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.

Push Polls Add Mud to New Hampshire GOP Primary

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:59 AM EST

Did you know that Mitt Romney spent the years of the Vietnam War trying to persuade the French to give up wine and convert to Mormonism? If you live in New Hampshire, you probably do now. The New Hampshire attorney general is investigating reports that someone has launched an illegal "push poll" in the state, using phone calls to spread negative information about Romney without identifying the campaign or entity behind the calls. The fake "poll," which raised issues about Romney's Mormonism, also included positive questions about John McCain, making it appear as though the calls came from the McCain camp and thus, that McCain was engaging in dirty politics.

McCain, who was the victim of push polls in his race against George W. Bush in 2000 in South Carolina, has adamantly disavowed any role in the calls. So has Rudy Giuliani, who would stand to be the biggest beneficiary of the mudslinging between Romney and McCain. However, the calls in New Hampshire were made by a Utah-based operation called Western Wats, which has previously been linked to the Tarrance Group, a GOP polling firm that works for Giuliani. The push poll certainly makes for a nice distraction from say, the Kerik indictment, but of course, that's just a coincidence.

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Police Reservists Bring the War Home

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:38 AM EST

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken an unprecedented number of National Guard reservists and put them into active combat overseas. Many of those reservists were police officers before they were deployed. Now that some of them are finally coming home, they are have a difficult time making the transition from street combat to beat patrols in their old jobs, reports USA Today.

In March, for instance, an Austin, Texas police officer who had recently returned from Iraq fired his gun into the parking lot of a crowded shopping center while chasing an unarmed suspect. A bullet from his gun hit a parked van, narrowly missing two children who were sitting inside. The officer was reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

The Austin episode was one of a string of close calls police departments have observed among officers recently returning from Iraq. A few big-city police departments are creating "re-entry" programs for returned vets to help prevent such incidents in the future, but most aren't, meaning that some of the cops coming back from the Middle East may be ticking time-bombs. So much for the Iraq war making Americans safer at home...

Al Gore: Venture Capitalist

| Tue Nov. 13, 2007 3:08 PM EST

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No one really still thinks Al Gore is going to run for president (hair's too long, waistline too expansive). But here's one more signal that he's not running: Gore yesterday announced that he's joining a prestigious venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, where he'll direct investments that help combat global warming.

Despite the green-sounding job description, and promises from the firm that Gore would be an "active" partner, it's hard to imagine Gore will be doing much to save the world there. After all, when would he find the time? He also serves on the board of Apple, he's a senior adviser to Google and has a pretty extensive public speaking schedule. No doubt he'll be out campaigning for a candidate or two this year as well. The new job does, however, offer something his nonprofit climate change group doesn't: stock options, which Gore apparently needs after a lifetime in public service.

Obama Touches the Third Rail, Sort Of.

| Tue Nov. 13, 2007 9:01 AM EST

On "Meet the Press" this weekend, Barack Obama struck out at Hillary Clinton over her refusal to commit to raising the cap on payroll taxes to help keep Social Security solvent. Obama's focus on payroll taxes was refreshing after all the recent focus on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT is the 1960s measure designed to catch a handful of super-rich tax cheats that now ensnares a lot of ordinary upper-class people and which Congress has pledged to fix.

Payroll taxes, which fund Social Security and Medicare, only apply to the first $94,200 of a worker's wages. Income from investments and other passive earnings that make up a lot of the super-rich's income aren't subject to payroll taxes at all. That's why Obama was suggesting raising the income cap, a reasonable idea given that the number of people in the upper tax bracket has soared under the Bush administration. John Edwards has also said he'd support such a measure. But Clinton is on the fence.

Which is too bad, because payroll taxes are highly regressive. More than half of wage-earning Americans pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes, and they fall heaviest on people earning less than $40,000 a year, eating up more than 15 percent of a minimum-wage workers paycheck. The AMT, though, only hits people who make more than $100,000 a year. If Obama is serious about taking on payroll taxes, he ought to consider giving them a major overhaul, not just to fix Social Security, but to relieve some of the burden on the working poor.

Dear Hillary: Success Trumps Sisterhood Every Time

| Mon Nov. 12, 2007 11:40 AM EST

Conventional wisdom suggests that Hillary Clinton has all but locked up the gender primary. She dominates the female voting bloc, a sign that women are actually energized about her historic candidacy. But there's one group of women that she hasn't yet won over: professional and executive women who make more than $75,000 a year. These women support Clinton far less than their lower-income counterparts, and they are slightly more likely to vote for Giuliani in the presidential election, reports the Wall Street Journal today.

Despite having much in common with Clinton, these women are demonstrating that old adage about how feminism's biggest achievement is allowing women to emulate the worst in men (see the rise in women's smoking and incarceration rates, for instance). Really, it's no surprise that when women achieve power and wealth, they start to care more about capital gains taxes than children's health insurance programs. Apparently, sisterhood is a casualty of climbing the corporate ladder.

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