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.

 

Morning Political Trivia, July 20th Edition

| Fri Jul. 20, 2007 10:29 AM EDT

This morning's question comes courtesy of my friend Dave Olsen:

Which president has a statue erected to him in the classical municipal style (full figure, bronze) declaring him to be our "least memorable president"?

And where is that statue?

Remember, no Googling, just guessing.

Most Recent Update:

"Retraction, Retraction!" that was the phone message I got from last night, but not before Jonathan had updated the post with the "answer" below, which we now know to be entirely subjective.

Here's what happened: Dave emails me the picture, no comment provided. I reply, "Can't make it out, what does it say below Chester Alan Arthur?" He emails back "least memorable president." I ask: "Where is it." And he replies: "Madison Square Park."

Did my friend Dave intentionally mislead me? No, this comes from a long line of trivia/philosophical questions passed around an extended group of friends, ranging from those that divide into bitterly divided camps—Which kind of bacon is better, floppy or crispy? (IMO: crispy).—to those to which there's an answer to which almost everyone can agree upon—such as: What's the worst album title of all time (Reo Speedwagon's "You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tune a Fish").

So "most obscure/least known" president was one such question some time back, the mostly agreed upon answer was Chester Alan Arthur (though all the presidents the commentors named were also bandied about). The next day, Dave spots the statue, takes a cell phone pic, and forgets about it until yesterday morning.

So a bad misunderstanding, and mea culpa for not triple checking with Dave. And special apologies to President Arthur, for obscure though he might be, it sounds like he acquitted himself pretty well in office (see below).

Jonathan's Original Update:
The answer is Chester A. Arthur, as commentor Mark guessed. Before moving to the White House as James Garfield's vice president, Arthur was a deputy to New York City political boss Roscoe Conkling. Arthur was an active participant in the world of graft, spoils, and the like, both while in New York and while the vice president, a fact that so angered the president that he at times refused Arthur entry to the White House. Garfield was shot by a supporter of Conkling's — leading to speculation that Arthur had engineered the situation to assume the presidency, a claim that is now generally thought to be false. Upon taking over for Garfield, Arthur, a native of the tiny town of Fairfield, VT, become a champion for civil service reform and largely acquitted himself in the eyes of history.

Said one historian, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired… more generally respected." But clearly someone dislikes him. Here's a picture of that statue we mentioned, which is located in New York City:

 chester_arthur250x530.jpg

Bonus trivia: Arthur served as president from 1881-1885, during which time he never had a VP.

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Why Wait for McCain's Big Speech?

| Fri Jul. 13, 2007 8:42 AM EDT

When Mike Cooper of the NYT's Caucus blog has it already?

In a speech he plans to deliver in Concord, N.H., Mr. McCain, who just returned from Iraq last week, plans to cast the 2008 presidential election as a referendum on the war in Iraq – a risky stance, given polls that show the war is increasingly unpopular.
"In November, 2008 the American people will decide with their votes how and where this war will be fought or if it will be fought at all," Mr. McCain plans to say, according to excerpts of the speech obtained from the campaign.
"I have told you how I intend to fight this war," he plans to say. "Other candidates will argue for a different course. Democratic candidates for President will argue for the course of cutting our losses and withdrawing from the threat in the vain hope it will not follow us here. I cannot join them in such wishful and very dangerous thinking. Peace at any price is an illusion and its costs are always more tragic than the sacrifices victory requires. I will stand where I stand today and trust you to give me a fair hearing. There is too much at stake in this election for any candidate to do less."

I'll say this about John McCain: He's a brilliant strategist! Must be that military background. Following a week where seemingly everyone in his campaign quit, was fired, or got caught soliciting gay sex, John McCain did not quaver. No, he looked (or is about to look) straight into the cameras and told the American people he's all for a massively unpopular war.

I tell you, he doesn't need aides, he's so savvy.

What Happens in Starbucks Stays in Starbucks

| Fri Jul. 13, 2007 8:29 AM EDT

Idle observation from the morning coffee run:

When did American adults start having more calories at breakfast than they do at dinner? Triple mocha caramel extra whip type drinks now seem to be the norm. And let's not forget the pastries!

I'm guessing the reason is that no one is around to see you cheat, and, since it's a cash-based economy, the only trace you've done so is a swelling waistline. Or a diabetic attack.

Why Did Bush Commute Scooter Libby's Sentence?

| Mon Jul. 2, 2007 6:06 PM EDT

Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet. And there's no good news for the GOP in sight. So why would the president decide to commute the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of obstructing justice, perjury, and making false statements in the Plamegate affair, now and not at the end of his term, when everybody expected it? After all a Cable News Network/Opinion Research survey conducted after Libby's March 6 conviction found that 69% of voters are against a pardon (though commuting is only perhaps a first step toward that); only 18% were in favor of a pardon.

The answer seems to be that the base demanded it. As Edwin Chen of Bloomberg News notes:

At the same time, a pro-Libby firestorm was being fanned by self-described conservative bloggers and talk-radio hosts, and many conservative leaders asked the president to step in. Until now Bush had stayed out of the case, with his aides saying he would let the appeal go forward. Libby's supporters argued that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was over-zealous in prosecuting Libby for lying to investigators when no one was charged over the actual leak of Plame's status as a Central Intelligence Agency official.

But the mistake Bush is making is confusing his real base, i.e. ordinary Americans (Republicans must compose a good chunk of that aforementioned 69%), with the Bill Kristol base—pundits, who, on either side of the aisle, tend to gin up issues that make for good debate on CrossFire.

Do most even super rabid conservatives out in the heartland care if Scooter Libby does 2 years in jail? I doubt it. But they might care that he doesn't. People don't like when powerful people help their friends escape justice. Just another millstone Bush is piling on the Republican candidates that would like to succeed him.

Update: Lifted from Rolling Stone's National Affairs blog, the actual text of the clemency:

Grant of Executive Clemency
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

WHEREAS Lewis Libby was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the case United States v. Libby, Crim. No. 05-394 (RBW), for which a sentence of 30 months' imprisonment, 2 years' supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and a special assessment of $400 was imposed on June 22, 2007;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, pursuant to my powers under Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, do hereby commute the prison terms imposed by the sentence upon the said Lewis Libby to expire immediately, leaving intact and in effect the two-year term of supervised release, with all its conditions, and all other components of the sentence.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Bush's full statement to the press after the jump.

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