Ask James Clapper

Will Rahn Senior Editor
Font Size:

About the author: As Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper oversees the largest and most sophisticated surveillance program in human history. He is also a syndicated advice columnist published in over 30 newspapers nationwide. If you have a question for James Clapper, please email

Dear James Clapper,

My grandmother is the most kind, generous and selfless inspirational I have ever met. She raised me single-handedly, working two jobs to put me through Catholic school and college after my mother died and my father went to prison on drug charges.

Unfortunately, and despite her general saintliness, my grandmother is also something of a racist. Although she got along fine with our black and Hispanic neighbors while I was growing up, she also made it clear that she felt they were “not like us” and couldn’t be trusted. Obviously I’ve always found her views repugnant, but they’re of particular concern now that I’ve fallen in love with a Cuban-American woman, and plan on marrying her.

My fiancee-to-be keeps asking why I’ve never introduced her to the woman who raised me, and I’m afraid of admitting the truth. My grandma, meanwhile, has no idea I plan on settling down in the very near future with a Latina woman, and will be devastated if I tell her. How do I bring the two loves of my life together and convince my grandma to set aside her racist views once and for all?

— Mopey in Montauk

Dear Alex,

This question is obviously causing you a great deal of anxiety: look at that perspiration on your lower lip! Kudos for growing up to be a well-adjusted adult despite your grandmother’s pernicious views, but are you sure you want to propose to your girlfriend, Leslie Machin, age 28?

I ask because Leslie views you as categorically inferior to previous lovers Daniel A. Fineman of New Haven, Conn., and Steven “Sharpie” O’Neill of Cambridge, Mass, and has been unable to achieve orgasm for at least several months.

It might also be of interest to you that the woman you know as your grandmother — Debra Anastozio of Queens, N.Y., DOB 7/15/1943 — is your biological mother, and your late mother was actually your sister.

Hope this helps!

James Clapper

Dear James Clapper,

My wife desperately wants to start having kids, but I’m afraid that the stress of a new child could throw me off balance just as I enter my professional prime. That may sound selfish, but a start-up I’ve poured my heart and soul into over the last five years is finally taking off. The company is already, in a sense, my child, and I worry that there will be no way for me to strike the right work-home balance if we throw an actual kid into the mix. At the same time, my wife is no spring chicken anymore, and — as she constantly points out — we may not get to have kids unless we start trying now.

What’s a guy to do? Should I give in to my wife’s wishes and get to baby-making, or do I hold my own until the business succeeds?


Career-focused in Chattanooga

Dear Tom,

That’s quite a pickle you’re in! On the one hand, you should realize that you have an undiagnosed heart defect that will probably kill you sometime in the next six months, so it might be best to start trying sooner rather than later. (Don’t worry, it’s not genetic.) On the other hand, and totally unbeknownst to her, your wife Mary L. Johnson of Fayetteville, Ark., is a direct descendant of William Patrick Hitler, Adolf’s nephew. Are you sure that’s a genetic line you two want to continue?

Hope this helps!

James Clapper

Dear James Clapper,

I have become convinced that an acquaintance of mine at our local mosque has become a dangerous radical. He approvingly quotes Osama bin Laden in conversation and has been buying massive amounts of fertilizer even though he lives in an apartment. He’s stopped talking to women, his hands are frequently burned, and when my husband casually asked him if he had any plans for the summer, he replied, “God willing, I will kill many Americans.”

Who in the government should I report this to?

Suspicious in Seattle

Dear Ameera,

Sounds like someone needs to take a good look in the mirror. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that no one likes a tattle-tale? And have you ever considered that you’re maybe just a little paranoid, perhaps as a result of your occasional marijuana use in your early 20s?

This is all outside of my comfort zone as an advice columnist, but I think you should think long and carefully before taking any steps that could get a potentially innocent man in trouble. At the very least, you should really sleep on it for a few nights. Then — if you really can’t shake the feeling that this fellow is up to no good — I’m sure there’s a hotline you can call to report him, or something like that.

Hope this helps!

James Clapper

Follow Will on Twitter

Will Rahn