KCRW's Left, Right & Center

By KCRW

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Subscribers: 2222
Reviews: 12


 Jul 11, 2020

Charles
 May 30, 2020
Christine is a pathetic representation of the left.

lm
 May 26, 2020
I had to unsubscribe. It was always clear the moderator was liberal, which is fine, but if you're putting out what's called a balanced podcast I shouldn't be able to tell your affiliation. The new woman on here is incapable of even appearing to have a reason mindset. Her hatred of me and anyone else who is conservative is so clear all the time I just can't listen. I would love to hear an actual reasoned balanced podcast on these issues with someone who isn't so much better than me in her own mind.

independent voter
 May 24, 2020
radical left, hard left, and moderate left, trying to pass itself off as even/bipartisan. nothing could be further from the truth.

A
 Feb 1, 2020

Description

Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.


Episode Date
Lagging behind
50:46

The coronavirus pandemic crisis is stretching on and the United States is in dire straits. Infections are surging in the south and west and there's doubt about whether schools can open safely for the new school year.

Megan McArdle says the lags of this disease are contributing to serious policy disasters and many states are falling victim to normalcy bias, where, if it doesn't look like chaos, it's harder to persuade people and public officials to take appropriate action to prevent the situation from deteriorating. Dorian Warren says it is ultimately shameful that the United States is failing at virus mitigation.

Then, Helen Alvare joins the panel to talk about the Supreme Court's final decisions. Was this term a major disappointment for conservatives? Chief Justice John Roberts promised to call balls and strikes, but might he be working towards a more long-sighted goal?

Finally: Mexico's president visited President Trump in Washington this week, and Jose Diaz Briseno of Reforma talks about the state of their relationship. Is it correct to call President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador a leftist? And is he, like many other world leaders, doing his best just to appease and not influence President Trump?

Jul 11, 2020
Will it change us?
54:33

Halfway through an extremely eventful 2020, what is the outlook for persistent change?

In this special midyear episode, Josh Barro speaks with Dorian Warren and Megan McArdle about whether this year’s events — in policing and racial justice, the economy, and public health — will make change in these areas more possible and more necessary.

A lot of change is happening quickly. The government has spent trillions to support the economy, Americans’ lives are barely recognizable, and public opinion has moved faster than we’ve ever seen on issues related to race and policing. Will it change the country permanently? Positively? And what are we learning from these extraordinary months?

Megan notes that many trends appear revolutionary in the short term but less so in the long term, citing how little changed after the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. She also says there are examples in our history of police reform and “defunding” actually backfiring, and reform may be more difficult in the midst of economic troubles.

Dorian notes that we’ve already seen incredible change as a result of the multiple crises facing the country now. “Normal models we look for in politics don’t quite explain how much change we’ve seen so far...” and he says generational change and indicators in the culture should not be underestimated.

Jul 03, 2020
The Center is right again
59:05

How’s this for a civilized yet provocative start to the show? This week, people finally started admitting Josh Barro has been right about Joe Biden. Though, for the record, a lot of people have been agreeing with him all along: voters. Now, many others are realizing maybe what America needs next in a president is a broadly acceptable leader with unifying messages that can make people feel good about the country again, and one who adopts broadly popular reform positions while resisting the pressure to be on the unpopular side of wedge issues.

Well, on this show, we do a lot of disagreeing, and Megan McArdle and Christine Emba have some things to say about Josh’s victory lap. What everyone does agree on is that President Trump’s handling of national crises grew even more grim and it’s definitely not helping him in the polls. The sparsely attended Tulsa rally didn’t help either, nor do the spikes in covid-19 cases in the south and west. Progressives had a strong showing in Tuesday’s primaries, so what are the implications further down the ballot if Biden wins big in November?

Plus: what should be done about China? Democrats and Republicans feel increasingly negative about our relationship with China. Why is it so hard to determine the exact foreign policy strategy? Ali Wyne from the Atlantic Council joins the panel to talk about the tough road ahead.

Jun 26, 2020
A big week at the Supreme Court
51:03

The Supreme Court delivered two major opinions this week and conservatives are not very happy with two Republican-appointed justices. Justice Neil Gorsuch — often held up as the example of why Republicans should tolerate President Trump’s antics — wrote the opinion in a 6-3 decision that said employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity because, well, Gorsuch argues that’s what the text of the law says. Might conservatives abandon textualism? Later in the week, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 the Trump administration improperly tried to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation many unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the country as minors.

One way to read Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion, Emily Bazelon says, is that he’s offended by the Trump administration’s sloppy lawyering. They should have been more clear about why they wanted to toss protections for Dreamers. Michael Steele says the administration’s actions are less about a coherent immigration policy and more about undoing President Obama’s work. This decision, of course, doesn’t erase all the uncertainty about the future of DACA. Plus: why did the Supreme Court pass on cases about the Second Amendment and qualified immunity?

And speaking of, how much would eliminating qualified immunity actually improve police behavior? Without it, Christine Emba says there could be trickle-up accountability — the threat of a lawsuit could make officers behave better, but maybe it would simply force local government to pay more attention to training and hire better officers. Emily Bazelon says the threat of lawsuits can be a good accountability tool for law enforcement, but for large-scale reform, major culture change is necessary from leadership to the unions and through the ranks.

Finally: John Bolton’s tell-all memoir is coming out next week, and the details in it are pretty embarrassing for President Trump. The Department of Justice is trying very hard to stop the publication of the book. Josh Barro says it’s an egregious abuse of power for the Department of Justice to try to silence John Bolton and punish him for exercising his First Amendment rights.

Jun 19, 2020
Biden’s lead widens
50:32

Lots of people in Washington seem to want more distance from President Trump as his actions have grown even more erratic and his poll numbers have deteriorated. This week, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff apologized for appearing with President Trump in that infamous church photo opp. Mitt Romney got a lot of attention for marching in support of Black Lives Matter. Michael Steele says it was partially political because the senator is unlikely to face retribution from his party or his constituents but it’s an important moral and personal move too.

This week, there was a pretty big contrast between President Trump’s calls for “law and order” and Joe Biden’s empathy, and the polls show Biden with a growing lead over the president. It appears Biden is more open and interested in policies further to the left. He might not be a full-blown leftist, but he appears to be open to influence, Christine Emba says.

Protests about policing are yielding government action. New York passed ten police reform laws, Minneapolis is moving toward efforts to abolish its police department, though it’s not entirely clear what that would mean or what institutions would be developed to replace it. Democrats in Congress have a suite of proposals and Republicans are working on their own slate. But some activists urge that we abolish or defund the police. What does that mean? Emily Owens says, too often, discussions about policing focus on its impact and benefits, and it’s important to consider the costs of policing — to communities, to the social safety net, and to people’s lives.

Plus, America is reopening despite the fact that COVID-19 cases appear to be spiking. President Trump even intends to resume campaign rallies. Are we ready if things get worse? Is the president?

Jun 12, 2020
Will waves of protest bring waves of change?
01:04:12

The killing of George Floyd by a white police officer who now faces murder charges set off a wave of peaceful protests nationwide. It also resulted in incidents of violence, with police officers blamed for using unnecessarily brutal methods to clear activists, while others have been accused of using the guise of activism to destroy and steal property. Meanwhile the president’s response has elicited criticism from some surprising sources, including the military community. The panel considers this moment: Does it represent a seismic shift? Will either party advocate real reform? The panel reacts with a mix of hope and reality.

Plus: The Left has been clamoring for General Jim Mattis, President Trump’s former defense secretary, to speak out. Did he choose the right time? Will it matter what he’s said? And how much does it matter who Joe Biden picks to be his running mate? 

This episode of Left, Right & Center has an all-black panel: Keli Goff is the Center with Christine Emba on the Left, Michael Steele on the Right and special guest Robert A. George

Jun 05, 2020
George Floyd
53:54

The death of George Floyd — who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for seven minutes in the process of arresting him — has reignited outrage over police treatment of black Americans. There have been protests in cities across the country in response to Floyd’s death and the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and in Minneapolis, a level of unrest led the governor to call in the National Guard. The panel discusses what’s driving the protests and what governments can do to gain the public’s trust that justice will be done when police abuse power.

Also on the show: Joe Biden has a plan for that. That’s what Matt Yglesias says: that Biden is the most progressive Democratic nominee ever with a long list of plans for progressive policy change. But will progressives believe that? And will conservatives be able to convince anyone that Biden is a radical? The United States Postal Service, like many institutions, faces financial trouble due to the pandemic. What’s the social purpose of the post office? And what does that say about how Congress should help it out?

May 29, 2020
Will President Trump ever wear a mask in public?
54:41

President Trump really doesn’t want to be photographed wearing a mask (even though he has a cool one with the Presidential Seal on it). But 72% of Americans say that they’re wearing masks all or most of the time when they’re out of the house. So why have masks become a political symbol? And will that interfere with efforts to contain the virus?

Plus: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a relative light touch when it came to lockdown orders and many critics warned of dire outcomes from that. Was Governor DeSantis right all along? Or has he just been lucky?

Then: Frederick Hess, resident scholar and director of the Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, joins the panel to look at how the coronavirus is affecting education. Are students actually learning at home right now? Will schools be ready to open in the fall? And is there even enough money to pay for all the changes needed to make it work?

May 22, 2020
Obamagate! Wait, what’s Obamagate?
55:28

President Trump is very upset about Obamagate. It seems to have to do with his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn — who the president fired after he lied to Vice President Pence and the FBI, and who pleaded guilty to charges that the Department of Justice is now seeking to drop. Is this a really important political issue? Or is this just President Trump’s effort to talk about anything besides the pandemic?

Plus: Will Joe Biden leave his basement? Or, does laying low draw the contrast with President Trump that works for his campaign? Does either candidate need to be worried about their campaign right now?

Then: Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations joins the panel to grade the American and international response to the coronavirus pandemic. What happens when international institutions atrophy? This isn’t all President Trump’s fault: so far, the pandemic has highlighted changes to the international order that have put the US in a weaker position to lead through the crisis.

May 15, 2020
Twenty million jobs lost in April
50:38

More than 20 million jobs were lost in April and it keeps getting worse. Millions of Americans continue to file for new unemployment benefits every week. Is there and end in sight? And what does a plan look like to keep Americans afloat through the rest of the crisis and ensure that business is there to employ them again? Former top Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling joins the panel to talk about economic dignity in a pandemic and after. Will there be significant policy changes to match this recognition of the importance of essential workers, so many of whom are low paid?

Even Mitt Romney has a bill for federally funded hazard pay for essential workers in this crisis. But will America’s relationship to low-paid essential workers change permanently, or will our economy go back to its precarious normal?

Plus: the Justice Department wants to drop the charge against Michael Flynn for lying to federal agents, a charge he already pleaded guilty to. Ken White joins the panel to talk about the justification for that, and what it means for other criminal defendants.

May 09, 2020
When and what, but what about how?
54:22

Joe Biden says it never happened. Biden spoke publicly for the first time in response to an accusation from former Senate staffer Tara Reade, who says Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. How should voters evaluate this allegation? And how does Democratic support for Biden square with Biden’s own expressed standard from the Brett Kavanaugh fight that “you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence” of these sorts of allegations is real.

Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute talks about states easing stay-at-home orders and trying to reopen the economy. We have to do it sooner than later, but do we have what it needs to make that reopening sustainable? Dr. Jha talks about the level of testing we need and if states are ready to trace the contacts of people who test positive for Covid-19.

Plus: Justin Amash’s Libertarian bid for president, stay-at-home protests in Michigan, and how hard it can be to access unemployment insurance in certain states

May 01, 2020
LIBERATE some states but not others?
50:45

Congress agreed this week to replenish money for the Paycheck Protection Program, which makes loans to certain kinds of businesses that are hurt by the pandemic and then forgives those loans if businesses keep their workers on payroll. But there are some problems. There wasn’t enough money, smaller businesses without really deep banking relationships have been left behind, and some bigger “small” businesses have gotten the money while mom-and-pop businesses haven’t gotten any.

Even with new money, the PPP is likely to run out of money again, and the dispute at the center of the next bailout package will be assistance to state and local governments. Mitch McConnell says states should be able to file for bankruptcy. Does that make sense?

Then Samuel Brannen gives us a check up on the US coronavirus response. Sam was part of a pandemic simulation just a few months ago — how is the real-life response tracking with that simulation? Unfortunately: he doesn’t have good news. The panel points to President Trump’s increasingly unhelpful and absurd coronavirus briefings. Is he intentionally weakening his presidency so he can’t be blamed for anything? Should the response to a crisis like this be centered in the federal government or the states? Or does it make more sense for states and localities to decide certain measures while the federal government concentrates on the bigger picture issues, like testing and sharing of resources? Sam says government and governments have never mattered more than our lifetime than right now.

Apr 24, 2020
Total authority? Not really
56:59

Regardless of who has the ‘total authority,’ the Left, Right & Center panel agrees we need a lot more to actually reopen the country: more testing, more hospital capacity, and other things that will inspire confidence in the public. And isn’t all this reopening talk a little premature? No public official can reopen the economy if the public is afraid to leave their homes. (Though some Michiganders protested Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders this week.)

Another announcement President Trump made this week is that he’s withdrawing funding for the World Health Organization, which has been widely criticized for its handling of the pandemic and being too solicitous of the concerns of the Chinese government. In defunding the WHO, will the US have more influence and leverage, or will the WHO just turn more toward China, strengthening China’s hand? Dan Drezner talks about the threat to defund the organization and what can be done to counter China’s influence in international organizations.

Then: the program to support small business payrolls has already run out of money. Economist Jason Furman joins the panel to talk about how the operation to keep the American economy on ice is going.

Apr 18, 2020
It's Biden
51:25

Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his presidential campaign this week, making Joe Biden the official presumptive Democratic nominee. What is the legacy of his campaign? Does it signal a complete lack of interest in very left policies and a major win for conservatives in the US, or does it show gradual change?

Wisconsin’s primary election went ahead this week as scheduled, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Is this a preview of future primaries and the general election in November? Should both Democrats and Republicans favor voting by mail?

President Trump is being criticized for taking too much of the spotlight during daily coronavirus briefings at the expense of medical experts. Is it time for that to change? Is President Trump capable of changing that?

Finally: one concerning theme of this pandemic is the political polarization of attitudes about it, but polling suggests that even though Democrats and Republicans might be saying opposite things, they’re pretty much behaving the same way: staying home, avoiding social contact, following guidelines. But this pandemic also feels like a crisis that could also be the nexus of other American crises: low trust in government, fake news and motivated reasoning. Cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier says people are relatively good at distinguishing good information from bad information, especially when their lives depend on it.

Apr 10, 2020
Front row at the Trump show
54:09


At least ten million Americans filed for unemployment in the last two weeks of March, and that’s not the end of it. Has the federal government done enough to support Americans financially through this crisis? Is there a missed opportunity for reform and bigger, longer term ideas in the response? And what will the government have to do more of as this crisis continues?

Rich Lowry argues this real crisis puts previous crises in perspective, like impeachment and the Mueller investigation. Elizabeth Bruenig brings up the moral questions that underly a pandemic and our responses to it.

Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News, has a new book called Front Row At The Trump Show. Jon talks about President Trump’s long coronavirus briefings and what it’s like to cover them, the similarities between his reaction to the pandemic and to Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Dorian, how the president actually feels about reporters (and vice versa), and what we can expect to see from him as the pandemic crisis bears down on the general election.

Also: the Democratic presidential primary is technically still going on. Is Joe Biden doing the right thing by laying (somewhat) low?

Apr 03, 2020
What’s our prognosis?
59:35

The US now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, but it appears we haven’t reached the worst yet.President Trump signed a $2 trillion economic relief package for Americans and businesses. How much relief is in the relief bill? And will it be enough? The president is also eager to reopen the country, which could be a disaster if it’s done too early. Is President Trump wrong to say he doesn’t think New York will need tens of thousands of ventilators? How is the American healthcare system responding so far? Aaron Carroll and Betsey Stevenson join the panel for this week’s episode.

Mar 27, 2020
Stay at home
50:40

Californians and New Yorkers and people in many other jurisdictions are being ordered to stay at home, and it’s advised across the whole country. Is this going to work to stop the coronavirus outbreak? And are our hospitals ready for the surge of patients they are sure to see over the coming weeks? Dr.Kavita Patel will join us to discuss hospital preparedness, the shortage of coronavirus tests, and the prognosis for our fight against the epidemic.Conor Dougherty (economics reporter for the New York Times) will join us to discuss the crushing impact that epidemic-fighting measures are having on the economy and on workers. What can the federal government do, and whatmustit do to address that aspect of the crisis?

And what does a stay-at-home order mean if you don’t have a home? The coronavirus crisis creates new urgency for California to address its homelessness crisis. Will these extraordinary circumstances help the state muster solutions to a very complicated issue?

Mar 20, 2020
The coronavirus response gets real
50:39

The public health crisis response to the coronavirus pandemic is finally happening in the United States, but it’s not enough and it’s too late. President Trump has politicized the crisis. He’s minimized it, called out the “fake” media, worried about the wrong things, and not said the right things to prepare the public. Will Americans do what they’ve done in the face of a crisis before: fumble at the beginning but ultimately muster the response and resources needed? Samuel Brannen of the Center for Strategic and International Studies joins the panel to talk about a pandemic simulation he took part in just a few months ago. He shares the lessons learned, what’s playing out differently in real life, and what’s still in our control.

House Democrats have been negotiating with the White House on a coronavirus aid package. What’s in it? Is this a big opportunity for the left to go for traditionally left objectives like paid sick leave? And do they run the risk of politicizing the pandemic too?

Then: Joe Biden had another strong week. It seems like the central question of the primary race has been whether voters want massive change or for things to go back to normal, and there also seems to be a clear answer.

Mar 13, 2020
The right and wrong responses to the coronavirus outbreak
56:21

The coronavirus outbreak in the US is intensifying with hundreds of known cases and 14 deaths as of Friday afternoon. The stats on cases in China are a little better than a few weeks ago, but can we believe them? And beyond the $8.3 billion emergency spending package President Trump signed Friday, is our government taking the preparations that it needs to? Donald McNeil of the New York Times joins the panel.

Then: Joe Biden came back in a huge way on Super Tuesday after a strong victory in the South Carolina primary. He’s in position to lock up the Democratic nomination. Voters turned out to support him — wasn’t that supposed to be the story for Bernie Sanders? Ezra Klein joins to talk about Biden’s big week, why Elizabeth Warren dropped out, and why we’re polarized, which is the topic of his new book. Ezra explains his argument and what it would mean to nominate Joe Biden, who has explicitly pushed back on polarization. Will he have any luck if elected?

Mar 07, 2020
Super Tuesday is days away
50:48

The coronavirus is bearing down on the United States. Is President Trump saying the right things? He tapped Vice President Pence to lead coronavirus task force. What of then-Indiana Governor Pence’s record during an HIV outbreak there? And as stocks nose-dived as the coronavirus news got worse, fears of economic tumult became more real.

Meanwhile, Super Tuesday is mere days away. Where do the candidates stand after the Nevada caucuses and a chaotic South Carolina debate? What makes a good debate anyways? Then, lawyer and legal scholar Linda Hirshman talks with Keli Goff about the Harvey Weinstein verdict and what it represents for the #MeToo movement.

Plus: Bernie Sanders’ universal childcare proposal, Alaska’s governor faces a recall campaign, and lynching may become a federal hate crime.

Feb 29, 2020
Finally, a real debate
01:10:48

Now that’s what we call a debate. The candidates stopped being polite and started getting real, and all it took was getting Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage. Though, with all the fighting and several direct hits from Elizabeth Warren on his company’s nondisclosure agreements, he didn’t really fight back that much. Is the Bloomberg bubble about to pop? Can anyone dislodge Bernie from the lead? Are we headed to a contested Democratic convention?

The panel breaks down the Democratic debate: fights over stop and frisk, sexual harassment, health care, and the name of Mexico’s president. Should President Trump be eager to face Bernie Sanders? And Trump says he’s the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Weren’t Republicans supposed to be against that sort of thing?

Feb 22, 2020
From impeachment acquittal to taking revenge
56:51

President Trump is on a revenge tour, firing administration officials who cooperated with the impeachment probe, using Twitter to rail against the prosecutions of his allies, and demanding to know why the Justice Department doesn't prosecute more of his enemies. Attorney General William Barr says he wants the president to back off and stop tweeting, but Barr has also been taking extraordinary interventions in criminal cases of interest to the president.

Then: Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary but with the smallest vote share ever for a New Hampshire winner. Will the Democratic field ever winnow? Is there a real possibility of a contested convention? Is it Mike Bloomberg's fault? Are all the candidates being too nice to each other? Speaking of Bloomberg, he's soaring in the national polls on the back of an enormous television campaign, and speaking of being too nice, should we be seeing more attack ads? Erika Franklin Fowler of the Wesleyan Media Project talks about the power of those ads and whether they make a difference for voters.

Feb 15, 2020
Iowa
57:17

It was a full week. On Monday, the Iowa caucuses were a bit of a meltdown for Democrats, but did the mess sort of, maybe help some of the candidates? Kind of. What happened to Joe Biden? And what happens when you’re a reporter covering a caucus and you see things obviously going wrong? **Tim Carney **and Olivia Nuzzi talk about what they witnessed in Iowa and how the campaigns are taking it as they head to New Hampshire. Election law expert Rick Hasen lays out the damage done in Iowa and what he’s concerned about as the primary season continues.

President Trump gave his state of the union address on Tuesday and it was a three-in-one kind of speech with all the reality show trimmings we’ve come to expect. The panel discusses that and analyzes the Democrats’ messaging about the economy in Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s response.

And on Wednesday, the Senate acquitted President Trump in the impeachment inquiry. Mitt Romney was the only Republican — this time and in history — who voted to convict and remove the president on one of the articles.

Feb 08, 2020
No witnesses
57:15

As the impeachment trial of President Trump draws to a close, has this been a useful exercise? What did we learn? Who were the friends we made along the way? And will the result of the trial matter for future presidencies, or for the November election?

Susan Hennessey of the Lawfare blog will tell us what may (or may not) be stopping John Bolton from talking, with the Senate declining to seek his testimony. Paul Krugman will join us to talk about his new book Arguing With Zombies where the zombies are ideas like “tax cuts pay for themselves” and “budget deficits are hurting the economy.” And Juliette Kayyem gives her analysis of the US response so far to the Wuhan coronavirus.

All that plus a look ahead to the Iowa caucuses — hello, that’s on Monday — is in this episode.

Feb 01, 2020
Does anyone change their mind anymore?
54:24

Forty-eight hours of presentations for the prosecution and the defense, and senators are watching it all silently, with only water and milk to drink. But will the trial change any minds, inside the senate chamber or in the country as a whole?

The Left, Right & Center panel discusses eerily stable public opinion: on impeachment, on Donald Trump, and on the Democratic primary candidates. Why doesn’t anybody change their mind anymore?

But: when people do change their minds, lately it’s been toward Bernie Sanders or Mike Bloomberg. Is Joe Biden’s perpetual poll lead as stable as it looks? Ariel Edwards-Levy talks polling with the panel.

Plus: is the primary too nice? Where are the attack ads? Is it just civil, or does it deny voters the contrasting information about the candidates they deserve?

Jan 24, 2020
The eleventh hour
57:35

The Senate impeachment trial has officially begun, and yet...new information is still coming out and senators are still divided about witness testimony. Do the Lev Parnas documents released this week change anything? What about the Government Accountability Office determination that the Trump administration broke the law in withholding the Ukraine aid? If some Republican senators mount a campaign for witness testimony, what might that fight look like? Even so, don’t we already know how this is going to end?

This week, in a moment of bipartisan cooperation, the Senate approved the USMCA trade agreement. It’s a victory for President Trump. And then there’s the phase one trade deal with China. President Trump signed it this week. Is it also a victory? Or is a bit weak? There was a debate this week in Iowa ahead of the caucuses. The candidates talked trade, foreign policy, and then there was that moment between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Felicia Wong talks about a new project from the Roosevelt Institute on the failures of neoliberalism and what comes after for progressives.

Jan 17, 2020
Iran, Iraq and impeachment
50:43

Iran’s response to our attack that killed Qassem Soleimani looks like a climbdown, for now. Is it time for President Trump to take a victory lap? Should we be watching for unconventional reprisals from Iran? Much of the coverage this week has centered around Iran, but what impact has this had on our already-fragile relationship with Iraq? Jarrett Blanc of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace talks about the way forward with Iran, including what remains of the Iran nuclear deal and if there’s any way more sanctions could have an impact on Iran.

Plus: lawmakers’ reaction to the strike, flashbacks to 2002, and impeachment -- is that still happening?

Jan 10, 2020
Iranian general killed in US airstrike
01:02:54

Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American airstrike at the Baghdad airport. General Soleimani was arguably the second most powerful person in Iran and a destabilizing force in the Middle East for decades. He led Iran’s interventions in other countries in the region, including support for militias in Iraq that killed hundreds of American soldiers.

The targeted killing of Soleimani was a major escalation in the conflict with Iran. Lawmakers are debating over whether the strike was wise, and what the costs to American interests will be. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attack on Soleimani was based on intelligence that he was imminently going to undertake an attack that could have killed Americans. What Iran will do now that Soleimani is dead? And could the US be drawn into a broader war? Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy joins the panel to analyze the attack and the aftermath so far. 

Then: Natahsha Sarin of the University of Pennsylvania joins the panel to talk about California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, the troubled utility whose aging infrastructure has sparked wildfires, required widespread blackouts and driven the company into bankruptcy for the second time in two decades. Does the US succeed or fail at holding companies like PG&E accountable? Natasha also talk about the debate over wealth taxes proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and whether they will generate as much revenue as the candidates claim.

Jan 04, 2020
Where is the Center?
50:29

Who is the center? Are there swing voters anymore, and what do they want? How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over?

Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate. Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Erin McPike talk about policy making, what’s misunderstood about voters in the center, and what centrist voters are looking for in the 2020 field.

Then, Josh talks with two Left, Right & Center regulars, Kelli Goff and Tom Nichols, about their difficulty figuring out where we can fit in this increasingly polarized political system. They talk about the road to political independence and Josh makes the case for being in a political party, even if you don’t like it very much.

Dec 27, 2019
Impeached
56:32

Donald Trump is officially the third president to be impeached. The Democrats held together, with just one defection to the GOP and one “present” vote than they had a few weeks ago to open the impeachment inquiry.

After the impeachment vote, Nancy Pelosi surprised everyone by saying she wouldn’t send the impeachment articles to the Senate for now. What’s up with that?

Then, the Democratic presidential candidates had their liveliest debate yet. They fought over who has the necessary experience to win, Afghanistan policy, trade, health care, and who’s been spending too much in wine caves, and more. Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, Liz Bruenig and Gustavo Arellano discuss.

Dec 21, 2019
Impeach and cooperate
51:25

The House of Representatives is almost ready to impeach President Trump, but they’re also working weirdly closely with him. This week they’ve approved a spending deal, signing off on his Space Force in exchange for federal employee parental leave, getting ready to approve his signature Nafta update. And the president’s phase one trade deal with China is maybe sorta done?

On the other side of the pond, Boris Johnson won a resounding victory in the United Kingdom and is somehow set to be the most politically successful conservative prime minister since Margaret Thatcher. How the bloody hell did that happen? Andrew Sullivan joins the panel to talk about Johnson’s strange appeal, how the British Left went so wrong, and what lessons (if any) there are for the United States.

Dec 14, 2019
Laughed out of Europe
56:04

President Trump was in the UK earlier in the week for the annual NATO summit, where he fought openly with French President Emmanuel Macron about policy toward ISIS.

Macron was caught on camera having an incredulous conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They were laughing about Trump’s rambling press conferences. So Trump cancelled his final press conference at the summit and left early to head back to Washington.

Jonathan Katz, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, discusses what the President’s odd diplomacy means for U.S. relationships and alliances.

Plus, the impeachment process moved to a new phase with law professors making the case for or against Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. But did the professors add anything useful? Jonathan Adler, Case Western Reserve law professor explains.

Dec 06, 2019
Pragmatic but still undecided
52:51

If you think about it, the Iowa caucuses aren’t THAT far away. This week, Josh Barro interviews two political scientists who have been studying major trends and shifts. First,Lara Putnamfrom the University of Pittsburgh updates us on the Resistance groups: middle-aged, college-educated women in American suburbs who became politically active after the 2016 election. Where is the Resistance now ahead of the 2020 primaries?

Then, Davin Phoenix explains his work studying the “anger gap”: why anger moves voters, why white voters can channel it more readily than black voters, and how that gap shapes the choice Democrats will make this winter.

Then, we put it all together with two campaign trail reporters.Astead Herndon andCharlotte Alter talk about the field, what they’re seeing on the ground and the inroads the candidates are making into these voting blocs.

Nov 28, 2019
Should Democrats go for it?
52:25

It’s been two weeks of dramatic public testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

The House, almost certainly, will move forward with articles of impeachment and it seems Democrats are hell bent on finishing the impeachment process by Christmas. But the inquiry hasn’t swayed public opinion of President Trump, and as a result, Republicans don’t feel political pressure to support impeachment. As for the White House, President Trump is calling for a Senate trial, so it seems he’s eager to present his case.

So what will impeachment actually accomplish? And what should the articles of impeachment be?

Plus, this week, President Trump intervened in three military justice cases, pardoning or vacating charges against three military service members who were accused of war crimes. How does that square with Trump’s law-and-order hardline?

And, oh, by the way, the fifth Democratic debate was this week. Was it a snooze? How are things looking for the candidates?

Nov 22, 2019
The impeachment hearings begin
50:24

The impeachment hearings have begun. Thirteen million Americans tuned in on Wednesday, and President Trump himself was angry tweeting about them on Friday. Will they change minds as the House heads toward what could be a near party line vote to impeach President Trump before Christmas? On the first day of impeachment hearings, President Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What explains their cozy relationship, even as the US and Turkey drift apart?

Top White House adviser Stephen Miller’s emails leaked and we know he was sending around links from white-supremacist websites.

Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is promoting her book. Is she promoting herself as a possible vice president? And Deval Patrick is running for president. Does anyone care?

Nov 16, 2019
The polls, one year out
58:08

This week, a few polls in key battleground states made a lot of liberals nervous. The polls show signs of a close 2020 election, a departure from the picture we often see in national polling. Part of the message is that President Trump’s electoral college advantage is widening, and with critical wins in swing states, it’s possible he could be re-elected with an even smaller margin than in 2016. What’s the key message for Democrats here? What do the numbers say about the field of candidates?

Democrats did have a good night in Tuesday’s elections. Republicans held onto the governorship in Mississippi by about six points, but in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent with enduring support from Appalachian eastern Kentucky and new support in the Louisville and Cincinnati suburbs. The suburbs also delivered a win for Democrats in Virginia: the party now controls both chambers of the state legislature in addition to the governorship. And Michael Bloomberg is reportedly considering a run for president. Does he fill a void in the field? And what do the numbers say? Ariel Edwards-Levy joins the panel to talk through all of the numbers.

Then, Rich Lowry discusses the arguments in his new book, The Case For Nationalism, why nationalism shouldn’t be a dirty word, and the cultural ties that bind Americans.

Nov 09, 2019
The al-Baghdadi raid
56:07

In a near party line vote, the impeachment inquiry is now a formal inquiry. Once divided, all but two Democrats voted for the resolution. How did the party coalesce so quickly?

On Sunday morning, President Trump announced a special forces mission, in conjunction with local partners, that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. But this isn’t the end of ISIS. Michael Singh, Washington Institute Managing Director and former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, says that while the news is certainly a blow to the group and its efforts, it is just temporary. “This probably throws ISIS into a bit of disarray. But, still, you have 11,000, maybe more, ISIS members at large, in addition to those in prisons, who are probably still committed to conducting acts of terrorism. And at the end of the day, the underlying conditions that helped give rise to ISIS are arguably worse now than they were then.” So what is next for ISIS? How much did oil factor into this mission? And what can we gather from the way President Trump thanked partners in the aftermath?

Then, Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan is in the news again — this time because it’s part of her plan to fund single-payer healthcare. Gabriel Zucman, one of the economists who advised Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan, joins the show to talk about the plan and the optimal tax rate billionaires should pay. What’s the viability of that wealth tax plan? Similar plans have faltered in other countries. What’s different about the US? Should we all dream of becoming billionaires? Does a higher tax rate throw water on that dream?

Nov 01, 2019
It’s a quid pro quo. Is it impeachable?
50:28

Ambassador William Taylor described a quid pro quo — military aid in exchange for a Ukrainian announcement of an investigation into Burisma — in his testimony to Congress. He says a top national security official told him that, and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland confirmed it, saying he’d made a mistake when he said only a White House meeting depended on such an announcement. In fact, “everything” depended on it. President Trump usurped Congress’ constitutional spending powers for personal use. Is this impeachable. Rich Lowry, Linette Lopez and Josh Barro debate.

Plus: The situation in Syria heats up, Democrats and Republicans take unlikely positions on tax policy, and could Congress do anything to prevent another WeWork mess? And what’s the status of the “phase one” trade deal with China? Have we agreed to anything?

Oct 25, 2019
Who Wins from the Syria Cease-fire?
55:25

The situation in Syria changed quickly this week. A five-day cease-fire, which Turkey is calling a “pause,” negotiated by Vice President Mike Pence, seemed to be barely holding up less than 24 hours after it was announced. President Trump considers the agreement a victory, but some members of the GOP disagree. Mike Singh of the Washington Institute joins the panel to talk about who the winners were from the agreement. Hint: it wasn’t the Kurds.

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney this week said withholding aid from Ukraine unless they investigated Democrats was a quid pro quo... and then he said it wasn’t. And we should just “get over it.” Democrats stormed out of a meeting with Trump at the White House about Syria policy after Trump insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Next year’s G7 summit will be held at Trump’s Doral resort in Miami, which everyone agrees doesn’t look too good, and not just because Miami is humid in June. Keli Goff joins the discussion.

The Democratic candidates held their fourth debate this week. Joe Biden addressed the elephant in the room: his son, Hunter’s role on the board of the Ukrainian company Burisma. But was his answer good enough? While the candidates seemed to all agree that billionaires shouldn’t exist, even Tom Steyer, the actual billionaire, the wealth tax that Elizabeth Warren is proposing doesn’t appeal to all of them. But, can we at least all agree that millionaires are well off? Maybe not.

Oct 19, 2019
Impeachment, Ukraine, China, the Kurds
51:21

The Ukraine story got a lot bigger this week. Can a lot of this mess be explained by pointing to the departure of the people in President Trump’s circle who contained his worst instincts?

The impeachment story and a health scare have shaken up the Democratic primary. Joe Biden struggles to hit back at the president’s unfair attacks on him. Not much attention has been paid to Bernie Sanders suffering a heart attack, but Elizabeth Warren has gotten quite a bit of attention for saying she was fired from her teaching job for being pregnant.

Then: China is really mad at the NBA for a tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters from the Houston Rockets general manager. The panel discusses how the Chinese Communist Party uses global capitalism to their advantage, and what the US can do to export ideas of freedom to China and not import their restrictions on speech.

Finally: President Trump made a seemingly rash decision to withdraw American military support of the Kurdish forces that control much of the north of Syria. This paved the way for a Turkish invasion. Turkey has a long and hostile relationship with the Kurds. Both are allies of the United States, and the move got a bipartisan backlash from Congress. What motivated this decision? And where does it leave American security interests in the region, particularly with ISIS? Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations joins to discuss.

Oct 11, 2019
It’s looking pretty quid pro quo-y
52:16

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” That was a text message from our top diplomat in Ukraine last month, just before this whole mess about President Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden became public. Ukraine was wondering what was going on with the $400 million in militar aid it was owed, and it’s looking more and more like a quid pro quo. Trump says his key focus is corruption.  

Democratic pollster Margie Omero joins the panel to discuss public polling on impeachment and how much Republicans and Democrats should worry about what it will mean for the next election.

Nick Miroff talks about how President Trump has and hasn’t changed immigration policy, and why many fewer people are trying to illegally cross the southern border.

Oct 04, 2019
Impeachment
57:29

Nancy Pelosi says the inquiry is on, and it now has the support from nearly every Democrat and therefore, a majority of the House. This may be a rapid impeachment — just two months and just about the new Ukraine scandal. Should this be quick and easy? Or should there be more hearings and more charges? Spoiler alert: no one on the show expects the Senate to actually remove President Trump if he is indeed impeached, so what then is the strategic reason to impeach him? And how might this affect Democrats, including those running for president against Trump and those running for down-ballot races in 2020?

President Trump railed against the whistleblower, insinuating that people who passed along information to that person were spies and spies should be executed. Bradley Moss, a lawyer specializing in national security issues and whistleblower protections, joins the panel to talk about President Trump’s comments, protocols for whistleblowers, and how this story saw daylight in the first place. 

Finally, what is going on with Brexit? Tom Nuttall updates the panel on the mayhem across the pond.

Sep 27, 2019
The secret memo
51:44

There’s a whistleblower complaint from a member of the intelligence community that has something to do with President Trump communicating an inappropriate promise to a foreign leader. Multiple outlets are reporting the memo is about Ukraine and the president’s efforts to lean on the Ukranian government to investigate Joe Biden. But the acting director of national intelligence won’t share the complaint with Congress even though they are ordinarily legally entitled to see it. So, information about the complaint has been leaking. What could the president have said to prompt the whistleblower complaint? Evelyn Farkas joins the panel to discuss that, and the attack on a Saudi oil facility, what it means for the American economy and what had looked like hopes for a Trump thaw with Iran.

Then: like many politicians in Washington, we will revisit the fight over Brett Kavanaugh, plus the fight between supporters of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. 

Finally: Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post will make the case for moving your family to rural Minnesota, like he did.

Sep 20, 2019
Let me be clear...
01:06:01

Ten Democratic presidential candidates took the stage Thursday night at Texas Southern University. There were a lot of predictions for the debate, and well, not all of them came to be. For one, we didn’t really get the Biden-Warren showdown many people were expecting. Maybe it was because Julian Castro lashed out at Biden, implying that he’s too old to be president. Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, Christine Emba and Dorian Warren discuss that exchange, plus Elizabeth Warren’s performance on health care, and the on-stage disagreements over guns, trade, China, criminal justice system, and whether it’s a good idea to announce a sweepstakes giveaway of $12,000 from your campaign. Yeah, that’s one actual thing Andrew Yang announced during the debate.

Then: Jarrett Blanc, a former coordinator for the Iran nuclear deal and a State Department official focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, joins the panel to discuss the outlook after President Trump canceled peace talks with the Taliban and indicated he wants to meet with Iranian President Rouhani without preconditions. Those don’t sound like things John Bolton would propose -- which is maybe why he got fired this week.

Sep 14, 2019
A hurricane and a tweetstorm
55:01

Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and battered the Carolinas, but what dominated the news cycle? President Trump’s insistence that Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by the hurricane. He spent the week trying to justify the claim. Did the president put residents at risk?

Then: Brexit politics boiled over in the UK this week. David Henig from the European Centre for International Political Economy joins the panel to discuss the outlook for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a no-deal Brexit, and a trade deal between the UK and the US.

Finally: WalMart’s getting out of much of the gun business after a very deadly shooting at one of its Texas stores, and it will ask customers not to open carry guns in its stores unless they are law enforcement officers. How should we think about actions like this by private companies? Is this social change by corporations? Is it really for their employees? And is there a God-given right to bear arms?

Sep 06, 2019
To the Heartland, from Hollywood
51:38

The week started with news from the G7 summit and headline-grabbing fires in the Amazon. Then, new polls this week seemed to indicate the Democratic primary race was tightening around Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Other new polls showed mixed messages. Did the media just hype the it-might-not-be-Biden possibility? Meanwhile, other candidates are shut out of the September debate but vowed to press on while others decided to throw in the towel. And is the love affair between President Trump and Fox News over? Elizabeth Bruenig talks about her reporting on Texas evangelicals and their faith in President Trump.

Keli Goff interviews screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz on his efforts to teach Democratic candidates how to rise above the noise of Twitter and tell stories that connect better with voters in the heartland.

Aug 31, 2019
Two chairmen
54:27
Aug 23, 2019
Recession fears, immigration rules and ‘electability’
52:17

President Trump says negative economic forecasts are fake news, but he’s also making nervous calls to his friends in the business world to ask if they’re true. 

Aug 16, 2019
Trump says he’s ready for gun measures
56:01

Can he really get Republicans on board?

Aug 09, 2019
Who won the second debate?
53:08

This week, the political debate dominated political debate.

Aug 02, 2019
Mueller says little, but was that the point?
56:02

Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally testifies before congress but did anything new come to light?

Jul 26, 2019
The Squad fight back
57:32

President Trump infuriated a fractured Democratic party this week by telling four of its newest members to go back to where they came from, but did his statement galvanize his base or his opponents’? 

Jul 19, 2019
A resignation under pressure
57:11

Plus: AOC makes the Fed interesting again

Jul 12, 2019
A birthday check-up
55:08

How is the American government system doing in its 243 year?

Jul 05, 2019
Debating the Debates
52:22

Who Will Carry The Torch? 

Jun 28, 2019
Let’s call the whole thing off
57:22

President Trump got ready to attack Iran and then, at the last minute, called it off.

Jun 21, 2019
Early days in Iowa
50:55

There’s been some interesting movement in the polls as the candidates parade through Iowa.

Jun 14, 2019
Not the most turbulent trip
51:49

There were Trumpian moments, but it wasn’t Trump’s most turbulent trip to Europe.

Jun 07, 2019
It’s a two-front trade war
53:37

Will these tariffs on Mexico last forever?

May 31, 2019
Impeach?
54:22

It was supposed to be infrastructure week for real this time.

May 24, 2019
Roe, Casey – what’s next?
59:22

This week, we moved a lot closer to a court challenge that could significantly reduce or eliminate constitutional protections for abortion rights.

May 17, 2019
Biden’s big lead: will it last?
53:55

It’s a special live Left, Right & Center recorded at UC Santa Barbara.

May 10, 2019
Democrats have contempt for Attorney General Barr
51:03

But will they hold him in contempt of Congress?

May 03, 2019
Bonus Episode: Right or Left — Who’s Best For Freedom?
55:53

A special live Left, Right & Center from the Milken Institute Global Conference.

May 03, 2019
20 in for 2020
56:14

Joe Biden is in.

Apr 26, 2019
The Mueller report is out
57:02

Even with redactions, there’s plenty to discuss

Apr 20, 2019
Upheaval at the Department of Homeland Security
54:32

Secretary Nielsen resigns, starting a string of departures at DHS

Apr 13, 2019
The links between a president and his golf game
53:11

What Trump the golfer can tell us about Trump the president.

Apr 05, 2019
The Mueller Investigation ends
51:58

We don’t have the Mueller report yet, but we do have the Attorney General’s letter about the Mueller report.

Mar 29, 2019
Beto & Buttigieg & Biden & Yang
51:59

Democratic candidates are getting their days in the sun

Mar 22, 2019
Deadly terror attacks in New Zealand
51:59

Also in the show: President Trump’s first veto in defense of his border wall, Boeing, and college admissions scandal

Mar 15, 2019
The House condemns hate
51:58

Let’s talk about how we got here.

Mar 08, 2019
Sometimes you have to walk
00:51:31

President Trump said there is “warmth” between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even though their summit was cut short with no deal.

Mar 01, 2019
Who’s alienated in America?
00:51:37

Plus: a catch-up conversation on the 2020 field

Feb 23, 2019
“I’d rather do it much faster.”
00:51:31

President Trump decides he’s done waiting for Congress to fund his border wall. He’s doing it himself, or at least trying to, anyway.

Feb 15, 2019
We need to talk about Virginia
00:38:13

After a week of scandals, Virginia Democrats are in disarray.

Feb 08, 2019
Bonus episode: State of the Union special
00:28:28

Everyone is talking about Tuesday’s State of the Union, including us.

Feb 06, 2019
Are Border Talks a “Waste of Time?”
00:51:31

Democrats seem unlikely to give in to President Trump’s wall funding demands, making another government shutdown likely.

Feb 01, 2019
The only way to fix it is to end it
00:51:30

The government reopens (for now) after Trump caves on his wall demands.

Jan 26, 2019
Left, Right & Center presents: Two Years, Diaries of a Divided Nation
00:51:53

Listen to America change… one person at a time. For these six people, the politics of the Trump era have changed everyday life. Follow them in real time through the tumultuous two years since he became president.

Jan 21, 2019
Supersize Lies
00:51:32

We’re not talking about the hamberders.

Jan 18, 2019
No end in sight
00:51:31

More than 800,000 federal employees continue to go without pay in what could soon be the longest government shutdown yet.

Jan 11, 2019
New year, new Congress
00:51:29

And a continuing government shutdown.

Jan 04, 2019
The future of the Left and the Right: what’s next?
00:51:31

A Left-only panel and a Right-only panel debate the future in this special episode

Dec 23, 2018
Mattis is out and we’re heading to a shutdown
00:51:31

Secretary of Defense James “Maddog” Mattis resigns a day after Trump announces plans to withdraw military forces from Syria. Plus: can we afford a government shutdown?

Dec 21, 2018
Proud to shut down
00:51:31

President Trump says he’ll gladly take dire action if Congress won’t fund his border wall.

Dec 14, 2018
00:51:30

Let’s review.

Dec 08, 2018
Very legal? Very cool?
00:51:32

President Trump says it was very legal and very cool to run his business and campaign simultaneously, but was it?

Nov 30, 2018
Stand by your prince
00:51:32

Outrage about President Trump’s allegiance to Saudi Arabia is coming from both sides.

Nov 22, 2018
Why is it always Florida?

We have a result in all but one of last week's Senate races and, of course, we're waiting on Florida.

Nov 16, 2018