Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a freelance writer, and former staff member of The American Prospect. A fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.

Recent Articles

It's an Ad World After All

I n 2006, a commercial began to air on cable television that showed happy babies gurgling through their year-one milestones. “A baby’s first smile of recognition,” a voiceover says. “That first rollover. The first step, and first word are miracles of a baby’s life.” Over graphics of a growing brain, a narrator announces that the first five years of development are critical and tells parents to “seize this small window of opportunity” to reach another milestone with their children: learning to read. The commercials direct parents to a toll-free number to buy Your Baby Can Read, a five-disc set that costs $200. A number of educational experts considered the product a scam—babies don’t learn to read from watching DVDs because babies can’t learn to read. Prominent among the critics was Susan Linn, a 63-year-old child psychologist and founder of the watchdog group Campaign for a Commercial--Free Childhood. In April 2011, she complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the...

The Commons

Zipcar and Flexcar started an economic revolution in urbanized America. But how much are we willing to share?

Eric Palma
In the late 1990s, when Robin Chase and her co-founders started testing names for what would become the car-sharing network Zipcar, they quickly learned to avoid the word "sharing." "Every one that had the word 'share' in it," she says, "about 40 percent of the people hated. They thought, 'It's going to be dirty -- crummy -- like the 1960s, and I'm going to have to wait.' Imagine if hotels were called bed-sharing." If Chase found users reluctant to embrace the concept of sharing, it might have been because hers was one of the first businesses to try it. To sell the Zipcar idea, the company highlighted its convenience: Rather than check out with an agent, customers reserve a car online for however long they need it. Rentals can be as short as an hour. The cars are parked in public lots, and users unlock the vehicles by waving their membership card over an electronic reader behind the windshield. The ignition keys and a gas card are inside. When done, customers wave their card over the...

The Bachmann Mystique

How can a woman be an avatar for an evangelical movement that argues that women must obey men?

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
On August 11, at a Republican debate in Iowa held two days before she won the straw poll in Ames, Michele Bachmann deflected a question that brought boos from the audience. The moderator, Byron York of the Washington Examiner , had asked the Minnesota congresswoman whether she would be submissive to her husband in the White House. York's query was prompted by a statement Bachmann made to the congregation at the Living World Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, during her first run for Congress in 2006. After she finished law school at the conservative Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she recalled, her husband urged her to get a postdoctoral degree in tax law. "I hate taxes, why should I go and do something like that?" she said. "But the Lord says, 'Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'" The view that wives should submit to their husbands, which comes from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians, is held by many conservative Christians...

Big Mess

A lawsuit against a Utah polygamy law is a nightmare for liberals and conservatives alike.

(AP Photo/TLC, Bryant Livingston, File)
Last year, at the end of the first season of Sister Wives , a reality show about a polygamist family in Utah, Kody Brown took a fourth wife, Robyn. Rain threatened to cancel the religious ceremony. Meri, Brown's first wife and the only one to whom he is legally married, commented on the gloomy sky, "That's how my heart felt." Before then, Brown, a 43-year-old ad salesman, his three wives, and their 13 children had achieved an equilibrium of sorts. Robyn and her three kids threw this off balance, but welcoming Robyn was a nonnegotiable duty for the other women. "At that time, it really establishes itself as a patriarchal relationship," says Felice Batlan, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and a fan of the show. Bringing in a new wife did more than disrupt the family's peace. It made the Browns the target of a criminal investigation under the anti-bigamy law that Utah had to adopt in order to enter the union. As far as the state is concerned, Meri is Brown's only wife, but...

(Not) Talking Taxes in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's high popularity has meant that he hasn't had to court the Democratic base, so he has chosen to target public-sector unions.

Andrew Cuomo had many potential lines of attack when he decided to run for governor of New York last year, but he eschewed most of them. Cuomo--then the state's attorney general--chose not to rail against the state Legislature, where a number of rogue politicians had mucked up the works term after term. He did not follow in the footsteps of another former attorney general turned governor, Eliot Spitzer, who had portrayed himself as a champion of the people, touting his record of taking down big financial players who'd abused the system. Nor, despite the state's progressive history and largely progressive electorate, did Cuomo--a former housing secretary in the Clinton administration and the son of legendary Gov. Mario Cuomo--make a case for closing the state's budget gap by enacting a more progressive tax code as well as spending cuts the way that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state next door, Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, did. But Cuomo's victory, unlike Malloy's, was...