Both Sides Now w/ Huffington and Matalin: Cuts vs. Kids, Muslim McCarthyism, Walker's Pyrrhic Win

03/13/2011 09:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

By Mark Green

The news this week involved lots of passion and intensity by those under assault. Muslims were furious, labor was furious, Libyan rebels were imploring. And when it comes to federal spending and deficits, are the kids alright? (Listen to the whole show below.)

*Women and Children First? The budget debate in Washington is usually seen through this lens: since deficits are bad over time, how much should we cut - and when? On BSN this week, we instead use a different frame: are the proposed GOP House cuts of $61 billion to 12% of the federal budget for half a year tantamount to a "war on children and kids" since 415,000 children will be kicked out of Head Start and hundreds of thousands fewer low-income women will have access to nutritional assistance?

Mary thinks this is a straw man since "kids and babies won't get sidetracked" and the real debate is about the size of entitlement programs in the future. But if childhood poverty is approaching 25% and taxes on the rich haven't been lower in decades, why are we slashing funds that help children? Arianna deplores the "wrong choices" on such policies as slashing neo-natal care while keeping Bush tax cuts for the rich and $2.8 billion in expenditures in Afghanistan monthly. And she wonders why Obama hasn't taken a strong stand on the issue of children and spending when he's shown he can emotionally connect with the public when necessary, as he did at the Tucson memorial.

*Is Peter King a Chicken Little or Paul Revere? The women present two sets of parallel facts: Mary notes that Secretary Napolitano, Attorney General Holder and other administration officials have worried about recruitment of young Muslim men to engage in jihad, like at Ft Hood, Times Square and the Christmas Day attempt. But Arianna wonders a) why King would single out one entire religion and in a way that may well convince Muslims that America hates them, b) ignore other home-grown terrorists in neo-nazi, militia and anti-abortion groups and c) conflate moderate Muslims with jihadists. Mary agrees that everyone should distinguish between the two. But when the host asks why Rep. King and Fox News then kept implying that Imam Rauf at the Islamic Center was a terrorist, an energetic debate ensues. Employing analogy by mythology, Arianna cautions Chairman King against trying to cut off the head of Hydra only to see her grow more heads.

*A Little War in Libya - have we seen this movie before? We listen to Senator McCain urge U.S. participation in a "No-Fly Zone" in Libya because it'll help the rebels and wouldn't be very hard. The Host asks the slippery slope question - what if such a tactic doesn't prove decisive and then the McCains, Palins, Krauthammer start arguing that Gaddafi is a Hitler, has nuclear ambitions, may threaten Israel - and we should do whatever it takes since we're America (see Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan)? Humanitarian Arianna Huffington focuses on putting together a Western-Arab coalition to avert the tragedy of thousands of civilians being killed by Gaddafi's forces. Peacenik Mary Matalin however leans against such an intervention because it's an "act of war" that might not work and would inflame Muslim resentment again against the U.S. Waaay beyond left and right.

*Quick Takes: The women discuss why teen sex and teen pregnancy are down, how sisterhood has followed the 2004 film classic Mean Girls - and clash over whether the successful GOP effort in Wisconsin to break public employee unions will prove a Pyrrhic victory.

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

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