woody zimmerman 118 2007Director of National Security James Clapper attracted national attention in June when he swore under oath to Congress that the National Security Agency was “not wittingly” gathering intelligence on Americans – thus implying that any such activity was strictly “accidental.” This statement was shown to be false after we learned that the NSA is engaged in a massive data-mining program which targets American citizens’ phone calls and other electronic messaging. Mr. Clapper later admitted that he had misled the Congress in the interest of national security. His shocking view of the Congress as a security risk attracted no media commentary at the time.

Now James Clapper is in the news again. He struck a strongly partisan note this week when he declared – publicly, not in secret code – that the government shutdown “…is a dreamland for foreign intelligence to recruit” financially strapped U.S. intelligence employees. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the shutdown affects the safety of the nation:

I’ve never seen anything like this. From my view, I think this – on top of sequestration...seriously damages our ability to protect the security and safety of this nation and its citizens....This is not just a beltway issue. This affects our global capability.”

You don’t have to be James Bond to see what he was doing. His statement was obviously a gross attempt to blackmail Republicans, politically – warning them that the shutdown might endanger the nation’s security by encouraging disloyalty in federal employees.

There have been several times in recent years when I thought the utterances of various public figures couldn’t go any lower – Mrs. Clinton’s angry shout, “What does it matter [how our people died in Benghazi]?!!” comes to mind – but Mr. Clapper’s remarks may have “out-bottomed” all of them. No official in living memory has deliberately tried to turn a domestic policy dispute into a national security “infomercial,” telling our enemies that our temporary funding-snag makes this an ideal time to recruit federal employees as traitors. Besides disclosing our defensive strength (or lack thereof), this was a vile slur on our dedicated (and loyal) civil servants. I object to his outrageous remarks in the strongest possible terms. Disgraceful!

Mr. Clapper’s conduct has been infamous on more than one occasion. If his recent statements are not treasonous, they are perilously close to it. He should immediately be arrested and detained for questioning and investigation. No public official should ever (EVER!) suggest publicly that our government employees might be tempted to disloyalty, or that our security arms are anything but fully prepared to handle any and all threats. Data on how many security employees have been furloughed should never be broadcast. I seriously question whether Mr. Clapper possesses the mental stability to stay in his position. I think he has gone completely round the bend, and is now a threat to the country.

Are there no limits on what Mr. Obama’s apparatchiks are willing to do to further his political agenda? Attorney for the U. S. Army Joseph Welch’s famous question to Senator Joseph McCarthy comes to mind: “At long last, sir, have you no sense of decency?”

More than being offended by Mr. Clapper’s infamous conduct, I am embarrassed and offended by the conduct of President Obama, himself. This week, after watching the stock market rally on the shutdown’s first day, Mr. Obama told CNBC’s John Harwood that the markets should be quite “worried” about Republicans’ actions. “When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to default on U.S. obligations, then we are in trouble,” Obama said. (The Dow average went down nearly 200 points over the next two days, before rallying slightly on Friday.)

The president’s statement was, of course, pure hyperbole – a deliberate attempt to spook the market. He was immediately called out for it by various commentators. Republicans have not threatened default. No one is talking about it except Mr. Obama. The House of Representatives has sent several bills to the Democrat-controlled Senate which would fund all of the government except the Affordable Care Act. The latest of the House-passed bills merely stipulates a one-year delay on implementing the ACA, while funding the rest of the government.

The Senate, however, will not accept this condition. And Mr. Obama refuses to negotiate on anything. He has threatened to veto any Congressional bill which touches Obamacare, even though he has unilaterally granted a one-year delay to large companies on the “employer mandate.” The president is looking, more and more, like the one who is willing to let the USA crash into default over this single issue. Even his Big Media lapdogs are beginning to suspect it.

The day after Mr. Obama’s deliberate attempt to crash the stock market, radio talk-host Rush Limbaugh said he could not recall any past president ever doing such a thing. Mr. Limbaugh noted that a president always goes out of his way to assure world and domestic markets that the USA will meet its financial obligations completely and on schedule.

Why was this time different? Because, said Mr. Limbaugh, “…everything Obama and the Democrats do is political and has an agenda … and the agenda right now is destroy the Republicans, the Tea Party. And – I could be wrong about this – … I think the Democrats are imploding…  I think they're going nuts.  This is not playing out the way they thought…”

You can love him or hate him, but Rush seems right about this. Instead of simply waiting for the Republicans to fold – as Big Media assure us they are bound to do – Dems are doing dumb stuff like closing the parking lot at Mount Vernon, which is a privately owned and operated facility. They also sent park rangers down to the World War II memorial to try to keep old veterans out. The attempt failed when 90-year-olds who had faced down Hitler’s Wehrmacht stormed through the barricades – later called “Barack-ades” – making great news footage. (“Get outta my way, you pantywaists!”)

Senator Harry Reid – who evidently mislaid his brain this week – gave a blockheaded answer to a young reporter who asked why he wouldn’t pass the Republicans’ bill to fund cancer treatments if it would save the life of a single child. “Why would we do that?” said Mr. Reid – thus providing fresh material for days of juicy commentary and snarky comparisons to Dr. Mengele.

Is this the way a republican democracy is supposed to work? Well, Yes and No. Yes, politicians are supposed to engage on difficult, contentious issues for their constituents. They may use the tools the Constitution provides to fight it out on controlled ground. It is entirely legitimate to suspend funding for operation of the government in order to work out agreements on those contentious issues. All that is fine – certainly preferable to shooting up the Congress or having congressmen beat each other with canes. (Food-fights are also very bad form – especially pies.)

The “No” applies to taking the game outside the rules, as Mr. Clapper did when he threatened the country with traitorous civil servants and a weakened defense posture due to the shutdown. Mr. Obama also ran the ball completely out of the stadium when he tried to crash the stock market in the hope and expectation that Republicans would be blamed for it.

It’s time for some politicians to step back and take a deep breath. As Sid Caesar famously admonished in Grease, “Let’s keep it clean, boys and girls; let’s keep it clean…”