KCRW's Left, Right & Center


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Subscribers: 2899
Reviews: 13

 Sep 18, 2020

 Jul 11, 2020

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

 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.


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

Episode Date
Where are all the jobs?

The April jobs report number was disappointing. We expected a million new jobs and only got 260,000. There are a few factors that could be slowing job growth: a very specific reason why manufacturing jobs are down, enhanced unemployment benefits, disrupted child care and school schedule, and the pandemic and the pace of vaccination.

Then: it’s possible that Rep. Liz Cheney will no longer be in House Republican leadership. She’s been outspoken about her disapproval of Donald Trump and her anger about his lies about the 2020 election that inspired a violent mob to storm the U.S. Capitol in January. She may be replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, who got an emphatic endorsement from former President Trump this week. Is that infighting a proxy fight over Trump’s role in the party? Finally: the panel discusses a ruling from the Facebook Supreme Court, which is a real thing that exists, about Trump’s future on Facebook and Instagram.

May 08, 2021
The low-rated, kinda sleepy and quietly radical speech

President Biden made his first address to a joint session of Congress. It didn’t get big TV ratings, but the content reflected big changes to what he’d have the government do, with trillions of dollars in new spending on infrastructure and social programs. So is Joe Biden a quiet radical? Or is he just showing that a left agenda was never that intensely controversial if you did it quietly? And how did Republican Senator Tim Scott do in his response to Biden’s address? His speech drew a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. Josh Barro, Rachel Bovard, Gustavo Arellano and Keli Goff talk through the speeches, what Biden said about his agenda, and where Republicans might oppose it.

Plus: three stories about whether the government will tell you what to do in your own personal consumption behavior. Should there be a federal ban on menthol cigarettes? What about marijuana? And what’s the beef with beef?

May 01, 2021

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts for the death of George Floyd last summer. The prosecution’s case against him was strong and the jury deliberated for less than two days before reaching their unanimous verdicts. So why did this result feel like a surprise to so many Americans? Josh Barro talks with panelists Tim Carney, Gustavo Arellano and Keli Goff about the verdicts, bipartisan negotiations over reforming law enforcement, and what Americans might agree on about it.

Then: the panel discussed President Biden’s double flip flop on refugee admissions and how the crisis at the southern border is interfering with his broader immigration agenda, and the effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom in California. Voters dissatisfied with his handling of the pandemic could remove him from office, but so far, polls suggest they’re not inclined to do so. Will further lifting of covid restrictions in California — and the likelihood that a circus of characters will be on the ballot with him — keep Newsom in Sacramento?

Apr 24, 2021
Pause & Review

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on pause, out of an abundance of caution, federal officials say. Out of more than 7 million J&J doses administered so far, there have been six incidents of a rare and serious kind of blood clot. The idea for the pause is to figure out whether anything needs to change about the use of this particular vaccine, but are there unintended consequences? Josh Barro and panelists Jamelle Bouie and Lanhee Chen discuss that, plus President Biden’s effort to raise corporate taxes and alternative proposals from Republicans, and new sanctions against Russia over the SolarWinds hack. Andrea Kendall-Taylor, formerly the senior intelligence officer who led the U.S. intelligence community’s strategic analysis on Russia from 2015-18, talks about the design of this sanctions package and what it shows about the Biden administration’s strategy for advancing American interests through diplomacy.

Finally, there has been outrage this week over two fatal shootings by police of two young men, Daunte Wright in Minnesota and Adam Toledo in Chicago, that should have been avoided. The panel discusses accountability for police officers and what can be done to reduce the use of deadly force by police in this country.

Apr 17, 2021
Carrots over sticks

Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan has stretched the definition of infrastructure. One component is over $200 billion for housing. Home prices are rising around the country and affordability is a bigger issue than ever, but will incentivizing local governments to make zoning less restrictive and build more housing actually get more Americans into the homes they want?

Then: Josh Barro and panelists Jamelle Bouie and Lanhee Chen discuss how governors have handled the pandemic and how they’ve fared politically. For all the national criticism Florida and its governor, Ron DeSantis, has gotten, Florida’s been an average performer at fighting the spread of Covid-19. Did Governor DeSantis get a bad rap? And how did Governor Cuomo in New York get so overrated? Can all of this be explained by our hyper-partisan times? Georgia’s new voting law might be explained by that too — the panel analyzes critiques of this law and its projected effects on future elections.

Apr 10, 2021
Infrastructure Week, maybe for real this time

It’s finally Infrastructure Week! Maybe for real this time? Josh Barro and panelists Christine Emba and Lanhee Chen discuss President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure package that includes funding for more traditional infrastructure, like transportation, water and utilities and more. But there’s also something Biden’s calling “infrastructure at home”: affordable housing, school upgrades, broadband and more. Is this a Democrat’s wishlist, or are there aspects of this bill that can gain Republican support? Is it really an infrastructure bill or a big spending bill? Is it the right political strategy to put all of these priorities in one proposal? President Biden wants to increase the corporate tax rate to pay for this major 8-year spending project, taking aim at the centerpiece of President Trump’s 2017 tax package. The panel agrees that might be a broadly popular move that could be challenging for Republicans to oppose.

Apr 03, 2021
Biden meets the press

Joe Biden gave the first press conference of his presidency this week. He took a bit of a victory lap, saying we’ll actually get 200 million shots in his first hundred days and noting that about half of schools are fully open and over 100 million Americans have gotten their $1400 payments. Okay, so what’s next? What about the non-covid agenda items for the Biden administration, which may actually prove more politically challenging. Biden did not seem bullish on gun legislation. He noted we’re sending away the vast majority of migrants who show up at the US-Mexico border, but with a policy change, apprehensions of unaccompanied minors are poised to set a record. Biden also didn’t want to get into specifics on his response to China after a frosty summit in Anchorage. Kaiser Kuo will tell us what to expect going forward in that relationship.

Mar 26, 2021
Tragedy in Georgia

Congress is debating how to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. House Democrats passed their version this week, but Republicans in the Senate have concerns about guns and other issues. As the nation reacts to a horrific attack aimed at Asian American women in Atlanta, what is the prospect for federal action? Josh Barro speaks with Christine Emba and Megan McArdle about objections to the bill — are Democrats arguing against a more progressive position on policing? Are Republicans just objecting to restrictions on guns?

Alec MacGillis of ProPublica joins the panel to discuss his reporting on the toll of the pandemic on children and teens, including academic losses, social isolation, mental health and suicide. Then, the panel discusses Alec’s new book Fulfillment: Winning And Losing In One-Click America that examines economic inequality and disparities in the United States through the lens of Amazon. The company has intensified the trend of ‘winning’ cities with unaffordable housing and ‘losing’ cities with a rusted-out economic base. How much of that is Amazon’s fault, and would a union for Amazon workers ameliorate it?

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Mar 20, 2021
Joe Biden’s BFD

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act is now law, and to quote then-Vice President Biden, it’s a “big f***ing deal.” President Biden signed it Thursday and addresssed the national about the return to normal. He announced he’s directing states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1. What’s actually in this giant law? Where will all that money go? There’s a big extension of unemployment that will help workers get through the summer. Direct payments will be distributed to Americans starting as soon as this weekend. There’s also a lot of spending that seems maybe only tangentially related to the pandemic.

The panel talks with Samuel Hammond of the Niskanen Center about the big new payments to American parents that some may be surprised start getting as soon as July. The payments will significantly reduce child poverty, but for now, the payments are in effect for one year. President Biden would like to make it permanent. Should he?

Mar 13, 2021
Not now, but soon?

Texas is done with Covid, but is Covid done with Texas? Some states are rushing to lift restrictions while others are being more deliberate, saying they’ll do so in late March or April. Is this return to normal coming too soon or not soon enough? Meanwhile, lawmakers are making changes to the Covid relief package. Some upper-middle earners won’t get relief checks, but that’s less than a one-percent cut from the $1.9 trillion package. Is the money going to the right places? And is it too much in an economy that’s already propelled by the return of social activity? Finally, this week featured controversies about Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potatohead, and whether it’s okay to call people “neanderthals.” Is the uptick in silly news stories a sign that nature is healing?

Mar 06, 2021
A third vaccine

We’re getting a third covid vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is set to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March, and this vaccine only requires one dose per person. Vaccine rollout in the US is accelerating and is faster than most other rich countries. Are we doing a good job with this? When can we go back to normal, and has Anthony Fauci become a bit of a wet blanket?

Plus: Donald Trump’s planning to continue steering the Republican Party, a setback for a Democratic minimum wage increase proposal and Renuka Rayasam talks with the panel about what happened in Texas: why the state’s electrical system was so vulnerable to cold weather and political fallout from the disaster.

Feb 27, 2021
​Left, Right & Center & Independent

Former President Trump has been acquitted in his second impeachment trial and now we are officially out of the Trump era… for now. Congress can now turn its attention to passing another round of covid relief and Democrats are prepared to do this with no Republican votes, if necessary. Independent Senator Angus King of Maine joins the panel for an update on those negotiations, why a bipartisan deal isn’t in the cards and how Democrats are deciding how much money to spend and on what. Then economics and housing reporter Conor Dougherty talks with the panel about the housing crisis in Califorrnia and nationally, and how the pandemic has changed it for the better and for the worse.

Feb 19, 2021
On trial

Former President Trump is on trial in the senate. Democrats showed dramatic video presentations with previously unseen footage of the Capitol riot showing how close some lawmakers came to danger. Trump’s lawyers say the trial is unconstitutional — and besides, the riot was not his fault — and they appear to be taking most Republican senators along with them. Meanwhile, the White House has been mostly ignoring the impeachment trial and making plans to go bigger on deficit spending with better economic projections convincing them they have more room to borrow and spend on relief and infrastructure. Anya Kamenetz joins the panel to talk about schools reopening, as the Biden administration seeks to balance the interests of parents and teachers. A hacker recently tried to put dangerous levelss of lye in a Florida wter systeem. It didn’t work this time, but how much should we worry in the aftermath of the massive Solarwinds hack that affected untold numbers of government agencies? Nicole Perlroth talks about cybersecurity and major risks facing the United States and what we should be afraid of.

Feb 12, 2021
Closer to $2 trillion

Democrats are much closer to passing the nearly $2 trillion relief package President Joe Biden has proposed. A Republican pitch for a much smaller package doesn’t look to be going anywhere. The White House says doing too little is way riskier than doing too much, but economist Larry Summers is worried the package is too big and will endanger efforts to spend later on infrastructure. Who is right? Josh Barro talks with Megan McArdle and David Dayen about that, Senator Romney’s proposal for a child benefits package, and special guest Helen Andrews makes the conservative anti-Boomer case.

Feb 05, 2021
More vaccines, more executive orders and... GameStop

One week later, the Biden administration is getting more aggressive with vaccine distribution. More doses will be sent to states and they will use the Defense Production Act to speed up manufacturing. On top of that, there is promising data on two new Covid vaccines. How big a shift is this from the Trump administration and is the Biden team moving fast enough? The panel discusses executive action from President Biden on health care and immigration. Immigration wasn’t one of the four top priorities President Biden designated for the start of his turn, but as he was taking office, Biden surprised with a major comprehensive plan for immigration reform. Is that possible, or is it fated to be broken up into pieces that result in some reform?

Priscilla Alvarez talks with the panel about President Biden’s immigration strategy in his executive orders and this proposed plan: how much of it has a chance of becoming policy? How much will be tied up in the courts? Lanhee Chen says using executive action is an important demonstrative and a political marker, but the substance is limited, and the legislation is the way to make lasting change.

Finally, we’re talking about GameStop. Why are populists on the Right and Left sticking up for retail investors who sent GameStop stock soaring? Won’t this end in tears and pain? The panel closes with a triple Rant dunk on California.

Jan 29, 2021
President Biden calls for unity. Will he get it?

America has a new president. Joe Biden called for unity in his inaugural address, but he enters office with the country facing huge challenges and with the slimmest of majorities in Congress, making it harder for him to move the agenda he wants. Can he get unity in Congress to support his agenda, or will the fate of the filibuster make or break his agenda? How much could it slow down priorities, and should Democrats just get rid of it now? Lanhee Chen says there’s a good reason for Republicans to fight for the filibuster: it’s an important and meaningful way for the party to have an impact and build messaging into the 2022 midterms. David Dayen says Democrats might need to see a big, important piece of policy — like Biden’s proposed coronavirus relief package — fail because of the filibuster in order for Democrats to support getting rid of it.

On that coronavirus relief bill, moderates aren’t thrilled about everything in it. The panel discusses whether a slimmed down approach (checks and vaccine money) could be enough. And is the Biden administration really at square one, with no vaccine rollout plan they can work with?

Finally: in President Biden, the United States has an internationalist leader again, and the world is watching. Do we just carry on as things were before President Trump and America First, or will there be persistent changes to our foreign relations, either because of damage that is difficult to undo or because President Trump rightly pointed out necessary departures? And as there is more bipartisan agreement about countering China, what will the Biden administration’s strategy be?

Jan 23, 2021
Impeached again

President Trump is the first president to be impeached twice. What does it mean to hold him accountable? And what should be done about the Republicans who voted to throw out the results of the election? Some Republicans are saying impeachment is divisive and the country needs to move on, but what about the lies the party has tolerated and fomented about the election for months and months. Weren’t those divisive too?

Josh Barro talks with panelists K. Sabeel Rahman and Lanhee Chen and special guest Zeynep Tufekci about the role social media played in spreading conspiracy theories that led to the riot. Do recent actions by Amazon and Facebook and Twitter reduce the risk of future unrest? And should we worry about the role these large private firms play in shaping the rules of our discourse? President-elect Biden is preparing to take office as his predecessor’s impeachment trial begins. He wants another $1.9 billion relief package — and bipartisan support for it. Can he get that?

Jan 16, 2021
The pro-Trump mob at the Capitol

On Wednesday, supporters of President Trump ransacked the Capitol after he urged them to march there. The mob entered the Capitol as Congress was working to certify Joe Biden’s election win. Five people are dead. Tensions are very high in Congress. Members of the Trump administration are resigning. Will the president be impeached again, just as his term is up? With less than two weeks until the inauguration, is that timeline even possible?

Josh Barro talks with panelists K. Sabeel Rahman and Lanhee Chen and special guest Anna Palmer about whether impeachment is appropriate or even possible, and what accountability would look like for this crisis.

In a week of crises — President Trump encouraging the mob at the Capitol, his call to the Georgia secretary of state insisting he won the state and asking to “find” enough votes to support that falsehood — weirdly, there are positive signs this week for the functioning of the Biden administration. Democrats won both Georgia Senate races, giving Democrats control of both houses of Congress by the narrowest of margins. That means Republicans won’t be able to block Biden’s nominees from coming to the floor, and with the Republican delegation on the hill split over President Trump, does that create more opportunities for bipartisanship in the Biden policy agenda?

Jan 08, 2021
Uh, deal or no deal?

Joe Biden announced his picks to lead transportation, climate, energy and environmental policy this week and it’s making progressives pretty happy. But what will they be able to get done in a closely divided Congress? Josh Barro talks with panelists K. Sabeel Rahman and Lanhee Chen about the choices and the hope for a big bipartisan infrastructure initiative. Do Republicans want to make good on that? Will Mitch McConnell be open to bringing legislation to the floor for a vote, regardless of the outcomes in the two Georgia senate runoffs? And how good is the COVID relief package that’s getting closer to the finish line this week?

Plus: the panel discusses initial details about the SolarWinds hack and cybersecurity concerns, and Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Institute joins the panel to talk about pandemic shaming, which isn’t stopping people from gathering at the holidays and might be undermining virus containment.

Dec 19, 2020
Looking under the hood

Joe Biden’s cabinet is taking shape. The names are predictable, but the positions they’re attached to is raising some eyebrows on the Right and Left. Josh Barro discusses the Biden economic team and Janet Yellen as his choice for Treasury Secretary, and his choice of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services with new panelists Lanhee Chen and K. Sabeel Rahman.

Sabeel Rahman says that even if the cabinet head choices are a little confusing, you have to look under the hood to the No. 2’s, the assistant and deputy secretaries to get a better picture of the administration’s priorities and policy direction.

Why have congressional negotiations over more coronavirus relief stalled yet again? One major challenge is that lawmakers are seeing different crises within the bigger crisis. Some see a V-shaped recovery with household balance sheets faring pretty well, and that is leading some representatives to advocate for a smaller package. Others see a K-shaped recovery that has devastated certain industries and sectors of the population, which might point to the need for even more aid.

Aid to state and local governments is another sticking point in the negotiations, right as they have a major logistical task in front of them: distributing the coronavirus vaccine. Juliette Kayyem joins the panel to talk about those logistics and a challenging split-screen reality ahead. For the next few months, there will be a lot of optimism and good news about the vaccine and a return-to-normal, while thousands of Americans continue to die of COVID-19 everyday.

Dec 11, 2020
Caught with their masks down

In a dark week for new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, a few high-profile politicians — mostly Democrats — have gotten a lot of attention for disobeying their own pandemic orders and restrictions. Of course, Republican leaders have been far from compliant (up to and including the White House), but is it especially egregious for Democratic leaders caught with their masks down? Are some Republicans unfairly getting a free pass because they have largely ignored the virus in the first place?

There was some better news this week: states are planning for imminent vaccine distribution. It’s a major task, and there are deep trust issues at play. In Washington, it looks like there’s bipartisan agreement on another coronavirus aid bill. The panel is hopeful that this is the beginning of more bipartisan action and a government that is more responsive to national crises.

Finally: more women than ever will take their seats in a new Congress and hold posts in the Biden-Harris administration. Is there reason for the Left to celebrate gains for Republican women representatives? The Biden transition team announced an all-woman communications team. How much does that choice matter? And how should that team restore the relationship between the White House and the press?

Keli Goff hosts this episode of Left, Right & Center with Margaret Hoover, host of Firing Line With Margaret Hoover, and Christine Emba, columnist at the Washington Post.

Dec 04, 2020
Politics of culture

2020 has been a difficult year. Keli Goff hosts this special episode of Left, Right & Center about how art gets us through tough times, and how it can move us politically too. You’ll hear from four creators and thinkers on the persuasive power of the arts and what pieces they’ve turned to for inspiration and comfort. You might walk away with a new favorite song or play.

Stan Zimmerman wrote one of 2020’s favorite TV series: “The Golden Girls.” In April, Hulu viewers watched nearly 11 million hours of the show. Zimmerman talks about why the show was ahead of its time, and why so many shows are seeing a resurgence during a stressful year.

Musician Nile Rodgers might be the reason some of your favorite songs exist. Rodgers is one of the most successful songwriters and musicians ever. He co-founded Chic, and he has producing and songwriting credits with David Bowie, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Madonna, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Lady Gaga, Daft Punk, and more. He and Goff jam out to “We Are Family” (which he co-wrote) and talk about how certain songs have moved the world.

Award-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau talks with Goff about the power of live performance (something we’re missing right now), why theater is still closed off to many people of color, the role of critics and the canon, “Hamilton,” and more.

And to wrap it up, Goff talks with Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights organization Color of Change. Rashad talks about the impacts of celebrity on social movements, the power of icons, and why Hollywood and the arts matter to those who dream of and work toward a more equitable future.

Nov 27, 2020
Still waiting

One week later, not much has changed. President Trump has not conceded to Joe Biden and continues to fight the election result and national Republicans are largely not acknowledging Joe Biden as the president-elect. As this wears on, is there real damage to American democracy and citizens’ faith in elections? What is the president’s end game? And what about the end game for the Republican party?

Keli Goff hosts this episode of Left, Right & Center with Tim Carney, Christine Emba and it includes a special interview with Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights organization Color of Change.

Nov 21, 2020

The election is over but President Trump doesn’t want to admit it. Does that matter? Why are Republicans going along with this? Is it because they really need him to play an important role after he does leave office? President-elect Joe Biden is moving forward with his transition, whether it’s officially recognized by the Trump administration or not. He named Ron Klain, who managed the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola crisis, to be his chief of staff.

This week brought excellent and terrible news on the coronavirus pandemic. Early results for Pfizer’s vaccine look very promising and it could be widely distributed as soon as the spring. But in the meantime, it’s looking like a dark winter. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are spiking. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but how do we get there from here?

Nov 14, 2020
Winning ugly is still winning

Remember last week, when Josh Barro, Tim Carney, Christine Emba and special guest Gustavo Arellano made some predictions about the election outcome? With votes still being counted in the critical states — with Joe Biden leading the popular vote and the electoral college — the LRC panel revisits its predictions. Why wasn’t this a landslide for the Democrats? Why are we still watching for results on Friday? Why isn’t the Left happier about this outcome? What happened in Florida and South Texas? How did congressional Republicans improve so much over their performance in the 2018 midterms? What do we know about what motivated voters this cycle? How much did the pandemic matter in the end?

Steven Shepard, Politico’s chief polling analyst and senior campaign and elections editor, joins the panel to answer questions about the polls. How wrong were the polls and why were they wrong, and why was it so hard for polling to reflect support for Donald Trump?

*This episode was recorded Friday morning.

Nov 06, 2020
We'll see what happens

There are just days left in the 2020 presidential campaign and Joe Biden and Donald Trump are making their final pitches to voters around the country, but really mostly in Pennsylvania. The poll averages have Biden up five points in the state that should put him over the top, so can Democrats be confident? And what is President Trump’s last pitch for voters to give him four more years?

This is your last Left, Right & Center before the election! On today’s show, Josh Barro talks with Tim Carney, Christine Emba and special guest Gustavo Arellano the president’s falling support with white voters is making it hard for him to replicate his win from 2016, and how he’s making surprising inroads with some Hispanic voters.

Then: the panel makes predictions: who will win and by how much? What will happen with the senate? What will be the surprise of the night? And will one of the candidates have conceded by the time we meet back here for next week’s episode? We’ll see what happens.

Oct 30, 2020