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.

Time To Ban Beef From School Lunch

| Tue Feb. 19, 2008 7:28 AM PST

Yesterday, news broke that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was recalling a record-breaking 143 million pounds of beef from a California meat packer. The Humane Society had caught employees at the Hallmark/Westland Meat company last month on video using a forklift to prop up sick "downer" cows long enough to pass inspection, in violation of a host of federal regs. The USDA hasn't exactly snapped into action on this one. Eating meat from sick cows can spread mad cow disease, yet most of the beef suspected of being contaminated had already been consumed by the time USDA announced the recall. And you know who ate it? Little kids.

A big chunk of the nation's poorest quality beef is routinely dumped on federally subsidized school lunch programs. Not surprisingly, beef in school lunch has caused a fair amount of food poisoning. No one knows how the mad cow problem will play out, since it takes years for the disease to show up in humans. But one thing is certain: As the Humane Society's video reaffirmed, USDA seems largely incapable of guaranteeing the safety of beef in this country. (The USDA tests fewer than 1 percent of all slaughtered cows for mad cow disease, and Bush administration, in fact, went to court to prevent one beef producer from voluntarily testing all his cattle for mad cow disease because it would make all the other companies look bad.)

Given that little kids are far more vulnerable to the effects of food poisoning than adults are, it seems to me that it's time to simply ban beef from the school lunch program. It's not like kids will suffer much. Most of them spend plenty of time at McDonalds. In fact, in light of the current obesity epidemic, there's a strong argument for banning beef solely based on its fat content. But putting school children at risk of illness and death from dangerous beef to subsidize ranchers and shoddy meat companies is criminal. Let the kids eat garbanzo beans and force the meat companies to find somewhere else to peddle their sick cows.

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Hearing Regrets

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 10:00 AM PST

So even Rep. Henry Waxman thinks the steroids-in-baseball hearing this week was a three-ring circus he wishes he'd never convened. But come on, what did he expect? Roger Clemens gave a preview of his performance on national television a few weeks ago. The fact that he was under oath this week probably wasn't going to change his tune much. Besides, Waxman should recall that one of the side-effects of performance-enhancing drugs is extreme mood swings and occasional violent outbursts. And of course, extreme denial (see Floyd Landis and Marion Jones et. al.)

Why NOT Lie To Congress?

| Thu Feb. 14, 2008 1:11 PM PST

After yesterday's day-long congressional hearing on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, the consensus on the matter here at our F Street headquarters boils down to two things: Roger Clemens was lying (duh), and devoting federal resources to baseball players is a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money. What makes it particularly "f*ing stupid," to quote my colleague Nick, is that nothing is likely to come of it. Sure, we got to learn some interesting things about Clemens' ass and the complications of injecting yourself with foreign substances. But here's the rub:

Wearing White (To A Confirmation Hearing)

| Wed Feb. 13, 2008 1:09 PM PST

Yesterday, in a room full of assembled dignitaries, President Bush's controversial nominee for the federal district court in Wyoming stuck out like the trial lawyer that he is. It's the hair, really. In a fashion fancied by many jet-set plaintiffs' lawyers, Richard Honaker came to his confirmation hearing coiffed with a thick mane of salt-and-pepper gray hair slicked back into a flip of curls at the nape. It's not hard to imagine that the man might once have sported a ponytail, and not just because of rumors that he once was a Democrat. But what really set Honaker apart from the crowd, perhaps, was his wife Shannon.

Honaker has been a longtime member of the Home School Legal Defense Association and an anti-abortion crusader. As such, he has earned the enduring scorn of national women's organizations who have branded him something of a cretin. So I half-expected his wife to resemble Phyllis Schlafly. After all, imagine the woman who would marry such a man? Instead, Shannon Honaker looked a lot more like the Ann Coulter without the Botox and anorexia. She is, you might say, hot.

Not only that, but Mrs. Honaker owns a "home-based fashion consulting and clothing business" called Classic Chic. Yesterday, she was wearing one of her own creations, a stark white pantsuit with cropped jacket over a black shirt. Given that it was February and 26 degrees outside, Mrs. Honaker sailed prominently above a sea of the gray flannel of official Washington, where the white suit really doesn't properly debut until after Memorial Day. After the hearing, Mrs. Honaker told me that while her designs are not available in regular department stores, they apparently have gotten something of a following in Republican fashion circles: At the State of the Union address last month, none other than education secretary Margaret Spellings appeared wearing something from the Classic Chic line…

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