Saturday, April 17, 2021



From October 27, 2017, that's "Accountability."  C.I. noted:

Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Accountability."  As Joe poses for Anita Hill, Anita declares, "Don't try to be cute, Biden.  Just show some accountability."    Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.

I liked that I got to do an Anita Hill comic.  If nothing else, my comics have included African-Americans.  Unless it's an all Black comic, that's not usually the case.  During Bully Boy Bush's reign, I was able to include Condi Rice, for example.  I worked Valerie Jarrett into most of my Barack comics.  We don't have to be heroes but we are present and should be seen as such.  Anita's a hero so I'm glad I worked her in.  But I've also done average people as well.  If nothing else, my comics have hopefully provided a little bit of diversity.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Friday, April 16, 2021.  There is no win in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan -- is there a reason Australia's msm can discuss that but the US msm can't?

Starting with this from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: 

April 14, 2021

New York, NY – In response to President Biden’s decision to fully withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) released the following statement:

“Over the last 20 years, the veteran community has grown by millions of American servicemembers, seen 20,722 injured on active duty, and 2,488 die serving their country in Afghanistan. These are the men and women IAVA fights for,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVA. “While there are no perfect solutions to the conflict, there are solutions to protect and support the millions of veterans left in its wake. The Warfighters Act, a bipartisan bill that establishes new VA benefits for veterans suffering health conditions caused by toxic exposures, is an example of one such solution that IAVA is fighting for everyday. 

“In addition to supporting our veterans who face health challenges due to toxic exposures, the post-9/11 generation of veterans faces the highest proportion of suicides and mental health challenges due to their service. This is why IAVA urges quick and effective implementation of the Hannon Act, which is the most comprehensive piece of legislation addressing veteran suicide and was passed into law last year.” 

“Finally, IAVA stands with the Afghan and Iraqi citizens who seek visas under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The US partnered with these brave men and women for years and we must ensure that the SIV program is used to its fullest potential and that we keep our promises to our allies overseas.

We hope the Biden Administration will prioritize efforts like the Warfighters Act and continue to find other ways to protect those who have served in Afghanistan as it considers its withdrawal plan. IAVA remains ready to support the administration and work alongside Congress and the VA in its efforts to do so.”

IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at


And let's note Melanie's "Till They All Get Home."

Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
I knew when we woke up
You would be leaving
You knew when you left me
It might be too long
That kiss on your shoulder
It's me looking over
Close to your heart
So you're never alone
Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home

-- "Till They All Get Home," written by Melanie (Safka) and first appears on Melanie's Crazy Love.

Patrick Martin (WSWS) notes:

Biden is the third American president to promise to end the war in Afghanistan. Even if the last 3,500 or so American soldiers leave the country, there will still remain thousands of CIA operatives, mercenaries and paratroopers propping up the puppet government of President Ashraf Ghani. And the Pentagon will continue to drop bombs and fire missiles more or less at will at whatever the US claims are “terrorist” targets. A renewed deployment of combat troops, as in Iraq, is entirely possible.

But Biden’s announcement provides an occasion for drawing a balance sheet of the longest war in the history of the United States, one which has produced incalculable suffering for the people of Afghanistan, squandered vast resources and brutalized American society.

By official figures, more than 100,000 Afghans have been killed in the war, no doubt a vast underestimation. The US waged this war through the methods of “counterinsurgency,” that is, through terror: bombing wedding parties and hospitals, drone assassination, abductions and torture. In one of the crowning atrocities of the war, in 2010, US aircraft carried out a half-hour long attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 people.

Biden’s brief remarks announcing the military withdrawal made no reference to the dire conditions in the country, for which American imperialism bears the principal responsibility.

The war, based on the deliberate misrepresentation of the US’s real aims, was sold to the American population as a response to the events of September 11, 2001, which have never been the subject of a serious investigation. It was, in reality, an illegal war of aggression, aimed at dominating and subjugating a historically oppressed population in pursuit of the predatory interests of US imperialism.

No one has been held accountable for the crimes perpetrated by the US military in Afghanistan, including the officials in the Bush administration, who launched it, and the Obama administration, who perpetuated it. George W. Bush is (lately) praised as a statesman because he is less openly crude and dictatorial than Donald Trump.

Barack Obama is treated by the media as a celebrity although he is the only American president to have waged war every day he was in office. Top aides, from Donald Rumsfeld to Hillary Clinton, enjoy millionaire retirements. Obama’s vice president now occupies the White House. This criminal war was supported by every section of the US political establishment, Republican and Democrat, including Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted for it.

Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) observes

In his April 14 speech, President Joe Biden made the point that should have long been evident: that Washington could not “continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result.”  As if to concede to the broader failure of the exercise, “the terror threat” had flourished, being now present “in many places”.  To keep “thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes little sense to me and to our leaders.”

For such a long stay, the objectives have been far from convincing.  The US presence in Afghanistan should focus “on the reason we went there in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again.  We did that.  We accomplished that objective.” A debacle is dressed up in the robes of necessity, the original purpose being to “root out al Qaeda” in 2001 and “to prevent future terrorist attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is marshalling European leaders to aid in the withdrawal effort.  “I am here,” he stated at NATO’s Belgium headquarters, “to work closely with our allies, with the secretary general, on the principle that we have established from the start, ‘In together, adapt together and out together’.”  There have been few times in history, perhaps with the exception of the Vietnam War, where defeat has been given such an unremarkable cover.

Little improvement on this impression was made at a meeting between Blinken and Abdullah Abdullah, chair of the Afghanistan High Commission for National Reconciliation.  According to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, the secretary “reiterated the US commitment to the peace process and that we will use our full diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian toolkit to support the future the Afghan people want, including the gains made by Afghan women.”

At the US embassy in Kabul, Blinken made an assortment of weak assurances about “America’s commitment to an enduring partnership with Afghanistan and the Afghan people.”  Despite the troops leaving the country, the “security partnership will endure.”  There was “strong bipartisan support for that commitment to the Afghan Security Forces.”  There would be oodles of diplomacy, economic investment and development assistance.  And, as for the Taliban, joyfully lurking in the wings to assume power, Blinken had this assessment: “It’s very important that the Taliban recognize that it will never be legitimate and it will never be durable if it rejects a political process and tries to take the country by force.”

A better, and more accurate sense of attitudes to Kabul could be gathered in the remarks of a senior Biden official, as reported in the Washington Post.  “The reality is that the United States has big strategic interests in the world…. Afghanistan just does not rise to the level of those other threats at this point.”  Afghanistan, in time, will be discarded like strategic refuse.

Critics invariably assume various aspects of the imperial pose: to leave the country is to surrender a policing function, to encourage enemies, to reverse any gains (shallow as they are), to lay the grounds for the need for potential re-engagement.  An erroneous link is thereby encouraged linking US national security interests with the desperate ruination that has afflicted a State that has not seen peace in decades. For its part, the US contribution to that ruination has been, along with its coalition allies, far from negligible.

Bra-less celebrity Barack Obama issued a Tweet  accompanied by a statement:

After nearly two decades in Afghanistan, it’s time to recognize that we have accomplished all that we can militarily, and bring our remaining troops home. I support @POTUS’s bold leadership in building our nation at home and restoring our standing around the world.

Aging starlet Barack needs to grasp that he is not the president, he's the former president."  It really is a slap at Joe Biden.  So nice of Barack to take time away from pretending he knows how to create content to issue a lie.

Sarah Abdallah hits back at Barry with:

You bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan.

Just some of the reality Barack wishes he could avoid.  Coddled and cuddled by the US press, he really serves no national interest today and reality will break through.  Thing about being a young president?  You have many, many years left during which you will be held accountable for your crimes.

That's Australia's SKY NEWS discussing lessons from the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War.  Australia.  No connection being made in the US corporate media.  

The Iraq War has not improved the lives of the Iraqi people, it has not provided them with a responsive and representative government.  It has accomplished nothing.  Paisley Dodds (THE NEW HUMANITARIAN -- link is text and audio) notes that even the 'helpers' in Iraq don't have clean hands:

Unaddressed claims of misconduct by Oxfam staff weren’t confined to the Democratic Republic of Congo, five whistleblowers have told The New Humanitarian, revealing that complaints also piled up in Iraq before 12 workers finally filed a joint grievance last year.

The Iraq claims, coming hot on the heels of misconduct allegations in Congo earlier this month, point to persistent and enduring questions around the transparency of Oxfam’s dealings with its staff, the whistleblowers said.

The revelations also raise questions about the extent to which Oxfam made changes after its 2010 sexual exploitation scandal in Haiti: The Charity Commission for England and Wales called for a 100-point action plan a year after the Haiti scandal was uncovered in 2018, noting bullying and a “failure to consistently hold people to account for poor behaviour”. 

“What happens in Iraq, stays in Iraq,” one whistleblower who spoke with The New Humanitarian recalled a senior manager saying on learning that misconduct allegations had been raised. The former Oxfam worker alleged that the aid charity turned a blind eye to the manager’s behaviour for years because the person had been successful at raising donor funds. Two others said they also heard the manager use the same phrase.

[. . .]

The same whistleblower who worked in Iraq said senior managers repeatedly skirted procedures and tried to discourage people from taking complaints forward.

“He also bragged to me and others about having been investigated and coming out with little consequences,” another said. “There was this feeling of impunity.”

The toxic environment led many national staff to quit, a third former Oxfam staffer said, noting that many expressed fears of going to the field when tensions were flaring: “[The manager] would say, ‘If they can’t handle the job, they can leave.’ As a result, we never had motivated staff. National staff were not prioritised, and many of the community programmes lacked permanence and community ownership.”

Results of some local partnership programmes were also inflated, one former worker said, adding that the numbers were aimed at donors and self-promotion but not grounded in reality. 

Another whistleblower said the work was hard enough, trying to build trust within Iraqi communities and working to help people on the ground, adding: “We didn’t need to be bullied on top of this.”

Oil, as Alan Greenspan, former Fed Chair, noted (and then walked back under pressure), was the main reason the US invaded Iraq.  Oil is also one of the main reasons Iraq suffers.  Despite the efforts of the country to move to solar, they'll be carbon based for some time and that causes problems.

Bel Trew (INDEPENDENT) reports:

On the bad days, when the chimneys roar so intensely that the windows shake, families say thick soot appears in the air, killing plants and dusting everything a volcanic grey. For the inhabitants of Nahran Omar, a town in southern Iraq perched next to several oil wells, the flames rising from the towers, belching toxic chemicals into the air, are their daily reality.

This controversial practice of flaring – burning excess gas produced during the extraction of oil – is a major contributor to the climate crisis, experts say, but also a deadly threat to those who live nearby. The pollutants released have been linked to asthma, lung and skin diseases, and cancer.

Iraq is one of the biggest offenders in the world for flaring, and Basra – the province in which Nahran Omar is located – is the country’s worst-affected area. 

Funded by our Supporter Programme, The Independent spoke to inhabitants who warn the practice is killing children and the elderly, the weak and the fit. Though it’s hard to prove a direct link between specific illnesses and the flares, there has been a 50 per cent spike in cancer rates over the last decade, according to the town’s mayor, who says there are as many as 150 cases within the 1,600-strong community.

Muhammed Hassan, 43, whose 14-year-old has bone marrow cancer, tells The Independent: “When I went to the doctor with my son, whose spine was curved and skin was pale, he asked me where I live. I said, ‘Nahran Omar,’ and he said, ‘You don’t need to say any more. I understand this is because of the pollution.’”

Iraq has oil and the US government has ensured it has a non-responsive government that won't protect the people.  Oil is very, very cheap when no safeguards are ensured to protect the people.  Just part of the continued war on the Iraqi people.

Which brings us to the latest let's-celebrate-war video game.

What took place in Falluja?  War Crimes.  I don't know why anyone would ever think it was something to turn into a game.  Hopefully, those who do play the game are at least smart enough to grasp that.

We noted Sarah Leah Whitson's essay on Iraq yesterday but she's Tweeted about it so we'll use that as an excuse to note it again:

My reflection on 30 years of working on #Iraq starting with the First Gulf War, for those who remember it. In short, US has made things catastrophically worse.

If you haven't read it yet, you should make a point to, it's a major piece.

The following sites updated:

Read on ...

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Catty Confessions of Saint Hillary

catty confessions

From October 20, 2019, that's "The Catty Confessions of Saint Hillary."  C.I. noted:

Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST  NUTS "The Catty Confessions of Saint Hillary."  Remembering seeing red when Bill when Bill told her, "See Hillary?  On the TV?  That is a pretty woman.  That Tulsi Gabbard is a pretty woman," Hillary Clinton 'shares' with the press, "Oh, yeah those Ruskies have their eyes on Tulsi  They are grooming her.  Grooming!  Gonna make her a third candidate."  Even a cat passing by can see the reality of Hillary's actions and editorializes, "Meow."  Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.

One of the best things to think of right now?  Hillary Clinton will never be president.  She doesn't deserve to be.  She lost to Donald Trump making her an idiot supreme.  She then refused to own her mistakes in her losing campaign and instead blamed everyone else for her loss.  She was a sore loser who didn't know how to take responsibility or how to shut up. 

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Friday, April 9, 2021.  Today we're looking at climate change and Iraq.

At the end of last month, NASA's  Sofie Bates explained:

Earth is on a budget – an energy budget. Our planet is constantly trying to balance the flow of energy in and out of Earth’s system. But human activities are throwing that off balance, causing our planet to warm in response.

Radiative energy enters Earth’s system from the sunlight that shines on our planet. Some of this energy reflects off of Earth’s surface or atmosphere back into space. The rest gets absorbed, heats the planet, and is then emitted as thermal radiative energy the same way that black asphalt gets hot and radiates heat on a sunny day. Eventually this energy also heads toward space, but some of it gets re-absorbed by clouds and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The absorbed energy may also be emitted back toward Earth, where it will warm the surface even more.

Adding more components that absorb radiation – like greenhouse gases – or removing those that reflect it – like aerosols – throws off Earth’s energy balance and causes more energy to be absorbed by Earth instead of escaping into space. This is called a radiative forcing, and it’s the dominant way human activities are affecting the climate.

Get NASA's Climate Change News: Subscribe to the Newsletter »

Climate modelling predicts that human activities are causing the release of greenhouse gases and aerosols that are affecting Earth’s energy budget. Now, a NASA study has confirmed these predictions with direct observations for the first time: radiative forcings are increasing due to human actions, affecting the planet’s energy balance and ultimately causing climate change. The paper was published online on March 25, 2021, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“This is the first calculation of the total radiative forcing of Earth using global observations, accounting for the effects of aerosols and greenhouse gases,” said Ryan Kramer, first author on the paper and a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “It’s direct evidence that human activities are causing changes to Earth’s energy budget.”

NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) project studies the flow of radiation at the top of Earth’s atmosphere. A series of CERES instruments have continuously flown on satellites since 1997. Each measures how much energy enters Earth’s system and how much leaves, giving the overall net change in radiation. That data, in combination with other data sources such as ocean heat measurements, shows that there’s an energy imbalance on our planet.

Saving our planet should be a global issue since it involves everyone.  The Middle East has suffered through many wars -- a great deal, US-led wars -- the effects of climate change could be even more deadly -- despite how deadly the Iraq War has already been.  

Amanj S. Yarwaes offered this Twitter thread yesterday:

The below average rainfall we have gotten in Kurdistan this year is really worrying. There’re major concerns about it being a drought year, & in a place where we get numerous fires in the dry summer I am concerned we’ll have larger & more intense fires than usual.

We need to plan for water conservation & potential large fires in mountainous & rural areas. We’ll also have wide-scale water shortages. UN Climate Change Conference
is set to reinvigorate climate action globally. Kurdistan & Iraq are very much absent in this conversation

Climate Action should be the major focus of
authorities, civil society, media and international organisations this summer. Expect: - water shortages - forrest fires - low crop yields & damage - protests in rural areas #ClimateAction
#ClimateChange #Kurdistan #Iraq

With actions taken by the governments of Turkey and Iran, Iraq is already at risk when it comes to water.  If climate change is not addressed, this and many other issues will become even worse and that will likely lead to further armed conflicts.

The International Energy Agency's Ali Al-Saffar has a Twitter thread on climate change in the region:

When it comes to climate change in the MENA region, a lot of focus is put on what future changes could mean to the region's trade, especially of oil and gas. But countries in MENA have skin in the game: they will be some of the most impacted by temperature rises. (thread)

For instance, Qatar's average temperatures have *already* risen more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times. Average temperatures in Iraq are increasing at a rate that is 2 to 7 times faster than global average.

These temperature rises will exacerbate water stress. The region cannot afford this, it is already the most vulnerable in the world, home to 12 of the 17 most "water stressed countries". Perpetual droughts since 1998 have been the worst in 900 years.

This will exact an economic toll that the region cannot bear. According to the World Bank, the cost of climate-related water stress alone could reach between 6% and 14% of GDP by 2050.

The extra heat will mean an increase in demand for cooling, which already accounts for up to 70% of peak residential electricity demand on the hottest days. By 2050, when temperatures could have increased by 4 degrees Celsius, electricity demand for cooling is expected to triple.

Rising temperatures and growing populations will also mean that there is an increased call on desalination. Today, the ME accounts for roughly 90% of the thermal energy used for desalination worldwide. Demand for desal is expected to grow 14-fold to 2040.

The choices made for cooling and desalination will ultimately decide the region's emissions trajectory going forward. There have been positive steps in some countries. All of the desal plants currently being built in Saudi are RO, which could theoretically run on renewable elec.

Worryingly though, there is a huge dissonance between the severity of the threat, and people's perception of it. According to a YouGov poll, less than half of those polled in the region thought they or their country could be doing more:

Not addressing climate change will be deadly.  Sadly, we have a president who didn't express any real interest in addressing this issue -- not as a US senator, not as a Vice President and not as a candidate seeking the presidency.  Nothing since his inauguration in January has indicated Joe Biden has had a great awakening.  Leadership is needed and it is lacking.  (Leadership, please note, is not non-binding treaties and agreements that are meaningless but make various politicians look like they did something when they did nothing.)

Last month, officials from Iraq and the United States discussed climate change.  Adam Gallagher of the United States Institute of Peace wrote about the meet-up:

Eighteen years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is still in the midst of a rocky transition, beset by governance, economic, social and security challenges. With the Biden administration setting its sights on sweeping portfolio of domestic and foreign policy issues, some fear the United States will lose focus on Iraq. But in remarks on Tuesday, the top American diplomat in Baghdad vowed continued American engagement. Ahead of a pivotal year for Iraq, “The United States is resolute in its commitment to supporting [a] stable, sovereign, democratic and prosperous Iraq,” said U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller.

The Iraqi government has signaled that it is keen to step up cooperation. The White House announced on Tuesday that Iraqi officials requested a resumption of a strategic dialogue on bilateral relations and the U.S. troop presence. The talks are set to resume next month.

Tueller's remarks came during a USIP-hosted virtual event examining U.S.-Iraq relations. He was joined by Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, Fareed Yasseen, and Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman.

“The event demonstrated that both countries recognize that cooperation is vital to building a stable, democratic Iraq,” said Sarhang Hamasaeed, who moderated the conversation and directs USIP’s Middle East programs. “This cooperation serves shared interests on the basis of partnership, respecting Iraq’s sovereignty and strengthening its institutions.”

[. . .]

Iraqis hit the streets in unprecedented numbers in October 2019, calling for political and economic reforms, greater job opportunities for youth and better government services. Weary with the old political guard and disenchanted with the country’s political system and its sectarian partisanship, the protests demonstrated a deep societal desire for change, primarily represented by youth.

Iraq’s cratering economy figures heavily in this unrest. The COVID-induced drop in global demand for oil has hit Iraq’s oil-dependent economy especially hard. In response, Iraq’s Central Bank devalued its currency, the dinar, by 23 percent, as the country’s budget deficit grows.

“It’s really the economy,” that is driving young people’s dissatisfaction, said Rahman. “It’s the lack of jobs, it’s the lack of prospects … [a] key area that needs to be addressed is how to really improve the economy.”

Tueller indicated that the United States wants to support economic reforms efforts. He pointed to a white paper on economic reform approved by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s cabinet last October and said it provided a roadmap for reversing Iraqi’s financial and economic woes. “We hope these reforms go from paper to reality,” he said.

Another avenue for the United States and Iraq to step up cooperation is on climate change, which has devastated Iraq. This past July, Baghdad saw record-high temperatures, registering at a blistering 125 degrees. “Climate change is a real problem in Iraq, which is already affected by water scarcity and limited access to potable water,” said Tueller.

Iraq will find a welcoming partner in this endeavor, as the Biden administration is prioritizing climate change as a top domestic and foreign policy issue. “I look forward to the United States [helping] us address global challenges … first amongst those is climate change,” said Yasseen.

The US government is one of the great producers of things harmful to our planets.  Long ago, the organization Another Mother for Peace popularized the slogan "War is not healthy for children and other living things."  That remains true.  And, yes, war creates havoc and destroys families.  The Iraq War has produced a country of widows and orphans.  But it's also true that the weapons used -- White Phosphorus, Depleted Uranium, etc -- are deadly to children and other living things.  Like the bombs that the US and the UK regularly drop on people in Iraq, these weapons impact the environment.  They -- along with burnpits -- impact global warming. 

Today, in the US, Brown University's Climate Solutions Lab and the Watson Institute are conducting a webinar on climate change, water and Iraq.

Let's move over to THE CONVO COUCH.

That was a strong discussion and we've already posted the video once but I actually got to stream it -- after it was posted -- and I wanted to add one thing.

AOC's nonsense of covering for Joe Biden on his caging children?

It sounds a lot like, "No rapes is better than one rape but one rape is less than three rapes.  I know who I'm going to choose.  That's the guy with less rapes.  It's got to be less rapes every time."  Remember that?  After Tara Reade came forward with her very credible allegations of being assaulted by Joe, she was attacked repeatedly.  And comedian Ely Kreimendahl made the video below that perfectly captured the women justifying voring for a rapist.

The first character says, "No rapes is better than one rape but one rape is less than three rapes.  I know who I'm going to choose.  That's the guy with less rapes.  It's got to be less rapes every time."  And that's a lot like AOC's nonsense trying to justify Joe's caging children.

Also on media, this week's ON THE ISSUES WITH MICHELE GOODWIN featured journalist Brooke Baldwin -- along with being audio, this MS. MAGAZINE podcast also features a transcript.

Michele Goodwin:

Welcome to “On the Issues with Michele Goodwin” at Ms. Magazine, a show where we report, rebel and tell it like it is. On this show, we center your concerns about rebuilding our nation and advancing the promise of equality. Join me as we tackle the most compelling issues of our times. On our show, history matters. We examine the past as we think about and pivot to the future. On today’s show, we focus on who’s telling our stories. We are joined by CNN’s Brooke Baldwin to speak about women in the media and so much more. Brooke Baldwin is a renowned CNN anchor and author of a new book, Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power. It’s released April 6. 

Huddle explores the phenomenon of huddling, when women lean on each other in politics, in Hollywood, activism, the arts, sports, and everyday friendships to provide each other support, empowerment, inspiration, and strength to solve problems or enact meaningful change. As you all know, Brooke Baldwin is a veteran journalist and Peabody Award finalist, who has served as an anchor at CNN in its newsroom for more than a decade. She played a major role in anchoring coverage of the Obama and Trump Administrations and has also reported on stories from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She has covered gun violence, including the tragedies at Sandy Hook and too many other places to mention, and we talk about that in this interview. 

As the creator and host of CNN’s digital series American Woman, she has dedicated the latest chapter of her career to shining a light on trailblazing women in politics and culture, and the book Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power, her first book, is a must-read. So, I want to welcome Brooke Baldwin to our show and thank her for joining us. 

Brooke, in February, you announced that you’re leaving CNN after 13 years. You began, my goodness, you began working at CNN as a freelancer in 2008, during the Great Recession. You told a powerful story about how you scribbled your name on a post-it note and put it outside a temporary office in hopes of one day becoming a full-time CNN correspondent, and you fulfilled and exceeded that dream, hosting your own two-hour show in the afternoon by the age of 31. You’ve had quite the career at CNN. What motivated your departure after a really successful 13 years?

Brooke Baldwin:

I wish I had held onto that post-it, by the way. I will never forget doing that. Gosh, why am I leaving my family and my home? It’s a great question. I actually think the biggest part of the answer is because of this book and because of these trailblazing women, who I have had the privilege of interviewing, kind of like when you finish this journey of holding space with women like Gloria Steinem, and Stacey Abrams, and Megan Rapinoe, and Indigenous women fighting, you know, for the planet, or the women cofounders of Black Lives Matter…

You just sort of have like…I’m from the South, so I would say you sort of have a come to Jesus with yourself, and my come to Jesus involved realizing, in a painful way, but also in a blessing sort of way, that I could not hold space with these women and be the bravest version of myself, and while my entire time at CNN has been extraordinary on a number of levels, and I do have a dream job, as evidenced by the post-it, I know that I need to move on for me, and whatever it is that I end up doing, there is no way I will be able to do it had I not had this precious time here, you know, sharing these experiences with people all around the world, and so, that’s the real answer, and I don’t totally know what I’m doing next. That’s also a very real answer, but I know that I have to be brave.

0:04:38 Michele Goodwin:

So, I want to unpack that in two ways.So, the first is some level-setting because being a woman in journalism, in TV journalism, is still doing some pioneering, even in 2021. And so, could you help our listeners understand that a little bit just in terms of women and leadership? Women being in front of and behind the scenes in journalism. What more is there left to do? I think probably a lot.

0:05:10 Brooke Baldwin:
Well, let me lift the curtain a little bit, and again, this is only my experience here at CNN, but you know, in my…so, I’ve been anchoring for 10-plus years, the majority of that time two hours in the afternoon, and in that time, you know, the most influential anchors on our network, the highest-paid, are men. My bosses, my executives are men. The person who oversees CNN Dayside is a man, and my executive producer for 10 years is a man. 

So, I have been surrounded by a lot of men, and I do think it is changing. I know it is changing just by looking at some of the faces that are popping up more and more on our channel and on other channels, but that is just…and even going back to my early 20s, you know, I mean, the majority of my time spent as a cub reporter on into my 30s was spent with majority male photographers running around, shooting stories at whatever city I was living in at the time, and yes, there would be certainly women in the newsroom, but oftentimes, especially early on, they were women with very sharp elbows, and so, I was surrounded by a lot of dudes.

0:06:26 Michele Goodwin:

Yeah, and so, then, what does that mean in terms of the stories that get to be lifted out about women? I mean they’re framed, you know, when you have the camera people, the producers, all the people around you who are men, what does that mean in terms of women’s stories coming out?

0:06:40 Brooke Baldwin:

Yeah. Well, that’s a great question. I mean I think that…I know I, personally, fight for women’s stories. I did a whole series…you see the poster over my left shoulder, American Woman, but you know the reason I have that in my office isn’t because, woo, I did a series on women. It’s actually because I got told no a lot, and I still managed to do it, and we have a woman who is in charge of CNN Digital, We have now a woman who is in charge of most of domestic newsgathering. So, like, little by little, by having women in places of power, and I would argue behind the scenes, not just in front, but behind the scenes, you know, that is how you then have stories that reflect who they are, and not only white women, you know? We talk about intersectional, like being intersectional. There is no way we will have progress if a bunch of white women are winning, right? There’s no way.

0:07:45 Michele Goodwin:

No. You’re right.

0:07:46 Brooke Baldwin:

So, it’s brown women, Black women, Asian women. It’s across the board. It’s we have to see them reflected in our stories, and it’s getting better, but we still have a bit of a ways to go, I think.

0:08:04 Michele Goodwin:

You know I’ll say that on the day that you announced that you would be leaving, you know, I think a kind of welp was heard around the country, around the world, because you really do embody and put forward that quality of sharp news delivery at the same time matched by a graciousness and earnestness, all of that, and so, men and women across the country and the world took notice on that day. I certainly know that I did, and I followed it on Twitter with so many people saying, oh no, Brooke can’t go, she can’t leave, but you know, as a kind of level 2 of kind of level-setting, I wonder, and none of this is personalized, but I think it matters to hear about, well, what is that like, then, when you’re the only woman or one of only a few women doing what you love? How easy is it? And as you said, you had to fight for, you know, the poster, you know, what’s embodied in the poster in back of you?

Brooke Baldwin:

So, the question is just what was it like fighting for it, or…?

Michele Goodwin:

Yeah, fighting for it or just as a general matter, being the only woman in the room, oftentimes.

Brooke Baldwin:

Yeah. I want more women in the room, and I think of someone, you know, the person that’s coming to my mind, and someone like this gives me hope, Abby Phillip at CNN, younger, Black woman, her background is in, you know, journalism, newspaper, came to CNN. I think she was initially a commentator, and she’s just extraordinary, and she was one of the people that day. I mean I couldn’t believe…I don’t know. I realized I touched a few people in my 10 years, but my goodness. I was overwhelmed. I’m not comfortable being the center of attention as a journalist. 

I was overwhelmed by the response when I mentioned I was leaving, and Abby was one of those, one of many women at CNN who instantly reached out to me, and I think she welped a little bit, too, and I’ll never forget her text. She said, Brooke, you’re the heart of CNN, and I said, Abby, I am passing that along to you, my dear, and I said it is a privilege, carry it dearly, and I said to her make sure that as you, your star continues to rise and your platform and your power grows, never forget to turn around and make sure you keep the door open for the next Abby Phillip, and oh, I get goosebumps even thinking about that, but you know, I am hopeful in our channel and in journalism in general because more and more women like Abby are given a voice.

0:10:52 Michele Goodwin:

Well, in announcing your exit, you said the next chapter of your life will be focused on what you love the most about your work, and that’s amplifying the lives of extraordinary Americans and putting your passion for storytelling to good use, which you’ve done, and so, I’m wondering, will part of that work include continuing to amplify the voices of women in media, both in the stories told and in the people telling the stories?

0:11:21 Brooke Baldwin:

Yes, 100 percent. So, while being at CNN has been a gift, you know, I only get an hour or two hours a day, and I know that sounds like a lot of time, but there’s a lot of news that you have to place in that amount of time, and when it comes down to it, those segments that I enterprise or the women that I want to talk to outside of what’s happening in the world that we need to cover is very small, and I would like to amplify…my favorite interviews are what I call extraordinary ordinary women, right? It’s amazing to talk to celebrities, but I really admire ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances, and so, I would love to somehow dive into the deep end of storytelling. 

I am working with a production company to create what I will hope will be part of my next dream, which is an unscripted doc series that, you know, people can binge and be inspired by on fill in the blank, I’m not there yet, streaming network, where I can tell these stories of these huddles. You know what was so hard as a journalist, as a TV journalist specifically, was crisscrossing the country and having these amazing conversations, and it’s all on the beautiful pages of my book, but I would love it to come alive on camera, and so that is my dream, essentially, to create Huddle the book into “Huddle” the docuseries.


Michele Goodwin:

Yes. Well, let’s turn to your new book.

Brooke Baldwin:

Thank you.

Michele Goodwin:

And your new book is dropping. It’s called Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power, and it’s a blend of journalism and personal narratives examining how women have come together in a wide variety of times and places to provide each other with support, empowerment, inspiration, and strength to solve problems or enact meaningful change, and don’t we need that in the world?

So, I’m glad that we’ve gotten to this point to really talk about what the huddle means and what inspired it. So, what got you thinking about this? And I get goosebumps thinking about your approach, which is what’s happening to everyday women where they are making a change in meaningful ways? So, tell us about the book and what inspired it.

 Brooke Baldwin:

Yes. So, I, in my bones, believe that outside of, you know, representation and access and power, women are one another’s best resource, and so, I think, you know, the biggest compliment is to be called, for me, a woman’s woman, but as I have explained, you know, I am this woman’s woman. I am a…growing up in Atlanta, surrounded by girls, was very active, led a lot of huddles, and then, all of a sudden, I get into journalism, where I am surrounded by a lot of men, and I don’t have a huddle, and I am very lonely in my 20s and in my, really, the first half of my 30s, and then cut to I’m at CNN, I’m covering the presidential election that was 2015, 2016, I’m crisscrossing the country. 

My antennae are out, and they’re speaking to me, saying, wow, you know, women are showing up in this race and not just because they thought the glass ceiling would be shattered but for every candidate. You even think back to how many white women voted for Trump. My point is just women were showing up in ways I had never seen in my career, and so, there I was, January 2017, literally like balancing on the back of a flatbed truck, embedded in the Trump motorcade on his inauguration day, surrounded by MAGA hats, fresh off of the grab them by the pussy, you know, revelation.

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