By Mark Green
With Arianna away, author and columnist Joe Conason and Mary debate the ongoing labor strife in Wisconsin and the first (public) GOP stirrings of 2012. Also, should America literally go to the Shores of Tripoli -- and should some in the South celebrate the Civil War? Consensus alert on Natalie Portman and on the Supreme Court's decision on speech. (Click below to hear whole show.)
*On Wisconsin II. Mary again distinguishes between collective bargaining by private sector workers (ok) and public sector workers (not ok) -- and she disparages the "pseudo" fight in Wisconsin since state civil service laws still protect workers. So why are there record numbers of worker protesters in Madison, answers Joe, who adds that Walker never did campaign for governor on collective bargaining, the red ink hardly existed until the governor gave big tax breaks to big business, and it's "un-American" to force someone to surrender a fundamental right. As for polls showing 2-1 opposition to Walker's efforts, Mary questions their accuracy while Joe think they're significant, perhaps decisive. (And how did Shep Smith miss the Fox memo denying that the Governor was a union-buster?)
*And they're off. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says something about running for president this time. But can he overcome the five strikes against him (multiple marriages, admitted affair, ethics violation, failed impeachment, failed shutdown)? Mary
explains that personal issues become politically paramount when not much else is going on and, now, a lot else is going on. Though Joe acknowledges that Gingrich is a smart idea-machine, he's far too "negative and polarizing" to win either the nomination or general election.
The two clash sharply over Huckabee's comments about Obama growing up in Kenya: Mary says that while Democrats are understandably annoyed at such an appeal to the base, she concludes that it's no worse than how liberals assume all who disagree with them are "racists." Joe concludes that Huckabee's not a racist, just "stupid" and a panderer.
*On Acting - Oscar and Charlie. The two agree that the problem at the Oscars wasn't Franco and Hathaway as it was an anachronistic Borscht-Belt format imposed on two young hip talents. Says Conason, "it's a place where Bob Hope killed -- and he's dead!" (Bada-boom.) Both also loved Colin Firth's classiness and the power of David Seidler's acceptance speech on behalf of "stutterers everywhere," like himself as a young boy. As for Huckabee's condemnation of Natalie Portman's pregnancy, Joe went at him again, dismissing him as a "prig" and idiot.
Sheen, they agree, is a pathetic car wreck and someone should intervene to stop him before he crashes again. Warner Bros. was right to can the show and him given what he said and did. Will there be a 2 ½ Men next year with Sheen? Probably, Joe sighs.
*Quick Takes: Gates, Civil War, Uncivil Speech. The two agree with DefSec Gates's caution against more American land wars in Asia/Africa and against a no-fly zone just now, though Mary notes that if we don't back up our strong words, we could put at risk Bush's successful "freedom agenda." They disagree about Southern celebrations on the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, with Mary strongly arguing that it's about pride in history and Joe strongly arguing that the history includes slavery. But both sides become one side when the issue is that fringe Kansas church holding up hateful signs at the funerals of soldiers, which the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 was protected speech. "We can't change our rights for all people because of this cretinous group," says Mary, also suggesting the approach taken by her own church -- ignore them and they'll go away.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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