un rather than give in to Kim’s thoroughly unacceptable demands. They also slam Trump for taking Kim “at his word” that he knew nothing about the horrific treatment of American Otto Warmbier in a North Korean prison and that Trump made some nuclear concessions even before beginning talks. And they have fun with the news that media darling Beto O’Rourke is likely to run for president.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleasantly surprised at President Trump’s State of the Union address, in which he extolled the greatness of America, condemned socialism and late term abortion and found several issues where bipartisan cooperation seems plausible. They also cringe at some other moments in the speech including Trump’s contentions that investigations of him will hurt the economy, that you can negotiate peace with the Taliban, and that another summit with Kim Jong-Un is a good idea. And their jaws hit the floor as Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admits to dressing up in blackface while in college, just days after calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to resign.
Evidence is growing that North Korea is refusing to wind down its ballistic missile program and even appears to be adding sites while failing to report them.
As part of the framework agreed to between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong -Un in June, North Korea was supposed to pursue the dismantling of its nuclear program and its ballistic missiles.
Earlier evidence showed North Korea not following through on the commitment and now the Center for Strategic and International Studies says North Korea is operating mobile missile bases close to the South Korean border.
North Korea expert Gordon Chang, author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World,” says the revelations are not all that new but the involvement of the mobile missiles is very disturbing.
“It’s the mobile missiles that can hide before launching that we’re really concerned about,” said Chang.
“We’d have maybe only an hour’s notice, and that should be sufficient time to find and destroy a mobile missile that is about to be launched, but in a wartime situation we may not be able to do that,” added Chang.
Chang says Trump should have already re-imposed sanctions against North Korea and slapped others on China and Russia for flouting sanctions to help North Korea continue its nuclear and missile programs.
Chang worries Trump is too personally invested in the narrative that he was able to solve the North Korean threat, but he believes the evidence will soon be overwhelming. He sees Trump’s about-face on China on trade as an encouraging precedent.
“I think he could very well do the same thing to Kim Jong-Un, especially if he feels that he’s been embarrassed and humiliated by the North Korean leader.
“At this point, I think we can say there’s an ’emperor has no clothes” moment. So President Trump does need to pivot to a much more severe, harsh policy,” said Chang.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Chang’s explanation of how China has helped North Korea cheat on its missile program and how the world is likely to react if Trump does bring back sanctions.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America lament the loss of another GOP Senate seat as Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is declared the winner of the Arizona Senate race. They’re also not surprised as North Korea is found maintaining and even enhancing its ballistic missile program with numerous undeclared sites. They also react to National Review writer Kat Timpf being harassed at a New York City bar and being forced to leave because some people found out she worked for Fox News. And Jim pays tribute to the late Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos tackle the latest accusations of Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, leaving Republicans with the unpleasant choice of ditching a Supreme Court nominee over an eleventh hour allegation missing many specifics or confirming a nominee who many Americans now believe to be a sex offender just one month before the midterms. They also get a kick out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flailing and failing to explain how she would pay for $40 trillion in new government programs over ten years. And they sigh as evidence mounts that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un hasn’t stopped his nuclear or missile programs but just isn’t boasting about it anymore.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the Trump administration for rolling back the burdensome EPA clean power plant regulations and giving the states more flexibility in how they deal with emissions. They also unload on CNN and other media outlets for reporting on tearful reunions among family members living in North and South Korea after nearly 70 years, blaming the separation on the Korean War rather than a brutally repressive communist regime in North Korea. And they shake their heads as President Trump takes to Twitter and muses about pulling security clearances based on what former national security officials say about him on cable television.
North Korea is bristling at American the verification demands for the dismantling of its nuclear program, but one prominent expert believes the Trump administration’s hardball tactics got Kim Jong-Un to the negotiating table and will likely lead to him truly abandoning his nukes as well.
Over the weekend, North Korea accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of engaging in “gangster” tactics for making a number of unilateral demands for North Korean disarmament.
The negotiations themselves followed international reports that North Korea was upgrading its primary enrichment site at Yongbyon and two other facilities. There is also evidence that North Korea is moving forward with its ballistic missile program.
Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher doesn’t see North Korean cheating as evidence that the deal is collapsing but as proof the Trump administration intends to see the entire nuclear program reduced to rubble.
“I think the Trump administration is leaking intelligence reports to the media in order to put Kim Jong-Un on notice that we are watching,” said Mosher.
“We’re putting Kim and his people on notice that if they do not tell us exactly where all the missile launch and manufacturing sites are, all the centrifuges are, all the nuclear sites, all the nukes they may have in storage somewhere,” said Mosher.
And despite the North Korean pushback on Trump’s tactics, Mosher is confident Kim will ultimately comply.
“My guess is that he is (going to go along with nuclear disarming). I hope he understands that the sanctions will not be lifted unless he denuclearizes. He knows, I think, that the president has his number. I think that’s why the U.S. has the upper hand in these negotiations,” said Mosher.
Mosher says Trump caught Kim off guard by not communicating in the same manner as his predecessors. He says Trump’s threatening Kim with “fire and fury” and comparing the sizes of their nuclear buttons appears to have rattled Kim.
He also asserts that Trump promising to help revitalize the North Korean economy once the nukes are gone is a major attraction for Kim. But even if all of that happens, Mosher says the Kim regime’s days are numbered.
“[Trump] made clear in Singapore that he can make life in North Korea much easier. Kim Jong-Un can stay in power. His economy can develop and his people will be much better off.
“Now think about his other options. I believe we’ll see other steps taken to lock up the North Korean regime inside the hermit kingdom that it really is. That will eventually lead to the collapse of the regime,” said Mosher.
One of the other options is for Kim to demonstrate the power of his arsenal with a desperate pre-emptive strike on the U.S. or one our allies in the region. Mosher says that would be a colossal mistake.
“If he tries some sort of pre-emptive strike against the South, that would only accelerate this process. He would be driven back. The Chinese would be forced to intervene again. He would be signing his death warrant and all but inviting China to absorb his half-kingdom,” said Mosher.
Even though China keeps North Korea afloat economically, there’s no great love for the Chinese in Pyongyang. Mosher points out that the government forces women impregnated by Chinese men to undergo abortions so as not to pollute the race.
But China is another reason Mosher thinks Kim will eventually play ball and get rid of his nuclear program. He says Trump has China in a position of weakness as well.
“We’ve caught China cheating on the sanctions a half dozen times already. We caught them cheating on land when the trucks and the trains were still going into North Korea carrying Chinese goods. We caught them at see when they were doing at-sea fuel transfers and goods transfers. Satellite photos showed they were Chinese ships doing the cheating.
“And we caught them again just a couple of weeks ago, when Chinese businesses were rushing into North Korea, anticipating the lifting of the sanctions. We said, ‘Wait a minute. The sanctions are still in place.’ Beijing has ordered all the companies and their representatives back to China,” said Mosher.
Mosher says China is also cautious about flouting sanctions due to the resurgent American economy.
“The American economy may grow faster than the Chinese economy this year. They’re claiming six percent growth but that probably a 30 percent exaggeration. The real growth is about four percent. They have an aging population because of the one-child policy, a shrinking workforce.
“They have huge government corruption and they have off the books debt that is just enormous, probably 300 percent of GDP,” said Mosher.
So what are the demands that have North Korea so upset over the past few days? Mosher hopes Pompeo is leaving no wiggle room for Kim to cheat on his promises.
“You have to have verified, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. We have to have American teams of inspectors going in there, unrestricted by any conditions of when you can visit a site and how often you can visit a site and where you can go.
“We’ve denuclearized countries before. We went into Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union and de-nuked that country in a couple of years. We know how to do it if we have access,” said Mosher.
If North Korea fails to allow that kind of access or reneges on it’s promises, Mosher says the consequences should be severe.
“I think the sanctions can be tightened even further. We have to make sure that China’s not cheating. Russia needs to be sidelined as well. They’re both spoilers. They’ve violated the sanctions regime in the past. If we’re not watching and putting pressure on them, they’ll violate the sanctions regime in the future.
“I think we also have to ask countries to send the North Korean workers home who are working in their countries. That’s a big source of revenue for Pyongyang,” said Mosher.
He also says the U.S. could put the North Korean economy in a vise grip to compel compliance.
“Finally, I think we need to consider blockading North Korean ports to stop North Korean trade through the oceans. If we do that, we can then sit back and watch the North Korean economy gradually grind to a halt. That, if anything, will bring Kim Jong-Un back to the negotiating table to get serious this time,” added Mosher.
Jim and Greg are both on vacation this week. They will be back June 25th. There will new episodes with guest hosts Thursday and Friday of this week. Today, please enjoy an encore presentation of the Three Martini Lunch.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are in very good spirits as they savor three wonderful martinis for conservatives. First, they celebrate the news that three American hostages are on their way home from North Korea in advance of the upcoming Trump-Kim summit. They also applaud President Trump for withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, which was riddled with inspection loopholes and was never properly submitted to Congress. And they cheer the victory of conservative Patrick Morrisey in the West Virginia U.S. Senate primary, the lopsided defeat for “Cocaine Mitch” accuser Don Blankenship, and strong turnout for Republicans in three primary states.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate another free speech victory coming out of the Supreme Court as it ruled against a Minnesota law that banned political apparel at the polls. They also remain confused at President Donald Trump’s praise for the murderous North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un. And they look at the initial details of the long-anticipated Inspector’s General report about Comey, Lynch, and the Hillary Clinton private server investigation.