Monica Potts

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

Recent Articles

Health-Care Oppression.

As if it wasn't clear enough that racism was playing a roll in the rejection of a big, ambitious effort to spread health insurance coverage to more Americans, Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia made it more explicit when he said the following: If Obamacare passes, that free insurance card that's in people's pockets is going to be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the war between the states -- the Great War of Yankee Aggression. Firstly, what free health-insurance card? I want one! Secondly, I thought the War Between the States was enough of a Southern code for folks to know which side he'd be on in the Civil War, but invoking Yankee aggression bolsters it even more. I forgot during this whole health-care debate that the mostly white people packing the Tea Party rallies were the only people who are actually oppressed in this country. Thanks for reminding me, Broun. -- Monica Potts

Judging Rape.

An Ohio judge has ordered teenage sexual-assault victims in four separate cases to undergo polygraph tests, along with the teenage boys who were convicted, before the scheduled sentencing, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer . This has the potential to be some old-school victim blaming, and though the judge, Alison Floyd , declined to comment, I can't help but wonder whether it's related to the Hofstra University case in which a video discovery showed that group sex in a club bathroom wasn't exactly gang rape, as the accuser had said. In that case, what happened was disturbing and also not clearly criminal, a gray-area matter the criminal-justice system isn't particularly adept at handling. But there's no hint that the Ohio cases are similarly ambiguous. A polygraph test is part of an investigation, but the court has already determined guilt. The case should be closed. Moreoever, lie detectors are so unreliable they're often not admitted in court as evidence. And what evidence...

Sometimes There Are Facts, Journalist Says.

One of the most annoying things about the way the health-care battle has played out in the press is the way arguments of fact are presented as arguments of politics. That happened today, when, in a roundabout way of reporting on the CBO's score of the latest iteration of the reform bill, The New York Times attributed the savings to the words of top Democrat officials instead of the Congressional Budget Office, which it later called "authoritative." In the first ten years, the legislation would reduce deficits by $130 billion, Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the House majority whip, said after a meeting of the party’s caucus. The effect on deficits over the following decade would be much greater, a total of $1.2 trillion, he said. The savings would come largely from reductions in the growth of Medicare spending, with new fees and tax increases also contributing. It seems clear that the reporter simply hadn't seen the report, which was released after the story was published...

A Decline in Prison Populations.

For the first time in 40 years, the number of prisoners in state prison systems has dropped , according to a new report from the Pew Center on the States. During the past four decades, the number of prisoners rose precipitously -- by more than 700 percent -- as more people were sent to prison and kept there longer. While the financial crisis helps explain some of the drop, as states released some prisoners as a way to cut costs in the face of budget deficits, the study from Pew notes that the population began to decline in 2007, before the crisis really took hold. Many states began to realize their tax dollars could be more effectively spent through diversionary and other programs. While the number of prisoners rose so fast, the direct costs of incarcerating them rose as well. That doesn't even count the opportunity costs of all those people spending years in prison. And while the center hedges a bit and says the very small decline could be a seasonal adjustment, the study notes that...

Attacking the Producers.

Yesterday, Michelle Obama gave a speech to the Grocery Manufacturers of America, as part of her campaign against childhood obesity. She told the assembled group -- executives responsible for products from Coca-Cola to ConAgra to McDonald's -- to stop hiding unhealthy ingredients behind health-claim labels and to start marketing healthy foods as effectively as unhealthy ones: Mrs. Obama acknowledged that the changes she called for can’t happen overnight, but said that it doesn't excuse attempts to disguise unhealthy food. “Adding a little bit of vitamin C to a product with lots of sugar, or a gram of fiber to a product with tons of fat, doesn’t suddenly make those products good for our kids," she said. The message represents what I like most about the campaign. While efforts include food education for parents and children, the campaign is also aimed at the people who make and market cheap, unhealthy food. Kids are bombarded with ads and candy displays, and parental involvement only...