- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2013

With much ado and lots of press, Dennis Rodman recently journeyed to North Korea and spent time with the nation’s saber-rattling dictator Kim Jong-un. The former basketball star now reports he plans a return visit in August to “hang and have some fun” with the young leader, who “just wants to be loved.” The revelations were reported by Miami gossipmeister Jose Lambient, who met with Mr. Rodman at a charity fundraiser at the Hotel Fountainbleau and wonders if a hybrid diplomacy could be at work.

“After talking with Dennis Rodman about his upcoming trip, I’m convinced he is not kidding when he says he can help. He’s a pretty personable guy, and we know that most dictators have a fetish for some things American,” Mr. Lambient tells Inside the Beltway. “The Soviets hid to watch American blockbusters. Kim is into the NBA, and Rodman personifies the NBA as much as people like Shaquille O’Neal or Charles Barkley. At this point, and Dennis emphasized this, what do we have to lose?”

Mr. Lambient adds, “At the party on Saturday, the host introduced Dennis as the ‘US ambassador to North Korea.’ It’s pretty clear that whether it’s Caroline Kennedy in Japan or Dennis Rodman in North Korea, what’s the difference? Other than, of course, the fact that Rodman dresses and wears makeup better.”

PETA’S DRONES

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will soon acquire “impressive new weapons to combat those who gun down deer and doves.” The animal-rights group plans to invest in airborne drones armed with video cameras, aiming to collect damning video footage of “any illegal activity, including drinking while in the possession of a firearm,” or evidence of maiming animals or use of spotlights and feed lures. On the potential shopping list: a remote-controlled CineStar Octocopter.

“The talk is usually about drones being used as killing machines, but PETA drones will be used to save lives,” President Ingrid E. Newkirk says. “Slob hunters may need to rethink the idea that they can get away with murder, alone out there in the woods with no one watching.”

GIANT WEED

The nation’s banks were once “too big to fail.” Now that pithy phrase has been reconfigured for the latest economic turmoil. Obamacare is “too big to succeed,” says Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, a conservative grass-roots group for some 7.2 million seniors.

“Our country remains mired in malaise, and it is no mystery why. Obamacare is the giant weed that is choking economic growth and job creation across the nation, just as predicted,” says Mr. Martin, citing industry numbers from Moody’s Analytics showing that businesses within the targeted implementation range of Obamacare have seen increasingly lower job numbers, with actual negative job creation in March.

“This is exactly what was predicted when you create a law that requires 18 pages of federal regulations just to define what a full-time employee is,” Mr. Martin continues. “The cost of financial and human resources required to comply with the law is simply astounding, and the horrendous job numbers that come out each month show that things will get far worse until this law is repealed and replaced. The law is simply too massive to be effective and will only leave wreckage in its wake.”

FEDERAL MALAISE

It’s good news for local politicians and competent governors, bad news for the White House.

“Even as public views of the federal government in Washington have fallen to another new low, the public continues to see their state and local governments in a favorable light,” reports a new Pew Research Center poll. “Overall, 63 percent say they have a favorable opinion of their local government, virtually unchanged over recent years. And 57 percent express a favorable view of their state government a five-point uptick from last year. By contrast, just 28 percent rate the federal government in Washington favorably. That is down five points from a year ago and the lowest percentage ever in a Pew Research Center survey.”

Even the hope-and-change crowd is feeling the pinch of reality.

“The percentage of Democrats expressing a favorable opinion of the federal government has declined 10 points in the past year, from 51 percent to 41 percent. For the first time since Barack Obama became president, more Democrats say they have an unfavorable view of the federal government in Washington than a favorable view (51 percent unfavorable versus 41 percent favorable),” the survey reports.

Needless to say, the Grand Old Party underwent a reality check quite some time ago. “Favorable opinions of the federal government among Republicans, already quite low in 2012 (20 percent favorable), have fallen even further, to 13 percent currently,” Pew says.

KERRY’S WORLD

The gun control debate can get subtle indeed. America is just too scary for some young people to deal with, at least according to Secretary of State John F. Kerry. He said as much during a conversation with CNN correspondent Jill Dougherty, who asked Mr. Kerry if he had encountered much talk about firearms during his recent diplomatic stops in China, Korea and Japan.

“We had an interesting discussion about why fewer students are coming to particularly from Japan to study in the United States, and one of the responses I got from our officials from conversations with parents here is that they’re actually scared. They think they’re not safe in the United States, and so they don’t come.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 87 percent of illegal immigrants would try to become U.S. citizens should immigration reform laws be passed this year.

• 71 percent already have family members who are U.S. citizens

• 67 percent feel more optimistic and hopeful about becoming a U.S. citizen.

• 59 percent have family members who are legal permanent U.S. residents.

• 57 percent are married, 50 percent have at least one child who was born in the U.S.

• 26 percent have been in the U.S. for 11 to 15 years, 22 percent have been here six to 10 years, 21 percent more than 20 years.

Source: A Latino Decision poll of 400 “Latino undocumented immigrants” conducted March 4 to 29 and released Monday.

• Revelations, murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.