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.

 

Iraq's Police Force: Murderers' Row

| Sun Sep. 17, 2006 7:22 PM PDT

The NYT's Edward Wong and Paul von Zielbauer report that the efforts of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior to purge the police and internal security forces of Shiite militiamen and criminals is not going well.

The ministry recently discovered that more than 1,200 policemen and other employees had been convicted years ago of murder, rape and other violent crimes, said a Western diplomat who has close contact with the ministry. Some were even on death row. Few have been fired…
There is little accountability. The government has stopped allowing joint Iraqi and American teams to inspect Iraqi prisons. No senior ministry officials have been prosecuted on charges of detainee mistreatment, in spite of fresh discoveries of abuse and torture, including a little-reported case involving children packed into a prison of more than 1,400 inmates. Internal investigations into secret prisons, corruption and other potential criminal activity are often blocked.

The report does contain some good news—"Death squads in police uniforms no longer kidnap and kill with absolute impunity in parts of Sunni-dominated western Baghdad, many Iraqis say. The American military estimates there was a 52 percent drop in the daily rate of execution-style killings from July to August."*—but on the whole the details are most disturbing.

*Update (or rather backdate, from Wong's story the previous day):


There has been a surge in the number of Iraqis killed execution-style in the last few days, with scores of bodies found across the city despite an aggressive security plan begun last month. The Baghdad morgue has reported that at least 1,535 Iraqi civilians died violently in the capital in August, a 17 percent drop from July but still much higher than virtually all other months.
American military officials have disputed the morgue's numbers, saying military data shows that what they refer to as the murder rate dropped by 52 percent from July to August. But American officials have acknowledged that that count does not include deaths from bombings and rocket or mortar attacks.

And don't even get me started about the trenches around Baghdad plan.

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California's Solar Babies

| Fri Sep. 15, 2006 8:59 AM PDT

There are many things not to like about California, and top of my list, right after the state's self-satisfaction, is its political dysfunction—recalls, referendums, propositions, and the perennial standoff between the governor and the state legislature.

However, as this great NYT story (with a lot of multimedia bells and whistles) demonstrates, California's politicians have put their differences aside to create a bold new carrot-and-stick approach to cut carbon dioxide emissions and energy usage.

That's the kind of leadership we wish could come from Congress or the Bush Administration. But if Arnold, democratic assemblywomen, greens, and even anti-regulatory entrepreneur T. J. Rodgers can get together to save the planet (and turn a profit in the process), maybe there's hope.

Points of interest:

California's per-person electricity usage has remained flat since the 1970s, while the national average has risen by 50%.

A quarter of new hybrids are registered in California, where car dealers report that SUVs are no longer selling well.

Car makers and even dealerships have sued the state, saying that its new law requiring them to reduce the average CO2 emissions in cars sold in California by 30 percent by 2009 (light trucks and SUVs have until 2016) amounts to a backdoor way to legislate fuel efficiency—which is, alas, a federal domain.

The Supreme Court will soon hear a case brought by Massachusetts and a dozen other states arguing that the EPA should declare CO2 a pollutant and regulate it, which, but of course, the Bush Administration claims it has no authority to do. (But you're The Decider!)

And Rudy Giuliani's firm is in the business of defending utilities from all this evil regulation:

Scott Segal, a lawyer for Bracewell & Giuliani who represents electric utilities, summarized California's policy as: "All electrons are not created equal. We're going to discriminate against some of them, and create artificial barriers in the marketplace for electricity." California consumers could end up paying more for their energy and struggling to find enough, Mr. Segal said.
Discriminating against electrons! Start the meme watch.

G.O.P. Seen to Be in Peril of Losing House (NYT Goes Out On a Limb)

| Mon Sep. 4, 2006 12:10 PM PDT

"G.O.P. Seen to Be in Peril of Losing House " That's the headline for this NYT story. And bold, isn't it? Not "is" in peril—as the panoply of polls, analysts, and GOP pols say in the body of the piece itself—but "seen to be."

Is or Seen To Be, this is not news. Everybody knows the GOP is in danger of loosing the House. Indeed many political insiders see it as a given, provided the DNC doesn't blow it (and, granted…). The real issue is the Senate. Here, the NYT says:

"A turnover in the Senate, which would require the Democrats to pick up six seats, is considered a longer shot. Democrats' greatest hopes rest with Pennsylvania, Montana, Rhode Island, Ohio and Missouri; the sixth seat is more of a leap of faith. It would require Democrats to carry a state like Tennessee, Arizona or Virginia, where Democratic hopes are buoyed as Senator George Allen, a Republican, deals with the fallout from his using a demeaning term for a young man of Indian descent at a rally last month."

"Using a demeaning term for a young man of Indian descent at a rally last month"—it is so weird hearing that incident described in such white-paper language, isn't it? More on how key the Virginia Senate race to the overall outcome of the midterm eletctions here.

Another sign the GOP is in trouble: its own candidates calling for Donald Rumsfeld's resisgnation, as Thomas H. Kean Jr., a New Jersey state senator who's running for the U.S. Senate, did "just shy of midnight" on Friday. "What compelled him to advocate publicly for a "fresh face" leading the troops, Mr. Kean said (via the NYT), were Mr. Rumsfeld's recent remarks chiding critics of the war for "moral and intellectual confusion," and comparing them to those who advocated appeasing Nazi Germany in the 1930's. "By engaging in that kind of rhetoric," Kean said, "this secretary has stepped over the line." (More on Rumsfeld's Nazi rhetoric here.)

Also the NYT offers some really cool interactive maps and databases to track all the races. You can navigate to them from any of the above NYT links.

Donald Rumsfeld's Dance With the Nazis (Set Frank Rich Free!)

| Sun Sep. 3, 2006 3:31 PM PDT

As he does week in and week out, Frank Rich has knocked one out of the park with his column: "Donald Rumsfeld's Dance With the Nazis."

Last week the man who gave us "stuff happens" and "you go to war with the Army you have" outdid himself. In an instantly infamous address to the American Legion, he likened critics of the Iraq debacle to those who "ridiculed or ignored" the rise of the Nazis in the 1930's and tried to appease Hitler. Such Americans, he said, suffer from a "moral or intellectual confusion" and fail to recognize the "new type of fascism" represented by terrorists. Presumably he was not only describing the usual array of "Defeatocrats" but also the first President Bush, who had already been implicitly tarred as an appeaser by Tony Snow last month for failing to knock out Saddam in 1991.

What made Mr. Rumsfeld's speech noteworthy wasn't its toxic effort to impugn the patriotism of administration critics by conflating dissent on Iraq with cut-and-run surrender and incipient treason. That's old news. No, what made Mr. Rumsfeld's performance special was the preview it offered of the ambitious propaganda campaign planned between now and Election Day. An on-the-ropes White House plans to stop at nothing when rewriting its record of defeat (not to be confused with defeatism) in a war that has now lasted longer than America's fight against the actual Nazis in World War II.

Here's how brazen Mr. Rumsfeld was when he invoked Hitler's appeasers to score his cheap points: Since Hitler was photographed warmly shaking Neville Chamberlain's hand at Munich in 1938, the only image that comes close to matching it in epochal obsequiousness is the December 1983 photograph of Mr. Rumsfeld himself in Baghdad, warmly shaking the hand of Saddam Hussein in full fascist regalia. Is the defense secretary so self-deluded that he thought no one would remember a picture so easily Googled on the Web? Or worse, is he just too shameless to care?

Mr. Rumsfeld didn't go to Baghdad in 1983 to tour the museum. Then a private citizen, he had been dispatched as an emissary by the Reagan administration, which sought to align itself with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam was already a notorious thug. Well before Mr. Rumsfeld's trip, Amnesty International had reported the dictator's use of torture — "beating, burning, sexual abuse and the infliction of electric shocks" — on hundreds of political prisoners. Dozens more had been summarily executed or had "disappeared." American intelligence agencies knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons to gas both Iraqi Kurds and Iranians.

According to declassified State Department memos detailing Mr. Rumsfeld's Baghdad meetings, the American visitor never raised the subject of these crimes with his host. (Mr. Rumsfeld has since claimed otherwise, but that is not supported by the documents, which can be viewed online at George Washington University's National Security Archive.) Within a year of his visit, the American mission was accomplished: Iraq and the United States resumed diplomatic relations for the first time since Iraq had severed them in 1967 in protest of American backing of Israel in the Six-Day War.

In his speech last week, Mr. Rumsfeld paraphrased Winston Churchill: Appeasing tyrants is "a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last." He can quote Churchill all he wants, but if he wants to self-righteously use that argument to smear others, the record shows that Mr. Rumsfeld cozied up to the crocodile of Baghdad as smarmily as anyone. To borrow the defense secretary's own formulation, he suffers from moral confusion about Saddam.

Mr. Rumsfeld also suffers from intellectual confusion about terrorism. He might not have appeased Al Qaeda but he certainly enabled it. Like Chamberlain, he didn't recognize the severity of the looming threat until it was too late. Had he done so, maybe his boss would not have blown off intelligence about imminent Qaeda attacks while on siesta in Crawford.

The whole column is brilliant, and should be read by as many people as possible. So screw Times Select. Read it after the jump.

Senator "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens Outted For Placing Secret Hold on Bill to Create Government Spending Database Available to P

| Sun Sep. 3, 2006 1:38 PM PDT

In a coup for the blogging community, which mounted a "call your Senator" campaign to figure out who was the Pro-Pork Senator blocking the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), the Senator in question has been revealed. It is, as FFATA co-sponsor Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) predicted, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

FFATA, co-sponsored Sen. Barak Obama (D-Ill.), "would require the Office of Management and Budget to create a user-friendly Web site listing details on every grant and contract handed out by the federal government. Information would have to be posted within 30 days of Congress' authorization of the spending." (Via this editorial, which is popping up in a variety of papers)

That would be a problem for Sen. Stevens, probably the reigning king of pork. Now that he's been outted, pressure must be brought to get him to release the bill. FFATA has broad bipartisan support, 29 Senators joined Coburn and Obama in co-sponsoring it, it sailed through the appropriate committees, and it deserves a full "up or down" Senate vote, as the administration is fond of saying.

Ironically, the Senate voted 84-13 in April to ban secret holds. The bill—another bi-partisan effort, this one sponsored by by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)—would permit Senators to object to legislation, but not secretly. (The Wyden-Grassley amendment, No. 2944, was rolled into the Senate's ethics reform package, which is, but of course, held up in conference committee.) All of the 13 no votes were cast by Republicans—Senators Allard, Bunning, Burr, Coburn, DeMint, Ensign, Frist, Gregg, Kyl, McConnell, Sessions, Sununu, Thune; Democratic Senators Byrd and Rockefeller did not vote, along with Republican Lindsey Graham. (Byrd, another notorious porker, explained his absence as being due to a death in the family.)

So Stevens votes in favor of a bill banning secret holds, but continues to use them. Coburn votes against the ban on secret holds, but rails against Stevens for using them. And this may be a simple case of pay back. It was Coburn, after all, that got Stevens' bridge to nowhere killed.

Ain't Washington fun?


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