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.

More Big Burgers for a Buck

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 10:03 AM EST

1_xldoublewhoppercheese.jpgNews from the fast-food world: Burger King is about to roll out a $1 double cheeseburger. The new promotion is designed to challenge McDonald's rein over the rock-bottom food market. McDonald's has had a $1 double cheeseburger for years now on its "value menu," which according to the Wall Street Journal, accounts for nearly a quarter of its sales, but Burger King's double has sold for twice that much. Experts predict that BK's new burger-for-a-buck campaign will set off a price war. Who knows how low it could go!

This is probably good news for all you beef eaters out there, but it can't be good for the nation's collective waistline. Someday someone will study whether the race to the bottom burger pricing produced a corresponding increase in obese Americans. After all, BK will be making it even easier for people to consume more than 1,000 calories and 67 grams of fat in one sitting, for just a buck. If there was ever a good case to be made for a junk food tax, this might be it.

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Minneapolis Prosecutors Bid Good Riddance to Rachel Paulose

| Tue Nov. 20, 2007 9:02 PM EST

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When Rachel Paulose was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota in March, she sparked a mini-scandal with her investiture ceremony, which is usually a demure affair held at the federal courthouse. She got free use of the University of St. Thomas Law School's atrium, which usually rents for $1500. Three hundred people showed up for the event, which included a municipal choir and military color guard, and it earned her a "diva" title from law-gossip blogger David Lat. But all that pomp and circumstance now looks like an ill-fated wedding, with the couple headed to divorce court.

No Thanksgiving Surprises for Bush This Year

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 3:09 PM EST

John_R._Bolton.pngWhen President Bush has failed to win political support for unpopular appointees to various government and judicial posts, he has waited until Congress was out of session and installed these folks as "recess appointments" that don't need Senate confirmation. The maneuver doesn't ensure permanence, but the appointees can stay in office long enough to do some damage. People like Sam Fox, who donated lots of money to Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, for instance, and the ill-tempered conservative John Bolton both snuck into ambassadorial suites while members of Congress were back home glad-handing constituents.

This week, though, the Senate has decided to hold just enough pro forma sessions to prevent an official congressional recess for Thanksgiving. They won't be doing much but sitting around twiddling their thumbs and talking to the C-Span cameras, but their presence in D.C. will prevent Bush from putting people in high places without first getting the Senate's stamp of approval.

Push Polls Add Mud to New Hampshire GOP Primary

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 10:59 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.

Police Reservists Bring the War Home

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 10:38 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...

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