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.

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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.

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Nancy Pelosi's Attackers Now Going After… Her Looks?

| Mon May. 18, 2009 1:43 PM PDT

In this quickie video, Media Matters for America asks whether Nancy Pelosi's attackers would be talking this way about a man. They've got a point.

Psst! Wanna buy an F-22 for $360 Million?

| Thu May. 14, 2009 3:04 PM PDT

In parsing costs for the F-22 program, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates rightly wants to kill, the Pentagon has cited a price tag of about $143 million per plane—no small change for something we don't need. But turns out that's the so-called "flyaway" cost. When you add in development, maintenance, training, and all those vital extras, the damage balloons to a staggering $360 million a pop. So says the Center for Defense Information in this four-minute video, "Catch F-22," which features military watchdogs like Danielle Brian from the Project on Government Oversight and Winslow Wheeler, head of CDI's Straus Military Reform Project. (Wheeler also contributed a dispatch last year to our ambitious online military package, titled Mission Creep.) The video dumbs things down a lot—thankfully for those of us who don't spend our workdays scrutinizing Pentagon spreadsheets—but it provides a glimpse of why this program, and others like it, will have to fall to earth if America ever hopes to pay the bills for basic necessities.

In the meantime, Mission Creep contributor David Vine, who wrote "Homesick for Camp Justice," on how the British cleared out Diego Garcia's population to make way for a United States military base on the island, covers the subject further in his new book, Island of Shame: The Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego Garcia. Haven't read it yet, but the New York Review of Books sure seemed to appreciate it.
 

Make Billionaires Pay Taxes? Say It Ain't So!

| Mon May. 4, 2009 1:31 PM PDT

Republican members of Congress must enjoy pathetic approval ratings, because they're apparently already raising hell about President Obama’s call for a Congressional crackdown on offshore tax havens. And what could beat the populist appeal of standing up for thieving billionaires! Obama figures his get-tough approach (see below) could bring the Treasury an extra $210 billion over ten years. Obama, of course, is a pragmatist. Last time we touched base with Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat, he was blaming the tax cheats for Treasury losses of $100 billion—per year.

As chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Levin was then looking into dubious dealings by international banking conglomerate UBS—where our old pal Phil Gramm served as a vice chairman soon after pushing through legislation that brought down the economy. Another investigative target was IGT, the Liechtenstein bank owned by that principality's royal family. "The IRS doesn't have the money, the time, or the legal tools it needs to stop offshore abuses," Levin told Mojo contributor Peter Stone, who wrote this piece on offshore tax shenanigans for our November/December 2008 issue.

 

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