In honor of National Poetry Month, Kojo explores new collections by local poets and finds out how poetry impacts our lives amid social, political and cultural upheaval.
The Obama administration has spent the week in damage control mode after revelations that the IRS was targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny, the Justice Department was snooping through Associated Press phone records in search of a leak and new allegations about what actually happened in Bengazi, Libya. It’s your turn to discuss the week’s headlines.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIBetween the IRS targeting tea party groups, the justice department seizing reporters' phone logs and Republicans probing the terrorist attack in Benghazi, it's been a rough week for the Obama White House. Political reports that roughly one-third of all House committees are looking into some aspect of the Obama Administration. Do this week's revelations spell trouble for the president in your view? Give us a call, 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIHow will President Obama's legislative agenda fare in a congress that seems preoccupied with investigating possible wrongdoing? You can also send us a Tweet at kojoshow, email to email@example.com or go to our website kojoshow.org to make your comment or offer your opinion there. Do you see a relationship between IRS employees targeting conservative groups for tax scrutiny and the Justice Department seizing reporters' phone records from the Associated Press? And if so, what do you see that relationship being, 800-433-8850?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWe already got an email from Angie in Alexandria who says, "If you ask anyone on the street whether a tea party organization is a political group or a social welfare group, the answer would probably be political. I think someone at the IRS made a mistake targeting this group but they were also probably deluged at the time with tea party groups trying to obtain tax exemptions as social welfare organization. That's my two cents," says Angie.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIA Philadelphia abortion doctor was convicted of murder and received three life sentences this week for severing the spinal cords of three infants, moments after they left the womb alive during abortions. Antiabortion activists say the case highlights the brutality of abortion and the need for more oversight providers. Prochoice supporters say the case is an anomaly and warned that limiting access and funding only drives women to less reputable clinics.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThis case also points out that sometimes limited choices facing poor and immigrant women who have trouble paying for an abortion, they often have nowhere to turn for financial help because federal and state laws restrict government spending for the procedure. One columnist in the Washington Afro-American, Adrian Washington, saying West Philadelphia -- if you see where this occurred in West Philadelphia that should give you a clue as to who were the patients of the aforementioned doctor. She called it a dead giveaway, a phrase that has entered the lexicon of course.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIs legal abortion equally available to women of all economic means? What do you say, 800-433-8850? Will we see new proposals to ban late-term abortions as a result of this case? It's your turn. You can call on that or anything else on your mind. If you're arrested for a non-violent crime in the District of Columbia, you should be able to pay a fine and go home, not to jail.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThat according to a watchdog group. A committee of the Council for Court Excellence wants a new law that treats nonviolent offenses like traffic violations. You pay your ticket, that's it. No booking into jail to wait for a hearing in court. The group says the measure would reduce the caseload in the courts and make life easier for police, who would not have to spend as much time on paperwork.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIDo you agree that nonviolent crimes should be treated like traffic violations, that people should pay a fine but not have to wait in jail for a hearing? If we take jail out of the equation for nonviolent crimes, is a fine sufficient to deter minor offenses? Come on, call now. It's Your Turn, 800-433-8850. You can set the agenda. Let's talk with Tim in Herndon, Va. Tim, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TIMHi, Kojo. Nice -- really nice for your to take my call. So originally you talked about do I think the president's agenda is in jeopardy. It's looking shaky now to me, especially this -- the talking points that Jay Carney put out (unintelligible) Benghazi, you know, throughout this last several months and the insistence early on that it wasn't -- that it was a spontaneous uprising. You know, that with the other two controversies that are going on right now, it looks like it could be very difficult, I think, for him to get out of all this now.
NNAMDIWell, the explanation given by the White House in putting out these talking points is essentially that what was driving the discussion over the talking points was a conversation that was taking place between the State Department and the CIA, keeping in mind of course that 23 of the 30 people who were at Benghazi were not employed by the State Department.
NNAMDIAnd so I guess the implication as far as the White House is concerned is that people should see from these emails that it was not the White House or political advisors in the White House driving the conversation over the talking points, but the differences between the State Department and the CIA. What say you, Tim?
TIMWell, I'm wondering, did the White House know about it? Even going back to the debate that the president had -- the presidential debate that was going on where it was brought up about not -- the president's opponent said that it was not a spontaneous uprising. And that was kind of quelled then. Now it kind of raises questions in my mind as to what they really knew then. And was it a cover-up? You know, I don't want to judge his motives but it does raise questions in my head now. And then the other thing is...
NNAMDIWell, there are several congressional committees that will be investigating this so at some point we should know more.
TIMYeah, yeah, that's right, that's right.
TIMDo you think that the State Department was in the wrongdoing through all this based on the email exchanges? Or have you read them or you...
NNAMDII haven't read all of the email exchanges but I have read about what one journalist described as the knife fight that was going on between the State Department and the CIA during this time. Because as it has been pointed out, the consulate in Benghazi was clearly a little more than a consulate in Benghazi. The CIA had more than a little interest and influence in that consulate. And I suspect the apportioning of responsibility for security, which I think rested with the State Department, nevertheless led to some tensions between the two departments about who was responsible for what.
NNAMDIBut as I said -- go ahead.
TIMThe last question I have is do you think that this will affect Mrs. Clinton's -- or Senator Clinton's -- previous Senator Clinton's -- or Secretary of State Clinton did for the presidential...
NNAMDII have no idea whether it will have an affect or what kind of affect it will have. I do know for sure that if she is a candidate for President of the United States, it will be brought up. By then, however, a whole lot of other stuff may have occurred that may make its influence either very strong or negligible. I guess we'll have to say. Tim, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Joel in Fairfax, Va. Joel, Your Turn.
JOELHi, Kojo. thank you so much. I love your show. I just wanted to comment on the IRS scandal.
JOELBasically I wonder what it would take for this country to talk about the real issue, which is we do not have any functioning campaign finance laws. And a lot of these groups, these 501C4 groups are posing as charitable organizations but the law that I understand is if it's 51 percent political, that's not okay. But if it's 49 percent political, that is okay. So you put the IRS in this position of dealing with very subjective gray area. And then there's all this criticism now, you know, that they're making the wrong decision.
NNAMDIWell, it clearly was a somewhat subjective gray area for the IRS. The question continues to be if it was such a gray area, why did the IRS only seem to be interested in one side of the political divide? Why did it not pay any attention at all to what some would call the progressive or liberal side of the political divide?
JOELKojo, and I agree with that. I agree with that concern but the problem I have is a lot of people are categorizing charities that might be pro-environment as having a leftist political agenda. And to me that doesn't mash. So, you know, the real question is, how many applications did they receive? And I think this is very important. How many applications were denied? And then who was denied? And I still haven't seen those numbers. I mean, we're talking about a couple hundred denied out of tens of thousands of applications.
NNAMDIBut it would appear clear, according to the inspector general's report in the IRS, that the overwhelming majority of organizations that were denied using whatever guidelines they were using, were organizations that were conservative.
JOELI agree, but the real problem I'm seeing is that they're applying for charitable status and they're receiving extra scrutiny and possibly being denied. And the thing is that a lot of these so-called 501C4 charities are not charity organizations at all. And (unintelligible) is a great example and so is the Obama one, OSA, another great example of political organizations that are masquerading as charities. And to me, this is a problem for Congress to deal with and a bigger issue not just to scapegoat the IRS.
NNAMDIAnd I think people on both sides of the aisle now agree with you on this issue because one remembers during the Bush Administration, the middle years of the Bush Administration the IRS looked into the tax status of this NAACP at the time when Julian Bond and Kweisi Mfume were leading the NAACP. They were both former Democratic elected officials. And the IRS was raising questions about them about whether the NAACP, which had been critical of the president on some occasions, was a political organization.
NNAMDIThe NAACP ultimately won that battle but there is some history here, Joel. Thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Alan in Washington, D.C. Alan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ALANYes, actually one quick comment in relation to your last caller. And I was going to bring up the NAACP issue as well. And if you go back and check the history of that at a congressional level you'll find that Democrats brought that to the Republicans at the same time. And there was no interest whatsoever on the Republican side to investigate the IRS involvement with the NAACP's 501C4. So, you know, this is -- I think it's egregious that the IRS does this but it's egregious if they do it to either side. And heads need to fall but this has become political because right now it's right versus left rather than left versus right.
ALANMy real reason for calling however, was your comment about minor crimes in the district. And I think this just reflects the total -- a total involvement of the district in raising money. It's no different to me than their overzealous attack on people who park illegally, speeding cameras and everything else. When you look at the numbers the district is raising many, many times almost any other jurisdiction in the country by ticketing. And I would have to think that making people go into court and have hearings on traffic violations and other minor offenses like that, it's just a money-making operation.
NNAMDIWell, they don't go to jail for traffic violations as a general rule. But what the committee of the Council for Court Excellence is saying is that that's how nonviolent offenses should be treated. Like traffic offenses, you pay your ticket, that's it. You don't go into jail. You don't have to wait for a hearing in court.
ALANNo, no. I understand that. But I just think it's a complete -- it's an overzealousness on the part of the district to raise money any way possible. And I would suspect that it costs a whole lot more if you have to go in and have a hearing if you have court costs involved. And again, all this money goes to the district. And I think you're going to have a hard time finding them eliminating anything that raises revenue.
NNAMDIOkay, Alan. Thank you very much for your call. We're going to take a short break. If you have called, stay on the line. It is Your Turn. You dominate the conversation so we will get to you. If you haven't yet, call us at 800-433-8850. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a Tweet at kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back for the rest of this hour. This is Your Turn. You get to talk about anything you'd like to talk about, events in the news, recent editions of this broadcast or anything else on your mind. Give us a call at 800-433-8850 or send email to email@example.com. Let's move on to Toby in Lowden County, Va. Toby, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TOBYYeah, how are you doing today?
NNAMDII'm doing well.
TOBYAll right. Well, in regard to the whole IRS looking into conservative groups, it's kind of like the IRS's due diligence to do this at this point because of the amount of inflammatory language that a lot of these right wing groups have used. If you look on Facebook at a lot of these tea party groups and the language that's used and the comments, there's a lot of threats against the president, threats against the state and things of that nature. So that's just kind of like sour grapes in a way I guess, I would think.
NNAMDIWell, that's not why the IRS was causing them to have long delays and asking them a lot of questions. It wasn't because they were making threats against the president. It's simply if they happen to have certain words in their names that people from the IRS felt that made them political organizations. That's what they were looking for. They weren't looking at the president's security.
TOBYWell, we always -- the government does look at statements made online, key words made online and how they connect. There are search engines and filters that we have access to as civilians where, you know, we can figure out how many times, you know, a tea party and a threat against a government official has been made. Or, you know, whatever complain against the government is made.
TOBYWhat I'm saying is it's entirely feasible and I have no problem with it whatsoever given the language that is readily available, you know, anywhere. It does not take a genius to figure it out.
NNAMDISo you wouldn't mind, for instance, if you said something inflammatory in an email or a Facebook post to a friend in which you said, well I think that the president was not born in this country, you would not mind if the IRS decided to question you?
TOBYIf I'm questioning the legal status of an individual that's different than making a threat against an individual.
NNAMDIOkay. But the IRS was not delaying these people because they made threats.
TOBYRight. They were checking to make sure that it was an actual legitimate group.
TOBYRight. And that's totally valid as well because of the amount of these groups that are popping up that have no real standing whatsoever.
NNAMDIWell, why not check on any groups on the left?
TOBYWell, one would hope that the IRS does look into any group that's trying to get some kind of tax break or tax consideration...
TOBY...you know. And, I mean, I would definitely look at groups that are spurring up so that they could be coming from less than genuine places.
TOBYThere are 50 people spread out among, you know, the 50 states doesn't constitute a group that should get, you know, a tax consideration, you know.
TOBYI mean, that part's my opinion. In regards to Benghazi however, the State Department is not under any obligation to provide security to any intelligence official -- or any intelligence operative. They're not even obligated to provide assistance to me when I'm in a foreign country. If I show up at the embassy, I have to give them a reason why they need to get me asylum before I fall under their security purview. Or my passport has to be out in the open and a line of fire from an assailant to a Marine has to cause them a reasonable threat before they have to step in and defend law at that point themselves.
NNAMDII know, but if you happen to be either in a U.S. embassy or a U.S. consulate it is my understanding your security has to be provided by the State Department.
TOBYThat's under International Convention, the American Convention and the Geneva Convention if you're in that territory. But when it comes to a gray area is when the State Department is providing cover for an intelligence operative or somebody of that nature. When that entire facility is...
NNAMDIThat's when it gets murky, huh?
TOBYYeah, you know, that's where it gets funny. And it's kind of disingenuous as well on the part of the Republican Congress because all they did for the past 13 years was cut State Department's security funding. So of course the State Department's going to sit back and say, hey wait a second, this is CIA. You know, we are not responsible for this. You're not funding us enough to be able to take care of all this anymore.
NNAMDIOkay. Toby, thank you very much for your call. You too can call us, 800-433-8850. We move on to Jack in Silver Spring, Md. Jack, your turn.
JACKHi, Kojo. How you doing today?
NNAMDIYou're welcome -- I'm doing well.
JACKMy call is in regards to the nonviolent acts and, you know, freeing up police department duties, police themselves. It was brought to my attention by a friend earlier today that there was a video taken in Calverton just outside my local bank actually of a man that was nude who had climbed up onto a fire truck. I don't know if they were doing a public display for the local citizens or whatnot, but he climbed up there and was throwing profanity. Eventually he got down and they tased me and, you know, took him into custody.
JACKSo I'm not for or against what this group is, you know, saying police departments should or shouldn't do. But I thought it was an interesting example of, you know, would people want to have a man like that taken into custody. Or since it was technically nonviolent would he be free to go if he paid his ticket? Now he seemed to be homeless at the same time, so would he be able to pay a ticket in that case? Does that qualify for custody? But it's, I think, an interesting point. I'm sure people could come up with all sorts of violations that would bring a lot of gray area into this, but I wanted to hear people's opinions and what you thought about that.
NNAMDIWell, a lot of it would be a gray area. The situation you just described has all kinds of other issues that could be involved. The mental health of the individual, whether or not the individual was in fact destroying public property in any kind of way, all kinds of other issues can come up.
NNAMDII think what the Council for Court Excellence committee is trying to say fundamentally is that there are so -- the jails are so filled with people, the jails are overcrowded. And one of the reasons they're overcrowded is because so many people who have been involved in nonviolent offenses are being held in jail when they don't need to be because they are no threat to the public or the communities in which they live.
JACKRight. Yeah, and that makes sense to me. ?And I fully support what they're researching and saying. It makes a lot of sense. I'm sure it saves federal and state money down the line. But I just -- besides being shocked in seeing that, I thought it was a prime example to bring up in this case hearing about what (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIYeah, it sounds like it, but thank you very much for your call, Jack. We got a number of emails. An email from Bev says, "Benghazi is a red herring. This is a clear effort to discredit Hillary before election 2016. Republicans need to do less scandal mongering and manage federal budget issues such as the sequester instead."
NNAMDIEmail from John says, "Many American diplomats are on the frontlines of wars, always voluntarily. Our country has to accept that some will be killed, same as soldiers are killed. If we can't tolerate four deaths then we will have to withdraw from Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Mexico. Diplomats have been killed in each of these."
NNAMDI"And the IRS applications were" -- this is a correction on the IRS -- "The IRS" -- from someone who sent a Tweet -- "The IRS applications were reviewed, not denied as you just said." That is absolutely correct. The problem is that some of those reviewed lasted several years and that is not, well, normal procedure as expected. But here now on this issue is Tony in Alexandria, Va. Tony, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TONYHi, Kojo. How you doing?
TONYYeah, I also wanted to point out that in fact the only group that so far was denied was actually a liberal group. I don't know the details of why they were denied but the only group that actually was officially completely denied was a liberal-leaning group. But in the general thing of all the stories you're talking about this week, and I've missed your show earlier this week so you may have already covered it.
TONYBut I think that the fact that we see the IRS -- two low-level IRS agents' actions making a very big deal, the way the AP story is being covered and the way that the Mother's Day shootings in New Orleans are hardly being covered at all kind of shows that it isn't necessarily how important a story is or how it affects people, but what the media thinks people are going to be more interested in.
TONYAnd also the fact that as much as we always hear this myth about there being an overwhelmingly liberal media, that quite often the media is very much driven by what the Republicans want to be covered. I mean, I think if we had news that the IRS had a couple local IRS agents had targeted some African-American group and we had a shooting where 17 middle class white people had been injured in a suburban, you know, middle class neighborhood, I think the coverage of those stories would be flipped, don't you?
NNAMDIWell, I take it you're not a Republican, Tony.
NNAMDIBecause if you were you would say that the media are liberal and the stories that they cover are only the stories that liberals want to cover. There are a variety of factors that drive what the media cover and they often have to do with geography. They often have to do with resources. The story of that shooting in New Orleans was covered very, very heavily in New Orleans and is still being covered. It's still being covered in a lot of parts of the media that I'm reading about.
NNAMDIBut look, you're in Washington. If you are in Washington and these kinds of scandals are occurring then the media in Washington will be focusing on those scandals because the media here in large measure are here to cover the congress and the White House and the Supreme Court. And so you can expect that there's going to be heavy coverage. I suspect that if you go outside the beltway to other parts of the country you won't see these issues covered quite as heavily there. But it can be fairly complex.
NNAMDII don't think anybody -- I don't think that the media operates as one unit, even though people on both sides of the political divide invariably assume that the media do operate as if the media gets its instructions in the morning from some source that tells everybody what to do. And they all go out and do the same thing. I think the important thing is to learn how to -- is to learn and understand how to make distinctions between media when there is media bias and when there is not media bias. And you can do that with just about every story that you read. But, Tony, thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIWe move on now to Susie in Falls Church, Va. Susie, your turn.
SUSIEYes. Can you hear me okay?
SUSIEI think from my perspective -- and this is maybe been brought out by some people -- the problem is that these are really -- on the IRS subject -- these are political action groups. And as far as I'm concerned personally they should have been disallowed out of hand simply because they're political action groups. And the fact that they have delved into it and asked further questions trying to come up with reason to approve them for tax exempt status I think is going beyond the call of duty. And I think they should've been disallowed in the first place.
SUSIEAnd I think that the fact that they're applying for tax exempt status is a legacy of the Newt Gingrich error of abusing and misusing tax exempt status. And, you know, you...
NNAMDIWell, do you...
SUSIE...had an earlier question about how many left wings had been through this scrutiny. The real question is, how many of them actually applied? I mean, part of their left wing groups that have applied for this that are really political action groups that have applied for tax exempt status.
SUSIEAnd I think it's ridiculous that a career government official, Steve Miller, has been thrown under the bus for the IRS trying to do their job and giving these people a chance to try and prove that they're not purely political action committees. But that's what the tea party is.
NNAMDISusie, I can assure you that there are thousands, maybe of hundreds of thousands of groups that are not overtly political but are guided by either liberal philosophy or conservative philosophy that apply every year for nonprofit status, that apply every year for status as nonpolitical organizations. And it is fine for the IRS to question them.
NNAMDIThe only reason we're having an issue right now is because the IRS's own inspector general investigated and came up with a report that said that certain officers of the IRS were focusing on conservative organizations.
SUSIEOkay. But that still doesn't address, you know, are there comparable left wing groups? And if so how many and how long have they been held up or are they just not complaining about it?
NNAMDIWhat I'm saying is yes, there are comparable leftists or liberal organizations. Otherwise we would not be having a story here at all. Otherwise the inspector general would not be filing a report if the inspector general did not notice some discrepancy, is what I'm saying.
SUSIEOkay. Well, like I said, from my perspective all of these political action organizations should've been dismissed out of hand whether they're left or right.
NNAMDIAnd a lot of people agree with you, Susie. So thank you very much for your call. And I suspect that there are going to be -- there's either going to be legislation or a refining of rules of the IRS in the future to try to make sure that the interpretations cannot be made too broadly about who qualifies and who does not qualify. But thank you very much for your call, Susie. We move on now to Barbara in Warrenton, Va. Barbara, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BARBARAHi. Say, I was wondering if anyone has looked into a lot of these middle managers that are messing things up, whether it's in the CIA or the State Department or the IRS or in the ATF with the fast and furious thing. How many of those people are now middle managers because they were hired during the Bush Administration? When we know -- you know, with all the hoo-hah with Monica Goodling, we know they cared more that they were against abortion and had been to a Christian university rather than that they were qualified for the job.
NNAMDIMonica Goodling being the Justice Department employee in the Bush Administration?
BARBARAJust as an example.
NNAMDIOkay. And your question?
BARBARASo well, my question is what -- who are these people -- who are these screw-ups? Are these people who were hired during the Bush Administration and their qualifications mattered more whether they'd been to a Christian university than whether they were qualified to do the job.
NNAMDII do not know who these people were and I suspect that's one of the things that will be revealed as a result of the myriad investigations that are taking place. It has been asserted that -- by the IRS inspector general that well, these people did not do this because they have partisan political opinions. And I'm not sure it's the inspector general who said that, but they were simply looking for a short cut, a way of trying to apply the guidelines. Because obviously the IRS doesn't inspect every single application in the same way.
NNAMDIThey were looking for clues and looking for shortcuts. And I suspect that there is going to be, as I said, either legislation or regulations that try to clarify exactly what they should be looking for. And that will ultimately identify, maybe by name and maybe by prosecution, who some of these people are.
BARBARAI look forward to that.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We got an email from Constance in Silver Spring who says, "Social welfare organization? Seriously? Give me a break. These right wing social welfare groups have nothing to do with the welfare of anybody except extreme right wing Republicans. These groups have tried their best to turn the Obama administration into a failure, never mind the consequences for the rest of us who will have to pay more in taxes so that these creeps can be tax exempt. Looking back, I don't recall any Republicans making a fuss when the IRS gave the NAACP and Greenpeace a hard time when George W. Bush was president."
NNAMDIThen we got an email from John in Baltimore who says, "Thank for mentioning, however briefly, that several liberal progressive agencies, not just the NAACP, but also Greenpeace and even one Episcopal church were targeted by the IRS during the Bush administration. I heard no conservatives getting upset about this at the time, and they are certainly " -- they certainly are not upset, I think John means, "they are certainly upset about this now."
NNAMDIAnd an email from Robin in Arlington says, "The the difference between the AP scandal and similar abuses committed by Republican administrations, the Justice Department went to a grand jury and got a subpoena. In other words they obeyed the law and used proper process. They convinced the members of a grand jury that this was necessary. Should this be legal? Absolutely not. We need shield laws for the press." But that's something Congress needs to change.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. When we come back if you were on the line hold on, we'll get to your call. If the lines are busy, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It's Your Turn. The number is 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to Your Turn, when you're setting the agenda with your phone calls, emails and tweets. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. You can also send email to email@example.com. We move on now to Dennis in Washington DC. Dennis, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Hi Dennis. Oh, Dennis dropped off, so that means we can move onto Reese in Washington DC. Reese, your turn.
REESEHey, Kojo. Thanks for having me on.
REESESo I want to talk about Benghazi and, you know, I'm very saddened by the conversation we're having in this country about Benghazi and the dangers inherent in diplomatic service and especially so in a region and revolution -- in a country in revolution and turmoil. Now, there's a been a great many of tragedies like this in the past, and I think the real conversation, rather than whatever the talking points might have been, or the conversation happening with the new administration is the poorly...
NNAMDIOh, you're breaking up on me, Reese. I want you to get to a secure place because I want you to be able to make your point. While you're trying to do that, see if you can -- either if you're mobile, stop for a while, or try to find yourself in an area where there's no interference. I suspect that a lot of attitudes on Benghazi may depend on how one felt about this administration before Benghazi. I'd be interested in hearing from people whose minds about the administration were changed by Benghazi, who did not feel that Benghazi justified their view of the administration or that the Republican response to Benghazi justified their view of the Republicans, for people who feel that it may have caused a change for them. But that's enough of me. Here's Reese again. Let's see if we can hear you this time, Reese.
REESEYeah. Well, I think the conversation, it transcends politics. I think we have a State Department that does incredible work, and if empowered further could do even more work, and I see this as an opportunity for the conversation to pivot away from kind of trivial gridlock politics and discuss the issues kind of at hand, and say what does it take to protect our diplomatic core, and there's a lot of discussion of protecting our army, but what our diplomatic core? I think that's a discussion that needs to be had. There are ways to enhance security at a consulate or at an embassy, and we see, you know, say in Egypt we were worried after the attack in Benghazi that there was going to be a follow up attack in Egypt because there was a rally there.
REESEBut the support -- the security systems were robust enough. So I think there's a moral imperative to our Congress to fund and give appropriations directly for enhancement of security, and that's saddened me, that I haven't heard that as part of the discussion.
NNAMDIThat's the kind of level-headed thinking that has not characterized most discussions here in Washington during the course of the past several years, Reese, so thank you very much for sharing that with us.
NNAMDIOn now to John in Martinsburg, W. Va. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOHNHi. I wanted to comment about the IRS situation. The IRS, which is nothing new, you may know the IRS National Computing Center is here in Martinsburg, and my mother was an employee there from the late 1960's until about 1990, and I remember her talking about how she was working one evening when a list of several hundred names came in from the president's office, and this was back when Richard Nixon was president, of people the IRS...
NNAMDIThe enemies list.
JOHNYes. The IRS had to audit all these people on this list.
JOHNSimply because Richard Nixon didn't like them. So this is something that's been going on forever.
NNAMDII'm glad you brought that up, John, because I think what the dispute we're having of here is informed -- some would say inflamed by precisely what happened during the Nixon administration, precisely what people think were happening with groups like the NAACP and Greenpeace during the Bush administration, that there were in fact instructions from very high up, think the White House or people high in the administration, who ordered these things to happen. I think the response of Democrats in Congress and the response of the president himself, is intended to indicate that neither did they instruct this kind of behavior, neither were they -- nor were they informed of this kind of behavior, and what they are saying is that they are outraged by this kind of behavior.
NNAMDIOf course there will be investigations, but I think at the heart of this is whether or not there were people very high up in the administration who can be related to this activity.
JOHNRight. I agree that certainly if it hadn't been for what Nixon did, you know, this might be looked at in somewhat of a different manner.
NNAMDIYes. By most Americans who have either been audited or investigated by the IRS who had absolutely nothing to do with politics whatsoever who, I guess, because of that, have no love for the agency anyway. But John, thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Mary in Great Falls, Va. Mary, You're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARYHi. I've gotten concerned that the point of driving in the District is getting to be almost so complex that it's hard to avoid these accidents, and it looks like people are not. There are multi conflicting signs, there are cameras that are playing gotcha, there are pedestrians with telephones, there are larger and larger trucks going through the thing, parking gets to be a game because of the fact that at every street there's a different sign or at every place what the rules are, crossings are erratic. People can cross at all kinds of places, with the lines or not. But...
NNAMDIMary, how long have you been living in this area?
MARYI have been living in this area for about 45 years.
NNAMDII think you and people like me have a similar problem. Those people who have been here for a very long time remember a District of Columbia that was orderly, in which traffic moved very rapidly, and a lot of visitors then described it as a sleepy, southern town. Mary, welcome to the new metropolis. Go ahead, please.
MARYBut you can't, you know, you don't know where the signs are, they are different, the street signs, and -- but the problem is that sure it would be okay to say, oh, gee, I'm part of the old time, but at the same time we're having more and more accidents and we're having more and more people hurt.
NNAMDIWhat do you think needs to be done about this?
MARYWhat I think needs to be done -- first of all, of course, logic would be a great idea. But I think that some clear kinds of ideas about what's happening where so that people who are coming some place are aware of what's going to be happening when. Traffic does not move at any kind of a regular rate, and there is no regularity, and I think that we're enforcing things by gotcha rather than...
NNAMDISo you're saying that there should be improved permanent signage...
NNAMDI...and given that we're living in a digital era, that there should be much improved temporary signage that can be quickly erected, quickly taken down so that people don't find themselves just running into all kinds of traffic jams and demonstrations and all the other stuff that's going on here now.
MARYOh, I think that would be wonderful.
NNAMDIHopefully the authorities are listening because I agree with you.
MARYThank you so much.
NNAMDIAnd thank you for your call. We move on now to Mary in Winchester Va. Mary, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARYThank you, Kojo. I have a suggestion. I am against the Keystone pipeline, but I do think it will happen, so I would suggest if we're going to be digging anyway for the pipeline, why not dig also for a water line that could go through all those states and help with the drought in all the states where the farmers are needing the water. Because this is something we need to think about, the future in our water.
NNAMDIWell, thank you very much for that suggestion. It's a little above my pay grade, but hopefully the people in that pay grade are listening to this broadcast. Of course they are. They have nothing better to do than listen to this broadcast.
MARYOkay. Thank you.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. It is your turn. You can call us at 800-433-8850 for the rest of this broadcast, you dominate the discussion. The National Transportation Safety Board said this week it wants to tighten the rules on what qualifies as driving drunk. A decade ago Congress set the legal blood alcohol limit at .08 percent. The Safety Board says it's time to lower it to .05 or 05. The Board also wants to require that anyone convicted of drunken driving be required to install a Breathalyzer device that would not let their car start without a breath test.
NNAMDIDo you think it's time to tighten the restrictions on drinking and driving? Give us a call. 800-433-8850. Would a .05 percent blood alcohol limit reduce the number of drunken driving fatalities or that's taking a bit too far in your view. 800-433-8850. We move onto Razi in Arlington, Va. Razi, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
RAZI IHi, Kojo. Thank you for your show and the great work that you're doing. But I wanted to broaden the conversation on the IRS.
IAnd beyond the conservative Tea Party groups versus the liberal groups, and incorporate other minority groups. There was a recent editorial on CNN by Sahar Aziz called "Muslims to Tea Party: Welcome to Our World." And which, during the Bush administration, several Muslim charities were shut down by the IRS with alleged ties to terrorism, which were, of course, bogus. What do you think of general media discussions incorporating minority groups such as American Muslims.
NNAMDIWell, obviously, they should be incorporated in the discussion and, you know, a lot of people forget that we too are media. So the fact that you call in and mention this means that you are incorporated into the discussion. The fact that this is not an article written in a major newspaper or a report on a television show does not mean that there are not hundreds of thousands of people paying attention to it because that's how many people are listening to you right now. So you become a part of that discussion, and obviously this is IRS fiasco will cause a lot of other groups, especially minority groups who felt that they have been unfairly targeted by the IRS in the past to essentially step forward and say, yes, we need to look at all of these groups. So thank you very much for making that point, Razi.
NNAMDIWe move on now to Terry in Bethesda, Md. Terry, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TERRYHi, how are you?
TERRYGood. I am of the mind that there should be a zero tolerance to alcohol consumption and driving. And it's not because I'm a prude. I love a lovely glass of wine with dinner. I think the idea of being able to tell with so many different people's metabolisms and the like, who can actually drink and who can't, there's no -- you wouldn't have to worry about a fine line, and if they were really drunk, or what was really going on if there's a zero tolerance to alcohol behind the while, because there's other piece of equipment we would think would be logical that you wouldn't want somebody holding a gun and drinking.
TERRYAnd, you know, it could do the same damage. So why -- why not just say if you're going to be behind the wheel you have a designated driver. That way if you get pulled over for drinking and driving, and you have any alcohol in your system, it's a ticket.
NNAMDII don't think that will ever pass muster to tell you the truth, Terry, because if you're saying to responsible adults that if you have one beer you cannot get behind the wheel of a car, I don't think that's going to fly.
TERRYYou know, I think we -- it went from what, 1.0 to .8 to now .5, and some jurisdictions are thinking .03..
TERRYI don't know. I think it's a...
NNAMDIYou think it might fly?
TERRYWell, if we -- we have so many people dying by people being hit by drunk drivers, and the increased cost of car insurance, I think if the insurance companies get behind it, you know -- either that, or make everybody have one of those things in their car that they have to blow into in order to drive.
NNAMDII think that might be something we were definitely moving towards in the future, Terry, but thank you very much for your call. And indeed, thanks to all of those of you who have called in on this edition of Your Turn in order to have your voices heard. That's the whole point of it, and we'll be doing this again soon. Yesterday, author, Therese Ann Fowler, joined us to talk about her latest work, "Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald." She is one of a number of authors who will be at the Gaithersburg Book Festival this Saturday May 18 from 10:00 to 6:00 p.m.
NNAMDIThe festival is on the Gaithersburg City Hall grounds and is free and open to the public. Parking is free too. Visit gaithersburgfestival.org for a full list of the authors and other details. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, Tayla Burney, Kathy Goldgeier, Elizabeth Weinstein and Stephannie Stokes with help from Camellia Assefi. The engineer is Tobey Schreiner. Natalie Yuravlivker is one the phones.
NNAMDIPodcasts of all shows, audio archives, CDs and free transcripts are available at our website, kojoshow.org. If you'd like to share questions or comments with us, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, join us on Facebook, or send a tweet to @kojoshow. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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