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Left, Right & Center


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

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


Santa Monica, CA





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




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


Is Russia’s war endangering democracy?

It’s been nine months since Russia invaded Ukraine, starting a war that has killed at least 200,000 military personnel and approximately 40,000 civilians, according to U.S. officials. Winter is fast approaching, and it seems like both sides might be gearing up to fight well into next year. At the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit, world leaders issued a statement saying they “deplore in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.” They demanded a “complete...


Dems make final push during lame duck session

The balance of power in the nation’s capital has finally been decided — Democrats will keep control of the Senate and Republicans grabbed the majority in the House, though by slim margins. And as both sides decide their party’s leaders, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced she would not seek reelection for Democratic leadership. But before a new Congress begins its work next year, the lame duck season has begun. The Democrats have already secured bipartisan support for the Respect...


Republicans didn’t get a red wave. What does it mean for 2024?

Millions of people cast their ballots in the 2022 midterm elections this week — though votes are still being counted — and neither Democrats nor Republicans saw the results they expected. A sitting president’s party often takes a beating in a midterm election, so Democrats were preparing to lose their majorities in the House and Senate. Despite sky-high inflation and sinking approval ratings for President Biden, Republicans won far fewer seats in the House than anyone predicted. And some...


Crime, inflation, democracy: What will sway voters?

With only a few days before midterm elections, a number of key races across the country are heating up, putting the capital’s balance of power on the ballot. A recent NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist national poll shows the country has swung by six points in favor of Republican candidates, who are now more confident they can take control of the House. For Democrats, who are trying to hold onto their slim majority, a loss of control could bring their agenda to a standstill. But would this give...


Scaring voters — just in time for Halloween

Midterm elections are a week and a half away, which could alter the balance of power in the nation’s capital. Millions of people have already cast their ballots, and overall voter turnout is projected to be one of the highest ever for a midterm. The Senate race in Pennsylvania could be crucial for Democrats to pick up and hang onto control. The fight between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz is narrowing, and the candidates debated for the first and only time this week. Oz...


Republican-led Congress could tie up Biden agenda

With nearly three weeks until the midterm elections in November, Republicans may have a good shot at gaining the majority in both the House and Senate. Democrats saw boosted support over the summer after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but that enthusiasm may be waning. The tide may be turning for Republicans, despite trailing Democrats just one month ago. A New York Times-Siena College poll shows a bump in support for Republicans in recent weeks. Plus, President Biden’s approval...


Trump gets subpoenaed by Jan. 6 Committee. Too late?

This week, the January 6 House Committee voted unanimously to subpoena testimony from former President Donald Trump. In what could be the final televised hearing, the committee members recapped much of the evidence it’s been gathering for the last year. They presented proof that Trump wanted to join the violent mob that day, despite knowing he had lost the election. The committee also played never-before-seen footage of congressional leaders during the Jan. 6 attack, including House...


High gas prices tower over elections. Will voters punish Democrats?

This week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Plus coalition, a crude oil group led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, announced the biggest cut in oil production in two years. This means that Russia will make more money off its oil, which it can then use to fund its war against Ukraine. Americans are likely to see soaring gas prices at the pump again. This is a diplomatic problem for President Biden. He has invested a lot of capital in trying to talk the Saudis out of...

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

This week, Hurricane Ian slammed into southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm and one of the strongest to make landfall in the U.S. Millions of people are without power and many homes are underwater. Natural disasters are often tests of state and federal leadership. The Biden administration was in contact with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ahead of the storm to help support emergency response. But the stakes are high for DeSantis. The governor is seen as a frontrunner for the presidential...

Should Americans be scared of Putin’s nuclear threats?

This week, global political leaders met in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. U.S. and European officials slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin for further escalating the war against Ukraine, calling up 300,000 reservists, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. Should Americans be worried about Putin’s nuclear threat? And how should the United Nations respond to Russia’s invasion and alleged human rights violations? During the assembly, President Biden said Russia is...


Where’s the middle ground on abortion?

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


Could Roe’s fall secure Democrats’ Senate majority?

It’s the week after Labor Day, which marks the unofficial final push of midterm election campaigning. Democrats are optimistic thanks to an unexpected bounce in President Biden’s approval rating. It tanked at 37% in July but recently landed at 42%, reports FiveThirtyEight. Will Democratic candidates hold on to this momentum? Plus, since the Supree Court overturned Roe v. Wade, women are out-registering men and voting in historic numbers to protect abortion rights. And a bill to protect...


Does Biden have nothing to lose?

This week, President Biden gave several campaign-style speeches, emphasizing the “soul of the nation.” On Thursday, he argued that “MAGA forces” are putting fair elections, privacy, personal rights and economic security at risk. Biden is a first-term president with low approval ratings, which historically means Democrats will get throttled during the midterms. What rebuttal might Republicans or former President Trump give? Meanwhile on Tuesday, the world mourned the death of former Soviet...


Biden sends more military aid to Ukraine. How much is enough?

This week, Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day, despite trudging through a brutal war with Russia. Though the countries have been fighting for six months, many Ukrainans would say the war started when Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. The Biden administration is helping keep Ukraine in the fight by announcing it will send $3 billion more in aid to buy more weapons. But how long can President Biden continue sending aid to Ukraine before the public loses interest? Will this...


A political dynasty falls

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


FBI seizes Trump’s files. Trump wins 2024 GOP nomination?

This week, the FBI executed a search warrant at Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, breaking into his safe, and seizing several boxes of presumed classified documents that he allegedly took from the White House when his presidency ended. Then, a federal appeals court ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee is allowed to look at Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 — something Democrats tried doing for years. New York Attorney General Letitia James also deposed Trump under oath — in...


It was a good week for election deniers

It was a good week for election deniers. Several Trump-backed candidates sealed primary wins in Arizona, Michigan and Missouri. This includes businessman Blake Masters, who’s vying for a Senate seat in Arizona and identifies as part of the “New Right.” Plus, Eric Schmitt won the GOP primary for Senate in Missouri. Both Masters and Schmitt have falsely denied the 2020 election results. Meanwhile, the Democrats are hoping that a far-right candidate will be easier to beat in the November...


Manchin says yes to Dems’ climate bill. What about rest of Congress?

Just when things looked bleak for Democrats’ agenda, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin finally decided to back a $369 billion climate and tax package. Lawmakers are racing to pass several bills before the August recess, and Senate Democrats are hopeful that they will be able to pass a reconciliation bill now with Manchin’s support. If both chambers of Congress green-light the reconciliation bill, it could change the whole conversation on the campaign trail in the coming weeks. But what’s...


Rioters were invading Capitol, Trump was watching the telly

What happened during the 187 minutes between the time Trump left the Ellipse, the park near the White House where he urged his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol — and when he was at the Rose Garden, urging those supporters to go home after the insurrection? This week, the January 6 House Select Committee gave a play-by-play of what Trump was doing at the time. It turned out that he was watching TV in the White House dining room, according to testimony in the hearing. He never called...


Trump 2024? Whether Jan. 6 revelations could affect voter support

Food, health care, and rent are all going up, but wages are not. There’s tiny relief in gas prices finally dipping this month, and job gains are better than expected. However, Americans are still worried about a looming recession. Guest host Gustavo Arellano discusses President Biden’s response to inflation and the threat of a recession with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; and Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch, on the right. Plus, the January 6 Select...