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.

 

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Forget Politics 2.0, What About Pot 2.0?

| Wed Jun. 27, 2007 2:41 AM EDT

At the risk of dating myself, back in 1988, when I was close to graduating from college, the average THC level in pot was 3.5 percent. And today? Well today the government says it's 8.5 percent, which is up from 7 percent in 2003. And if I scored some weed in Oregon, it's possible that I'd be buying pot that has a THC level of 33.12 percent. Clearly, as Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), scolds us, "we are not talking about the drug of the 1960s and 1970s— this is Pot 2.0."

Ah, the 2.0 meme. We at MoJo are guilty of of exploiting it ourselves. In this case, what do these numbers mean? To this Reason says:

As The Drug War Chronicle's Scott Morgan notes, this increase is a far cry from drug czar John Walters' 2002 claim that "the potency of available marijuana has not merely 'doubled,' but increased as much as 30 times"—a ratio that could not possibly hold true unless you were comparing the most potent marijuana money can buy to nonpsychoactive ditchweed.

Clearly, Nick Gillespe and his crew know their chronic. Invite us to some Reason parties! Extra points if we can party with Jack Shafer.

So different pot has different potencies. This has always been true, or I have read. But consider that the figures that NIDA quotes rely on research from the University of Mississippi's Marijuana Potency Project. As Gary Greenberg reported in MoJo back in 2005, NIDA grows pot at Ole Miss—a partnership that forms the only legal producer of marijuana in the U.S. (and an irony I'll leave to fellow fans of Terry Southern to mull over). Ole Miss bases this particular batch of research on "59,369 samples of cannabis, 1,225 hashish samples, and 443 hash oil samples" that have been confiscated since 1975.

(Wait just a minute, what about the aforementioned pot from the 60s and [half of] the 70s?)

But while 62K-odd samples of weed sounds like a lot and all, what of NIDA/Ole Miss' ability to assess potency? As Greenberg points out (in a piece on the affect a sprayable form of medical marijuana known as Sativex might have on both sides of the drug debate that is much more serious than this blog post), the anti-drug policies of the government have filtered down to Ole Miss' research, to the point where:

NIDA's brown, stems-and-seeds-laden, low-potency pot—what's known on the streets as "schwag"—cannot stack up against the dense green, aromatic, and powerful sinsemilla favored by most medical marijuana patients (and grown by Sativex producer GW). Doblin asked the University of Mississippi to grow the good stuff for him, but they refused, so he approached a botanist at the University of Massachusetts, who applied to the DEA to grow research-grade pot in a 200-square-foot room in the basement of a building in Amherst. This started a whole new kind of collegiate rivalry, the Rebels squaring off against the Minutemen over the quality of their pot. In a letter to the DEA, Mississippi's botanist—after pointing out that no one had ever officially complained about the "adequacy" of their product—trumpeted recently acquired "custom-manufactured deseeding equipment" and a new stock of seeds that had allowed Ole Miss to amass more than 50,000 joints' worth of a "special batch" of high-potency, smooth-smoking weed.Three and a half years after UMass kicked off the battle—and only after a judge ordered the feds to make their decision—the Rebels prevailed, its monopoly preserved when the DEA denied UMass the license necessary to grow pot legally.

Ya gots to love the fight for government grants. In any case, the feds have taken their potency data and used it to craft a film called "The Purple Brain" (purple being the 2.0 version of Maui wowie), which NORML is calling Reefer Madness 2.0.

As in so many things these days, one wishes for something approximating independent analysis. I don't trust the government's research on drugs; its hyperbole and scare tactics on pot in particular seemed design to defend status quos (border and prison policies) that worsen, not solve, larger societal problems at hand. Nor do I trust NORML et al, even, and perhaps especially, when, having gotten nowhere on legalization per se, they reframe the issue as a balm for the sick and dying. Allowing medical marijuana is a no-brainer in my book, but I just think it's a little unseemly when perfectly healthy pot-positive types hide behind AIDS and cancer patients.

The problem is that as long as the government forbids most independent marijuana studies—by limiting the ability to get the stuff legally—we're likely to remain buffeted by agendas, not guided by science.

But meanwhile, don't those confiscated samples of pot providing some kind of trend line seem fishy on its face? Any statisticians out there?

When the Netroots Attack! MoJo's Politics 2.0 Package

| Tue Jun. 26, 2007 2:25 PM EDT

Are we entering a new era of digital democracy—or just being conned by a bunch of smooth-talking geeks? That's the central question behind Mother Jones' Politics 2.0 package, which went up on the home page today. (Monika's and my ed note on the topic can be found here.)

In it we explore whether A-list netroots bloggers are acting more like political bosses of old. And chart the GOP/Pay-Pal connection: a bunch of Silicon Valley conservatives now trying to build the right-wing MoveOn from the top down. In light of the Supreme Court's campaign finance decision yesterday, our piece on how despite the advent of viral video like "macaca" and "Hillary 1984," the 30-second TV campaign spot ain't going anywhere yet seems more pertinent than ever.

And we published great excerpts (and full interviews) with 27 netizens, digerati, and politicos including Lawrence Lessig, Esther Dyson, Jimmy Wales, Howard Dean, and the "Hillary 1984" guy.

Oh, and I interviewed Digg founder Kevin Rose to get the scoop on whether his site can be gamed, and what's up with those Ron Paul supporters, and the perils of making video while drinking heavily.

Check it out.

Cheney Stovepipes Climate Policy; Christie Todd Witman Declares Herself A Candidate, Er, Innocent

| Mon Jun. 25, 2007 10:29 PM EDT

Over at Rolling Stone, MoJo alum Tim Dickinson has a great piece on how Dick "I'm
My Very Own Branch of Government
" Cheney skillfully got a clueless Bush to gut all meaningful climate policy.

"By having control of the energy plan, the vice president also had the reins on the climate policy," says Jeremy Symons, who sat in on Cheney's energy task force. "The ideology is simple: You don't put limits on greenhouse-gas pollution, because that might put limits on coal and oil - and that would hurt industry's performance. Everything else flowed from that."

Though many details in the piece have been reported before—Mother Jones, for example, published a huge investigation into ExxonMobil's role in the Bush administration's climate change policy, and nobody's done better work on this than the NYT's Andy Revkin—Tim got a big document dump from unnamed former administration sources, including, no doubt, the former head of the EPA, Christie Todd Witman, who spends much of the article claiming on the record that she was shocked, shocked that Bush & Cheney put the task of carrying industry's water over protecting the planet.

"The consequences of climate change are very real and very negative, but Cheney is not convinced of that," says Christie Todd Witman. "He believes - not quite as much as Senator James Inhofe, that this is a 'hoax' - but that the Earth has been changing since it was formed and to say that climate change is caused by humans is incorrect."

You know, if she was so appalled, she coulda just gone public and resigned. (She did resign in 2003 to "spend more time with her family.") She also coulda spoke out on this subject forcefully before, say, the most recent meeting on the Koyoto protocols. As it is she's just another Tenet-come-lately to the abandon Bush brigade.

Witman keeps denying she's interested in running for president (more like VP). But she recently wrote a book called It's My Party Too. As a pro-choice(ish) moderate Republican, a former governor, and a chick armed with a formidable family political pedigree—CTW could make an interesting addition to a ticket. Except for the whole "I allowed global warming to go unchecked on my watch" problem. That and telling everyone it was safe to go back to Ground Zero two weeks after 9/11.

Let's see if she can blame Cheney for that!

Update: CTW spent the entire day today on Capitol Hill, defending her 9/11 record. It did not fly with Rep. Jerry Nadler (more after the jump). And the timing of the RS article is fortuitous? Perhaps.

Update #2: Tim has given generous shout-outs to Revkin, Ron Suskin, as well as Chris Mooney and Ross Gelpspan-who along with Bill McKibben-wrote MoJo's ExxonMobil investigation.

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