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Left, Right, and Center


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

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




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




1900 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405 310-450-5183


Who Wins from the Syria Cease-fire?

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...


Impeachment, Ukraine, China, the Kurds

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...


It’s looking pretty quid pro quo-y

“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...



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...


The secret memo

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...


Let me be clear...

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...


A hurricane and a tweetstorm

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...


To the Heartland, from Hollywood

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...


Two chairmen

Clearly, it’s still August. Let’s review. President Trump was told he couldn’t buy Greenland from Denmark, so he canceled a visit to Denmark. The White House floats trial balloons of policies to address recession fears, while the president calls concerns about a recession a ploy by the Democrats and “Fake News Media.” The markets were on a rollercoaster Friday, spurred by tweets from President Trump, public comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell, and then more tweets from...


Recession fears, immigration rules and ‘electability’

It was a wild week in the financial markets, driven by increasing worries about the global economy. President Trump delayed some tariffs on China so they won’t affect the holiday shopping season — an implicit admission that his trade policy is hurting the economy and his political standing. Plus: visas for Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to visit Israel are denied, and the panel discusses the “electability” narrative around the women in the 2020 Democratic field. A new immigration rule...


Trump says he’s ready for gun measures

After last weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump said Friday morning he and Congressional Republicans intend to do something on gun background checks. He said Mitch McConnell is even on board. Republican strategists told the Washington Post they’re concerned that gun issues have hurt their ability to win in the suburbs and contributed to their loss of the House in the 2018 midterms. Is there something genuine here? Might Republicans feel compelled to be seen...


Who won the second debate?

If you think one candidate won, be honest: was it the same person you liked most before the debate? With so many candidates (still twenty over two nights), the debates almost turned into team fights: progressives who say the party needs to stand for bold change, and moderates who say that's unpopular and impractical, and that you need unifying messages that can build a clear anti-Trump majority. Who's right? Plus: a discussion of new tariffs and ongoing trade negotiations with China, the...


Mueller says little, but was that the point?

It was finally Mueller time this week, and some say the Special Counsel’s tight-lipped low energy approach was intentional to avoid creating a soundbite for the news cycle. Robert Mueller did confirm that there was significant Russian interference in the 2016 US election, and that the country continues to interfere with our election system. The Democrats seemed to get the better part of the budget deal struck this week ahead of Congress’ long summer break. But some of the Democratic...


The Squad fight back

A squabble among Democratic presidential candidates about the best path for healthcare continued this week with sniping by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders about whether medicare for all or something closer to Obamacare is going to win over voters. We talk about the rare bipartisan agreement over the repeal of the so-called cadillac tax, which imposes a tax on high-cost gold standard health plans. There was no bipartisan agreement on condemning President Trump’s suggestion that four female...


A resignation under pressure

Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested and everyone wants to know: what will we learn about the wealthy and powerful people who hung out with him as he oversaw an alleged child sex ring? And what does his having apparently gotten away with it for so long say about our legal system and our society? President Trump announced his labor secretary Alex Acosta would resign. Acosta was then the US Attorney when Epstein took a plea deal more than 10 years ago. President Trump also admitted defeat this...


A birthday check-up

Well, it’s a long story. But it’s a healthy discussion to have with different political perspectives present. We’ve seen an ebb and flow in the power of the three branches of government. Special guest Matt Yglesias wrote in 2015 that American constitutional democracy as we know it will collapse because it creates too many pressure points, inherently creates gridlock, and often runs against policy making even when there’s popular will. Obviously, a lot has happened since then. Today, the...


Debating the Debates

Now that the dust has settled after the first major democratic debates, who will be left standing on the next stage? While Kamala Harris distinguished herself with a particularly strong performance on the second night, host Josh Barro thinks Joe Biden might still be OK. Did the candidates give President Trump a gift for the campaign by raising their hands to offer up healthcare to undocumented immigrants? We talk about how the candidates barely talked about why so many immigrants are coming...


Let’s call the whole thing off

Tensions with Iran escalated this week and then, Thursday evening, President Trump apparently signed off on airstrikes in Iran only to cancel them. According to reports and an interview the president gave to NBC’s Meet The Press, the estimate of people that would die in the strikes changed his mind and he tweeted that it would not be “proportionate.” CHRIS DOUGHTERY of the Center for a New American Security discusses the events this week and whether we’d be at war with Iran if the strikes...


Early days in Iowa

Joe Biden went back to Iowa for the first time in weeks and got into a very public fight with President Trump. Biden leads the polls there, but is his lead secure? And what’s behind Elizabeth Warren’s surge in the polls nationally and in Iowa? Natasha Korecki of Politico updates the panel on how the candidates are being received by Iowa voters, and which candidates are going all in on the state. President Trump told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos he’s listen if a foreign power came to...


Not the most turbulent trip

President Trump visited France, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and on this trip to commemorate the invasion of Normandy, there was less tension between him and European leaders than on previous trips. As Britain approaches Brexit, what is the role for the United States in Europe? Amanda Sloat of the Brookings Institution gives her take on the president’s trip and more. Then: Tucker Carlson made a surprising pitch for...Elizabeth Warren’s economic agenda? What is happening? And, President...