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.

Just When We Thought We'd Heard the Last of Bernie Kerik

| Thu Nov. 1, 2007 7:38 AM PDT

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Remember Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani's former business partner, driver, bodyguard and New York City police commissioner? Well, apparently Kerik incurred significant legal fees defending himself from charges that he he let a mob-connected company seeking city contracts renovate his New York City apartment for free. And now, reports the Wall Street Journal, the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski is suing Kerik for more than $200,000 in unpaid legal fees related to all the investigations.

Maybe Rudy's firm should quietly pick up the tab so Kerik can go back under a rock during the presidential election season. Much of the focus on Giuliani of late has been on his autocratic tendencies as mayor of New York, but his close relationship with Kerik remains one of his biggest vulnerabilities, right up there with the fact that he once married his cousin.

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Anti-Drug Ads That Might Actually Work

| Wed Oct. 31, 2007 11:04 AM PDT

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Ever since the first President Bush held up a bag of crack at a 1989 press conference, the federal government has spent many millions of dollars on anti-drug advertising campaigns targeted at teenagers. All those fried-egg spots ("This is your brain on drugs") have been the butt of many a teenage joke, and as it turned out, they were highly effective at actually encouraging kids to smoke pot.

Some new anti-drug ads now airing in Montana, however, might actually be working, perhaps because they weren't made by dorks in Washington. The new campaign was produced by the Montana Meth Project, a private group founded by a local rancher. The ads are way edgier than anything the drug czar's office ever came up with, including one featuring a near-naked girl in a hotel room after her boyfriend pimps her for drug money and another of some kids dumping an unconscious girl on a hospital driveway before speeding away.

A new study suggests that Montana's ads have reduced teen meth use in the state by 45 percent, a figure compelling enough for the White House to get on the bandwagon and broadcast Montana's graphic ads in other states.

A Junket by Any Other Name..

| Tue Oct. 30, 2007 11:12 AM PDT

200px-Mike_Leavitt.jpg So HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt is heading off to Switzerland and the Netherlands next week to learn more about those countries' health care systems, which have been widely touted as a model for what we might do in the U.S. Of course, Bush administration officials tell the New York Times that they have no plans to actually do anything with whatever information Leavitt gleans from his trip.

"We don't have anything cooking that we haven't announced," the department official said. "We would not endorse a system like the Netherlands or Switzerland's. But if there's something we could learn about their system, we should learn about it."

So either the trip is just designed to indulge Leavitt's intellectual curiosity—or it's a chance for him to get out of town on the taxpayer dime and pretend that his boss didn't just derail a major piece of legislation that would have given a few million poor kids health insurance right here at home. No word on whether Leavitt will be commandeering the CDC's private jet for the trip, but hopefully he'll live blog his European vacation.

A New Twist on "Sleeping It Off"?

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 11:34 AM PDT

Late last night, a fatal car accident forced the closure of the Capital Beltway, the major highway that loops around Washington D.C. According to the Washington Post, when police reopened the roadway a few hours later, they discovered several cars occupied by drunk people who had passed out while waiting for police to clear the accident scene. They were hauled off to jail for driving while intoxicated. Clearly all those "Who's Your Bud?" ads aren't doing the job...

D.C.'s Rich Get Richer (and Black Folks Get Nowhere)

| Wed Oct. 24, 2007 12:33 PM PDT

If George Bush wanted to make record rates of income inequality a major legacy of his administration, he has succeeded wildly right here at home in D.C. A new study by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute shows that the nation's capital leads the country in both high poverty rates and the income gap between white and black people.

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The median income for white people in the nation's capital has skyrocketed to $92,000 in 2006, from $55,000 in 1980. (Apparently all those lobbyists here are really bumping up the numbers!). But the city's black population (nearly 70 percent of city residents) has actually seen its median income fall since 1980, by .6 percent to $34,500. D.C.'s poverty rate is the highest it's been in a decade, and the unemployment rate among black adults is at a 30-year-high. These numbers are all the more stunning when you consider how bad things were ten years ago: the District government was creeping out of bankruptcy, Marion Barry was mayor, and the Redskins has just decamped for Maryland.

The latest bump in poverty and unemployment has occurred during a time of great prosperity in the city, and it's worse than nearly every other major city in America. I can never figure out why the political establishment isn't more ashamed about this. But I guess if you can let New Orleans drown, it's not that hard to ignore the starving masses in the shadow of the White House.

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