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.

 

Judge threatens illegal immigrant seeking a restraining order against her husband with deportation

| Thu Jul. 20, 2006 5:26 PM EDT

Sam Quinones of the LAT reports that:

A substitute judge hearing the case of an illegal immigrant seeking a restraining order against her husband threatened to turn her over to immigration officials if she didn't leave his courtroom.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Bruce R. Fink told Aurora Gonzalez during last week's hearing that he was going to count to 20 and that if she was still in his courtroom when he finished, he would have her arrested and deported to Mexico.

In an interview Wednesday, Fink said that the woman had admitted in court that she was in the country illegally and that he didn't want her to get in trouble with immigration officials.

"We have a federal law that says that this status is not allowed," Fink said. "You can't just ignore it. What I really wanted was to not give this woman any problems."

He said he thought the couple "obviously wanted to get back together" and that he was trying to avoid granting a restraining order that would keep them apart for at least a year. He said he also thought the court order might lead to Gonzalez's deportation, because her husband would not be able to continue helping her get legal residency.


You can read the rest here.

Thanks to Charles Bowden for pointing this story out.

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Wanted: the Ryan White of Stem Cell Protests

| Thu Jul. 20, 2006 4:10 PM EDT

This is something that my colleagues and I have been puzzling over for the last couple of days: why didn't the sick and the disabled march on Washington?

The question inevitably leads to a few really bad jokes, but let's move on. Despite any inherent problems in mobilizing the population at hand, it could have been done, and maybe, were Christopher Reeves still alive, it would have been done.

But so far as I can tell, neither his foundation, nor any of the big disabled/disease groups did any real organizing in advance of the vote. Even ACT-UP was muted.

Which is a shame, since everybody knew there was vote coming and everybody knew it would likely pass and everybody knew the president would veto and everybody knew that there wouldn't be enough votes to override the veto.

Some portion of that equation might have changed had the disabled, the sick, their friends and family (and, while we're at it, the scientific community) filled the Mall and the Capitol steps.

So why didn't they? I can think of a few reasons:

Funding. Disease organizations and/or non-profit foundations are afraid of losing their federal funding and/or donor support.
Fiefdoms. All these organizations compete with each other for public attention and money. They don't have experience working together. Nor, too often, are they inclined to do so.
Lack of a point person/group. It's not a pure party issue, the net roots community didn't do much on this front, and with Reeves dead, there's as yet been no one to step into his breach.

(Note to larger left: Does this sound familiar?)

There's no doubt that the Republicans feared the notion of a huge protest—why do you think they held the override vote so quickly? Now maybe the Democratic Party is happy to have this issue for the fall elections. But it is an issue that transcends party lines and interests. If Bush is going to trot out the "snowflake babies" at every turn, I can only hope that somebody puts a real face on the millions of Americans that are hurt by impeding valid scientific inquiry. That's the real way to "race for a cure."

Stem Cells and Swing States

| Wed Jul. 19, 2006 7:45 PM EDT

Swing State Project has a roll call of the 37 senators who voted against the bill to ease the federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

Those up for reelection are the following Republicans:

George Allen (R-VA)
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Mike DeWine (R-OH)
John Ensign (R-NV)
John Kyl (R-AZ)
Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Jim Talent (R-MO)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)

as well as the Democratic senator from Nebraska, Ben Nelson.

Over at the New York Times, you can scroll over a map of the U.S. that provides you a state-by-state pop-up of how each delegation voted. And the Times also provides a way for you to email your senators and let them know what you think of their vote.

Pundits say that it is "unlikely" that there could be enough votes (just 3 more in the Senate) to override the veto. But if you scroll down a list of Republicans who in favor of expanding embryonic stem cell research--Orin Hatch, Bill Frist, etc.--it becomes clear that reason and compassion can cross party lines.

Ghetto Tax: Poor Losers Gain Street Cred. Or, Whither John Edwards?

| Wed Jul. 19, 2006 6:40 PM EDT

As reported in the New York Times article "Study Documents 'Ghetto Tax' Being Paid by the Urban Poor," Brookings Institution Senior Research Associate has Matt Fellowes has documented how the poor are charged more than the rest of us for basic services.

As the executive summary notes:

In general, lower income families tend to pay more for the exact same consumer product than families with higher incomes. For instance, 4.2 million lower income homeowners that earn less than $30,000 a year pay higher than average prices for their mortgages. About 4.5 million lower income households pay higher than average prices for auto loans. At least 1.6 million lower income adults pay excessive fees for furniture, appliances, and electronics. And, countless more pay high prices for other necessities, such as basic financial services, groceries, and insurance. Together, these extra costs add up to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars unnecessarily spent by lower income families every year.
In the current issue of Mother Jones, I cited Fellowe's previous research on the barriers facing Philapelphia's poor (see chart) along with a whole bunch more depressing stats (all fully sourced) about how the poor are overcharged.

exhibit_chart2_265x262.gif

In Chicago's poorest areas, the ratio of check-cashing outlets to banks is 10-to-1. Check-cashing fees for a worker who brings home $18,000 a year add up to about $450 —that's 2.5% spent just to access income.

underserved:

In 1997, 3 out of 4 doctors provided some free or reduced-cost care. Now, 2 out of 3 do.

And just generally screwed over:

In 2004, 7 million working poor families spent $900 million on tax prep and check-cashing fees to get their refunds sooner. Average amount of time by which they sped up their refunds: 2 weeks.

Recently, I did a radio interview on this topic, in which the host asked me why nobody but John Edwards seemed to be concerned with the plight of the poor. I didn't have a good answer, certainly the rest of the Democratic Party seems to be nowhere on this issue. Perhaps the best explanation is that Americans still believe that poverty is a sign of personal failing.

But the sad fact of it is that with 1 in 4 U.S. jobs paying less than a poverty-level income, more and more Americans will find themselves to be poor at some point in their lives. During the 1980s, 13% of Americans age 40 to 50 spent at least one year below the poverty line; by the 1990s, 36% did. And since 2000, 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 the poor are getting poorer. Among households worth less than $13,500, their average net worth in 2001 was $0. By 2004, it was down to –$1,400. That's negative $1,400.

Local governments need to do their part. The Times notes that

"at a meeting connected with the [Brookings] report's release, officials from three states—New York, Pennsylvania and Washington— said they were already doing just that through a variety of programs to draw banks to poor neighborhoods, help finance the construction of supermarkets and encourage innovative insurance schemes."

That's great. But in the meantime, President Bush's tax cuts (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.

Oh, and in 2002, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) compared those who point out statistics such as the one above to Adolf Hitler.

Stem Cells: Science v. Spending

| Wed Jul. 19, 2006 5:02 PM EDT

Quick, count the people in your life facing a critical or degenerative illness, or those you've lost to the same. Alzheimer's, Diabetes, spinal cord injury, Leukemia and other aggressive cancers, heart disease...

Got a number?

Now tally up the amount that those diseases cost society. Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, for example, are estimated to cost $248 billion world wide.

$248 billion. That's almost four times what the Bush administration allocated for the Department of Education this fiscal year. It's about 10 times what is spent on the Department of Agriculture.

So when the true cost of impeding scientific inquiry that may produce cures for these devastating illnesses is tallied up, it's not just your friends and family, and all the other Americans for whom embryonic stem cell research holds out the best hope for a cure. It's all the money that we currently spend to treat people with these illnesses. Money that could be put to other uses.

Against the bill (H.R. 810) that opens the way to humane treatment for the sick and disabled, is the belief of those, like Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, that the destruction of embryos, frozen within a few days of fertilization when they're just a handful of cells, is akin to to murdering a live infant.

Sen. Brownback is entitled to his beliefs. And his encouragement of "embryo adoption" is fine, too. But currently there are an estimated 500, 000 frozen embryos. It's not clear that there are that many potential parents out there willing to adopt in this manner. But even if there were, we know for a fact that there are parents who don't like the notion of offering up their embryo for adoption but who would embrace donating their unused embryos for stem cell research.

Nobody's going to force parents who are against stem cell research to participate in it. But for those who would, is Congress going to stand in their way, and stand against the sick and the dying?

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