Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery


Clara is the Editor-in-Chief of Mother Jones. During her tenure, Mother Jones has won National Magazine Awards for general excellence, relaunched its website, and established bureaus in Washington and New York. Along the way Clara won a PEN award for editing, gave birth, and forgot what it's like to sleep. It probably doesn't help she's on Twitter so much.

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Clara Jeffery is Editor-in-Chief 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.


No He Didn't! (Bush Record on Civil Rights)

| Tue Jul. 25, 2006 5:15 PM EDT

As Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe points out, President Bush's attempt to kiss and make up with the NAACP last week came as the "Bush administration is quietly remaking the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, filling the permanent ranks with lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in civil rights." According to the Globe:

The documents show that only 42 percent of the lawyers hired since 2003, after the administration changed the rules to give political appointees more influence in the hiring process, have civil rights experience. In the two years before the change, 77 percent of those who were hired had civil rights backgrounds.

Enterprise reporting! We love it! Chase the link, the details are outrageous.

We've already blogged on how Bush's NAACP cameo was too little, too late. On a related point, last week, during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Edward Kennedy (exhorting the administration to support reauthorization of the Voting Rights act) got into the whole hypocrisy gap with Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, noting that:

"The Bush administration Civil Rights Division has litigated only three lawsuits on behalf of African-American voters; two of which were initiated by Attorney General Reno." And furthermore, the DOJ is currently "in the process of litigating the department's first-ever alleging discrimination against white voters."
(Full transcript of Kennedy/Gonzalez face-off is after the jump)

Close readers of the Washington Post might feel a little déjà vu over this whole kerfluffle. Back in December, the Post's Dan Eggen reported that:

"The Justice Department has barred staff attorneys from offering recommendations in major Voting Rights Act cases, marking a significant change in the procedures meant to insulate such decisions from politics, congressional aides and current and former employees familiar with the issue said."
A few weeks earlier, Eggen pointed out that:
Nearly 20 percent of the division's lawyers left in fiscal 2005, in part because of a buyout program that some lawyers believe was aimed at pushing out those who did not share the administration's conservative views on civil rights laws. Longtime litigators complain that political appointees have cut them out of hiring and major policy decisions, including approvals of controversial GOP redistricting plans in Mississippi and Texas.

At the same time, prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division have declined 40 percent over the past five years, according to department statistics. Dozens of lawyers find themselves handling appeals of deportation orders and other immigration matters instead of civil rights cases.

(Graphic to that end is here. The numbers don't lie.

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Overheating Reactors (Yet Another Global Warming Feedback Loop)

| Tue Jul. 25, 2006 4:08 PM EDT

Global warming is turning out to be a big problem for nuclear reactors this week. First, we had the jellyfish swarming incident at a Japanese reactor.

And now overly warm waters in Spain's Ebro river have forced the company that controls a reactor near Santa Maria de Garoña to temporarily shut it down. The reason? The Ebro river is running so hot that can no longer cool the reactor.

This of course, means that Spain's other power generators need to work harder to fill in for the off-line reactor. Which means more emissions, at least in the short term.

Murder, He Retracted (Tony Snow Eats Stem Cell Crow)

| Tue Jul. 25, 2006 4:00 AM EDT

In the "Whoops! What about the midterm!" category, talking/bobble head Tony Snow was made to eat crow yesterday when he said that in fact President Bush did not, as the New York Times put it, "equate embryonic stem cell research with murder…[and] apologized for his earlier assertion that Mr. Bush held that view."

"He would not use that term," Mr. Snow told reporters, adding, "The president has said that he believes that this is the destruction of human life."

Got that? "Destruction of human life"≠"murder." (And it is a good thing, too, considering that, while governor of Texas, Bush signed off on more than 150 executions.)

Moving right along, let's go back to Tony eating crow.

As of last Tuesday, Snow's parsing of the whole what?=murder issue was thus:

"The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He's one of them. The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong."

And well…who doesn't? However, things do get a bit complicated when it comes what the American public thinks of donating leftover IVF embryos for the express purpose of ending human suffering. Because, as GOP pollsters would be the first to tell you, a lot of anti-murder, pro-life, and/or just plain folks are all for research that holds out great hope of ending Alzheimer's, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc. Especially when the embryos in question were slated to be "expired" (as the euphemism goes) anyway.

To that end, On Meet the Press, White House chief of staff, Joshua B. (don't call me John. Or Michael!) Bolten, struggled (to borrow a phrase from the NYT) to explain Snow's characterization:

"It's a very complicated, very, very delicate issue," Mr. Bolten said.

By Monday, a chastened Snow apologized for having "created a little trouble for Josh Bolten…I will go ahead and apologize for having overstated, I guess, overstated the president's position."

Transcript of Snow's life-saving-research-using-discarded -embryos=murder statement follows after the jump.

Bush to Poor: #&$@ Off!

| Fri Jul. 21, 2006 6:09 PM EDT

As Michael A. Fletcher of the Washington Post reminds us, after Katrina (well, to be precise, weeks after Katrina), Bush talked a good game about ending poverty:

"All of us saw on television, there's . . . some deep, persistent poverty in this region," he said in a prime-time speech from New Orleans's Jackson Square, 17 days after the Aug. 29 hurricane. "That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action."

As it happened, poverty's turn in the presidential limelight was brief. Bush has talked little about the issue since the immediate crisis passed, while pursuing policies that his liberal critics say will hurt the poor. He has publicly mentioned domestic poverty six times since giving back-to-back speeches on the issue in September. Domestic poverty did not come up in his State of the Union address in January, and his most recent budget included no new initiatives directed at the poor.

Six times! Fletcher further notes:

Bush has used the bully pulpit of the presidency not to marshal a new national consensus for fighting poverty but to make the case for cutting taxes along with domestic programs. He has never publicly discussed the growing crisis of young, uneducated black men, whose plight has worsened in the past decade even as the economy has generally flourished, according to a recent spate of academic studies.

Meanwhile, his Office of Management and Budget has sketched scenarios that envision deep funding cuts in an array of programs that aid the poor, including housing assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, community development grants and energy assistance. Budget officials minimize the significance of those projections, saying that they are rarely enacted and that expenditures for many poverty programs have increased sharply since Bush took office.

"Does he often talk about poverty? No," [Press Secretary and former Fox News anchor Tony] Snow said. "There hasn't been a direct discussion of poverty, but he is focused on eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of people making progress."

And you know what that means, don't you? Tax cuts. So once again, let me reiterate what I've written about and blogged about:

President Bush's tax cuts, which were recently extended until 2010, save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those earning $1 million are saved $42,700.

Meanwhile, under his watch, the number of Americans living below the poverty line at any one time has steadily risen. Now 13% of all Americans—37 million—are officially poor. And currently, 46 million Americans are uninsured—a 15% increase since Bush came into office in 2000.

Bush has dedicated $750 million to "healthy marriages" by diverting funds from social services, mostly child-care. Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50%. I could go on and on.

And don't think that it's just the poor getting screwed. As Kevin Drum discusses over on his site, the middle-class are getting the shaft as well.

Attack of the Killer Jellyfish! (Yet Another Side Effect of Global Warming)

| Fri Jul. 21, 2006 5:08 PM EDT

Later today, NPR has promised us an All Things Considered story on swarming jellyfish. Of late they've been a problem in Hawaii, North Carolina, and to Japan's nuclear reactors:


A mass of jellyfish proved an unlikely thorn in the side of the Japanese nuclear industry this week when they choked a pipe, which feeds cooling water into a coastal plant.

The output from the Hamaoka reactors was slashed by 30 to 40% after the cooling system automatically shut down, returning to full power about three hours later once workers had cleared the jellyfish blockage. This was the first time jellyfish have affected power generation in Japan.

(We know where this leads.)

We here at Mother Jones have been obsessed with the attack of the killer (or at least really, really painful) jellies for the last several years, ever since we heard that in 2000, swarms of 25-pound jellyfish native to Australia invaded the Gulf of Mexico. So numerous were these Australian invaders, that the shrimp fishermen of the Gulf lost a lot of their harvest because the jellies weighed down their nets.

Jelly invasions appear to be yet another result of human-induced global climate change. (More instances of jellie invasions can be found here and here.) Changes to seawater's salinity or Ph levels cause jellies and other species to migrate far beyond their historic range. And tropical storms and hurricanes, which are increasing in number and severity due to climate change, can also reroute the jellies, as just happened in the Carolinas. Also, one of the jellies' main predators, turtles and tortoises, are being decimated, thanks to overfishing, pollution, and the like. (For more on all these issues see Julia Whitty's piece on the fate of the ocean and the rest of our ocean package.)


According to this story, a new study out of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute reports that tiny jellyfish-like creatures called salps are helping get rid of some carbon dioxide by "transporting tons of it daily from the ocean surface to the deep sea and preventing it from re-entering the atmosphere and contributing again to the greenhouse effect and possibly to global warming."

Which seems like great news, until you realize that way salps do this is by digesting huge amounts of phytoplankton, and as Whitty reports, these plankton, which are the foundation of all life in the sea, are also at risk from warming waters and changing salinity and Ph.

In other words, a potential check on global warming is being threatened by…global warming.

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