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 several years 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.

Does the Virtual World Need Virtual Lawsuits?

| Wed Oct. 3, 2007 9:14 AM EDT

A Pennsylvania lawyer has sued the creator of the online virtual universe Second Life after the company banned him from the game and confiscated his virtual winnings. Apparently he'd been cheating in the game's land-auction process. The lawyer is asking for $8,000 in restitution. Maybe the game needs to be expanded to include "virtual litigation," complete with jury pools and subpoena power...

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Doctors Discover Americans Are Uninsured

| Tue Oct. 2, 2007 10:16 AM EDT

Over the past month, the American Medical Association (AMA) has blanketed the D.C. public transit system with a massive advertising campaign to raise the profile of the 1 in 7 Americans who lack health insurance. The three-year, multimillion-dollar campaign is also underway in early primary states like Iowa and South Carolina.

It's nice to see the doctors' lobby using its tremendous political muscle to focus attention on the uninsured rather than, say, injured people who sue them (the AMA has devoted millions of dollars to "medical malpractice reform" over the past few years). But the new campaign seems a little disingenuous. After all, were it not for the AMA, we might have had universal coverage 50 years ago. Way back in 1948, the AMA spent millions on PR to defeat government-run universal health care when it was close to passage in Congress by stoking fears of Communists and socialized medicine. The group even fought the creation of Medicare, which it now lobbies hard to protect. And, it was the AMA and many of its partners in this new effort (like the insurance companies) that worked to kill off HillaryCare in the 1990s.

Not surprisingly, the AMA's "solution" to the health care crisis is based mostly on tax credits that would allow people to buy private insurance rather than a bigger role for government. But hey, at least they've finally stopped ranting about socialized medicine!

Citigroup Gets What It Deserves

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 2:27 PM EDT

Citigroup today announced that its third-quarter earnings dropped 60 percent, in large part because of more than a billion dollars worth of bad subprime loans in its portfolio. But no one, especially not Citigroup, should be surprised that its loan portfolio is a minefield of rotten debt.

For years, Citigroup has preyed on the mentally retarded, the elderly, and the illiterate, particularly in the South, to push predatory subprime loans on people most ill-equipped to pay for them. Reporter Mike Hudson, now at the Wall Street Journal, has been chronicling this story for a decade, and in 2003, Southern Exposure magazine won a George Polk award for his investigative package on Citigroup and its history of assembling some of the country's sleaziest subprime lending companies under one roof. Lots of people who got subprime loans from Citigroup and its subsidiaries ended up losing their homes long before the current foreclosure crisis.

Just five years ago, Citigroup agreed to pay $240 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission over its predatory lending practices, and it has settled a host of private lawsuits over similar charges. The lawsuits never seemed to put even a hitch in Citigroup's step, but it looks like all those bad loans are finally coming home to roost. Citigroup deserves to collapse under the weight of its scummy business practices, but it's unfortunate that the reckoning threatens to bring down the rest of the economy with it.

The Attack of the Brain-Eating Amoebas

| Sun Sep. 30, 2007 12:11 PM EDT

Yet another reason to worry about rising global temperatures: Brain-eating amoebas are apparently thriving in warmer water in lakes and other popular swimming spots. The amoebas have killed a record six people nationwide this year, a trend that's expected to get worse as the world gets hotter. The amoebas swim up your nose and eat away at your brain until you die. Experts warn against performing somersaults in shallow water where the bugs hang out. Nose plug sales are expected to skyrocket...

Does Scalia Think Clarence Thomas is a Nutter?

| Fri Sep. 28, 2007 1:48 PM EDT

In his new book on the Supreme Court, The Nine, Jeffrey Toobin apparently claims that Justice Antonin Scalia called his conservative colleague a "nut" in a public speech. While we can't really blame Scalia if he did, not everyone agrees with Toobin's analysis. Read more about it here.

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Tue Sep. 9, 2014 6:30 AM EDT | Updated Tue Dec. 16, 2014 10:10 AM EDT