03/20/2011 09:39 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Both Sides Now w/ Huffington and Matalin : Apocalypse Now in Japan? NPR Funding? The Donald and The Hillary?

Nuclear Power after Fukushima? NPR after Schiller(s)? War after 'Curveball'?

By Mark Green

Just as the Arab League, UN and US were agreeing on military intervention in Libya, Both Sides Now -- with Katrina vanden Heuvel sitting in for Arianna -- hotly debated the future of nuclear power now that 'meltdown' is not just a metaphor, the future of NPR now that the House GOP voted to defund it, and Trump's and Clinton's political futures. (Listen to entire show below.)

*On the Triple Tragedies in Japan. Coming from cities that had to bounce back from epic tragedies -- Hurricane Katrina/BP Spill in New Orleans and 9/11 in NYC -- the women each speak personally about hard it will be for Japan to psychologically recover from the events of 3/11/11. They agree that if any country has that resilience it's this place of stoic strength that miraculously rebounded after Hiroshima and World War II.

The women disagree, however, about a Japanese credibility gap because the government is dependent on Tokyo Electric for information about the recent disaster (reminiscent of Obama's reliance initially on BP after the Deepwater Horizon blowout) and about nuclear power's supposed "renaissance." While "nature bats last" no matter how sophisticated the technology, Mary argues that nuclear is comparatively cheap and safe -- while Katrina concludes instead that we should stop future plans based on splitting atoms and focus on renewables, efficiencies and conservation. The host asks -- America may not have tsunamis, but what about nuclear's vulnerability to earthquakes, terrorism, proliferation, no waste storage facility yet?

In this energy context, what about rising pump prices? We listen to Speaker Boehner blame Obama, ignoring a variable called Libya. In rebuttal, the President responds that this is what happens when we over-rely on foreign sources for our supply of energy and when we account for 2% of the world's production but consume 25% of its energy.

*On Deficits and NPR.
Again -- reflecting the sharp divisions in Washington -- there is no consensus on deficits and NPR.

Jeff from our Portland affiliate asks why we haven't learned from the history that President Clinton created a budget surplus that President Bush squandered away with tax cuts. Mary energetically maintains that such surpluses resulted from a Republican congress and Reagan's strong economy. Katrina pushes back by attributing recent deficits to "unfunded wars, large tax cuts and a financial crisis... It's absurd for conservatives to act as if the deficit caused the collapse."

Citing America's $1.6 trillion annual deficit and $14 trillion debt, last week the House Rules Committee held an emergency session to send to the floor a bill to stop $22 million in federal funding to NPR after a manager there was caught secretly on video maligning the Tea Party. Katrina asserts that we, as all western countries do, are right to make sure that we have a robust marketplace of ideas and that Republican attacks on NPR are based on ideology, not finances. Mary counters that government should stick to funding core public programs and not special pleaders since media entities such as Both Sides Now and The Huffington Post make it on their own in the private marketplace.

Ok, what about the proposal of John Nichols of The Nation that the government should at least reduce postal rates for print media -- whether Human Events or The Nation -- because, says Ms. Vanden Heuvel, "the basis of democracy is an informed people." "Not with my taxpayer money you don't," replies Ms. Matalin.

*Quick Takes: Curveball, The Donald, The Hillary. The women clash sharply on the impact of "Curveball," the Iraqi defector who lied about Saddam's WMD program and who Colin Powell relied on in his now discredited UN testimony. Mary dismisses it as a "ridiculous liberal talking point" to think that any one person provoked that war since "we spent hours and hours looking at raw data and in meetings with allies" -- it's "despicable journalism" for CBS's 60 Minutes to highlight the admissions of one defector. Katrina disagrees as vigorously. "Rubbish in, rubbish out... The war was based on manufactured lies and cherry-picking information. There was no imminent threat, no WMD."

But the women do reach a consensus about possible presidential candidates. Trump is seen as outrageously entertaining -- we hear him say that "I'm very rich... I'm a very smart guy" -- but ultimately a diversion if not a joke. Secretary Clinton's crisp denials to CNN's Wolf Blitzer that she has any future interest in Secretary of Defense, Vice President or President is accepted on its face but, Katrina cautions, when it comes to Fitzgerald's no-second-acts, ya never know about third, fourth and fifth acts "when it comes to the Clintons."

*On "Your Week":
Mary discusses a big conservative confab where leading business executives were optimistic about our economic recovery so long as government gets a grip on entitlements and deficits. Katrina notes that her week included visits with Mikhail Gorbachev at his 80th birthday party in Moscow and then talks with two ex-Nation interns in London -- Ed Milliband, head of the Labor Party, and Nick Clegg, the deputy PM. ("Whoa!" reply her awed co-hosts.)

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

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