tv The Last Word MSNBC May 16, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
for doing it? we will see you tomorrow night where we will have an important wig-related story about a russian spy that nobody else has reported. it's going to be really good. now it is time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. have a great night. my first guest, white house press secretary, jay carney. >> yesterday, press secretary jay carney. >> i'm here today to take questions. >> stood and let the wind and rain pummel him for our entertainment purposes. >> one more on the irs. is the president concerned? >> you said the -- >> about the allegations. >> allegations of what, sorry? >> should those officials be punished? >> i appreciate the effort to generalize the -- >> what stopped the president from picking up a phone? >> does it involve multiple months? >> is the president at all concerned? >> thank you for that question. >> on benghazi, are you willing to release the e-mails? >> what role did the white house play? >> i've answered this question several times. i'm happy to answer it again, if you let me. >> that still doesn't
antibiotics the question. >> can you answer my question. >> there's one more thing. >> thank you for that question. thank you for the question. i appreciate the effort to generalize the question. >> what about you? have you dreaded this week's previews more than any other. >> it's a personal question and a great question. in this case, i actually do. it may sound odd, but i enjoy coming out here when it is challenging, because i think that this is a portion of our democracy at work. and to be a part of that is a rare and unique privilege. joining me now, white house press secretary jay carney. thanks for doing this tonight, jay. >> my pleasure, lawrence. thanks for having me. >> jay, yesterday you had the acting director of the irs leave at the president's request. today you had mr. grant also leave. he had closer jurisdiction over nonprofits.
did the president ask for that resignation also? >> the president asked that senior leadership at the treasury department take appropriate action. and, you know, we've seen secretary lew in response to that ask for and accept the resignation of the acting irs commissioner. you've seen that the president will be putting in place a new acting commissioner. and we as the president said expect for further action to be taken as the facts are established here about who is responsible for the clear failures at the irs. in this matter. i mean, nobody has been more outraged by the actions that were reported in this inspector general's review. and no one has been more decisive in taking action to deal with it. we had to wait until we had the inspector general's review. we couldn't act before we got it, we couldn't act on news
reports that partially told us the story. we had to wait for the actual independent inspector general's review. once we had that, the president acted very quickly and made his view on this very clear. we need to be able to ensure that the american people can have faith that an institution and agency like the irs is enforcing our tax laws in a fair and neutral way across the country. and that's what the president is going about the business of doing. because when problems arise on his watch, he will act decisively to fix them. >> i would like to clarify as a point on the calendar when the president first knew there was any kind of problem of this sort at the irs. >> from news reports on friday, which is when i found out. >> so even though there was an ig report being done, nothing that had happened in any of the investigative stuff going on prior to friday, none of that ever made its way to the president.
no awareness. >> that's correct. and what i have said here from the briefing room, lawrence, is that the white house counsel was notified as is routine in washington, as you know from your experience here, that there was an ig review going on that was looking at conduct at the irs, very top line notification. and that was roughly three weeks ago. and that process was coming to a conclusion, which is why the notification went out. but we had no details, we had no specifics about what the allegations would be, or what the conclusions would be. and therefore, we had to wait for the report to come out. >> and as we know, there is probably no more sensitive interaction with the citizenry in the government than the irs interaction and yet the irs commissioner, you knew this, was resigning last year. the president had advanced knowledge of that. why has the white house done nothing, nominated no one, to replace the irs commissioner who
left last year? >> well, lawrence, he finished his time of service, i believe, in november. we have been in this process of a transition into a second term with a lot of very senior level spots to fill. nominating a number of high-level personnel for cabinet secretary positions and the like. and, you know, we are working through that. the president is working through that. there was -- i mean, i think it's important to note that that irs commissioner, because of the way that the agency works, and its positions are filled, is -- was on a fixed term. he was appointed by and nominated by president george w. bush, and in the interim, there was an acting commissioner who has now since resigned. but, you know, it's important, as i read the ig report, the review, the activity that was improper, that was found by the ig, occurred prior to that.
prior to the transition to an acting commissioner. having said that, you know, what you've seen the president do is take the action he did, in directing secretary lew to move forward on making some changes. and insisting that everyone who is found to be responsible for the failures that we have seen in this be held accountable. and that's what he'll insist happens. >> jay, has someone in the white house counsel's office actually read the law or given the president a copy of the statute that created the 501(c)(4)s and that law says not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare? >> well, the president himself, as you know, is a lawyer and taught constitutional law. i'm not sure if he has read that word for word. i'm sure that some of the very highly qualified lawyers who work in the white house counsel's office have. and that goes to a broader issue about this specific section of
our tax code. i think experts should address that, not me. but if there need to be, you know, improvements in how that is adjudicated and how that is applied, that's one thing. on the matter at hand here, as the president has been very clear, the behavior articulated in the ig report is unacceptable. and regardless of the intent, and the ig report says that if he did not find any indication that there was outside influence or a partisan intent here. but regardless of the intent, it's wrong and it needs to be corrected and people need to be held accountable. >> well, jay, as an expert on the tax code, i accept your invitation to interpret it for you. having written some of it myself, but not this provision. i just read to you -- >> you're not going to take the fall for that? >> not this one. this is 1959. the law, most updated version of the law was 1954.
and it said civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare in 1959, president eisenhower's irs, changed the word "exclusively" to "primarily" without any congressional or legal authority. they did it in what they call their guidelines for enforcement, which as you know, every agency does with things that come their way. they interpret the laws. that was a change of law executed by the irs. and as the president should know about, at this point in this story. the "new york times --" >> i don't doubt he knows about it and i don't doubt he is fully aware of the broader issues here, but i just want to be clear, whatever discussions may be had in the future about that aspect of our tax law and how it is enforced, that's one thing.
the other thing is that the conduct that -- has been revealed by this ig report is unacceptable. and it needs to be dealt with. >> jay, i want to get to the benghazi e-mails. what was the delay in releasing this 100 pages of e-mails, which having been examined by everyone, it's hard for us to comprehend why the white house was holding back. >> wait, let's be clear, lawrence, we weren't holding them back. the very members of congress, republicans, who tried to turn this again into a scandal, when, in fact, there is nothing there, were the ones -- many of them, who had seen these e-mails, because the white house provided those e-mails to the members of the relevant committees, as well as members and their staff in leadership. many months ago in february. this has been, you know, part of the pattern of politicizing this issue that i think most americans see through. and we saw, again, when they came to releasing the e-mails,
there is a long standing history here, and you are more familiar with this, even, than i am, i'm sure, of protecting the internal deliberations, the communications in a white house that's a long-standing position that has been held by administrations of both parties. and so you do not release that kind of communication lightly. in this case, because in an extraordinary circumstance, related to the confirmation process for john brennan, cia director, we made those e-mails available in the way we it. in camera, which means that members and staff could look at them, spend as much time as they want, take notes, sometimes verbatim. as it turns out, sometimes not. and at the time, when those were reviewed in the context of john brennan's confirmation process, republicans found themselves satisfied, that they had the information they needed and the confirmation went forward. and john brennan is now in place at the cia, where he will be an excellent servant to the public, as he has been for so long.
now, what happened a few months later, there was a decision by republicans, i assume, one has to assume, in congress to leak selectively these e-mails that had been provided to them. and we saw what happened. so in reaction to that, we took the step of simply releasing them. there was a little bit of a process that had to be gone through to make sure that proper declassification took place. but we released them, because we knew, as we have said all along, that the truth was on our side here. that the fundamental issue going back to the sunday shows after the attacks in benghazi, that republicans made a big deal about, was that ambassador rice went out and said it was our best estimate, based on intelligence reports, there had been a spontaneous protest that evolved into these violent attacks on our facility. that piece of information turned out to be wrong, and republicans excoriated her and the administration for that. what we have said all along and what these e-mails proved is that that was the assessment of the cia.
that was the assessment of the intelligence community. and it was an assessment made with the caveat that our understanding of what happened would change, and as more information became available, we would provide it. and we did. when that became not to be the case, when it became understood that there had not been protests, or that that became the assessment of the intelligence community, we made it clear that the head of the nctc, matt olson, testified before congress to that fact. not long after susan rice appeared on the sunday show. so what this demonstrates is that what we have been saying all along is a fact, republicans have politicized this when the real tragedy was what happened in benghazi and the loss of four americans, and the need to find out who is responsible and bring them to justice. and the need to take action to assure that never happens again. and that's what the president and secretary clinton did in setting up the accountability review board. and in implementing all of the recommendations from that review, which was very unsparing, as you will recall.
>> jay, thursday -- sorry, yesterday you decided to actually release the e-mails publicly, which is a very big new step. and i'm wondering, what was the final straw there that forced that? was it abc news with jon karl, completely misquoting one of the e-mails presenting it as fact as a quote when, in fact, not one sentence he presented was actually in the e-mail? >> well, without specifying reporters, it was definitely the case that the leaks provided by republicans, presumably, on capitol hill to reporters were selective and in some cases elaborated on or fabricated. and because of that, we decided that we had to take the action we it, because we knew that -- we knew what the facts were and we felt this was an important step to take. the reason that i -- we had not done this in the past, that we had provided them to congress, which was already an extraordinary step, is because these are communications that
tend to be protected for all of the reasons that are important in a deliberative process within the white house. but we took that step, because we knew that they would demonstrate what we have been saying all along. that ambassador rice was speaking based on talking points, provided by the cia. and that the fundamental error in those talking points was corrected by us when we became -- when it became clear that new information shed new light on what happened, and this was not a case as republicans charged again and again, that ambassador rice had, at the direction of the white house or anyone else, said what she said about our understanding that there had been protests. that was the intelligence that she was provided. >> jay, quickly, before you go, on the ap story where the justice department has been investigating, the associated press, i have the feeling if you were back in our old job at "time" magazine, you may be one of the complaining chorus in the white house press corps about that being overbroad, reaching
for too much, and that this is exactly what the press has to fear in this kind of situation with the government. >> well, i addressed this, lawrence, as you know. i was asked about this from the podium. and i can tell you two things. as a citizen, i believe it's important that we do not tolerate leaks of sensitive, classified information that can endanger our national security and endanger the lives of americans in uniform and working abroad in pursuit of our national interests. i think that's very important. i am also firmly of the belief that we need to protect the first amendment, provide the freedoms that are contained within it to the press and to individuals, to speech. and the president believes that very strongly too. and that is why as a senator and again as president, he has pushed a media shield law that when it was negotiated in the fall of 2009, had the support of everyone from the "washington post" editorial board to federal
prosecutors and we need to get about the business of turning that into law and the president will happily sign it. >> white house press secretary jay carney, thank you very much for your time tonight. really appreciate it. >> lawrence, thanks for having me. alex wagner and sam stein have been standing by, taking notes, ready to go, in reaction to what they just heard. and in the rewrite tonight, the stupidest thing the speaker of the house has ever said, and why the rest of congress, democrat and republican, aren't much smarter than the speaker when it comes to understanding what happened at the irs. and later, as medical marijuana continues to march toward legalization across the country, a new study shows, there could be more health benefits to marijuana than just a pleasant pain killer. ...so you say men are superior drivers?
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is the biggest political scandal in american history, 39% of them do not know where benghazi is. no idea. up next, alex wagner and sam stein will join me. lers. the act of soaring across an ocean in a three-hundred-ton rocket doesn't raise as much as an eyebrow for these veterans of the sky. however, seeing this little beauty over international waters is enough to bring a traveler to tears. we're putting the wonder back into air travel, one innovation at a time. the new american is arriving. we're not in london, are we? no. why? apparently my debit card is. what? i know. don't worry, we have cancelled your old card. great. thank you. in addition to us monitoring your accounts for unusual activity, you could also set up free account alerts. okay. [ female announcer ] at wells fargo we're working
around the clock to help protect your money and financial information. here's your temporary card. welcome back. how was london? [ female announcer ] when people talk, great things happen. the president himself, as you know, is a lawyer, and taught constitutional law. i'm not sure if he's read that word for word. i'm sure that some of the very highly qualified lawyers who work in the white house counsel's office have. and that goes to this specific section of our tax code. i think experts should address that, not me. but if there need to be improvements in how that is -- adjudicated and applied, that's one thing. on the matter at hand here as the president has been very clear, the behavior articulated
in the ig report is unacceptable. and regardless of the intent -- >> alex wagner, i think it's clear now that the president is aware that there is something funny. because in the last couple days, he has said we have to look at the law. we have to look at the law. and make sure it's being interpreted correctly, which is his way of signaling, there is a solution in this law. but the politics of this are very, very simple. if the irs has bothered anyone, your job as a politician is to attack the irs. that's why there is not one elected official in washington standing up going, excuse me, actually, some of what they do, they do pretty well. like this is not -- >> that's why the tax man cometh is a bad thing and not a heralding proclamation. i think, actually, lawrence, this is an uncomfortable subject, because it's really ultimately about money and politics, right? i mean, this is about the influence of 501(c)(4)s in the political arena and also super
pacs. but 501(c)(4)s have been around a long time and we talk about citizens united and super pacs influencing the political arenas. but 501(c)(4)s as you have pointed out are influential and should not be tax exempt. this is an uncomfortable place for the administration, given where the president is right now in terms of super pacs, fund-raising and money and politics and sort of where he was as a candidate. and so to some degree, it is an awkward dance they are forced to do on the subject. >> sam? >> yes, exactly. and one of the underlying aspects of this ig report, it was not as much of a problem of filtering out these groups but they also concluded that the irs was giving 501(c)(4) status who were clearly not in the social welfare business and didn't deserve that tax exempt status. that's a huge problem because you have tons of anonymous donors giving huge checks and they're not abiding by the law. so that is a secondary problem that has similar important ramifications as being totally lost in this conversation. i think that, you know, a smart
politician will pivot off of this, try to find some sort of sensible campaign finance reform that deals with the law itself, and just go at it. and say this is what we need to do. we need to figure out how to control these outside groups, how to control the influence of money and politics, in a sensible way, without these filters, without the political strings attached. >> there's two hearings coming up from the tax committees. the house does it tomorrow, ways and means. finance, next week. there is no question in my mind that someone in the ways and means committee tomorrow is going to point out the statute, and the press will probably ignore it. and then -- but tuesday, i think in the senate finance committee, second round of this, i think next week is when the press is going to start to get, oh, yeah, there is something there. ej has a great column today where he talks about the change, where the irs changed from exclusively to primarily, all on their own. and then in a private joke to me today, ej made the point of imagine that your marital vow was changed in 1959 from exclusively to primarily.
would anyone think that any difference had just happened? >> no, it's a massive change. it's a massive change, and to look at the groups that are tax exempt because they're social welfare organizations, it's almost a joke when you look at the ads they ran in the 2012 election cycle or oh the 2008 election cycle. it brings the issue of our tax code and how unjust it is and how much we need reform. and if there is anything good that comes out of this, maybe as a renewed conversation about campaign reform and renewed efforts to make it more equitable how the tax code is being manipulated. >> sam, the benghazi e-mail dump, which seems in many ways to have solved a lot of problems for the white house. i mean, the stack is out there. we all have them. i've got my 100 pages. and we're looking for the incriminating thing. you know, that proves the republican case. and it ain't there. >> speaking of marriage vows, my wife works for the white house on congressional -- including on
benghazi. full disclosure. i agree with you. it's -- i also agree with jay. there was a reason to hold these back for protecting the ability of people to have conversations internally. but now that we see them, the only thing that strikes me as problematic, jay carney got up on the podium and said there has only been insignificant stylistic changes. it seems like everything we were told, this grand cover-up, huge political motivations, just wasn't there. and in the end, i have to say this. we are having an extensive conversation about talking points. bureaucratic process -- >> yes. >> and it is crazy. there are bigger problems, specific to this benghazi case. how do we protect our diplomatic core while still allowing them to complete their mission? why are intelligence failures happening in outposts like this? those are the big questions that are being totally lost in a conversation about talking points. >> and just a few hours ago, the white house serviced an announcement the president was urging congress to fund embassy security and that's great and good that's happening. but this thing happened eight
months ago and that same release could have gone out september 12th. >> but the irony is that chris stevens didn't want that embassy security. he wanted to be to run bus that's what the diplomatic core needs to do. they have to talk to people, have people feel they're not there on a military mission. so there is a balancing act. and when we put our diplomats in very remote outposts, we're taking a risk. and i'm not saying benghazi was bound to happen or justified, i'm just saying we have to have a bigger, more substantive conversation. then on how the state department versus the cia developed their talking points. >> tier 4, which is effectively -- part of the frustration is i'm just saying we have to have a bigger, more substantive conversation. then on how the state department versus the cia developed their talking points. >> tier 4, which is effectively -- part of the frustration is the white house is only now bringing the spotlight back to the fundamental issue of what does security mean, why were there intelligence failures and not this tit for tat about a turf war. >> jay carney was talking when they were subject to subpoenas investigating the leaks about valerie plame and our public understanding, they were very
targeted to specific reporters who they knew had conversations, not 100 reporters at "time" magazine. >> yes, absolutely. and today the president spoke about the need to find a balance between national security interests and the first amendment. and my only question to jay would be, your administration has had twice as many leak investigations as every other administration combined. in this case, you went very broad in the subpoenaing of a.p. reporters. how can you say you're hitting that balance if you're on the very far end of it? >> alex, the -- will the a.p. story stay alive, given that the white house has come out with this? hey, we support a shield law. isn't that basically calling congress's hand on this? because they're not going to pass -- >> well, sam and i were talking about this before. it's very convenient for the white house to renew their support for the media shield law at this point in time. i also think, there were two things that happened today that were of interest. a., the media shield law, the other that the white house leaked information to the a.p. about a new appointment. sort of like a sprinkling of the
-- it's going to take -- the president has not had a sit-down interview with the "new york times" "washington post" or "journal" in three or four years. >> he'll do it. alex wagner and sam stein, thank you both. >> thanks. coming up, the single stupidest thing that john boehner has ever said. i know you're probably going to think it's something else. but i think it's something he said this week, and it's in the "rewrite." with my friends, we'll do almost anything.
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in the spotlight tonight, the politics of scandal. the editors of the conservative national review, published an editorial entitled "scandal is not an agenda." republicans must regard the scandal. republicans should not jump to conclusions about how high up the white house chain of command these scandals are likely to creep. the facts alone will determine that. and perhaps most of all conservatives and republicans should not talk loosely about impeachment. joy reid, the thing about michele bachmann, she assistant read that stuff. >> no. >> so she has been talking about impeachment. and you can see what they're worried about. they know america doesn't feel that way about this president. you'll do nothing but alienate yourselves as a party if you keep talking this way. >> those are sort of the cooler heads in the republican party. at the base level, at the bachmann level, they're just
concerned about the base, only listen to the base. for them, the only thing that really unites conservatives and republicans at this point is hatred of barack obama. so they're going to play it for all it's worth and now that they've got the lame stream media also reporting on these stories, they are so excited. they're in hog heaven. they think this is the end of barack obama suspect they're going to ride it for all it's worth. >> the parallels are being drawn to, look, you went after president clinton with an impeachment proceeding and that actually helped the democrats. no one would have predicted that. but now you have that model to look at. >> yeah. those are facts, lawrence. see, those don't matter. those are not important. the republican -- >> i'm sorry. there's data on this. polling data and electoral results. >> that all has a liberal bias. they're not talking about facts. this is about gut instinct and feeling and emotion. and the only thing that conservatives and republicans are sure of, they hate barack obama. their base hates barack obama
and up to now the media has refused to see the monster that is barack obama. now that they think the media sees him for the ogre he is, there is no way they can get themselves out of this box. i really do think that republicans, because they don't agree on an electoral agenda, because they can't get legislation through, and even if it gets through the house, can't get it through the senate, this is going to substitute for governing. this is the way it's going to be, i think, going forward, at least through 2014. >> there are also some organizations out there writing letters to boehner saying don't you dare get involved in any governing here. do nothing but talk about the scandals, because that's what we want. and if you try to do any governing on anything, we will be out there screaming about it. >> yeah, absolutely. the heritage action -- it's called heritage action for america, a lobbying arm which just got discredited because they had this guy talking about race and iq that coauthored the immigration report. their lobbying arm sent a letter to boehner and cantor. i can't believe they wrote this down. and said, you know what, just
ride the scandals. don't govern. don't put any legislation on the floor that will point out our differences. they made the farm bill an example. they are saying listen, rather than argue about cutting food stamps or give subsidies to our rural states, rural red states, don't do that. don't govern. just scandal monger. so there is a -- listen, they scored these guys. if they don't listen to the heritage action, they score that. >> right. and the national review doesn't. they just write their editorials and you either go along with them or don't. it's kind of a perfect demonstration, the cross current they're in. my sense of boehner and cantor at this point is they probably think that the national review is right. >> right. >> they are stuck with these people that are pushing them. >> they are paralyzed by their own base. and john boehner has had a struggle trying to get right with the base and get them to be on his side. now this is a way for him to demonstrate he's on their side. he's quote, unquote, obsessed with benghazi. he's a tea party aficionado too.
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find tools and direction at aarp.org/possibilities. a new poll finds 76% of new hampshire voters favor background checks. among the 76% who favor background checks, just 29% have a favorable view of new hampshire's republican senator, kelly ayotte, and 35% have an unfavorable view. kelly ayotte, of course, voted against the background checks bill. as reported on this program, senator ayotte is now allowing the nra to lie to new hampshire voters on her behalf in ads telling voters that she actually voted for background checks when, in fact, she voted against the form of back ground checks that new hampshire wanted and voted for a bill that would actually make the current background check system even weaker.
it's a very different story in new hampshire for the democratic senator, jean shaheen, who voted for the background check bill. in that same poll, it find that senator shaheen is leading her possible opponents by double digits. those opponents include former massachusetts senator, scott brown, who she beat 44% to 29.5%. and just like mitt romney, scott brown owns a summer house in new hampshire. and reports say that he is considering another run for the senate. but that poll makes it look like he's going to have to go shopping for another state to run in. the "rewrite" is next. ilver. both of us actually. our pharmacist recommended it. and that makes me feel pretty good about it. and then i heard about a study looking at multivitamins and the long term health benefits. and what do you know? they used centrum silver in the study. makes me feel even better, that's what i take.
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my question isn't about who is going to resign. my question is who is going to jail over this scandal. >> that may be the single-stupidest thing ever said by a speaker of the house. there is the speaker of the house of representatives in one sentence acting as police, prosecutor, judge and jury, convicting of a crime, and sending to jail someone, anyone, working in the internal revenue service. and, so of course, he was instantly humiliated by all of the reporters in the room who buried him in angry questions about how could he possibly presume a crime had been committed and how could he possibly presume the crime would carry a jail sentence. and, oh, by the way, what is the crime that he had imagined had
occurred? of course, all of that would have happened if the washington press corps had the slightest sense of balance in how it pursues the scent of scandal. but they don't. and so, of course, that didn't happen. and when the speaker walked out of the room, he wasn't chased down the hall by reporters, peppering him with more questions about his breathtakingly stupid and crazy comment, a comment that makes him finally and definitively unworthy of his office. now, i have not been one of those critics of john boehner who says that he is bad at his job of running a republican house of representatives. in fact, the night of the 2010 elections when it was obvious that he was going to be the next speaker of the house, i predicted, somewhat sympathically, that he was going to have a lot of trouble with the tea party members of his party who would not comprehend why they would ever have to do such things, as, for example,
raise the debt ceiling. i don't think it is possible for john boehner to actually have done a better job of managing his out of control and crazy party in the house of representatives than he has done. but for a speaker of the house to be so unschooled in the ways of american criminal law, american juris prudence, to be so reckless with language and ideas, to be saying that someone should go to jail without even knowing who he is talking about, without even knowing what the case against the person is, without even knowing that person's defense means in the controversy involving the irs, the republican speaker of the house has become washington's new joe mccarthy, the raving alcoholic senator of the 1950s who threw blind accusations everywhere. now as i've been pointing out all week, rank ignorance of the law is the driving force of what
washington perceives to be the scandal at the irs. i've been telling you since monday that washington is so desperately ignorant of the law on 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations that no one in washington actually understands what the real scandal at the irs is. we showed you last night that after two days of my harping on this, the chairman of the senate finance committee finally started to echo my words on the senate floor, as did the president yesterday and today. but here is how much ignorance pervades the discussion of the irs controversy. >> we must pass a law that makes it much clearer that the so-called social welfare organizations must make their priority promoting social welfare rather than engaging in politics. from my standpoint, i think that they should not have any
political purpose, and i would hope that we could change the law on that. >> ignorance in congress never surprises me. but that completely false statement that you just heard is worthy of some surprise at this stage of this game. as viewers of this program have known since monday, the law that nancy pelosi is talking about says that 501(c)(4)s must be, quote, operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. exclusively. that is what the law says already. that law solves the problem if that law is simply enforced, which is has not been since 1959 when the irs changed the meaning of the word "exclusively" on its own, and without the legal authority of congress, and said, in defiance of both the law and the english language, that exclusively means primarily.
now, i don't expect nancy pelosi to be watching this program, but someone on her large staff should have picked up what i've been saying about this by now and whispered something in her ear about it. and if none of them heard what i had to say about it, how it they miss these words from the lead editorial in this morning's "new york times". given the confusion and the years of abuse, it's time for the irs to return to the original language of the statute and require these groups to operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. and not engage in politics. it took the "new york times" four days to get on my bandwagon, but there is, sadly, now no greater marker of the decline of the influence of the mainstream media, that no one on nancy pelosi's staff had brought that passage to her attention today before she got it all wrong.
there is, as far as i can tell, exactly one member of congress who has understood this problem before this week, and that is senator carl levin. he has peppered the irs with questions over the years about 501(c)(4)s. last summer in a letter to the irs, he asked, how can the irs interpret the explicit language which provides that 501(c)(4) entities must operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare to allow any tax exempt partisan political activity by 501(c)(4) organizations? and the irs's answer was, quote, long-standing treasury regulations have interpreted exclusively, as used in section 501(c)(4) to mean primarily. in other words, the congress wrote a very clear law with a very clear word, "exclusively." and the irs in its enforcement
guidelines for its agents changed the word "exclusively" to "primarily." and by doing that, they made irs agents judges of political activity, investigators of political activity. irs agents were then forced -- they were forced to evaluate just how political a given 501(c)(4) organization might be. and it is very clear, that if the words "tea party" or the name of any political party at all appears in the title of your 501(c)(4), you absolutely do not qualify for 501(c)(4) status on the law, and you should be challenged. but you might, under the scandalous way the irs began interpreting this law in 1959, actually qualify for that status. and that is the irs scandal that only senator carl levin seems to completely understand in washington.
that the irs changed the meaning of a very important word in 1959, and we now have the inevitable outcome that the irs agents are forced to use their judgments based on their investigative capacities to determine which political organizations deserve 501(c)(4) status. now i am hoping that tomorrow at the house ways and means committee hearing, at least one question about the actual law defining 501(c)(4)s will be asked. and my bet is that the leader of the democratic minority on that committee will actually ask that question. because congressman sander levin is senator carl levin's big brother. with the new staples rewards program you get 5% back, on everything. everything.
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a majority of americans, 52%, favor legalizing the use of marijuana. there has been an across-the-board increase in support in legalizing marijuana over the past three years. republican support increased by 13 points from 24 to 37. democratic support increased by 11 points from 48 to 59. medical marijuana is currently allowed in 18 states and the district of columbia. and now comes a study suggesting that marijuana could have beneficial health effects beyond pain relief. joining me now, one of the authors of that study, dr. mari middlen in boston. doctor, what are your key findings in this study? >> well, in this study, we had data available from the national health and nutrition survey, a
study done by the cdc on an ongoing basis, and in a survey of about 4,500 adults, they were asked about their marijuana use. and just under 600 were current users of marijuana. we looked at their ability to handle carbohydrates, the ability of the body to handle sugar. and how well the body metabolizes it. and what we found is that among current users, people who use marijuana in the last 30 days, there was an improvement in their metabolism. so that their fasting insulin level was lower, they had less insulin resistance than nonusers, their good cholesterol was a little bit higher, about three points higher. and their waist circumference was skinnier, a little bit, on average, about -- just about an inch narrower than the nonusers. and this was after adjusting for other differences between the users and the nonusers.
>> all right, doctor, there is your headline right there. marijuana, the new diet drug. if you've got something that makes waists narrower, that is -- that's a whole new direction for marijuana. >> yes. there are several prior studies, actually, have indicated that marijuana users tend to be leaner, despite the fact that they do tend to consume more calories. >> and more brownies, as i understand it. >> yes, that could be the form. although in this study, i think they were asked specifically about smoke marijuana. but it's -- you know, it's an interesting question about whether the form in which it's taken in makes a difference. one of the caveats, i would say, about our findings is that it was based on self report, and really at this stage, we need much more solid research, including experimental studies to really provide doctors with the evidence base to make recommendations
thank you doctor. turn around. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. today was the second day of the obama offensive. yesterday he fired the head of the irs and today he's tossing off comparisons to nixon. he said he's determined to get things fixed out there. well, a question. will he be satisfied if there are no more firings at the internal revenue service? will he let the people who did the political targeting keep their jobs? and if so, will he call that fixing things? second question. what lessons did the person learn from all this? is he going to change the way he runs things?