Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent the last year 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.

Florida Congressman's Car Dealership Accused of Sleaze

| Fri May 23, 2008 3:28 PM EDT

There are few professionals that Americans consider sleazier than politicians. Among them might be car dealers. Vernon Buchanan happens to be both. The first-term Republican congressman from Sarasota, Florida owns one of the state's biggest auto dealership chains. Yesterday, the former finance director for one of the company's outlets, Sarasota Ford, sued Buchanan and the other managers from the Buchanan Auto Group for firing him for refusing to go along with allegedly sleazy and illegal business practices.

According to Automotive News, the dealership fired Joe Kezer in November after he protested that managers were, among other things, illegally altering people's credit reports and sales contracts, common scams in the auto industry. A spokesman for Buchanan told Automotive News that as chairman of the auto group, the congressman isn't involved in the day to day operations of the dealership. Still, if the allegations in the lawsuit are true, the case ought to provide an interesting window into business practices that have made Buchanan a wealthy man. It's possible that the car business could make Congress look squeaky clean by comparison.

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Hillary: Too Old For High Court

| Fri May 23, 2008 12:15 PM EDT

There's been lots of chatter lately suggesting that Barack Obama should promise Hillary Clinton a seat on the Supreme Court as a sort of runner-up prize and inducement for her to finally get out of the presidential race. Bloggers have debated her fitness for the job, whether she'd want it, or whether it would even be a good idea. But all of this is much ado about nothing. There is no way Hillary, or her husband for that matter, will ever warm a seat on the high court, for one major reason: She is simply too old.

Like the rest of the federal judiciary, Supreme Court justices serve for life. That's why Republicans over the past 15 or 20 years have made a very active and conscious effort to fill those seats with the youngest possible candidates as a way of preserving their influence for generations. The average age of GOP nominees for Supreme Court justice since 1981, including O'Connor, is 50, a full decade younger than Hillary. (Indeed, there's not a person on the court today who was older than 60 when nominated.)

Democrats haven't had a chance to pick as many candidates, but they clearly haven't made age as much of a priority. No doubt that will change should they retake the White House in the fall because, as Republicans have shown, the math is simply too compelling. Consider that when George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas in 1991, Thomas was only 43 years old. If he hangs on as long as the court's current veteran John Paul Stevens, 88, the country will be stuck with nearly a half-century of Thomas jurisprudence.

McCain-Huckabee: Dream Team?

| Mon May 19, 2008 12:45 PM EDT

Every time one of my more moderate Democratic friends mentions that they could probably vote for John McCain because they think he's a moderate, I jokingly remind them that a vote for McCain could also be a vote for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. He's a longshot, but it's clear that Huckabee is stumping for the VP slot.

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Huckabee said,

"There's no one I would rather be on a ticket with than John McCain...All during the campaign when I was his rival, not a running mate, there was no one who was more complimentary of him publicly and privately. ... I still wanted to win, but if I couldn't, John McCain was always the guy I would have supported and have now supported. But whether or not I do the best for him, that's something that only he can decide."

While McCain's best hope, of course, is to ignore the Christian Right and run as a centerist, if he does at some point decide he needs someone on the ticket to mobilize evangelicals in November, there's nobody better out there right now than Huckabee. The Baptist minister won the Iowa caucuses and seven other states before dropping out of the presidential race. As someone who can't get enough of the squirrel-in-the-popcorn-popper story, I'm rooting for him. The only thing better for political reporting this fall than a McCain/Huckabee ticket would be if McCain picked Ron Paul as his running mate.

Smart Car Puts Detroit to Shame

| Wed May 14, 2008 11:58 AM EDT

800px-Smart_car.jpg
For years, Detroit automakers have claimed that they couldn't make cars that get better mileage because those cars just wouldn't be safe. And for some reason, people believed them. But here comes the Smart car, the tiny two-person vehicle made by--who else--Germans, which not only gets 33 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway but this week passed new crash tests with flying colors. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports today that the 2008 Smart fortwo won the institute's highest rating for side and front impact tests. The car had already aced government safety testing as well. The car, unlike, say, the Hummer, is selling like hotcakes. Maybe its arrival will finally put rest to the Big Three lies that safe cars can't be fuel efficient.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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