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.

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Did the Tea Party Convert David Mamet?

| Tue Jun. 21, 2011 6:01 AM EDT
David Mamet.

The new book out this month by Pulitzer-prize winning playwright David Mamet isn't winning any rave reviews from the mainstream press. No doubt that's because the MSM is dominated by a bunch of liberals, and Mamet, formerly a liberal himself, has come out as a Fox-News-watching right-winger. This weekend, his book was panned in the New York Times by Christopher Hitchens.

Like Mamet, Hitchens has moved far to the right of his liberal roots, but he still wasn't finding much to love about The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. He calls it "an extraordinarily irritating book." Reviewers, including Hitchens, have noted that Mamet credits such right-wing talk show hosts as Glenn Beck and Hugh Hewitt for putting him on the path to righteousness. But could it be possible that the tea party movement had something to do with his conservative conversion as well?

Camp Tea Party

| Wed Jun. 15, 2011 11:49 AM EDT

Think summer camp and most people tend to envision mobs of kids swimming in lakes, rowing canoes, or weaving friendship bracelets and singing campfire songs. But conservative activists in Florida have come up with a novel idea for a summer camp this year: Camp Tea Party. In what sounds eerily like indoctrination camp, a few Tampa kids will be spending part of their summer learning about the evils of European socialism and the Christian roots of the Constitution at the "Tampa Liberty School," a summer camp created by conservative activists from a Tampa 9/12 group. Their camp cheers will include such mottoes as "government can't force me to be charitable" and "I believe in God." The St. Petersburg Times reports on some of the activities campers can look forward to:

Children will win hard, wrapped candies to use as currency for a store, symbolizing the gold standard. On the second day, the "banker" will issue paper money instead. Over time, students will realize their paper money buys less and less, while the candies retain their value...

Another example: Starting in an austere room where they are made to sit quietly, symbolizing Europe, the children will pass through an obstacle course to arrive at a brightly decorated party room (the New World).

Red-white-and-blue confetti will be thrown. But afterward the kids will have to clean up the confetti, learning that with freedom comes responsibility.

Still another example: Children will blow bubbles from a single container of soapy solution, and then pop each other's bubbles with squirt guns in an arrangement that mimics socialism. They are to count how many bubbles they pop. Then they will work with individual bottles of solution and pop their own bubbles.

The camp is a hybrid of vacation Bible school and Glenn Beck. The organizers modeled the camp after one started in Kentucky last year that seems to have taken much of its curriculum straight from Beck's favorite writer, the late W. Cleon Skousen, author of some dubious and occasionally racist histories of the nation and the bestselling 5,000 Year Leap. In the Kentucky camp, kids learned, among other things, that the early American settlers starved to death because they were communists, a piece of Skousen dogma.

The camps are the brainchild of members of groups that sprung up a few years ago at the urging of Beck, who launched what he called the 9/12 project, symbolizing the day after the 9/11 attacks when the country put partisan differences aside and came together. Beck came up with nine principles and 12 values as the basis for the organization. The 9/12 groups have been associated with the tea party movement, but they also tend to have more religious undertones than their tea party compatriots. Many of their members are Mormons, like Beck and Skousen. Still, they are supportive of the tea party's new focus on the next generation.

The Florida activists are not alone in trying to foist their agenda on America's youth. Organizers of the Tea Party Patriots organization have recently urged activists to lobby public schools to teach the Constitution using materials created by a group Skousen founded. The Tampa Liberty School founders say they hope to expand their summer camp offering into local public schools as well, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "We've had classes for adults," Karen Jaroch, who chairs the Tampa 912 Project, told the paper. "Now we want to introduce a younger generation to economics and history, but in a fun way."

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