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.

A Junket by Any Other Name..

| Tue Oct. 30, 2007 2:12 PM EDT

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.

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A New Twist on "Sleeping It Off"?

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:34 PM EDT

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 3:33 PM EDT

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.

income%20growth%20chart.jpg

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.

A New Twist on the Old Chain Gang

| Wed Oct. 24, 2007 2:23 PM EDT

Somehow this seems so wrong on so many levels...

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered the corrections' department to join the state's massive effort to combat the wildfires raging around San Diego. Not only do the prisons have a bunch of fire trucks to lend to the overtaxed fire departments, but the New York Times reports that more than 2,600 inmates, trained as firefighters, are now out there fighting to save Mel Gibson's house San Diego.

Fake News from PhRMA

| Wed Oct. 24, 2007 1:46 PM EDT

The pharmaceutical industry apparently isn't succeeding in its traditional PR efforts to get reporters and TV shows to say nice things about drug companies, so it's decided to create its own TV news show to get the word out. The Hill reports that former Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin will be hosting "Healthcare Campfire" on Sundays in DC to put a positive spin on the industry that created Vioxx and fen-phen. The show, designed to look like any morning talk show, is actually a 30-minute infomercial paid for by Tauzin's employer, the industry group PhRMA, and will include guests like Montel Williams, a multiple sclerosis sufferer who's been flacking for PhRMA for a while now, and former White House press secretary Tony Snow. Clearly lots of people will be giving up football to tune in for this one!

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