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.

If Talking About Dams is Suspicious, Let's Investigate Bush

| Sun Aug. 27, 2006 1:39 AM PDT

So Jim Bensman, who's a fixture of just about any environmental debate in the Midwest, goes to a public meeting to discuss a dam in St. Louis and, surprise, says he'd just as soon see the dam gone. The local paper dutifully reports that Benson "said he would like to see the dam blown up and resents paying taxes to fix dam problems when it is barge companies that profit from the dam." Next thing you know the Corps of Engineers--which you'd think had other things to worry about--calls the FBI to investigate Bensman as a possible security threat. And the FBI actually bothers to follow through. All this at a time when the White House is, for the first time ever, endorsing blowing up dams.

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A Good Day in Baghdad: Only 20 Dead

| Tue Aug. 22, 2006 10:57 AM PDT

The new normal: After 20 pilgrims, including several teenagers, were killed and 300 injured by black-and-green-clad gunmen, the U.S. military "reported relatively little violence for the day," reports the Washington Post (via the SF Chronicle) and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki touted the success of Iraqi security forces "in preventing the terrorists from killing innocents."

Economy Down, Crime Up: Only a Miracle Can Save us Now?

| Mon Aug. 21, 2006 10:39 PM PDT

Eight months ago, we ran a story by Daniel Duane asking, "Why is the 'Boston Miracle -- the only tactic proven to reduce gang violence -- being dissed by the L.A.P.D., the FBI, and Congress?" Those three parties haven't yet changed their tune, but you can add Oakland to the list of cities where police departments are embracing the "Operation Cease-Fire" approach: They target the top offenders, people whom (what a concept) they don't assume are beyond redemption. They haul them into court and tell them to get it together or else; and for the "or else," they offer help. It works. Incredibly well, according to many; in Boston, the number of murders went down in a matter of months.

All of which is great, though there should be a law that anytime you talk about fighting crime you must mention the economy: I live not far from the neighborhood featured in this New York Times story, and all my neighbors--as tough-on-crime a bunch as you'll ever meet--talk about how ten years ago there used to be real jobs for kids, and now there aren't. For what it's worth, they also say that this was "when Clinton was in the White House," and that if anyone by that name runs again, they're voting for them.

Who'd You Rather Read, Gary Webb or Judy Miller?

| Fri Aug. 18, 2006 2:38 AM PDT

On occasion of the tenth anniversary of "Dark Alliance," the San Jose Mercury News series on CIA-contra-crack connections that set off more major-newspaper handwringing than perhaps anything this side of the Bush-Iraq-WMD fiasco, Nick Schou of the alternative OC Weekly has an op-ed in the LA Times that's worth reading. Doesn't matter whether you're still puzzling over why exactly every major paper in the country saw fit to "debunk" claims Webb had not actually made, or whether you've never heard of the guy; the point is that Webb (whose reporting, as Eric Umansky noted in this space, was in significant regards confirmed by the government itself) was guilty of hyperbole, but not of credulity or subservience. He had the facts, and he made more of them than he should have. But as Schou points out:

Contrary to the wholly discredited reporting on Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction by New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Webb was the only victim of his mistakes. Nobody else died because of his work, and no one, either at the CIA or the Mercury News, is known to have lost so much as a paycheck.

Webb shot himself in late 2004, his career and personal life having come unraveled in the wake of "Dark Alliance." We could use the likes of him right now.

Is Al Qaeda Finished? No, Really

| Sun Aug. 13, 2006 12:16 AM PDT

James Fallows no doubt wishes his Atlantic piece (you can't read it here--subscription required) on why it's time to declare the war on terror over (because we won) had run, oh, just about any other time. But timing isn't everything, and Fallows--one of a vanishingly small number of big-name journalists who actually bother to go out and talk to people--impressively lays out what most people who follow Al Qaeda have been trying to say for some time (and are still saying in the wake of the London plot): Al Qaeda as the group that masterminded 9/11 hasn't existed since the war in Afghanistan, since its top operatives were killed or driven into hiding, since it lost the ability to freely communicate via cell phones or the Internet, to transfer money over international financial networks, etc. What exists now, as Peter Bergen's Mother Jones story on "The Wrong War" noted some time ago, is a loose confederation nominally inspired by the occasional Osama or al-Zawahiri tape, but mostly proceeding on the Environmental Liberation Front model (no overall comparison intended) of like-minded cells that claim affiliation with an ideological brand when it suits them. The problem is that thanks to current U.S. policy in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, that unstructured network is growing larger and stronger every day, even in spite of its own mistakes (such as killing large numbers of Muslim civilians). Which is why Fallows is right: It's time to stop. Not stop going after terrorists, which is what the Brits were doing in investigating bomb plotters, but stop the "war" (meaning what, exactly?) on "terror" (ditto), and move on to what might actually make the world more secure.

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