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.

Tea Party Patriots leader Mark Mecker has never seen a TV camera he didn't love. He seems to relish his Fox News appearances and hamming it up before the cameras at press conferences, rallies, and any other place he can get his mug on the big screen. But yesterday, Meckler was caught on tape literally running through oncoming traffic in New York City to avoid reporters, after he was arrested for illegally possessing a gun and charged with a felony. Meckler had gone to LaGuardia airport to catch a flight to LA and checked a locked case carrying a box that contained a Glock handgun and 19 cartridges of 9mm ammo.

A local CBS news station, which shot the footage, describes the chase:

As he left the courthouse after his arraignment he was desperate to avoid news cameras. A man accompanying Meckler put his hand over the lens of CBS 2’s camera and repeatedly tried to interfere with our photographer as Meckler raced through the courthouse to a side door.

As two photographers gave chase, Meckler ran to Queens Boulevard, the infamous “Boulevard of Death,” and ran across one lane of traffic, jumped over a wrought iron barricade and then high-tailed it to the other side before disappearing into the night.

Meckler has a concealed carry permit to carry the weapon in California, but that doesn't make it legal in New York City, where Meckler had apparently been tooling around for a few days (on a trip that his lawyer diplomatically described as "temporary transit" through the state). He claimed he brought the gun because he's gotten death threats, which raises the question of whether Meckler was actually packing heat during his entire stay in New York, which would be a big violation of the law there. After all, if he needs a gun because he's gotten death threats, it's not going to do him much good locked in a TSA-approved travel box.

Which may be why Meckler was so eager to avoid reporters. Watch his amazing fence-leaping skills as he navigates the Boulevard of Death here:

Conservatives Warn of OWS Propaganda in Schools

Scholastic, the educational publishing giant, has come under fire this week for including a story about the Occupy Wall Street protests in its Scholastic News magazine, which is distributed to school kids in classrooms around the country. WorldNetDaily, the conservative online news outlet that's committed itself to watchdogging such things, ran a story this week suggesting that Scholastic was trying to indoctrinate innocent school kids with George Soros-style liberalism. In a piece headlined "4th-graders Brainwashed with Occupy 'Propaganda," WND tells the story of a parent, identified only by his first name, who's outraged that his child came home from school with a copy of Scholastic News that included an article called, "What is Occupy Wall Street?"

According to WND, "Edward," the parent, complained about the article to Scholastic, saying "I grew up in Soviet Union and seeing your propaganda about Occupy Wall Street brings back my memories."

Offending passages included those mentioning that the protesters had a beef with big companies making too much money as millions of Americans struggle with unemployment and foreclosure. But WND sees much more of a conspiracy in what Scholastic left out: any mention of the alleged anti-Semitism in the movement or the "rampant crime that has been documented at various Occupy protest sites, the filthy conditions left behind by some protest groups, the violence and the incidents of intimidation against even children, as has been reported." WND also complained that Scholastic hadn't mentioned OWS's (largely fictional) Soros funding.

Judging from the story, Scholastic didn't take these complaints very seriously. They are probably used to getting hammered by WND, which has been a vigilant watchdog when it comes to anything untoward creeping into textbooks and other materials in public schools, especially if it happens to involve Muslims. A few year back, WND jumped all over Scholastic for running a story about madrassas in Pakistan in its Junior Scholastic news magazine. WND accused the publisher of "promoting" Islam to American students by explaining to them what life was like inside an Islamic school. Scholastic, to its credit, told WND that it would cover virtually any subject that came up in current events that was likely to be addressed in the classroom—including Occupy Wall Street, apparently.

OWS Takes the Fight to GOP Donors at Cantor Fundraiser

Photo by Stephanie MencimerPhoto by Stephanie MencimerOccupy Wall Street and other protesters in DC for a big "Take Back the Capitol" action Tuesday took their fight for the "99 percent" right to the Republican power base: expensive lobbyists-fueled fundraisers. On Tuesday night, about 100 mostly unemployed activists rallied outside the swank Lincoln restaurant downtown, where House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was holding a $2,500 a plate fundraiser for his leadership PAC.

In no small bit of irony, Cantor had themed the fundraiser a "Festivus" event. Seinfeld fans may recall that Festivus is a fictional holiday created for the show. It involves an undecorated aluminum "Festivus" pole and rituals including the "airing of grievances." (On the Seinfeld episode, Frank Costanza declares, "The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now, you're gonna hear about it.")

The invitation to Cantor's fundraiser asked attendees to come and "air your grievances." So the protesters did. In between heckling donors and GOP members of Congress and chanting for millionaires to pay their fair share, the protesters stopped for the occasional "mic check," in which they had an unemployed person step forward to tell his or her tale of woe. ("I used to be a science teacher...") Many of the people in the crowd had been flown in from Idaho by the Service Employees International Union, which helped organize the protest.

You can watch the video footage of Tuesday night's Cantor protest below, including a scene where a Cantor staff member talks to a Channel 4 reporter with her back turned before having him tossed out:

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