Monika Bauerlein

Monika Bauerlein

Editor in Chief

Since taking the helm at Mother Jones in 2006, Monika and her co-editor, Clara Jeffery, have won two National Magazine Awards, launched a nine-person Washington bureau, relaunched the website, given birth, and forgotten what it’s like to sleep.

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Monika Bauerlein is co-editor of Mother Jones, where, together with Clara Jeffery, she spearheaded an era of editorial growth and innovation, marked by two National Magazine Awards for general excellence, the addition of a seven-person Washington Bureau, and an overhaul of the organization’s digital strategy that tripled MotherJones.com's traffic. Previously she was Mother Jones' investigative editor, focusing on long-form projects marrying in-depth reportage, document sleuthing, and narrative appeal. She has also worked as an alternative-weekly editor (at Minneapolis/St. Paul’s City Pages), a correspondent for US and European publications in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations, an AP stringer, corporate trainer, translator, sausage slinger and fishing-line packager. She lives in Oakland.

Stop Global Warming and Get Rich Too? Only in California

| Thu Aug. 31, 2006 4:55 AM EDT

California legislators really do seem to be poised to pass the modestly named Global Warming Solutions Act, which would require the state to bring greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels (and how sad that that's an ambitious idea). The Assembly has signed off and the Senate is expected to by midnight today; Arnold is on board. No doubt there's a downside to this somewhere, but until we find it, it looks a lot like saving our species from extinction comes with an economic bonus: A new University of California-Berkeley study finds that going back to 1990 emission levels would boost the annual Gross State Product (GSP) by $74 billion and create 89,000 new jobs by 2020.

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Blackwater Update: How They Got Those Contracts

| Tue Aug. 29, 2006 2:45 AM EDT

Yesterday (okay, very early today) we noted that military-contracting giant Blackwater may have to go to court after all to defend its claim that it's not liable when its guards get killed in places like Fallujah. Over at TPM Muckraker, Justin Rood points out another interesting bit of Blackwater news, namely a tale about how you get started running one of the world's largest mercenary firms. Hint: It helps to have a friend at Langley.

Blackwater: Soldiers Or Contractors?

| Mon Aug. 28, 2006 5:35 AM EDT

In connection with the news that Blackwater, the huge private security company, has lost its bid to keep a lawsuit in connection with its Iraq operations out of federal court, take a look at Barry Yeoman's early coverage of the company in Mother Jones. This story, reported before the invasion of Iraq, notes that Blackwater's business has been growing by leaps and bounds because the military increasingly prefers to have contractors do the work of soldiers.

When the companies do screw up, however, their status as private entities often shields them -- and the government -- from public scrutiny. [...] "Under a shroud of secrecy, the United States is carrying out military missions with people who don't have the same level of accountability," says Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a leading congressional critic of privatized war. "We have individuals who are not obligated to follow orders or follow the Military Code of Conduct. Their main obligation is to their employer, not to their country."

Ironically, Blackwater is now citing a program designed to protect the military--the Defense Base Act, which provides benefits to the families of soldiers killed on the battlefield--to argue that it can't be held liable by the families of four of its contractors who were killed in Fallujah in 2003 (after, the families say, being sent into a warzone unprepared and unequipped).

Thanks for Keeping Our Profits Up. Sorry, Can't Afford a Raise.

| Mon Aug. 28, 2006 5:22 AM EDT

"The most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor's share of national income." That's the wisdom from the smart guys at Goldman Sachs, per the New York Times' drab, but crucial story on how workers are still making American business more productive--but take a smaller share of the national pie than they did at any time since the government began keeping track just after WWII.

"For most of the last century, wages and productivity — the key measure of the economy's efficiency — have risen together, increasing rapidly through the 1950's and 60's and far more slowly in the 1970's and 80's.

But in recent years, the productivity gains have continued while the pay increases have not kept up. Worker productivity rose 16.6 percent from 2000 to 2005, while total compensation for the median worker rose 7.2 percent, according to Labor Department statistics analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group. Benefits accounted for most of the increase.

"If I had to sum it up," said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the institute, "it comes down to bargaining power and the lack of ability of many in the work force to claim their fair share of growth."

And next time you hear the president talk about rising family incomes, take note: All of that "rising" involves the families at the very top of the income scale. The rest of you are just working harder to finance someone else's profit.

When is a Soldier a Murderer?

| Mon Aug. 28, 2006 4:16 AM EDT

Not very often in Iraq, according to the military justice system: "Though experts estimate that thousands of Iraqi civilians have died at the hands of U.S. forces," reports the Washington Post in an excellent piece, only 20 of those killings have resulted in formal charges, and only 12 service members served prison time in connection with those cases. To make up your mind (or not) about what this means, you really have to go read the story, which makes it clear that many Iraq veterans are convinced that crimes do happen, and that they go unpunished in part because prosecution is entirely at local commanders' discretion. Most of all, though, what you come away with is a deepened sense of dread and regret for both the troops we're sending over there and the Iraqis unlucky enough to run into them at the wrong place or the wrong time:

The cases highlight the sometimes fine line between a criminal allegation and the bloodshed that is a part of war. Spec. Nathan Lynn, a Pennsylvania National Guardsman, shot and killed a man in the darkness of a Ramadi neighborhood in February. Lynn said he considered the man a threat and believes he did nothing wrong.

The man was not armed, and Lynn was charged with voluntary manslaughter. But a military investigator agreed that Lynn acted properly in a difficult situation, and the charges were dropped.

"I was extremely surprised when I was charged because it was clear the shooting fell within the guidelines of my rules of engagement," Lynn said. "This is a war. It's not a police action."

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