KCRW's Left, Right & Center Provocative, up-to-the-minute, alive and witty, KCRW's weekly confrontation over politics, policy and popular culture proves those with impeccable credentials needn't lack personality. Featuring four of the most insightful news analysts anywhere, this weekly love-hate relationship of the air reaches about 50,000 of the most influential radio listeners in Southern California.
KCRW's Left, Right & Center

KCRW's Left, Right & Center

From KCRW

Provocative, up-to-the-minute, alive and witty, KCRW's weekly confrontation over politics, policy and popular culture proves those with impeccable credentials needn't lack personality. Featuring four of the most insightful news analysts anywhere, this weekly love-hate relationship of the air reaches about 50,000 of the most influential radio listeners in Southern California.

Most Recent Episodes

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 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.

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 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.

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 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

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

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...

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

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?

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 President Trump and Fox News over? Elizabeth Bruenig talks about her reporting on Texas evangelicals and their faith in President Trump. Keli Goff interviews screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz on his efforts to teach Democratic candidates how to rise above the noise of Twitter and tell stories that connect better with voters in the heartland.

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 President Trump in response. Earlier this week, President Trump said American Jews who vote for Democrats are disloyal. The Amazon is on fire, and French President Emmanuel Macron wants to talk about it at the G7. By the way, President Trump still wants Vladimir Putin to be invited back to that meeting of the world's largest advanced economies. Automakers are aligning with California to oppose the Trump administration's rollback of emissions standards. More Democrats — 130 at Friday's count — are lining up in support of impeachment.

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 from the Trump administration that could make it a lot harder to get a green card, especially if you're poor. Randy Capps from the Migration Policy Institute talks the panel through the numbers and whether the rule is even legal.Then Michael C. Davis discusses the risks in Hong Kong that could escalate the crisis in the United States' relationship to China.

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