FIGHTING BACK IN THE WAR ON WOMEN. Despite the recent Komen victory, the GOP’s extremist attack on women’s health rages on. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell declared that the GOP would pursue legislation allowing any employer to deny contraception in health insurance plans. Republican Senator Roy Blunt proposed an amendment to the Affordable Care Act to exclude coverage if an employer claims that it “violates their religious or moral convictions.” This week, the Oklahoma Senate passed anti-abortion “personhood” legislation, affirming that “life begins at the moment of conception.” And Republican lawmakers in Virginia went beyond personhood to outlaw certain types of contraception and mandate an invasive ultrasound procedure for women undergoing abortions.
The Komen victory was a riveting lesson in the power of organized outrage. Yet, as I argued this week in “2012: Year of the Woman ,” we need more for long-term progress on women’s reproductive health. We need election of more pro-choice legislators in Congress and state legislatures. As I told MSNBC’s The ED Show , the upcoming election could see a record number of women candidates elected to Congress, with the support of organizations like EMILY’s List. Six incumbents and five challengers, including Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Susan Bysiewicz (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would be the first women to represent their state in the Senate. If the power of organized outrage is channeled into electoral politics, 2012 might prove to be a Year of the Woman and advance women’s voices in decisions about our own health.
ALEC REVISITED. Monday’s New York Times editorial, “The Big Money Behind State Laws ,” spotlights the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), described as “a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.” The Times rightly points out ALEC’s pernicious influence in state legislatures across the country. But it was The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy that—thanks to a leak by Ohio-based activist Aliya Rahman—obtained more than 800 ALEC documents representing decades of model legislation. In an accompanying expose in the August 1-8, 2011, issue , The Nation offered an inside look at the priorities of ALEC’s corporate board and millionaire benefactors: efforts to undermine labor rights, voting rights and healthcare; revamp the prison industry; and strengthen school privatization. Thanks to grassroots momentum in the states, Democratic lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin have introduced the “ALEC Accountability Act,” which requires groups pushing model legislation to publicly disclose its funding sources. More on that here .
‘MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY’ DEBUTS ON MSNBC. Tune in this weekend for the debut of Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Perry’s new show  on MSNBC. The self-titled Melissa Harris-Perry  will follow Up with Chris Hayes, from 10am-Noon ET on weekends. The show promises to bring as much intellectual firepower and incisive analysis on politics and social issues as Harris-Perry has brought to the pages of The Nation, and offer a missing ingredient in much of today’s broadcast news coverage: diversity of perspectives and opinions. For an inside look at the new show, read the New York Times’s Brian Stelter’s profile, available here . And stay updated via Twitter by following her new show—@MHPShow  and #Nerdland.
STUDENTNATION: AZ LAW OUTLAWS TEACHING OF LAW, HISTORY OR LITERATURE. In a widely read post  at StudentNation— The Nation’s blog devoted to campus-oriented news, first person reports from student activists and journalists about their campus— contributor Angus Johnston reports how a newly introduced legislation in the Arizona State Senate, SB 1467, forces campuses to punish teachers “who engage[d] in speech or conduct that would violate standards adopted by the [FCC]…” Be sure read Johnston’s analysis of the implications of the law, available here .
WELCOME: VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO. We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the University of Texas and communications director for Latino Decisions, as a guest-blogger at TheNation.com. Her coverage will center around the 2012 primary campaigns, with a specific eye to their political marketing strategies toward the Latino electorate. Her first blog post on the Arizona primary will look at the strategies the candidates are developing in balancing a courting of the anti-immigrant conservative base against Mormon and Latino Republicans opposed to anti-immigrant legislation. Her blog posts are available here , and be sure to connect with her on Twitter: @drvmds .
VIDEONATION: WISCONSIN’S UPRISING. In this week’s installment of VideoNation , Washington correspondent John Nichols tells the story of Wisconsin’s uprising, the subject of his new book, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest  (Nation Books), out this month. Nichols explains how the popular reaction to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s vicious attack on labor rights transformed American politics and how it revived an “immense amount of hope” in an era of corporate overreach and influence in politics. Nichols explains how exercising one’s fundamental rights can effect major change. He joined Democracy Now!  this week on the one-year anniversary of Wisconsin’s uprising to explain how the events in Madison have shaped grassroots actions throughout America. Be sure to read his latest piece, in this week’s issue, on “America’s Youth Uprising .”
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