Michael Mechanic

Michael Mechanic

Senior Editor

Michael landed at MoJo after six years as an award-winning features editor at the alt-weekly East Bay Express. He's written for numerous publications, including The Industry Standard, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, two kids, four chickens, striped cat, and way too many musical instruments to master.

Full Bio | Get my RSS |

Michael landed at MoJo after six years as an award-winning feature editor at the alt-weekly East Bay Express. He's written for numerous publications, including The Industry Standard, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired. He set out to be a scientist, and as an undergrad spent a year in an organic chemistry lab at UC-Berkeley, where he was a biochemistry major, trying to synthesize natural poisons found in the skin of certain tropical frogs. He later earned a masters degree in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University and a second masters in journalism from UC-Berkeley. In 2009, he was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for public service, as one of five writers in MoJo's "Torture Hits Home" package. The father of two mostly charming kids and an only occasionally charming striped cat named Phelps, Michael lives in Oakland, California, where, after years of classical piano and raucous punk-rock drumming (and putting out more than a dozen CDs on his former DIY label, Bad Monkey Records), he has retired to old-time and traditional music, guitar finger-picking, and more recently fiddle and mandolin. He has four chickens—Lucia, Podge, Cat, and Weed Whacker—but what he really covets is a hedgehog.

"F*ck Cranbrook!": Eminem on Romney's Elite High School (Video)

| Fri May 11, 2012 2:27 PM EDT

Remember this scene from 8-Mile? To dis' his nemesis in a rap battle, Eminem has learned in advance that the guy is a wannabe gangsta who is secretly named Clarence and attends Mitt Romney's elite private high school—where Romney's past "pranks" have been the subject of so much debate this week. Yeah, well, "Fuck Cranbrook!" says the rapper. Watch:

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Video Exclusive: Ani DiFranco's "Which Side Are You On?"

| Mon Apr. 30, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Ani DiFranco

"Which Side Are You On," the haunting 1931 labor classic by Florence Reece, the wife of a union organizer, has been covered by Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg, Natalie Merchant, and Dropkick Murphys, to name just a few. In January, with the release of her album of the same title, the inimitable Ani DiFranco added her name to the list. Actually, it's always been pretty damn clear which side DiFranco is on. (In this 1999 interview, we spoke at some length about her collaboration with labor organizer and rabble-rousing storyteller Utah Phillips.) DiFranco's reworked version updates Reece's sparse union-versus-management call to action to focus on the contemporary political machine. This exclusive video below, seen here for the first time, combines DiFranco's update with a montage of images submitted by her fans who were inspired by the song—you can find plenty more here. You can also download a free MP3 of the song here. And if this makes you want to hit the barricades, well, it just so happens that the Occupy and labor movements have big plans for tomorrow, so check back, because we'll be covering the protests as they happen.

Click here for more music coverage from Mother Jones.

How Members of Congress Enrich Their Families

| Thu Mar. 22, 2012 3:05 PM EDT

The New York Times had an interesting item in this morning's paper about nepotism in Congress. Basically, a new investigative report by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington found that hundreds of legislators use their positions to enrich family members, either directly by paying them for campaign-related activities or by earmarking funds for organizations where relatives serve as board members. According to the report, for instance, Rep. Ron Paul doled out more than $300,000 in salaries and fees to kin or in-laws. (There were payments of various kinds to Paul's wife, daughter, two sons, grandson, daughter's mother-in-law, two granddaughters, daughter-in-law, and a grandson-in-law.) CREW looked at the 2008 and 2010 election cycles and found 248 legislators worthy of inclusion in its report, which also included pols with lobbyist relatives and other sketchy stuff—see belowTo find out whether your own elected officials muck about in this ethical swamp, you can download the org's full report from the link above. But here are the summary stats: 

  • 82 members (40 Democrats and 42 Republicans) paid family members through their congressional offices, campaign committees and political action committees (PACs);
  • 44 members (20 Democrats and 24 Republicans) have family members who lobby or are employed in government affairs;
  • 90 members (42 Democrats and 48 Republicans) have paid a family business, employer, or associated nonprofit;
  • 20 members (13 Democrats and 7 Republicans) used their campaign money to contribute to a family member’s political campaign;
  • 14 members (6 Democrats and 8 Republicans) charged interest on personal loans they made to their own campaigns;
  • 38 members (24 Democrats and 14 Republicans) earmarked to a family business, employer, or associated nonprofit.

Wed Sep. 17, 2014 5:30 AM EDT
Mon Apr. 21, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Mon Feb. 10, 2014 7:00 AM EST
Thu Jan. 24, 2013 7:06 AM EST
Mon Dec. 31, 2012 3:22 PM EST
Fri Dec. 14, 2012 11:03 PM EST
Fri Nov. 16, 2012 4:56 PM EST
Thu Nov. 1, 2012 4:31 PM EDT
Thu Sep. 27, 2012 2:07 PM EDT
Thu Mar. 22, 2012 3:05 PM EDT
Tue Mar. 20, 2012 6:30 AM EDT
Mon Mar. 19, 2012 2:02 PM EDT
Mon Feb. 27, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Wed Jan. 25, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Mon Dec. 5, 2011 6:00 AM EST
Thu Dec. 1, 2011 7:30 PM EST
Tue Nov. 22, 2011 6:10 PM EST
Fri Oct. 21, 2011 6:30 AM EDT
Mon Jun. 20, 2011 8:51 PM EDT
Mon Jun. 6, 2011 6:30 AM EDT
Mon Jun. 6, 2011 6:30 AM EDT
Mon May. 16, 2011 6:50 AM EDT