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Left, Right & Center

Author: KCRW

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Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.
35 Episodes
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The polls, one year out

The polls, one year out

2019-11-0900:59:271

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.
The al-Baghdadi raid

The al-Baghdadi raid

2019-11-0100:56:593

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?
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?
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.
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.
“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.
Impeachment

Impeachment

2019-09-2700:57:414

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.
The secret memo

The secret memo

2019-09-2000:52:463

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.
Let me be clear...

Let me be clear...

2019-09-1401:07:19

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.
A hurricane and a tweetstorm

A hurricane and a tweetstorm

2019-09-0600:56:283

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?
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Comments (10)

Francesca King

I would like to know what is going to done about the court backlog? One of the current reasons most immigrants overstay is due to the undue stress of immigrant courts. The system needs a serious injection of Metamucil.

Oct 17th
Reply

Francesca King

Rich is really delusional sometimes. I think he's an example of why Republicans and Trump supporters continue to back Trump. It's so easy for them to deflect and bolster their support. They keep expecting some "smoking gun". I think if the House of Representatives Impeachment Inquiry found a tape with Trump's handwriting that showed him holding his Social Security Card speaking with Putin about what his next move should be that it wouldn't be accepted as real.

Oct 17th
Reply

MrMajk898

Apparently "left, right and center" are just three directions from which to say fuck trump! Since the "show got moved to a new place", I didn't want this to get lost.

Oct 10th
Reply

MrMajk898

Democrats know the best defense is a good offense. In politics it's called projection. Accusing your rival of doing what you are guilty of. Rinse and repeat until the sheep follow!

Oct 7th
Reply

MrMajk898

Sheep

Oct 6th
Reply

MrMajk898

really just the name of this episode... words useable in court.

Oct 5th
Reply

MrMajk898

Brain washed... Double Standard hard at work!

Oct 1st
Reply (3)
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