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.

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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Earth to Fashion Industry: It's Still Really Hot Outside

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 11:20 AM EDT

sweater%20coat.jpgThe fashion industry has always been out of sync with normal women's shopping cycles. Stores routinely trot out the latest in fall fashions--corduroy Peter Pan jackets, knee-high boots-when most of us are still in dire need of a new swim suit for the beach. But global warming is making these practices seem even more ridiculous.

Here in DC, for instance, this month may go down on record as the hottest October in 137 years. The average normal high temperature for DC in October is 67 degrees. This month, it's been well over 80 almost every day (we even had a day in the 90s), and yet, just try to find something decent to wear that doesn't involve wool! Eventually, the fashion folks are going to have to come to grips with the fact that D.C. is now basically California, not New York, when it comes to the weather. At this rate, all those cute cord jackets in store windows are going to be obsolete long before the the temperature drops below 70.


Tort Reform Brings More Doctors to Texas, But Only for Rich People

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 1:44 PM EDT

In 2003, Texas voters approved a ballot initiative known as Proposition 12 that helped radically restrict state residents' ability to sue doctors or nursing homes that killed or injured them. Insurance company lobbyists had claimed doctors were fleeing the state because of lawsuits and high malpractice insurance premiums, threatening access to care. Proposition 12 was supposed to fix all that. Not only would doctors rush to Texas for its friendly legal climate, but, supporters claimed, obstetricians would move en masse to the 152 poor, rural Texas counties that had no ob/gyn to deliver local babies.

The New York Times recently declared Prop 12 a huge success because doctors (ob/gyns in particular) are supposedly flocking to Texas now that they don't have to worry about getting sued. One thing the Times didn't point out, though, was that the number of those new ob/gyns who've moved to rural, underserved Texas is exactly zero.
prop-12-map.gif

The Texas Observer this month crunched the numbers, and came to the not-so-startling conclusion that while there may be more doctors in Texas thanks to tort reform, virtually all of them moved into the state's richest suburbs, which were already well-stocked with highly paid specialists. As it turns out, doctors don't shun the Texas sticks because of lawsuits but because they'd just rather live closer to Starbucks and their golfing buddies.

Does Barbie Eat Fries?

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 12:14 PM EDT

myscene.jpg

Back in June, under fire for marketing junk food to children, McDonalds pledged to become more socially responsible. The company insisted that it didn't need to be regulated by the government. It would do its part to fight the childhood obesity epidemic by producing new advertising that included "healthy lifestyle messages" for kids.

Well, here's what they've come up with: A Barbie on rollerblades in every Happy Meal. The plastic sex-kittens are part of a new promotion to get little girls to consume the 700 calories and 28 grams of fat that are the average Happy Meal. But hey, Barbie is rollerblading!

Preteens on the Pill?

| Thu Oct. 18, 2007 3:59 PM EDT

A student health center at a middle school in Portland, Maine, recently voted to make birth control pills and patches available to students treated at the center. For those of you who don't remember, middle schoolers range in age from 11 to 13. While making contraceptives more widely available is a noble goal, doesn't an 11-year-old girl seeking birth control pills cry out for a visit from social services? After all, girls that young rarely have 12-year-old partners.

Obviously it's better to have preteens on the pill than pregnant, but still, the news that five kids told the middle-school nurse in Portland that they were having sex last year seems worth more intervention that just a pack of Ortho-Novum....

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