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.

 

Sic Semper Tyrannis: What Does it Mean to be a Virginian? (Allen, Webb, and Robert E. Lee)

| Tue Oct. 24, 2006 2:44 AM EDT

The occasion for this post is that George Allen still slightly leads Jim Webb in the latest poll for the Virginia Senate race. I find this profoundly depressing, and not so much as the editor of a progressive magazine, but as a Virginian.

To be clear, this is my exact pedigree: I was born in Baltimore and raised in Virginia, Northern Virginia—and nowhere else is that modifier so loaded—in Arlington, to be precise. Arlington is, of course, home to the most famous National Cemetery, which was so enshrined when President Lincoln decided to bury Civil War dead in Mrs. Lee's rose garden so that the Lees could never again reside in their home, which was just across the river from Washington. It was a very personal decision: Lincoln had asked Lee to lead the Union army, but the General felt that if the country was going to divide itself, he would stand with his state.

Those who are determined to preserve Lee's godliness above all, will, if they are equality minded, point out that he was no particular defender of slavery; it was a matter of honor, the highest sacrifice on the altar of states' rights. Maybe so, maybe not—anyway, 140-odd years have past, who cares?

Except, except, except…George Allen, whose pandering, or worse, to the meanest level of racism, masquerading as Southern Pride, has occurred in the year 2006. I don't hold him to account for using the word nigger in the 60s and 70s. I have no doubt that he did so, if only because I challenge any American—black, white, or other—to say they've never used the word, in joke, in anger, out of truly felt prejudice. But here's the rub with Allen. He hides behind regional pride (read: small-mindedness), when in fact he's not of the region. Allen grew up in southern California, where, to be sure, racial relations have hardly been stellar, but where a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s would have surely been, had he so been inclined, exposed to a more enlightened view of others. And nothing is more disgusting than someone from a different part of the country taking on the trappings of the worst of the region to which they move—and if that adaptation is designed to pander to the basest level of the American electorate, it is worse still.

A 19-year old Allen using the N-word amongst teammates is one thing. Tossing off racial prejudices at a 2006 campaign rally, having a noose in office, and the many other indicators that Allen is at best the lowest form of political life, is another. He is either an unreconstructed bigot who is too stupid to think he'll be caught at his bigotry, or, worse, a base politician who designs to influence voters by the fallen angels of our nature.

It is worth recalling that, after the Civil War, Lee argued that a tone of reconciliation and patience would further the interests of white Southerners. Here's the Wikipedia version: "He repeatedly expelled white students from Washington College for violent attacks on local black men, and publicly urged obedience to the authorities and respect for law and order. In 1869-70 he was a leader in successful efforts to establish state-funded schools for blacks. He privately chastised fellow ex-Confederates such as Jefferson Davis and Jubal Early for their frequent, angry responses to perceived Northern insults, writing in private to them as he had written to a magazine editor in 1865, that 'It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, give full scope to reason and to every kindly feeling. By doing this and encouraging our citizens to engage in the duties of life with all their heart and mind, with a determination not to be turned aside by thoughts of the past and fears of the future, our country will not only be restored in material prosperity, but will be advanced in science, in virtue and in religion.'"

Amen. Bigots like Allen hurt the long-term interests of the state I love. Virginia is for lovers, not haters. Sic Semper Tyrannis means "Thus Always to Tyrants." It is the state motto. Bigotry is the worst form of tyranny.

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Kerry says he deserves 2nd chance in '08

| Sun Oct. 15, 2006 3:25 PM EDT

The AP reports: "The Massachusetts Democrat, who lost to President Bush in 2004, said it is a basic principle that 'Americans give people a second chance. And if you learn something and prove you've learned something, maybe even more so. Now, I don't know what I'm going to do yet. We'll make that decision down the road.'"

Transcript here.

In Missouri, No Talent for Winning

| Thu Oct. 12, 2006 6:44 PM EDT

Via Taegan:

In Missouri's U.S. Senate race, a new SurveyUSA poll shows Claire McCaskill (D) leading Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), 51% to 42%.

In the last month, McCaskill has gained eight points on Talent.

Key finding: "Most of the movement in the race comes from Independent voters, who supported Talent by 12 points in September but now support McCaskill by 13 points, a 25-point swing."

As Goes One Republican Editor in PA, So Goes the Country?

| Mon Oct. 9, 2006 6:29 PM EDT

In an editorial titled "Time To Switch Teams," a Times Herald-Record business editor announces he why won't vote (as he always has) Republican in the fall:

The reason Republicans are bent out of shape is that this Foley scandal is the proverbial last straw. We've had it. The out-of-control spending. The earmarks. The graft with the lobbyists. The arrogance. The abrogation of principles that Goldwater, Reagan and others worked decades to spread.
The Republicans will lose the House in November. Absent big changes, I have to say they deserve to. I will help them lose it, because in my own congressional district, Pennsylvania's 10th, I'm voting for Democrat Chris Carney. As the campaign literature for Carney slyly notes, he's been married for 18 years to his college sweetheart.
Why might he note that? Because his opponent, and the incumbent, Republican Don Sherwood, engaged in a five-year affair in Washington with a mistress some three decades his junior.
My father had choices. The Republicans offer me candidates who can't even keep their pants on. I've had it.

(Great. But why "slyly"?)

Patty Wetterling: A Voice of Conscience on Foley Scandal and Child Abuse (And Why You Should Call Power Line's Scott Johnson)

| Sun Oct. 8, 2006 1:18 AM EDT

Seventeen years ago, when I had just graduated from Carleton College and was living in Minneapolis, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted by gunpoint, in front of his younger brother and a friend, while biking in his St. Joseph, MN, neighborhood. He was never heard from again.

Seventeen years ago, his mother, Patty Wetterling, mounted an enormous effort—one that did not have the advantage of email, blogs, the Internet, or Amber Alerts—to alert the public about her son's case; her son's face is still burned into my brain. And when the months and years that followed, as it became clear that, excepting a miracle, Jacob would not be found alive, she became a force for other missing and abused children. I left Minnesota a few years later, but I was always impressed at her ability to be an advocate on this issue without resorting to needlessly scaring other parents about their chances of loosing a child to stranger abduction (which, despite what shows like CSI and Without A Trace and lesser imitators might lead one to believe, is both low, and no greater now than a few generations ago). She pioneered the first sexual offenders registration law — the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act—and while subsequent refinements on this act (like Meghan's Law) may have tipped beyond what civil libertarians can embrace, still it was an important step in the prevention of habitual sex offenders.

Jacob was a really good looking kid, one not, it seems, picked at random, and I think one of the hardest things for the public, and certainly for his family, was the almost immediate, instinctive knowledge of why this particular kid was likely grabbed.

I had no idea Patty Wetterling was running for Congress until a few days ago, when her name came up as someone commenting on the Foley situation. Now her opponent, Michele Bachmann, has claimed that Wetterling is playing politics with the issue of child abuse. This is appalling, and most especially from an extremely religious, values voting woman, who has nobly raised 23 foster children herself.

I don't want to bash Bachmann here. What I know of her comes from clip searches, and these leave me somewhat confused (used to work for Carter, now darling of far-right mega-churches). But I will say, emphatically, that anyone who says Patty Wetterling is being opportunistic about the issue of child sexual abuse either didn't live in Minnesota in the early 1990s. Or is full of shit.

And for Scott Johnson of the conservative blog Power Line to say, and this is a direct quote of his headline—"Patty Wetterling Molests the Truth"—is seriously in the worst taste I have ever seen in any blog of any political stripe. Johson's bio on Power Line notes:

Scott W. Johnson is a Minneapolis attorney. For more than ten years Johnson has written with his former law partner John H. Hinderaker on public policy issues including income inequality, income taxes, campaign finance reform, affirmative action, welfare reform, and race in the criminal justice system. Both Johnson and Hinderaker are fellows of the Claremont Institute. Their articles have appeared in National Review, The American Enterprise, American Experiment Quarterly, and newspapers from Florida to California. The Claremont Institute has archived many of their articles....He can be reached by phone at (612) 414-6464.

Polls have Wetterling and Bachmann neck and neck.

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