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Political Philosophy Every Thanksgiving, 4th of July and Easter
April 7, 2010 9:07 PM   Subscribe

KCRW's Left, Right and Center is usually your standard political talking head show - except on holidays, when the public radio show becomes a platform for conservative Tony Blankley, center-left Democrat Robert Scheer and liberal blogger Arianna Huffington to mount a philosophical debate on the basis of law, politics and culture. Most recently, Blankley and Scheer debated why the US is so deeply polarized.

Past debates of this nature have included a look back at 2009, raising the question of America's ungovernability, thoughts on the economic crisis, the future of capitalism, what patriotism means, and The Meta Show, wherein the panelists decide what big ideas they should talk about on the show.
Each can be streamed or downloaded as an MP3.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (37 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tony Blankley and Arianna Huffington? Really? This is the best you can do KCRW? A slimey, uninteresting conservative and an utterly unlistenable tabloid-publishing demagogue?

Ugh....


PS If you'd like to hear this kind of deeper philisophical politics discussed by somebody who doesn't make your skin crawl, check out the excellent Dan Carlin Common Sense podcast.

PPS Not a knock against you OP l33tpolicywonk, it's a solid post.
posted by lattiboy at 9:17 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


KCRW is great. But, the rich are two sides of the same coin. They "divide and conquer" to keep the poor from murdering the rich.
posted by plexi at 9:18 PM on April 7, 2010


lattiboy: Funny you mention Carlin. My idea for the OP was sparked by his complaint two episodes ago that there wasn't a forum in popular media like, say, William F. Buckley's Firing Line where genuine ideological disagreement was hashed out.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:22 PM on April 7, 2010


I used to listen to this show regularly, but stopped because the hosts are so fossilized in their views that you can easily make a drinking game out of every sound on the air. It's pretty repetitive, stale stuff. Arianna will talk about teachable moments and how there is no left right or center positions anymore. Blankley will dot every republican line w/o question. Scheer will start screaming with a shrill voice because hes outraged about everything. And Matt Miller will be the milquetoast clintonian centrist liberal saying how there must be a third way between entitlement programs and capitalism. Ugh.

I like Slate's Political Gabfest much better.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:24 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the Gabfest recommendation, omonra. I'll check it out. I too was a regular listener to LR&C and stopped listening for the same reason.
posted by brundlefly at 9:31 PM on April 7, 2010


This is the best you can do KCRW?

As someone who has lived in LA for 10 years and regularly listens to KPCC, a vastly superior news offering when it comes to news, I can say that yes, this is the best that KCRW can do.
posted by dhammond at 9:51 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I listen to podcasts a lot and this is one of my staples, but it's getting listened to less and less. I think omonra put his finger pretty much on it. One "debate" starts to sound pretty much like another, and their personalities are all starting to wear on me.
posted by lostburner at 10:29 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


KCRW should stick to music.
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:30 PM on April 7, 2010


KCRW does better: The Business is enjoyable.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:39 PM on April 7, 2010


l33tpolicywonk: “My idea for the OP was sparked by his complaint two episodes ago that there wasn't a forum in popular media like, say, William F. Buckley's Firing Line where genuine ideological disagreement was hashed out.”

When I was studying political science, I actually sat down and tried to watch that show for a while once. Good god, what an inane and painful program it was. I really can't listen to that man for more than five minutes, and his guests - both from the left and from the right - were almost always of the popular but useless variety. And the deferential attitude towards Thatcher was the last straw.

From what I can tell, there've always been crap programs like this. American discourse is full of them. I have a feeling that in 1792 there were probably already political society meetings and suchlike where such bland demagogues held sway and talked the ears of the people off.

This was an interesting post though, markkraft. Thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 10:41 PM on April 7, 2010


The fact that an awesome music station even carries this kind of thing is notable, even if the guests are so ossified.
posted by flaterik at 10:46 PM on April 7, 2010


If you'd like to hear this kind of deeper philisophical politics discussed by somebody who doesn't make your skin crawl, check out the excellent Dan Carlin Common Sense podcast.

Another Dan Carlin fan? I thought I was alone, never seen him mentioned on Metafilter before. I feel kinda dirty listening to him. Dirty because he's so damn good, fair, balanced, intelligent and reasonable that I worry, at the back of my mind, that he's hiding some deep, dark secret, like, he hates Lithuanians or something.

They don't make commentators like him, anymore.
posted by Jimbob at 10:51 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just registering that I too like Dan Carlin, both his Common Sense show and his Hardcore History show. He's typically got fresh insights into political issues; his health care show was excellent.
posted by JDHarper at 11:11 PM on April 7, 2010


KCRW's political shows are about as bold and thought-provoking as their ongoing Morning Becomes Anemic.

I admit I haven't yet listened to the show: does someone take the time to say that in a historical context, we're not very divided and that nearly all American polities have felt themselves beset by partisanship unprecedented, when really it's just an artifact of people not being able to effectively remember, say, that as recently as the '60s and '70s, there were legitimately left-wing attacks on the military-industrial complex, that in the '90s, partisanship showed itself through an impeachment trial… The difference today is amplitude, not frequency or wavelength; the media establishment acts as a loudspeaker and the increased pressure we feel from "partisanship" is more a symptom of the increased pervasiveness of that media—the amps are up.
posted by klangklangston at 11:11 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jimbo: his Hardcore History podcast is also amazing.
The three-part Eastern Front series was jaw droppingly good!
posted by lattiboy at 11:13 PM on April 7, 2010


I know, almost every day I'm disappointed to find that there isn't a new Hardcore History podcast waiting for me in iTunes...
posted by Jimbob at 11:17 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, harsh crowd. Yes, the Left, Right, and Center hosts are pretty stale, but if nothing else it's some intelligent, informed people talking about the week's news.

And I like Dan Carlin a lot, too.
posted by zardoz at 11:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I listened to the podcast quite regularly for a number years and have fond memories of those times, but I stopped about a year ago.

The show just isn't compelling now that the Republicans have completely and utterly self-destructed. Tony has been reduced to a brainless talking-point zombie, leaving Bob and Matt to merely bicker between themselves. It's just not the show it once was.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 12:19 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Except on holidays?

I haven't listened in a couple months, but the show has always been pretty much the same over the years, with the only real change being the voice of the right (currently Blankley, in the past others such as David Frum). Scheer strikes me as a little more left (and a lot more shrill) than "center-left". Miller seems to like being a pragmatic centrist, though he strikes me as more of a dogmatic centrist. And to me the most interesting thing to have witnessed over the years on the show is the transformation of Huffington from a compassionate conservative spouse of a closeted do-nothing failed Republican senate candidate, to a gossipy center left blogger with the radio voice of Zsa Zsa Gabor.

KCRW's original programming is a mixed bag for me. I like Le Show, and loved Joe Frank, but admit they are not broad appeal. The music programming these days has a lot of show biz insider-ness. It's not bad, but it's really not as eclectic as it used to be. To their credit, they do seem to be one of the earlier adopters and promoters of This American Life.

There is one show that I truly miss. Back in the early-mid 90s, they had a weekly show hosted by right wing whacko David Horowitz. Horowitz's schtick, then and now, is to remind everyone that he used to be a left wing bomb thrower, and has come to his senses by becoming a right wing bomb thrower. And on this show, he would usually have a guest, often a non-political entertainment business person - a writer, producer or such, who was plugging his/her latest work. Here's where it got interesting. It seems the guest typically didn't know much about Horowitz and his politics, and would be blindsided when he would interpret the interviewee's work as some kind of whacked right wing world view validation. You could hear the guest squirm, trying to be gracious to his host and clarify the meaning of the work. But as the half hour rolled along, Horowitz would increasingly monopolize the conversation and draw more outrageous lessons as time went on. The show was really a train wreck, but also very entertaining in a Borat kind of way.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:20 AM on April 8, 2010


This is all because you KCRW haters don't have Ruth Seymour to kick around anymore.

(I can't believe she's really gone. For all the years I lived in LA, it seemed like it was always pledge drive week on KCRW and Ruth was always on the air, berating listeners to send money and talking endlessly about why she changed her name from Hirschman to Seymour.)
posted by grounded at 1:09 AM on April 8, 2010


Tony Blankley occasionally appears on Diane Rehm's Friday morning roundtable discussion. He makes the usually outstanding discussions utterly unlistenable, with his completely predictable "stick to the talking points" blather.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:30 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Robert Scheer is not a centre-left democrat. He is pretty far from the centre (at least in American politics). The centrist on the panel is the moderator, Matt Miller. Huffington also isn't a typical liberal, and consistently tries to rail against seeing things on a left-right divide. (Not that she's especially successful at this).
posted by modernnomad at 6:41 AM on April 8, 2010


Back in the early-mid 90s, they had a weekly show hosted by right wing whacko David Horowitz.

Holy cow... was that the guy who had the "Fight Back!" consumer TV show back in the 1980s?
posted by crapmatic at 7:18 AM on April 8, 2010


Tony Blankley and Arianna Huffington? Really? This is the best you can do KCRW? A slimey, uninteresting conservative and an utterly unlistenable tabloid-publishing demagogue?

Seriously. We have arguably the best universities in history. You want political philosophy? We have no shortage of philosophers. Why listen to tools instead?
posted by grobstein at 7:47 AM on April 8, 2010


I listened to that podcast while running a half marathon race monday and I gotta say I was disappointed by how the show went after robert had set it up by declaring the parents were out and the kids were gonna run the show. it was far too mellow and cordial for me.

but it did distract me from that m$%^&ing headwind.
posted by krautland at 8:17 AM on April 8, 2010


Holy cow... was that the guy who had the "Fight Back!" consumer TV show back in the 1980s?

No. I don't know what ever happened to that David Horowitz. The one who hosted the radio show is a different guy, runs http://www.frontpagemag.com/, and is an all around nut job.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:27 AM on April 8, 2010


Not sure how this turned into a Dan Carlin love in, but hell yeah! Hardcore History is fantastic. The four part Ghosts of the Ostfront was incredibly insightful and entertaining.
posted by HumanComplex at 8:28 AM on April 8, 2010


+1 Dan Carlin.
posted by crunchland at 8:35 AM on April 8, 2010


As someone who has lived in LA for 10 years and regularly listens to KPCC, a vastly superior news offering when it comes to news, I can say that yes, this is the best that KCRW can do.

Oddly enough one of the things I miss about LA is the sound of Larry Mantle's voice.
posted by wcfields at 9:34 AM on April 8, 2010


Just wanted to join the Dan Carlin love-fest. I think Carlin is the best political commentator out there, nobody else is in the same league.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2010


2N2222: "loved Joe Frank"

No shit. I had my first "driveway moment" (a term I first heard only this morning on my current NPR station, immediately bringing Joe Frank to mind) listening to Joe Frank. I'd gotten to where ever it was I was going to, and sat in the car for another 30 minutes listening to the amazing radio.

One KCRWian I haven't seen mentioned: Warren Olney. "Which Way LA" was a terrific show, unlike Left, Right and Center, on which I've never once heard a single interesting idea, and every show is essentially the same: three ideological robots on autopilot.
posted by lex mercatoria at 12:14 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough one of the things I miss about LA is the sound of Larry Mantle's voice.
me, too. but I can't get far away enough from patt morrison.
posted by krautland at 12:53 PM on April 8, 2010


Really? I like Pat Morrison—she's also a pretty good crime author.
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on April 8, 2010


Yeah, I listen to Warren Olney's To The Point regularly, and although the guests can be hit or miss sometimes, he is a pretty good interviewer, IMO. Much better than anything on Left, Right, and Shriller.
posted by armage at 6:49 PM on April 8, 2010


I used to enjoy LRC, if only for the amazing ability of Arianna Huffington to declare herself something new every decade or so, and our meek acquiescence to it. But I stopped listening back in October (I think), the week that the Tiger Woods story broke, and Barack Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize. When it was his turn to opine on Woods' dalliances, Tony Blankley referred to the oversexed golfer as "Obama." (He corrected himself after a smirky beat.) To my ear, it was a vile (and unimaginative) way to knock the Prez down a few notches after his big win. And even if it was Freudian, shame on Matt Miller, supposedly the voice of reason (and host) of the show, for not calling him on it. LRC was originally advertised as an alternative to the shouting on shows like Crossfire, but with Scheer's shrill knee-jerk leftiness and Blankley's RNC talking-point-parroting, it's become exactly the same.

Side note: KPCC is a great station, and I had no idea that (until recently) they have more listeners than KCRW. Give "Offramp" a listen on weekends. And I've met Pat the Hat a bunch of times. She deserves her own FPP (for better or worse).

Oh, and Joe Frank. Back in the 90s he blew my mind so many times. I remember once pulling the car over in K-town just to listen to his show without any distractions. Maybe now that Ruth's gone, he can come back...
posted by turducken at 10:25 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


yeah, I liked olney and mantle a lot but pat somehow never felt right to me. the worst of all though was kitty felde. she was perfectly agreeable in every sense but I just could not stand listening to her voice. that and listening to joe schmoe calling into talk of the nation with some opinion about nothing always got me.

for the record: the npr iphone app rocks.
posted by krautland at 4:39 AM on April 9, 2010


krautland: "npr iphone app rocks."

No kidding. That thing is amazing.
posted by brundlefly at 12:37 AM on April 10, 2010


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