Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.
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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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.”
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How long is seven hours? It's not long if you're binging our show, but that's a long time to not have records of telephone calls made by former President Trump on January 6, 2021. There's a lot of news here, so here's the TL;DR: A federal judge has ruled that Trump “more likely than not” committed felonies in his attempts to overturn the election, and the DOJ has expanded its investigation into the Capitol riots, hiring 131 more attorneys to work the case. And then, there's those texts between Ginni Thomas (the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) and Mark Meadows, the former White House Chief of Staff, urging Meadows to take steps to overturn the election … as well as her participation in the riots. So, should Justice Thomas recuse himself from cases about the insurrection? Does that set a dangerous precedent for future justices, or is staying on the bench a blatant conflict of interest? Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe discusses with panelists Sarah Isgur, staff writer and podcast host for the Dispatch, on the right; David Dayen, executive editor at the American Prospect, on the left; and our special guest Anthony L. Fisher, senior opinion editor at the Daily Beast. Then: New budget just dropped. President Biden released his roadmap for 2023 government spending, and it's got a hefty price tag of $5.8 trillion. This, of course, will be reshaped before it gets past Congress in September. But does it do enough to tackle COVID and rampant inflation? And is Biden squirreling away his executive power in favor of gridlocks in the legislature? Plus: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is still unfolding, with no end in sight as peace talks drag on. That means more pain at the pump for Americans, which Biden's trying to address by releasing roughly 180 million barrels of oil from U.S. reserves in the next few months. Is this a sign that America needs to go electric? And if so, can Congress agree on how to do it? Finally, our panelists rant from across the political spectrum about Republican office gossip, racist college admissions tests, and the slap heard around the world.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic confirmation hearings are now underway. She seems to be on pace to become the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, but not without some friction. Republicans grilled Jackson this week about some of her past cases, but also about a children's book, her religious beliefs, and the definition of a “woman,” all with the goal of opening a window into what her future rulings might look like. So, were they successful? And did we learn anything about her legal philosophy? Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe discusses with panelists Sarah Isgur, staff writer and podcast host for the Dispatch, on the right; and David Dayen, executive editor at the American Prospect, on the left. Next: Confirmation hearings are always political – and these were politically supercharged. Woven throughout Republican senators' questioning were issues that seemed to pander to their voter base, between child pornography and critical race theory. Could that be a dangerous move that damages their credibility? Or is it just one more way they can get people out to vote going into the midterms? Plus: The dark cloud of a potential nuclear war is brewing. Vladimir Putin has refused to rule out using weapons of mass destruction in his invasion of Ukraine, and the United States has started preparing a contingency plan if Russia does go nuclear. To help us understand what's at stake, we bring on our special guest Uri Friedman, who is a managing editor at the Atlantic Council and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. How does this moment compare to past tensions? How does Russia's struggle to win a decisive victory in Ukraine complicate efforts? And how can we use diplomacy to prevent Putin from doing the unthinkable? Finally, our panelists rant from across the political spectrum about why women and minority history months get problematic, and anything “anti-Joe Manchin” is good. P.S. Please send your love to panelist Sarah Isgur, who joined us despite a bout of COVID and is gratefully ranting about vaccines in between naps.
It's the third week of Russia's war on Ukraine. But this week was the first time President Biden called President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal.” There are courts that could theoretically convict Putin on that charge, but what happens once they do? Is the international government more about virtue signaling than actual action? And what happens to ceasefire negotiations when the U.S. and Russia are once more at loggerheads? Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe discusses with panelists Sarah Isgur, staff writer and podcast host for the Dispatch, on the right; and David Dayen, executive editor at the American Prospect, on the left. Next: The U.S. Federal Reserve is hiking interest rates in a bid to tame sky-high inflation. But is it too little, too late? And is that really the best way to fix the economy, when supply chain concerns abroad are also driving up consumer prices? Either way, the economy is about to get political. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and his crew are also facing a reckoning over green energy, which brings in questions from Congress over whether rewiring the financial system is too risky right now. Special guest Nick Timiraos of the Wall Street Journal help us break it down. Plus: A historic confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson begins next week. If the Senate gives her the green light, she'll become the first former public defender and the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. Or could the hearing become a partisan fight? What questions will Republicans be asking to get a sense of what she stands for? And finally, our panelists rant from across the political spectrum about outdated textbooks, vaccine intellectual property, and why the Crown Act needs to become law.
President Biden announced this week that the United States will ban imports of Russian oil and gas. The move was met with bipartisan approval despite promises of inflation and more pain at the pump. Was this the right move? How long will public support last? Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr discusses with Sarah Isgur, staff writer for The Dispatch and host of The Dispatch Podcast, on the right; and David Dayen, executive editor at The American Prospect, on the left. Special guest Sammy Roth, energy reporter at the Los Angeles Times, talks about our big oil problem. When there's no more Russian oil and gas coming into the United States, what will replace it? Will the Biden administration use this as an opportunity to shift away from fossil fuels permanently? Is the future all-electric? Then: The Florida Senate has passed a controversial bill banning instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has already indicated he'd sign the so-called “Don't Say Gay” bill. State lawmakers have already filed more anti-LGBTQ bills this year than during all of last year, so what's going on? Why have schools become a political battleground on the topic? Is thinking of the children just a stand-in for a wider cultural debate? And finally: Our panelists rant from across the political spectrum about toddlers wearing masks, daylight saving time, and why we won't be prepared for the next COVID wave unless we spend money on it.
President Biden gave his first State of the Union address this week, and it was certainly a doozy amid the invasion of Ukraine, COVID, and rising inflation. So how'd it go? The answer: It depends on the symbolism you're looking for. Right behind President Biden sat a notably maskless Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi – a sign, perhaps, of a White House that's willing to live with rather than eradicate COVID-19. There was also plenty of bipartisan applause when Biden vowed to crack down on gun violence and “fund the police.” But was his speech focused too much on statesmanship, and not enough on policy? Guest host Keli Goff discusses with panelists Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at the Lincoln Project on the right; David Dayen, executive editor at the American Prospect on the left; and special guest Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster and founding partner at Echelon Insights. Next: How does bias in newsrooms determine which crises go viral, and which get relegated to the digital darkness? Also, several gallons of Russian liquor are now swimming in the American drainage system. But how will eschewing Russian products and culturally sanctioning its citizens put an end to Putin's invasion? Plus: Who is a conservative? It's a question worth asking, now that thousands of Republicans, including our own Tara Setmayer, have left the party. Is the typical conservative pro-Trump? Anti-Trump? Or is Trump not a factor at all anymore? And finally: Our panelists rant from across the spectrum about ocean shipping, pop culture, and why Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court is a historic win for Black women, even if she's never confirmed.
Russia has invaded Ukraine in full force. This week, missiles, tanks and troops poured over the borders as explosions rocked the country, causing thousands of civilians to flee their homes and seek shelter. Biden's response? Swift … but not S.W.I.F.T. The president announced he'd be leveling harsh sanctions against Russia's banking and tech sectors, but stopped short of putting American troops in Ukraine or cutting off Russia's access to the S.W.I.F.T banking system they send financial transactions through. So, why is Putin even doing this, and where will he stop? Has Biden been tough enough? How far should the U.S. and NATO go to prevent an Article Five invocation? And can the E.U. hold together through the worst land conflict Europe has seen since World War II? Guest host David Greene discusses with panelists Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, on the right; Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service, on the left; and special guest Juliette Kayyem, professor of national security at Harvard University and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Also: Former President Trump praised Putin as a “genius,” and expressed support for Russia's actions in Ukraine this week. Is that a deeper philosophy in the right, or just another Trump-ism? And how concerned should Americans really be about this war when they're just trying to get through the day amid an ongoing global pandemic? Our panelists discuss. Finally: Juliette Kayyem makes the argument that our recovery from the pandemic SHOULD be political. But before you groan and turn off the episode, bear with us — because while Anthony Fauci's a great doctor, he's not an elected leader. So how can politicians turn science lessons into meaningful policy that balances risks with living life?
Canada's having some close encounters of a truckish kind. For three weeks now, a convoy of truck drivers have occupied major cities north of the border and blocked trade in protest of vaccine mandates for truckers. They've gained support from many prominent right-wing figures in the United States, including former President Donald Trump. Do the protests signify freedom of expression against authoritarianism, or do they cross a line and are more about making a partisan point? Guest host David Greene discusses with panelists Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at the Lincoln Project, on the right; Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service, on the left; and special guest Chris Buskirk, publisher and editor of American Greatness. Next: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for the Republican party to break with former President Trump before the midterms — can they do it? Are Democrats going to benefit from the identity crisis on the right? Then: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders calls for empathy for Putin, and suggests a radical solution to the crisis on the Ukrainian border – shutting the country out of NATO forever. But is that going to defuse Russia's territorial aspirations? And can Democrats walk the tightrope between looking soft on Russia and outright war?
We're several weeks into world leaders trying to quell tensions over the Ukraine - Russia border. And if you thought things weren't complicated enough, Russian and Chinese leaders also issued a joint statement saying their partnership would establish a new “world order.” That sounds pretty ominous – so why aren't the United States and NATO responding in kind? Can the EU get over its energy woes and sanction Russia until it backs out of Ukraine? And should we be freaking out, or is this just dictators dictating? Guest host David Greene discusses with panelists Tara Setmayer, senior advisor at the Lincoln Project, on the right; and Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service, on the left. Next: Depending on where you live, you might finally be able to give your mask tan lines some sun. Omicron is subsiding, and Democratic governors are saying goodbye to mask mandates for now, leaving behind a patchwork of local regulations that depend on case counts, vaccine rates and political pressures where you live. So, is it time to burn your masks, even though other variants are potentially on the horizon? Or are unified federal or state mandates the way to go? Also, when did schools become public health and political battlegrounds? And why do schools seem the last to loosen restrictions when pandemic kids are already vulnerable to learning loss and mental health challenges? We bring on special guest Kimberly Atkins Stohr of the Boston Globe to discuss. Then: President Biden has vowed that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement would be a Black woman. Since then, he's been criticized by some who say this pledge demeans the very people it's trying to help by suggesting they can't compete in the process without assistance from the outside. But do today's questions echo those around other groundbreaking Supreme Court nominations, or is this debate just a hallmark of grievance politics? And for our rants this week: condemnations of political apologies, reporter tell-all books, and why we need to Build Back Better Bridges.
The crisis in Ukraine is edging toward what its president warns will be a “full-scale war” if Russian troops move in on the country — but this might also be a proxy war for democracy as we know it. What emboldened Putin to act now? Could it be that Russia believes Washington is weaker now than ever before, between troubles at NATO and turmoil at the White House? And if democracy is at risk at home, how justified is the fight for it abroad? Guest host David Greene discusses with panelists Megan McArdle, columnist at the Washington Post, on the right; and Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service, on the left. Next: It's time for the United States to take a metaphorical look in the mirror. Former President Donald Trump gave a fiery speech in Texas, hinting at another bid for the presidency, while also calling for people to protest in American cities if prosecutors investigating him did anything “wrong or illegal.” If that sounds a little too familiar, it might be because there's an audience listening to Trump's rhetoric — and we bring on special guest Jean Guerrero of the Los Angeles Times to explain why. Then: If you're listening to this show on Spotify, you might have heard about the spat between musician Neil Young, podcast host Joe Rogan, and the audio streaming platform. Young demanded his music be taken down from Spotify because Rogan had been allowed to spread misinformation about vaccines and COVID. So what does Spotify owe its listeners? Should publishers be taking stances on the content they put out? Or does that create more echo chambers where good faith dialogue is desperately needed? Finally: Our panelists rant about why the left and right don't talk enough, and why fake snow is the absolute worst.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring after 27 years on the nation's highest court, giving President Biden his first chance to nominate a justice to the bench. He's expected to announce his pick by the end of February, and has vowed to nominate a Black woman. So, who's the right person for the job? Will the fight to hold down the liberal wing of the court fall along ideological lines? And when did Supreme Court nominations become tit for tat? Guest host David Greene brings on panelists Megan McArdle, columnist at the Washington Post, on the right and Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service, on the left to discuss. Next: Where is this chess match between Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world headed? There are 100,000 troops poised and ready at Ukraine's border, but what Putin will order them to do is anybody's guess. With China undoubtedly watching the situation closely, how can Biden convince fuel-reliant Germany to get behind the NATO bloc against Russia? Are there foreign policy lessons to be learned from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and beyond? Also: Special guest and former Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs discusses radical approaches to ending the cycle of poverty. Is there a place for child tax credits and stimulus checks in a post-pandemic America? And how can macroeconomic growth translate to concrete benefits for people on the ground? Our panelists discuss. Finally: Why is the FDA conspiracy against Floridians “triple-distilled balderdash?” And David Greene makes a personal plea to keep your pandemic grumpiness at home.
President Biden took questions from reporters on Wednesday for nearly two hours — ranging widely from voting rights to Ukraine and more — as senators from his own party threatened his top legislative goals. The president says he's outperformed expectations. His approval rating — a meager 40% or so — doesn't seem to square with that. But can Biden be blamed for taking power during a historic pandemic? Or did he set himself up for failure by trying to strongarm moderate Democrats into a bill they already said they wouldn't vote for? Also, Biden says he expects Russia will invade Ukraine. Economic sanctions might work, but how can the U.S. and Europe — which is heavily reliant on Russia for energy — work together to curb Russia's territorial aspirations? Guest host Jeremy Hobson brings on panelists Megan McArdle on the right and Jamelle Bouie on the left to discuss. This week's special guest is John Avlon, a political analyst at CNN and the author of a new book called “Lincoln and the Fight for Peace.” With Democrats' voting agenda in peril and some on the left saying democracy is facing an existential fight, how does the present moment compare to other presidents in times of trouble? Our panelists break it down. Then — what are Republicans for? Biden asked that question at this week's press conference and it may become a talking point during the 2022 midterm elections. How will Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis differentiate himself from Trump in the run up to the Republican primary? Which Republican nominee should Biden be more worried about?
If your grocery or gas bill weren't enough of an indicator, inflation is here at historic levels. The consumer price index, which tracks how prices change over time, showed a 7% increase at the end of last year, which is the highest jump since 1982. The Biden administration says this too shall pass. But voters are feeling sticker shock and aren't giving the president good marks on the economy despite a strong job market, a low unemployment rate, and rising wages. How did we get here? Are generous stimulus packages and tax credits to blame? Is there a way to move forward on spending bills with inflation in mind, and to get the sign-off of one Democratic senator from West Virginia? Guest host Jeremy Hobson brings on panelists Christine Emba and Alice Stewart to discuss. Next: Voting rights are big on Biden's agenda. On the heels of the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riots, the president and Vice President Kamala Harris travelled to Atlanta to make their biggest push yet for voting rights. They're encouraging Democrats to do away with the filibuster and get rid of the 60-vote threshold to pass a bill, all to pass comprehensive legislation to expand voting access to Americans. We bring on special guest and former congresswoman Jane Harman to discuss whether that's a good idea, and whether it's risky to excite Biden's base if he can't deliver. Also, high-level talks took place this week between Washington, NATO and Russia amid fears of another Russian invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin's troops are looming over Ukraine's border, and he's demanding that NATO withdraw all allied troops from countries that border Russia. That's a key foreign policy test for President Biden, who's had to deal with many a crisis abroad during his presidency between a trade war in China and an evacuation in Afghanistan. The million dollar question: What should the U.S. do if Putin invades Ukraine? Do economic sanctions even work? And if they don't, what's next for war-weary America? And finally, GOP consultant Alice Stewart explains what's wrong with shopping carts, Washington Post columnist Christine Emba says [Joe] Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema aren't really Democrats, and host Jeremy Hobson explains one way the pandemic could be depoliticized.
Another massive Covid surge reminds us that the pandemic named for the year 2019 - is still kicking in 2022. Should President Biden be doing more to control Covid-19? What more can he do given that so many people aren't getting vaccinated? Is it time for more carrots than sticks? A year ago, on January 6th, Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Is the investigation into that attack moving fast enough? Why do so many Republicans believe President Trump when he tells them the election was stolen? Democrats hope the anniversary will spur on voting rights reform in Congress. Is there any chance it will pass?
Welcome to Josh Barro's final episode as host of Left, Right & Center. It's a special episode with some of our most frequent panelists to close out 2021 and Josh's seven-year run as host. A lot has changed in the last seven years, and weirdly, a lot hasn't. In this episode, you'll hear clips from Josh's first episode as host of Left, Right & Center in which he moderates a discussion of vaccine policy, mandates and vaccine skepticism. Can't make this up! Back then, the issue was contentious but not hyper partisan. You'll also hear Josh moderate a discussion about Donald Trump declaring his candidacy for president in 2015. It's…a lot. LRC regulars Megan McArdle, Tim Carney, David Dayen and Keli Goff talk with Josh about how the Trump presidency and the pandemic have changed American politics and how the parties have changed, or failed to change, along with it. To mark this very transformative period for American politics and for Left, Right & Center too, Josh and the panelists make predictions about what the next seven years hold for us.
Well, it's been a year: 2021 has been better than 2020 all told, but not as normal as hoped. It's seemingly not as normal as the voters hoped it would be either, with President Biden's approval ratings sliding from the summer on with inflation, resurgent covid cases, and a haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan. So one year on, how is President Biden doing? And what can he do to right the ship before Democrats face voters next November? On this special episode of Left, Right & Center, frequent panelists LANHEE CHEN, CHRISTINE EMBA, and GUSTAVO ARELLANO join departing host JOSH BARRO to look backward and forward. The panel discusses the highlights and the discontents of this year, hopes for what the government will do differently (and what will go differently) in 2022, the pluses and minuses of this economy, and the tools, both old and new, that could bring the virus under enough control for things to be close enough to normal…if we do things right.
The holidays are coming and so is the omicron wave. Well, that's not great timing. Booster shots will help, and so many people have some immunity already from two doses of vaccine and/or prior infection. But we don't have all the tools we might like to protect ourselves against a great deal of sickness and possible death. Josh Barro, Ross Douthat and Elizabeth Bruenig talk about living with the threat of illness and the different reactions at the extremes from right and left. Then: Democrats' spending plans have stalled and Senate Democrats are now saying they're turning to voting rights, another legislative priority that's also stalled. Are they just done with legislating for the year? Ross Douthat wrote a column this week on the New New Right: what they stand for, and whether voters will be attracted to their positions.
We're in this for the long haul. As the omicron variant spreads throughout the country, one of the best tools we have in our arsenal are at-home rapid tests. But right now, they're way too expensive and maybe out of stock at your local CVS. Is there a better way to do this? Probably, but it'll require a lot more creativity from the Biden administration. Tests are free and plentiful elsewhere -- why shouldn't tests be sent to every American? From complaining about tests to complaining about Congress: the House passed a convoluted bill this week to raise the debt limit and hopefully prevent future government shutdowns, and the Build Back Better plan is still stuck in Congress because Joe Manchin wants fewer things done better, and it appears Mitch McConnell agrees with this too. Can Democrats find the middle ground between their welfare state goals and moderate policy objectives? Our special guest this week is Paul D. Miller on the Summit For Democracy President Biden has convened, and what, if anything, can come out of a meeting of a global leaders on Zoom. What's particularly striking about this summit is that it comes at a time where Russian troops are amassing at the Ukrainian border, and China is still in an aggressive posture toward Taiwan. What is the line the United States should draw that, if crossed, would trigger action? Plus, Ross assails an assailing critique of the media, Liz is covered in puke and calling for family leave, and Josh says if you insist on using the term Latinx, you're not doing your homework.
Josh, Liz and Ross discuss America's testing shortage and how Build Back Better is tending towards smaller things better. Then, special guest Paul D. Miller joins us on the show to discuss the Zoom summit for democracy.
Josh, Liz and Ross talk about the omicron variant, vaccine fatigue and how we can get to a normal that makes sense. Emily Bazelon joins the show to talk about the Supreme Court oral argument Mississippi's law restricting abortion.
A new Greek letter is on the mind this week: Omicron. New cases of the variant have been popping up all over the world, prompting travel restrictions and renewed calls for eligible adults to get their COVID booster shots. We've been through this at least a couple of times already with the Beta and Delta variants – so how should the Biden administration react to this latest variant? What's in his power to change? Can he effectively work with a slow-moving FDA and CDC and return to the back-to-normal politics that made him popular at the beginning of the year? And is it really that big of a deal that we might have to get booster shots to be considered fully vaccinated? We discuss. Next: the pandemic has a huge political cost, which Democrats are desperately trying to avoid in the midterms next year. How can they get to some semblance of normal without alienating people who prefer to be more cautious? Does the answer lie in extending pandemic safety measures or is it in quickly approving antiviral pills, which have lots of potential to reduce hospitalizations? And why does this pandemic feel like a really bad episode of House? Emily Bazelon joins the panel this week to talk about oral argument at the Supreme Court on Mississippi's ban on abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy. After this week, it looks like the court is likely to overturn Roe. What did we learn at oral argument and what's the future of abortion law in the US? And finally: why Fauci really should be talking to Fox News, the discovery of diseases needs to be separate from moral judgment, and why “affordable fourplexes” just mean zero housing.
Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts in a Kenosha courtroom this week, successfully asserting self-defense against two counts of murder. Whether Rittenhouse committed a crime and whether he acted in a morally acceptable manner are two separate questions. Are Americans separating them appropriately? Josh Barro, Elizabeth Bruenig and Ross Douthat discuss the discourse: why have conservatives been rallying around Rittenhouse? Is vigilante justice conservative? Have certain voices on the left come to regret defending rioting and property damage last summer? Then: Serge Schmemann joins the panel to talk about Havana Syndrome, the mysterious illness affecting more than 200 U.S. service personnel, mostly posted abroad. Sufferers say they're experiencing ringing in the ears and a feeling of pressure in the head, among various other symptoms. Could this be the product of some secret Russian microwave gun? Or is it actually just a mass psychogenic illness caused by stress? And is the political infighting around the illness just a distraction from finding a way to help the afflicted? Finally: we take a deep dive into Ross Douthat's new book about his experience with chronic Lyme disease. Why has the disease become so controversial? All that plus why turkeys are bad, why too-long blockbuster movies are even worse, and why it's good Jerome Powell will stay at the Fed.
New infrastructure law just dropped. President Biden got to celebrate one of the biggest infrastructure spending bills of the past decade, while Republicans vented at each other about giving Democrats a (very expensive) win. Political showmanship aside, Biden's poll numbers aren't budging. Josh Barro, Elizabeth Bruenig and Tim Carney discuss the deal, if it will help Democrats, and how much will it help American households and the economy? Next on the show: who should get COVID booster shots? Some states are doing away with eligibility requirements entirely and asking everybody past that six-month mark to get a booster. On the federal level, guidelines remain convoluted – for example, you qualify for one if you were ever a smoker, depressed, or work in education, among other factors. What makes sense for guidance on this and mask mandates, and how does Pfizer's new antiviral pill change the pandemic response? Our special guest this week is Ali Wyne, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group's Global Macro Practice. He's on the show to help us understand the implications of President Biden's summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday (if you can call a Zoom meeting a summit). The meeting comes at a time of high tension between the two countries over human rights, trade and Taiwan – and also as they try to figure out how to work together on climate change. Finally, a very special announcement from Josh.