Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

More Than "Mom-in-Chief"

Despite criticism from feminists, Michelle Obama has shown herself to be a serious first lady.

A few months ago, Prospect contributor Courtney Martin wrote about the frustration feminists felt toward Michelle Obama. Here was a trailblazing career woman, a Harvard- and Princeton-educated attorney at a major Chicago law firm who nonetheless billed herself as "mom-in-chief." For Martin, this branding of Michelle Obama was a calculated political move, an attempt to project an image that did not ruffle feathers or detract from the president's campaign. Some feminists may not be happy with Michelle Obama -- she is inevitably compared to Hilary Clinton, who famously "overstepped" by introducing an omnibus bill that would have completely changed the health-care system in 1994 -- and criticize her for signing on to innocuous-sounding, child-focused programs like her predecessors Barbara and Laura Bush, who promoted literacy, and Nancy Reagan, who told kids to "Just Say No" to drugs. But at its one-year mark, "Let's Move," her initiative aimed at curbing childhood obesity, has come to...

Moral Combat

Why do liberals play computer games like conservatives?

Greg Clarke
Simulated Monica's troubles began as soon as I hit play. She could never work her way past an entry-level job on the graveyard shift. No one in her family could cook, which left them all to subsist on a diet of takeout pizza. One day, Sim Monica's husband moved out and was gone forever, leaving Sim Monica a single mom. Their son was never entertained, sated, or well rested enough to study, and he earned F's until he was shipped off to military school. Sim Monica, alone and penniless, eventually died of starvation and neglect because I never figured out that a misplaced kitchen cabinet was blocking her access to the refrigerator. I eventually got the hang of The Sims , the best-selling computer game in history, and my Sim self became productive and happy. She always reached the top of her career, her children always did well in school, and she always had enough money for a comfortable simulated life. Another pattern emerged as well, one that I feel powerless to stop: My Sims are...

Q&A: Food Prices and Revolution

TAP talks to someone from the United Nations World Food Programme about how food-price instability affects what's happening in Egypt.

While many factors are contributing to the growing unrest in Egypt -- and the crumbling of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak's regime -- it's important to note that one of the causes is the global rise in food prices. Price shocks for staples like wheat and grain led to rioting in many poor countries in 2007 and 2008, and price volatility in the global food market is likely here to stay. For a poor country like Egypt, changes in food prices have drastic consequences. TAP spoke with Rene McGuffin, a senior public-information officer for the World Food Programme in Washington, D.C., about the role food prices play in Egypt, political unrest elsewhere, and what we can expect in the future. What role are higher food prices playing in Egypt? The rising price of food is a contributing factor. But so far, it has not been the central issue. The political turmoil that we're seeing in Egypt has been over a lot of issues, a lot of concerns ... whether they're poverty, inequality, and other issues...

The USDA's Thintervention

Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns with students at Tucker Elementary School during the unveiling of the MyPyramid for Kids (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
On Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services -- the guys responsible for the ever-evolving "food pyramid" -- released their national nutrition guidelines, which they update every five years. The basic message of the report: Eat less, make more of what you eat vegetables and fruits, and eat much less salt. It's not advice we haven't heard before -- nor, however many times it's heard, does it seem to be making Americans any thinner -- but it does represent a government effort to provide food guidelines that are easier for consumers to understand and a frank acknowledgment of our growing obesity epidemic. Typically, the national nutrition guidelines lump foods into broad, technical categories like "carbohydrates" or "proteins" and focus almost exclusively on individual consumers' eating choices. This report not only makes individual recommendations easier to understand; it critiques the broader food environment that influences how and...

Obama, UnMoved.

If you haven't read Paul Waldman's piece on how President Obama hasn't really moved to the not-really-there-center so much as remained the same person he's always been, I urge you to do so. What's true about Obama is that progressives have always been inclined to see him as more progressive than he probably is in practice, despite what he may believe, and the right is always going to be opposed to him whatever he does. (The fact that Obama hasn't changed much since he hit the national stage with his 2004 Democratic Convention address is something his aides want to hammer home, too.) What's interesting to me is how ready the press was to see Obama do what they expected him to do: triangulate, the way Bill Clinton did after 1994. If anything, the headlines Waldman points to from major newspapers after the State of the Union address show how often news analysis hides as straight news reporting, and how often narratives are influenced by those who want stories to have a narrative. (Maybe...