Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer


Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent several years hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

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Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

The GOP's Health Care Reform Org Chart

| Thu Aug. 20, 2009 3:22 PM EDT

Yesterday, Republicans annoyed with news reports that Democrats had decided to reform health care without them, released this chart to highlight the new bureaucracy that the Democrats' plan would create. You have to hand it to them. The chart is a pretty good visual of how complex the Democrats' reform plan really is. Health affordability credits? Health insurance exchange trust fund? Huh? You can see the full chart for yourself here (pdf). One notable omission: In perhaps a commendable show of Republican restraint, "death panels" don't seem to have made it on to the chart.

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Are the Palins Splitsville? And Other Tabloid News

| Thu Aug. 20, 2009 11:30 AM EDT

The tabs this week are full of juicy political “news.” We read them so you don’t have to. From the August 24 editions:

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is this week’s headliner in the Globe, which reports that she and “first dude” Todd Palin are splitsville due to stress over her political success, daughter Bristol’s illegitimate child, and ongoing rumors that Palin had an affair in the mid-1990s. The Globe claims that Palin is “so fed-up with Todd, 44, that she’s thrown her wedding ring away, booted him from her bed and is planning to move with her kids to Montana, where she is said to have purchased land.”  A Palin spokesperson denies all charges. “No divorce. No affairs. No land in Montana. Nothing! All lies and fabrications," she tells the Globe.  (No links, btw. The tabs are strictly paper products.)

The Star also leads with the Palin marriage crisis, observing that after Palin publicly resigned as governor on July 3, she jumped into a waiting SUV and bolted, leaving husband Todd at the curb. “They left me,” Todd reportedly chuckled—a sign, the Star notes, of things to come.  The Star also provides a handy photo chronology of Palin’s bare hands to back up claims that she threw her wedding ring in Lake Lucille shortly after her resignation speech. A photo dated July 26, from Palin’s swearing in of the new governor, shows she still wasn’t wearing it three weeks later.

Obama's Health Insurance Plan Channels...The Heritage Foundation?

| Thu Aug. 13, 2009 3:41 PM EDT

During his New Hampshire town hall meeting on health care reform in mid-August, Obama explained that under his plan, people who lack health insurance would be able to purchase it in a new exchange that offered a similar “menu of options that I used to have as a member of Congress.” Obama said that by creating a big pool of potential customers, the exchange would allow the uninsured and even small businesses to shop around, easily compare various private health care plans and get a better deal than they could on their own.

Most of the health care reform bills circulating in Congress contain some form of this concept. The exchange, in fact, is now the centerpiece of proposed plans drafted mainly by Democrats. It’s a curious development, because the concept was largely popularized by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank best known in recent years for advocating Social Security privatization during the Bush administration. Its track record ought to make Americans more wary of Obama's proposals than any talk of "socialized medicine."

Surgeon General Pick Worked For Burger King

| Thu Aug. 13, 2009 10:20 AM EDT

When President Obama first nominated Alabama doctor Regina Benjamin as surgeon general, critics charged that the nominee was too fat to serve as the nation's leading public health advocate. Those same critics will no doubt find more ammunition in today's Washington Times, which reports that Benjamin has financial ties to big-time fast-food corporations—the scourge of public health advocates everywhere. According to the Times,  Burger King paid Benjamin about $10,000 to serve on an advisory board, where she supposedly advocated for healthy improvements in the company's food offerings. Given that the company's new "Angry Triple Whopper" contains nearly 2,000 milligrams of sodium, 91 grams of fat and 1360 calories, it's hard to see how much influence Benjamin had.

The Times homes in on Benjamin's ties to the fast-food giant, but buried in the story as well is the news that Benjamin received $20,000 for sitting on an advisory board at ConAgra, one of the nation's biggest processed food companies, maker of Slim Jims, Fiddle Faddle, the ever-popular Manwich sloppy Joe sauce.  NYU prof and nutrition guru Marion Nestle told the Times that the corporate food payments were hugely problematic for someone whose job it should be to encourage the public to shun those companies’ products. "Fast-food companies are not public health agencies; their job is to sell fast food - and the more, the better," Dr. Nestle said. "For me, this would represent an impossible conflict of interest."

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