Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery

Editor in Chief

Since taking the editorial helm at Mother Jones in late 2006, Clara and her co-editor, Monika Bauerlein, have won two National Magazine Awards for general excellence, relaunched MotherJones.com, founded a now 13-person Washington bureau, won a PEN award for editing, given birth, and forgotten what it's like to sleep. It probably doesn't help she's on Twitter so much.

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Clara Jeffery is co-editor of Mother Jones, where, together with Monika Bauerlein, she has spearheaded an era of editorial growth and innovation, marked by the addition of now 13-person Washington bureau, an overhaul of the organization's digital strategy and a corresponding 15-fold growth in traffic, and the winning of two National Magazine Awards for general excellence. When Jeffery and Bauerlein received a PEN award for editing in 2012, the judges noted: “With its sharp, compelling blend of investigative long-form journalism, eye-catching infographics and unapologetically confident voice, Mother Jones under Jeffery and Bauerlein has been transformed from what was a respected—if under-the-radar—indie publication to an internationally recognized, powerhouse general-interest periodical influencing everything from the gun-control debate to presidential campaigns. In addition to their success on the print side, Jeffery and Bauerlein’s relentless attention to detail, boundless curiosity and embrace of complex subjects are also reflected on the magazine’s increasingly influential website, whose writers and reporters often put more well-known and deep-pocketed news divisions to shame. Before joining the staff of Mother Jones, Jeffery was a senior editor of Harper's magazine. Fourteen pieces that she personally edited have been finalists for National Magazine Awards, in the categories of essay, profile, reporting, public interest, feature, and fiction. Works she edited have also been selected to appear in various editions of Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing, and Best American Science Writing. Clara cut her journalistic teeth at Washington City Paper, where she wrote and edited political, investigative, and narrative features, and was a columnist. Jeffery is a graduate of Carleton College and Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. She resides in the Mission District of San Francisco with her partner Chris Baum and their son, Milo. Their burrito joint of choice is El Metate.

 

More On How The Weak Dollar Jacks Up the Price of Oil

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 9:40 AM PDT

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Yesterday I blogged on how the weak dollar is responsible for roughly $30 of the $90 a barrel of crude has (so far) topped out at. And I'm being doubted by some in our comment section and on Digg. Today, more confirmation from the folks at Bloomberg:

Crude oil breached $90 a barrel in New York for the first time as the dollar traded near a record low against the euro, enhancing the appeal of commodities as an investment....
"The weak dollar is pushing the price higher,'' said Simon Wardell, energy research manager with Global Insight Inc. in London. ``It's hard to see how this is going to turn around quickly.''...
The U.S. currency fell to $1.4302, from $1.4279 yesterday, and traded at a record low of $1.4319 earlier in the day.
A lower dollar makes oil cheaper in countries that use other currencies. In U.S. dollars, West Texas Intermediate, the New York-traded crude-oil benchmark, is up 46 percent so far this year. Oil is up 35 percent in euros, 40 percent in British pounds and 42 percent in yen.

I rest my case.

And for you yahoos who can't understand how this can be possible when they've always heard that the price of gasoline is so much higher in Europe...We're talking about CRUDE OIL, people. A raw commodity. Refined gasoline is indeed more expensive in Europe, because, largely, European governments choose to tax it to pay for roads and schools and health care and to discourage people from buying ridiculously big cars. Now you can argue about whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, but at least argue over the same issue.

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Senator Chris Dodd Takes Stand on FISA, Takes On TeleComs

| Thu Oct. 18, 2007 11:50 PM PDT

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From Senator Chris Dodd's site (via Wired News, Via Digg, courtesy of Paul Ward, aka dssstrkl—how hip am I?):

The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless wiretapping. Shredding of Habeas Corpus. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Secret Prisons.
No more.
I have decided to place a "hold" on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by illegally providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.
I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.
It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution. But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today.
Indicate your support for my hold as well as your thoughts on this issue in the comment section below.

Now unfortunately, it seems as though the "comments" section is really just a way for Dodd's campaign to capture email addresses. And this hold is surely a good way to get publicity when you're stuck in the second or third tier. But let's put cynicism aside for the moment. Well done, Senator!

Update: Correntewire suggests a plan of action for Senator Rockefeller, who authored the bill to give them amnesty...

Stephen Colbert For President (Really! Maybe? Sorta?)

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 8:15 PM PDT

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Good lord, this just may be the best thing that ever (maybe, sorta) happened to presidential politics. Last night Colbert announced he planned to run for president ( full details after the jump) and while nobody knows whether or not to take him seriously, he's got both parties worried. Particularly in South Carolina, where he aims to get his name on the ballot for both the Democratic and Republican primaries (he explained the strategy by saying "I can't lose twice") as the state's 'favorite son.'"

"I am from South Carolina and I am for South Carolina and I defy any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina, those beautiful, beautiful people," he said on "The Colbert Report." Colbert listed several different potential presidential tickets including Colbert-Huckabee, Colbert-Putin, or Colbert-Colbert.

And what do party elders have to say to that?

"If Stephen fulfills the requirements met in our delegates' election plan and he actively campaigns in South Carolina, we welcome him to compete," said Joe Werner, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, in an interview with CNET News.com. Werner added that representatives from "The Colbert Report" had placed calls to the state party's headquarters several weeks ago but that the party thought it was all a joke at the time.
Fulfilling the requirements, however, will be the tough part. Party regulations, Werner said, prevent Colbert from attempting to run on both the Democratic and Republican tickets. "It's in our rules somewhere that you can't be on two ballots," he explained. "He'd have to pick one party."
Representatives from the South Carolina Republican Party were not readily available for comment.

I don't even know which alternative would be funnier. Is it possible? Ballot Access News reports that the "filing deadline for those primaries in November 1. He must pay $25,000 to run in the Republican primary, and $2,500 to run in the Democratic primary." For the kind of publicity he's getting (btw: he has a new book), that's a pretty cheap date either way. Awesome. And If you think this doesn't have potential, just remember Jesse Ventura...

Why Are We Paying $89 A Barrel for Oil? (Answer: It's Not What You Think)

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 5:43 PM PDT

Oil hit a new high today, $89 a barrel. Some analysts predict it will soon hit $100. All this has caused much anxiety in the markets and handwringing in the press, which has generally attributed the increase to 1) unrest in the Middle East 2) increased demand, particularly from China and India and 3) speculators.

Okay, so all of these things are a factor to some extent. But what analysts and pundits generally fail to point out is another reason for high oil prices in the U.S. market is the devaluation of the dollar. If it weren't for that, oil would cost about $60 a barrel, as it does effectively does in Europe and Canada. On George W. Bush's inauguration day in January 2001, you could have purchased a barrel of oil for about $30. If you lived in Europe, a barrel would have set you back about 32 Euro. Because the value of the U.S. Dollar has fallen so substantially since then (it took 93 cents to buy a Euro in January 2001, it now takes $1.42), the increase in the cost of oil for a U.S. consumer has far outstripped the increase for a Euro (or Canadian, or Swiss, or just about any other) consumer.

Today, it takes US $89 to buy a barrel of oil, but only 62 Euro. Going from 32 Euro to 62 is a healthy rise, but is less than a 10% annual increase since Bush has been in office. By contrast, the move from $30 to $89 is nearly a tripling, or more than 17% per year. See this chart, where the price of oil in U.S. dollars is represented in white while the price in Euros is in red:

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Thus, of the $59 increase in the cost of a barrel of oil to a U.S. consumer, more than $30 is due to the depreciation of the U.S. Dollar and the fiscal and trade policies that have contributed to it. Not Middle East tensions, not China's increased appetite, etc. Same thing is true with skyrocketing price of gold; gold is going through the roof, sure, but what's really happening is that the dollar is going through the floor.

Many things have led to the devaluation of the U.S. Dollar. But a big portion of it can be attributed to a growing deficit. Now some, like MoJo contributor James K. Galbraith, would argue that deficits per se aren't bad. But the problem with this deficit is that it is largely attributable to 1) runaway spending on a disastrous war with no end in sight—in fact the chart shows how the divergence between currencies really starts to pick up following the invasion—and 2) massive tax cuts to the wealthy.

And that ain't good.

Update: News story from Bloomberg confirms my thesis. Also, a primer on the difference between the price of crude vs. gasoline and the role of taxation.

Da Vinci Decoded: Vatican Publish Knights of Templar Papers

| Fri Oct. 12, 2007 5:22 PM PDT

Get ready fans and foes of Dan Brown: The Vatican has "discovered" a cache of documents from the Knights Templar. For those of you who were spared the bad movie and worse prose (via AP):

The military order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1118 in Jerusalem to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land after the First Crusade. As their military might increased, the Templars also grew in wealth, acquiring property throughout Europe and running a primitive banking system. After they left the Middle East with the collapse of the Crusader kingdoms, their power and secretive ways aroused the fear of European rulers and sparked accusations of corruption and blasphemy.

The documents in question "reproduces the entire documentation of the papal hearings convened after King Philip IV of France arrested and tortured Templar leaders in 1307 on charges of heresy and immorality," which includes "a 14th-century parchment showing that Pope Clement V initially absolved the Templar leaders of heresy, though he did find them guilty of immorality and planned to reform the order, according to the Vatican archives Web site."

AP continues: "Historians believe Philip owed debts to the Templars and used the accusations to arrest their leaders and extract, under torture, confessions of heresy as a way to seize the order's riches."

Okay, this is all juicy stuff but what I love best is this:

Only 799 copies of the 300-page volume, "Processus Contra Templarios," - Latin for "Trial against the Templars" - are for sale, said Scrinium publishing house, which prints documents from the Vatican's secret archives. Each will cost $8,377, the publisher said Friday. An 800th copy will go to Pope Benedict XVI, said Barbara Frale, the researcher who found the long-overlooked parchment tucked away in the archives in 2001.

The Da Vinci Code book was published in 2003. The movie came out in 2006. So the entire stupid "is the Da Vinci Code right or wrong" industry could have been, I dunno, at least arguing over the facts for the past four years had only the Vatican released this earlier.

And, though this isn't strictly relevant, before he became Pope Benedict, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, known until 1908 as the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

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