Political Animal

ISOLATED….Asia Times explains just how

ISOLATED….Asia Times explains just how poor our intelligence on North Korea is:

A couple of years ago Western intelligence discovered in Rome that North Korean intelligence agents were busily buying kitchen utensils and microwave ovens. The Western agents became suspicious and investigated the matter. They found out that some parts of microwaves oven could be used to build triggers for atomic bombs. They thus thought that the North Koreans were about to build an atomic bomb and were purchasing the components of its trigger in the form of innocuous kitchenware. They were about to act and stop the traffic, when they came across another piece of information: The utensils were connected with some Italian chefs hired to go and cook for a period of time in Pyongyang at Kim Jong-il’s court. So the Western agents dropped the matter – apparently Kim was simply fond of Italian food. Perhaps he is fonder of pizza than of atomic bombs.


MAYBE I COULD PICK UP A COUPLE OF THOSE SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS FOR HIM?….Wow, Paul Krugman got paid $50,000 for overseas speaking engagements? And he says he used to do this “a lot.” So figure, what? Ten gigs a year? Twenty? That’s pretty good money either way!

But now he doesn’t do it anymore because the New York Times won’t let him. His income from the Times is “very nice,” but it does involve a “substantial income cut” since he had to give up the speaking. I’ll bet.

You know, I think it might be fun to write a New York Times column, death threats and all, but would I give up a million dollars a year for it? We’re never likely to find out, but I have a feeling I might turn out to be not quite as good a little liberal as Paul Krugman….

MORE ON GUNS….As long as

MORE ON GUNS….As long as we’re on the subject of guns, Glenn Reynolds complained a few days ago about a Washington Monthly article by Brent Kendall that criticizes Republicans for weakening the enforcement of gun laws. After spending an entire post complaining that the headline writer called John Allen Muhammad’s gun a “sniper rifle” instead of an “assault rifle,” the next day we get to the meat of his complaint: he says the article writer thinks the gun shot those folks in D.C. all by itself without any help from Muhammad!

Yeah, yeah. Of course, the article says nothing of the sort, it simply uses the D.C. sniper case as an anecdotal lead-in to a story about how the power of the BATF to enforce existing gun laws has been systematically gutted over the past couple of decades. “I don’t know if this is true,” Glenn says, but then quotes a long letter from Dave Kopel saying, well, it is true, but for good reason:

The important thing that the Wash. Monthly leaves out from its description of why Congress limited BATF’s enforcement powers was BATF’s egregious abuse of civil liberties under FOPA.

….The fundamental thing wrong with the article is that he complains that the sniper shootings were caused by the Republicans/NRA because BATF didn’t shut down [the] Bulls Eye [gun shop]. (Of course there’s the absurd presumption that the killers would not have been able to obtain a gun from another store, or from somewhere else.) But if Bulls Eye is in fact guilty of everything that the author charges, then BATF had full power to have Bulls Eye’s FFL revoked.

But that’s exactly what the article said: BATF doesn’t have the funding, authority, or (apparently) the competence to enforce the law. Unfortunately, Glenn seems to think that’s OK. With a trademark “Indeed,” Glenn then excerpts this comment from a reader:

Maybe Mr. Kendall ought to consider the possibility that an awful lot of us find the idea of more “felony record-keeping charges” a lot scarier than the occasional armed nut.

Usually conservatives feel that if people are getting away with criminal activity, the answer is stronger law enforcement. But not when it comes to guns. In this one case, apparently, the occasional armed gun nut is just the price we pay.

Gun enthusiasts keep telling us that what we really need to do is enforce existing laws, not create new ones. Then shouldn’t we reform the BATF and give them the power and funding they need to enforce the law? Or do we only do that for laws that we like?