07/31/2011 08:18 pm ET | Updated Sep 30, 2011

Both Sides Now : Debt Ceiling Fight "Psychotic"? ID Laws "Jim Crow"?

By Mark Green

This week, we're back to our future with our founding lineup of Huffington & Matalin, "sharpening differences --
or bridging them." With next Saturday being the 46th anniversary of the historic Voting Rights Act, are "Voter ID" laws being considered by 32 states the latest incarnation of Jim Crow since they have a negative "disparate impact" on the young, poor and minorities? In the name of a Christian war against Islam, Anders Breivik killed more people as a percentage of his country than 9/11 hijackers did here -- should it be un-PC to talk about Christian, right-wing terrorism after so much discussion about "Muslim Terrorism"? And how did the Tea Party minority win such a illiberal deal on debt and deficits? (Listen to entire show below.)

*On Voter ID Laws. Mary argues that they're justified because voting illegally -- she cites the "vote early, vote often" reputation of machine Chicago -- is as much a fraud on democracy as wrongful voter exclusion. In her view, it's "demagogic race-baiting" to imply that this national push is about keeping down Democratic voters, as Bill Clinton recently said.

But since such fraud was prosecuted once in Kansas in six years and occurs .000009 of the time in New York, according to the Brennan Center at NYU, are they a solution in search of a problem? How can Gov. Rick Perry in Texas allow handgun licenses to be valid documentation but not student IDs?

Arianna objects because these laws discriminate not explicitly by race but by poverty -- and just as the young, poor, and minorities have too little political power, such laws further shrink their franchise and their voice since fewer of them have valid government-issued IDs.

*On Discussing "Christian Extremism" after Norway.
We listen to Bill O'Reilly and Rep. Peter King separately denouncing The New York Times for highlighting "Christian extremism" despite Fox's obsession with "Muslim extremism" and King's hearings exclusively into homegrown Muslim terrorism rather than homegrown, right-wing terrorism (murders of abortion doctors; plane flown into federal building; organized killing of cops; Holocaust guard; anti-government militia groups; Oklahoma City).

Mary says cons and libs should not associate a killer with one group or party -- "as some on my side did with the Unabomber and Al Gore." Arianna emphasizes that headlines and hearings about home-grown, right-wing Christian extremism, "while not illegitimate, can be seen as an attack on an entire religion"; instead, people should emphasize not religion generally but "whatever made that violent people commit their acts."

Why do some leading conservatives conflate all Muslims with terrorism, like anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, repeatedly cited by Brievik in his 1500 page Manifesto? We hear her attack the proposed mosque near Ground Zero for being like "the Klan building a monument near the 16th Street Baptist Church. It's wrong to build a shrine to the murderers of 9/11." [Klan=Islam? Speech is free... though not cost-free.]

*On the debt ceiling debate roiling Washington.
With the Tuesday deadline approaching, it's reminiscent of what John Kenneth Galbraith said of Black Monday, 1929: "the end had come but it was not yet in sight."

Mary focuses on the reduced growth rate for 2011 and sustained unemployment... but what about paying our past bills? Arianna discounts the frenzy over the ceiling as "a completely manufactured crisis since it's been raised dozens of times without such melodramatic brinksmanship... and there's no evidence that low tax rates will create jobs since they didn't under Bush."

While she blames a minority of crazies for "this psychotic episode... those contemplating default have no sense of morality or economics," Arianna also questions why the President hasn't made the "link between growth and deficits" part of a debate now only about spending cuts. "Larry Summers says that if you grow the economy by just [an extra] one percent, that's a trillion dollars or the equal of proposed spending cuts. Polls show that the public is twice as concerned with jobs as the deficit."

Ms. Matalin says that she aligns with Perry-Bachmann-Tea Party, wing which concludes that no ceiling increase by Tuesday wouldn't be "a cataclysmic Armageddon." But Ms. Huffington, while lacking such equanimity, believes that all will be resolved by that deadline either with a Reid-McConnell compromise or Obama invoking his authority under the 14th Amendment, if necessary.

*Quick Takes: On Polygamy and Pledgamania: Speaking of polygamy... the women agree on two Quick Takes. In Utah there's a man with four wives and 16 children being charged criminally with polygamy. If society increasingly permits consensual same-sex marriage that don't harm others, why not consensual many-partner marriages that don't harm others? The women sympathize with the civil liberties argument but worry that consent may not be obvious where young wives are concerned. "Doesn't pass the smell test" Mary sniffs.

As for the spread of far-right pledges made by GOP candidates -- like Bachmann-Santorum signing one on family values which included language on how black families were better off in slavery than now and Norquist's on no-new-taxes -- they concur that candidates should shun them, like Fred Thompson did in 2008 and Jon Huntsman is doing now. Such pledges, says Arianna, "is a way to tie the hands of candidates once in office instead of using their best judgment based on changing circumstances."

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.

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