KCRW's Left, Right & Center


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 Jul 29, 2022

 Jul 6, 2022

 Mar 26, 2022
Center, far right, and right

Esteban de Smurfe
 Feb 12, 2022
I find the civilized conversation refreshing. If you are far right or far left, this will not be for you. The panel is normally a Center Right, Center Left, and a Centrist. I fall in that wheelhouse though so this is excellent conversation for me.

 Aug 15, 2021


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

Episode Date
DeSantis might run for president. His response to Hurricane Ian matters

This week, Hurricane Ian slammed into southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm and one of the strongest to make landfall in the U.S. Millions of people are without power and many homes are underwater. 

Natural disasters are often tests of state and federal leadership. The Biden administration was in contact with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ahead of the storm to help support emergency response. But the stakes are high for DeSantis. The governor is seen as a frontrunner for the presidential bid in 2024, and handling this disaster could hurt or bolster his potential campaign. How is he doing so far?

DeSantis made a point during the COVID-19 pandemic to refuse federal guidance. Will a disaster of this scale help government agencies work together? Or will political tensions block necessary coordination?

Plus, Iranian protests, largely led by women, have lasted for nearly two weeks. They were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who was apprehended by the “morality police” for not wearing her head covering correctly. 

Iranian authorities are violently cracking down on protestors, which the Biden administration swiftly denounced. The White House is also getting communications equipment to protestors as the government shuts down internet access. 

Could this ignite a universal feminist movement? And will the protests force a change in U.S. policy toward Iran?  

Host David Greene discusses with Jill Filipovic, columnist at CNN.com, on the left; and Avik Roy, president at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, on the right. 

And special guest Renato Mariotti, former federal prosecutor and columnist at Politico, analyzes the upcoming consequential Supreme Court docket

What can we expect from the conservative majority court? And could cases on affirmative action, immigration policy, or voting rights drastically reshape our society?

Sep 30, 2022
Should Americans be scared of Putin’s nuclear threats?

This week, global political leaders met in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. U.S. and European officials slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin for further escalating the war against Ukraine, calling up 300,000 reservists, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. 

Should Americans be worried about Putin’s nuclear threat? And how should the United Nations respond to Russia’s invasion and alleged human rights violations? 

During the assembly, President Biden said Russia is violating the core tenets of membership in the U.N. and trying to extinguish Ukraine’s right to exist.

 Is Biden rising to meet the moment, and will this standoff define his presidency? 

Host David Greene discusses with Jill Filipovic, columnist at CNN.com, on the left; and Avik Roy, president at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, on the right. And special guest Evelyn Farkas, executive director at the McCain Institute, analyzes Putin’s strategy and how Russian citizens are responding. 

Plus, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent two planes of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last week as a political stunt. DeSantis, along with other governors from Republican-led states, are looking to show that the country’s immigration challenges are a burden that shouldn’t only fall on border states. 

Do Republican governors have a point? Could this force Biden to take action on immigration policy?

But officials deceived families about where they were going, and some Democrats are calling the stunt outrageous and cruel. A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the migrants against DeSantis, claiming the incident was fraudulent and illegal.

Do the migrants have a legit case against DeSantis? And can there be any bipartisan agreement on immigration policy? 

And, President Biden said on an interview with “60 Minutes” that the pandemic is over. People in both political parties expressed outrage at this declaration, and even his own staff seemed surprised.

Sep 23, 2022
Where’s the middle ground on abortion?

Abortion policy continues to develop and change nationwide, leaving little room for voters in the middle. This week, Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham introduced national legislation that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill includes narrow exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, and also prevents states from allowing abortions later in pregnancy.

While Graham describes his bill as moderate, members of his party seem to be distancing themselves from the legislation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believes most Republicans prefer states handle the issue. (And Graham said the same thing after Roe v. Wade fell in June.) 

Meanwhile, states are still grappling with the aftermath of Roe’s fall. West Virginia passed a bill prohibiting nearly all abortions this week, making it the 14th state to fully ban the procedure. Do voters want a near-total ban, or is there a middle ground?

And the World Health Organization director-general said that COVID-related deaths are waning, and the end of the pandemic could be in sight. As many people return “back to normal,” a new poll found that people believe Democrats handled the pandemic better than Republicans. But COVID seems to be a nonissue in the midterms. Do voters just want to move on?

Plus a report from the LANCET COVID-19 Commission blamed the World Health Organization and governments worldwide for a “massive global failure.” It said misinformation, neglect, and low public trust potentially caused millions of preventable deaths. 

How can government agencies gain back the public’s trust? Can Americans create a better “normal” after the pandemic?

Guest host Molly Ball discusses with Jill Filipovic, columnist at CNN.com, on the left; and Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right. And special guest Margie Omero, Democratic pollster, weighs in on what voters actually think of these divisive issues. 

And the January 6 Committee is back at work. They’ve recently sent out a number of requests to high-profile politicians, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. 

The committee has three months to release its report with final recommendations on how Congress should prevent another attack on the Capitol or what crimes former President Trump and others should potentially be charged with. 

Will any of the Committee’s revelations effect the midterms?

Sep 16, 2022
Could Roe’s fall secure Democrats’ Senate majority?

It’s the week after Labor Day, which marks the unofficial final push of midterm election campaigning. Democrats are optimistic thanks to an unexpected bounce in President Biden’s approval rating. It tanked at 37% in July but recently landed at 42%, reports FiveThirtyEight. Will Democratic candidates hold on to this momentum? 

Plus, since the Supree Court overturned Roe v. Wade, women are out-registering men and voting in historic numbers to protect abortion rights. And a bill to protect same-sex marriage is on Congress’ fall agenda. How will all this play out in elections?

Guest host Molly Ball discusses with Zac Petkanas, Democratic strategist, on the left; and Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right. And special guest Tara Palmeri, senior political correspondent at Puck, weighs in on how voters are feeling before November.

Sep 09, 2022
Does Biden have nothing to lose?

This week, President Biden gave several campaign-style speeches, emphasizing the “soul of the nation.” On Thursday, he argued that “MAGA forces” are putting fair elections, privacy, personal rights and economic security at risk. 

Biden is a first-term president with low approval ratings, which historically means Democrats will get throttled during the midterms. What rebuttal might Republicans or former President Trump give?

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the world mourned the death of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was a main player in ending the Cold War. How has American politics changed since December 1991?

Host David Greene discusses with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; and Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right.

Plus, special guest Danielle Allen, professor at Harvard University and director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics, argues that social media has undermined our constitutional democracy.

Sep 02, 2022
Biden sends more military aid to Ukraine. How much is enough?

This week, Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day, despite trudging through a brutal war with Russia. Though the countries have been fighting for six months, many Ukrainans would say the war started when Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. 

The Biden administration is helping keep Ukraine in the fight by announcing it will send $3 billion more in aid to buy more weapons.

But how long can President Biden continue sending aid to Ukraine before the public loses interest? Will this escalate tensions and put the world in danger of nuclear threats? And what does this mean for the existential fight for democracy?

It’s been two weeks since the FBI removed boxes of classified documents and records from former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago. Yet the National Archives released a letter this week about other classified materials recovered from the property this past January. 

Should Americans be worried about potential security threats from these documents? And was Trump being careless after moving out of the White House, or were his actions more nefarious?

Plus, President Joe Biden announced he is canceling $10,000 in student debt for anyone who earns less than $125,000. For low-income families who received Pell Grants for college, they’ll see $20,000 in debt relief. But does Biden have the authority to do this, and will it worsen inflation?

Host David Greene discusses with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right; and special guest Evelyn Farkas, executive director of the McCain Institute and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russian/Ukraine/Eurasia.

Aug 26, 2022
A political dynasty falls

This week, Congresswoman Liz Cheney lost her Wyoming primary to Harriet Hageman, a Trump-endorsed attorney, ending a political dynasty. Her defeat by more than 37 points was one of the largest losses by a House incumbent, despite her conservative voting record. Cheney previously voted against restoring parts of the Voting Rights Act, expanding the Affordable Care Act, and impeaching Trump the first time. 

But the GOP and the Wyoming Republican Party noisily separated from Cheney after she voted to impeach former President Trump for inciting an insurrection in 2021 and denounced his lies about the 2020 election. So where does she go from here? And what does this signal about the GOP’s future?  

Now Cheney is hinting at running for president in 2024, presumably against Trump. But after this significant defeat, does she even have a chance?

This political moment and the Republican Party’s recent shift may have ties to the 1990s. What can history teach us about times when belief in the democratic process is fading? And how can the Democratic party build a candidate that personally resonates with voters similar to Trump?

Fall marks the start of a new school year, and the fight over vaccine mandates seems to have slowed down. In Washington, D.C. public schools are mandating students get vaccinated against COVID-19, but no state is requiring it. 

Should there be a limit to mandates in public schools? And how can the general public discuss these complicated issues without becoming politically divisive?

Host David Greene discusses with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at the Lincoln Project, on the right; and special guest Nicole Hemmer, associate professor of history and director of the Rogers Center for the Study of the Presidency at Vanderbilt University.

Aug 19, 2022
FBI seizes Trump’s files. Trump wins 2024 GOP nomination?

This week, the FBI executed a search warrant at Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, breaking into his safe, and seizing several boxes of presumed classified documents that he allegedly took from the White House when his presidency ended. 

Then, a federal appeals court ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee is allowed to look at Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 — something Democrats tried doing for years. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James also deposed Trump under oath — in regards to a civil case about his business dealings. During the hours-long testimony, Trump pleaded the Fifth Amendment, invoking his rights against self incrimination. But in the past, he said, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

Still, Trump’s base seems to be more energized than ever, and some are even calling for a civil war. Meanwhile, some Republican campaign staffers are saying this week sealed the deal on Trump’s GOP 2024 presidential nomination. 

Host David Greene discusses with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at the Lincoln Project, on the right; and special guest Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

Plus, gas and plane tickets are slightly down from the sky-high prices from earlier this summer, but inflation is still affecting many Americans. Democrats are set to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Will that combat inflation? Probably not anytime soon. But the IRA is set to be the most groundbreaking climate change legislation Congress has ever passed.

And what was the actual cost to get Senator Joe Manchin to sign onto the IRA? For Manchin’s vote, Democrats agreed to support the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which spans more than 300 miles, and will carry natural gas through the Appalachian Mountains, furthering fossil fuel dependency. Special guest Alexa Beyer, environmental and energy reporter at Mountain State Spotlight, weighs in.

Aug 12, 2022
It was a good week for election deniers

It was a good week for election deniers. Several Trump-backed candidates sealed primary wins in Arizona, Michigan and Missouri. This includes businessman Blake Masters, who’s vying for a Senate seat in Arizona and identifies as part of the “New Right.” Plus, Eric Schmitt won the GOP primary for Senate in Missouri. Both Masters and Schmitt have falsely denied the 2020 election results. 

Meanwhile, the Democrats are hoping that a far-right candidate will be easier to beat in the November midterms. They supported some far-right candidates, including John Gibbs. Gibbs beat the more moderate incumbent, Representative Peter Meijer, who was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. 

What do those candidates’ wins say about the evolving Republican Party? Is this a wise plan for Democrats? And how does this affect voters’ faith in election integrity or democracy itself?

Plus, red-leaning Kansas overwhelmingly rejected a Constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to ban or restrict abortions. Will the messaging used by abortion rights groups in Kansas resonate with voters across the country in the midterms? Can Democrats capitalize on this momentum?

And was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial trip to Taiwan bold or catastrophic?

Host David Greene discusses with Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, on the left; Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at the Lincoln Project, on the right; and special guest, Shankar Vedantam, creator and host of the Hidden Brain podcast and author of “Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain.”

Aug 05, 2022
Manchin says yes to Dems’ climate bill. What about rest of Congress?

Just when things looked bleak for Democrats’ agenda, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin finally decided to back a $369 billion climate and tax package. Lawmakers are racing to pass several bills before the August recess, and Senate Democrats are hopeful that they will be able to pass a reconciliation bill now with Manchin’s support. 

If both chambers of Congress green-light the reconciliation bill, it could change the whole conversation on the campaign trail in the coming weeks.

But what’s the likelihood that it’ll pass? Will it make a dent in the climate change fight? And how much power should Sen. Manchin have?

Host David Greene discusses the revival of President Joe Biden’s climate and economic agenda with Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, on the left; and Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at the Lincoln Project, on the right.

Plus, in opening remarks during a meeting on reproductive health care, Vice President Kamala Harris stated her pronouns. She was then mocked and ridiculed on Twitter, among other places. Did she add fuel to a culture war? And why didn’t Harris give more context, and explain why pronouns are important? 

And special guest Shankar Vedantam, creator and host of the Hidden Brain podcast and author of “Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain,” talks about how polarized we really are as a country.

Jul 29, 2022
Rioters were invading Capitol, Trump was watching the telly

What happened during the 187 minutes between the time Trump left the Ellipse, the park near the White House where he urged his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol — and when he was at the Rose Garden, urging those supporters to go home after the insurrection? This week, the January 6 House Select Committee gave a play-by-play of what Trump was doing at the time. 

It turned out that he was watching TV in the White House dining room, according to testimony in the hearing. He never called law enforcement, and didn’t listen to pleas from members of Congress, his staff, and his own family to condemn the violence and urge the rioters to leave. 

His inaction was a cornerstone of the hearing. Was it enough to prove that Trump did not fulfill his sworn duty as president? The committee wrapped up its hearings now, and promised more in September. 

Guest host Gustavo Arellano discusses some of the most damning moments from the hearings with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch, on the right; and special guest Sarah D. Wire, Justice Department reporter at the LA Times, who was inside the Capitol on January 6, 2021

Plus, more than two dozen states issued heat wave warnings this past week. Is there hope for climate legislation that would curb emissions? Democrats had been trying to pass President Biden’s climate bill. But after 18 months of negotiations, Senator Joe Manchin, who has personal ties with the fossil fuel industry, killed the bill, citing gas prices and inflation as the reasons why. If Americans see some relief from inflation, would Democrats consider resuming talks with Manchin? 

And how worried should the Biden administration be about rising COVID and monkeypox cases?

Jul 22, 2022
Trump 2024? Whether Jan. 6 revelations could affect voter support

Food, health care, and rent are all going up, but wages are not. There’s tiny relief in gas prices finally dipping this month, and job gains are better than expected. However, Americans are still worried about a looming recession. 

Guest host Gustavo Arellano discusses President Biden’s response to inflation and the threat of a recession with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; and Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch, on the right.

Plus, the January 6 Select Committee held their seventh public hearing this week, which focused on linking former President Trump and far-right extremist groups. As Trump hints at a potential 2024 White House run, how much do Americans care about what’s been revealed in the hearings? Have they changed opinions about the 2020 election? And will that impact whether or not Republicans would support Trump’s third run for the White House? Panelists discuss with special guest Keli Goff, columnist and producer of “Reversing Roe.”  

Jul 15, 2022
How much does an unpopular Biden hurt Democrats?

The overturning of Roe V. Wade and recent mass shootings continue to cast a shadow over American politics. President Joe Biden has been reacting to those and other domestic problems with an incremental approach, and many Democrats find that too slow. More and more of them are publicly expressing their frustration. How much will this hurt Biden politically? 

Guest host Gustavo Arellano discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, on the right; and Baratunde Thurston, a founding partner at Puck, creator and host of the podcast “How to Citizen,” and host of the PBS show “America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston,” on the left. 

Meanwhile, Biden scored international wins recently at the G7 and NATO summits. Will that shore up his poll numbers and political capital back at home? His current approval rating is 38%, according to a poll released last week by Harvard CAPS-Harris. Panelists discuss with special guest Juliette Kayyem, professor of national security at Harvard; former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security; and author of the book “The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters.”

Plus, who are the winners and losers of the 2022 primary season heading into the November midterms? And what is next for both parties? 

Jul 08, 2022
Supreme rulings from the Supreme Court

This week, the Supreme Court wrapped up its term after issuing opinions that dramatically alter Americans’ abilities to confront climate change, our constitutional rights, and faith in the high court itself.

Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr talks rolling back the EPA’s power with Christine Emba, columnist and editor at the Washington Post, on the left; Sarah Isgur, staff writer and host for The Dispatch, on the right; and special guest Jonathan H. Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he directs the Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law.

Plus, how does the end of Roe V. Wade affect the legal landscape, the public opinion of the court, and the message Democrats are sending to voters?

And the January 6 Select Committee’s surprise witness gave jaw-dropping testimony about Trump’s actions and state of mind on the day of the insurrection. Is it enough to change minds?

Jul 01, 2022
Is this bipartisanship?

This week, bipartisanship emerged in the Senate, where 14 Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward with a gun safety bill. What should we make of this latest effort?

Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr talks gun politics with David Dayen, executive editor at The American Prospect, on the left; and Sarah Isgur, staff writer and host for The Dispatch, on the right.

Republican election officials appeared before the House Select Committee investigating January 6 to detail how they stood up to former President Trump. How worried should Americans be about our next elections? Special guest Rick Hasen, UC Irvine professor of law and political science, joins to answer that question.

Plus, the legal case of “Happy” the elephant could have far-reaching implications for animal rights.

Jun 24, 2022
‘A legally and morally bankrupt idea’

In its most recent hearing, the House Select Committee recounted all the ways former President Trump tried to pressure Vice President Mike Pence into doing what he wanted: to illegally stop the electoral vote count and overturn the election. The committee says Pence’s life was endangered. Advisors to Pence are just the latest voices from Trump’s world to join the House Select Committee in painting a full picture of how close the country came to a constitutional crisis.

Guest host Gustavo Arellano, of The Los Angeles Times and The Times Daily podcast, represents the left and asks what else do Republicans and federal prosecutors need to know about Trump’s motivations to bring an indictment? 

John Avlon, senior political analyst and anchor for CNN, joins from the center. Sarah Isgur, staff writer for The Dispatch and host of The Dispatch podcast, joins from the right. This week’s special guest is Emily Bazelon, staff writer for the New York Times and co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast. 

Plus, can the Federal Reserve reduce inflation without triggering job loss or a recession? 

Jun 17, 2022
Biden wants diplomacy on migration, but excluded key countries from Summit of Americas

President Joe Biden came to Los Angeles this week to host the Summit of the Americas, an event that’s supposed to bring together leaders from across the Western Hemisphere. But the agenda was overshadowed by the list of world leaders who were excluded or who boycotted, including Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Mexico, and more. Biden’s looking to make diplomatic progress on migration and the economic devastation and violence that drives it. Can he succeed?

Voters went to the polls across the country this week, with some big primary races in states like California. Pundits like to draw national conclusions from local races and sometimes that’s a mistake, but we can’t help ourselves. 

This week also marked the dramatic kickoff to the House hearings on the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Guest host Gustavo Arellano, of The Los Angeles Times and The Times Daily podcast, tackles all this with panelists Tara Setmayer, senior advisor with The Lincoln Project, in the center; and Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch, on the right; as well as special guest Julio Ricardo Varela, interim executive director of Future Media.

Jun 10, 2022
Who could lead gun violence reform? Your little ones

A bipartisan group of senators is working to find gun control legislation that could make it through Congress. Ideas are being tossed around, like raising the age requirement for buying a gun. To date, Republicans on Capitol Hill have not been interested in passing any gun control measures. Is there hope for a bipartisan compromise? *

Guest host Gustavo Arellano of the LA Times joins from the left — with Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch, on the right, and Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at The Lincoln Project, from the center. 

Then, special guest Gal Beckerman shares his idea about kids being the leaders in pressuring Congress to pass gun legislation. But is it fair to expect kids to  take on this burden?

And gas prices continue to rise, baby formula is still scarce, and inflation doesn’t look like it’s ending soon. Can Biden and Democrats improve the situation in time for the midterm elections?

Jun 03, 2022
Horror and dismay — again

On May 24, an 18-year-old opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults. The nation responded in horror and dismay that a school shooting happened again. There have been 212 mass shooting incidents in 2022, and the U.S. has the world’s highest number of mass shootings, according to the World Population Review. Can politicians agree on reforms that could decrease the catastrophic number of such incidents in the U.S.?  

Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; and Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, on the right.  

Then, special guest Evelyn Farkas, executive director of the McCain Institute, shares her thoughts on how likely Ukraine is to win the war against Russia, which is now in its fourth month. With rumors that President Putin has cancer and that Russian elites are unsettled by the  economy and global isolation, is there an increasing chance Putin leaves power in the near future? 

China has been watching all this with their eyes on Taiwan, where tensions have been ramping up. On his recent trip overseas, President Biden said he would defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression. Should U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China change?

May 27, 2022
The mainstreaming of white supremacy

This week, the nation witnessed another mass shooting. The gunman live-streamed the attack in which he specifically targeted Black people. Police soon uncovered the shooter’s racist manifesto and his inspiration from “the Great Replacement Theory.” Did this act result from mental illness or racism? 

The majority of Americans believe in some form of gun control but once again, Congress is at an impasse. What is it going to take to implement change? 

Also, the shooter found information about “the Great Replacement Theory” via social media chat rooms. Fox News broadcasts sanitized versions of the same ideas, and the Republican Party under Trump regularly echoed racist beliefs. Should Fox News and Republicans be held responsible?

 Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Sarah Isgur, staff writer for “The Dispatch” and host of “The Dispatch Podcast,” on the right; and Baratunde Thurston, a founding partner at Puck and creator and host of the podcast “How to Citizen,” on the left. 

 Then, mixed results are trickling in from this week’s primaries. A number of Trump-backed candidates won, including Sen. Doug Mastriano, in the governor’s race in Pennsylvania. In the state’s Senate race, Trump-endorsed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and hedge fund executive Dave McCormick are still tied. Meanwhile, another Trump-supported candidate, incumbent Madison Cawthorn, lost in North Carolina’s GOP race. What does this say about Trump’s power with GOP voters?  

At the same time, Democrat Cheri Beasley made history as the first Black woman to become chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Is there hope for the Democratic Party after all?

Finally, panelists rant about the baby formula shortage, Judge Alito’s leaked draft abortion ruling, and what the polls really say about Americans’ views on Roe vs. Wade.

May 20, 2022
What makes voters Tik(Tok)?

The Senate has stymied a vote intended to secure nationwide abortion rights. Democrats knew this would happen – so why did they introduce the bill at all?

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was a way to get every member on record about their abortion stance. It also shored up support for Democrats ahead of a hotly contested midterm election. How can Democrats motivate their base when they face so many structural obstacles to their policy goals?

Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right; and Chuck Rocha, president of Solidarity Strategies, on the left.

Then: What is the Latino vote? The concept itself may be flawed, since the 16.5 million of them who voted in 2020 are hardly a monolith, but it’s a question that’s quickly becoming relevant. They’re turning out to vote in historic numbers, and polling shows Republicans are making huge inroads among Latino voters. How can Democrats reverse that trend? And what can they learn from the Republican approach?

Gen Z and millennials are now the largest voting bloc in the U.S. They’re the most diverse and technology-savvy generation this country has ever seen, but they’re inheriting some very real problems. So what do they care about, and what’s animating them ahead of the midterms?

We bring on Gen Z guests Javon Price, a policy analyst at the America First Policy Institute, on the right; and Elise Joshi, the operations director at Gen Z For Change, on the left, for a special segment exploring the zeitgeist of this generation.

Finally, our Gen Z panelists rant about why the fight against climate change is not over, and how the Dallas Cowboys can bring home a Lombardi.

May 13, 2022
What’s after Roe v. Wade?

It’s a historic week in Washington: A leaked draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito suggests the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Americans have reacted with shock and elation, and a post-Roe reality might come this summer. How will an increasingly polarized abortion debate fare against states’ rights? And could Roe’s reversal have radical implications for other rulings on privacy, like gay marriage?

Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right; and Jill Filipovic, columnist at CNN and author on Substack, on the left. 

Finally, panelists rant about the G-20 summit, taking in more refugees, and why shutting down schools for COVID was a terrible idea.

May 06, 2022
A $44 billion edit button

Is it doom or salvation for the Twitterverse now that Elon Musk is poised to take over? He seems to want “maximum fun.” What does that mean for politics, free speech, and Twitter trolls?

Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right; and Liz Bruenig, staff writer at the Atlantic, on the left.  

Also, the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid. That’s the title of an essay in The Atlantic by Jonathan Haidt of the NYU Stern School of Business. He explains why social media is promoting “structural stupidity” and if there’s any way to bring us back from the brink.

Also: Kevin McCarthy was caught in a January 6 lie on tape. He seems to be on a clear path to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives if Republicans take it back in the midterms – but will these new developments weaken his bid? And after what’s probably the thousandth push alert about the Jan. 6 commission, are people tired of hearing about the Capitol riots?

Finally, panelists rant about Gen Z’s labor aspirations and flawed definitions of disinformation.

Apr 29, 2022
Mask on, mask off

The CDC sent the DOJ an SOS over masks this week. If that sounds like incomprehensible alphabet soup, just know that wearing a mask is up to you.

Is the federal government doing enough to protect Americans from COVID? Is a laissez-faire approach to masking best? And how can we bring ever-changing science into policy without alienating voters?

Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right; and Christine Emba, columnist and editor at the Washington Post, on the left.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, how has the conflict evolved? Former LRC guest host David Greene is in Kyiv and shares what he’s been experiencing on the ground. He is co-founder and host of Fearless Media's "Ukraine Stories." How are Ukrainians coping with the crisis? Do they think America is doing enough to help? And why are people taking out their political frustrations on Russian civilians?

If you thought there was only one “Don’t Say Gay” bill, think again. There are more than a dozen making their way through state legislatures across the country, and it’s shaping up to be a big wedge issue come the midterm elections. Why are we seeing more of these efforts to block instruction on gender and sexuality? What’s the line between letting parents take the lead on these discussions, and stigmatizing the identities of already vulnerable kids in school?

Finally, panelists rant about sports betting, consent, and cynicism in politics.

Apr 22, 2022
Evil? Confirmed. Genius? Not so much

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is now a “genocide,” at least according to President Biden. That’s one of the strongest accusations against Putin we’ve heard from Biden, who’s been (mostly) carefully wording his statements to avoid triggering an already bristly Russian leader. That change in rhetoric also comes with new bids to join NATO from Sweden and Finland.

With the West seemingly firmly united against Russia, could Biden’s words further escalate the conflict? And could Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 help decode Putin’s next move?

Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe discusses with panelists Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster and founding partner at Echelon Insights, on the right; and Liz Bruenig, staff writer at the Atlantic, on the left.

Then: American workers are joining forces. Amazon and Starbucks workers are unionizing in droves, even as corporate leaders try to quash their efforts. So, why is the push to unionize stronger than ever? Will the movement sustain its momentum? And can they get legislation through Congress to make their gains permanent?

Plus: Is the center more Mike Bloomberg or Jeb Bush? Politics and politicians are now more polarized than ever, and finding the throughline in the two-party system might be the key to getting past that. In the wake of COVID and the Capitol riots, is the window of centrism shifting? And if so, in which direction?

Finally, panelists rant about washing your hands, following traffic rules, and killing all mosquitoes.

Apr 15, 2022
A historic confirmation

Ketanji Brown Jackson can officially put “Supreme Court Justice” on her resume this week, as three Republicans joined Senate Democrats to confirm the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. Jackson will replace soon-to-be former Justice Stephen Breyer, who will retire in the summer.

The vote, historic though it may be, was also largely expected despite the furore of the confirmation hearings – especially since it wouldn’t affect the ideological balance of the court. So, why only three Republican votes for Jackson? And why did the same coalition that voted for her also torpedo a much needed COVID relief bill over immigration concerns?

Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe discusses with panelists Megan McArdle, columnist at the Washington Post, on the right; and Liz Bruenig, staff writer at the Atlantic, on the left.

Then: All eyes have been on the Ukrainian city of Bucha this week, as evidence emerged of indiscriminate civilian killings by Russian forces. In response, Biden announced more sanctions on Russian banks and Vladimir Putin’s adult children, while the U.N. General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.

But how far can sanctions and censures go to deter Russia’s territorial aspirations? And how can the United States stand for Ukraine without escalating global tensions beyond the point of no return? Special guest Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts University, breaks it down.

Plus: Twitter’s introducing an edit button so you can correkt yur typoes. And that’s got the support of Elon Musk, who’s now their largest stockholder after buying nearly 10% of the company’s shares. He’s been vocal about what he sees as heavy-handed moderation by Twitter even as misinformation continues to circulate among users. How could Musk’s influence change things for the bird app our panelists love to hate, but can’t seem to stay away from?

Finally, our panelists rant from across the political spectrum about the reptilian-avian-mammal Easter Bunny, relocating Walt Disney World, and why Russian nationals should still be allowed to run the Boston Marathon.

Apr 08, 2022