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If you want some straight talk in these days of the Democratic Leadership Council's calls to retreat to a monastery or move to the center, check out Howard Dean's feisty comments about his vision for the Democratic Party and what he thinks went down in this election.

In a speech to students at Northwestern University last week, Dean fired back at the Right; he called Reverend Jerry Falwell a hate-monger, and described Justice Antonin Scalia as "sarcastic and mean-spirited." And in a jab at the conservative Club for Growth's ad attacks on him as a "latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, body-piercing, left-wing freak show" who should head back to Vermont, Dean explained, "I don't drink coffee. I have three cars--all of them are American. " "No part of me is pierced that I'm willing to discuss publicly," he added. "And if you want to see a freak show, go look at the people who wrote that ad..."

Dean ended by calling on the students to run for office. In a playful twist on his now infamous "Dean Scream," he shouted, "You need to run for office--not just in Illinois and Ohio and South Carolina! You need to run for office in Mississippi, and Alabama, and Idaho and Texas and..."

Two weeks before the 2004 presidential election, the Bush administration's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, made a solemn pronouncement about her desire to remain outside the political fight between Democrat John Kerry and the man who this week appointed her to serve as Secretary of State. "I think it's important that we not campaign," Rice said of national security aides. She emphasized that this was a particular concern because "we are in a time of war."

Rice made her comments during an interview with the political editor of KDKA, a Pittsburgh-based television powerhouse with a reach capable of taking her words into the homes of millions of voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Then, in a display of her nonpolitical approach, Rice proceeded to rip into Kerry's charge that the administration had botched the search for Osama bin Laden. Kerry's assertion "is just not true," raged Rice, before again refuting the notion that she was campaigning for Bush.

Some days it feels like 1925--when William Jennings Bryan defended the merits of creationism in the Scopes Monkey trial--all over again.

I've written before about how the Right wants to dismantle the achievements of the 20th century--the New Deal, environmentalism, civil rights and civil liberties. But now rightwing social conservatives, our home-grown fundamentalists, are seeking to unravel the scaffolding of science and reason, and this battle deserves attention from humanists of all stripes. One of the most virulent expressions of the rightwing assault on modernity is the war against evolution being waged in America's classrooms and courtrooms, parks and civic institutions.

Slipping creationism into civic discussions picked up steam in the 1990s. That's when Kansas issued new state science guidelines in which "evolution" was replaced with the phrase "change over time," and Illinois made a similar change.

Last July, the Washington Post devoted much of its front-page to a well-reported story indicting National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for her role in misleading Congress and the public in the run-up to the Iraq war. The bottom line: Rice was either incompetent or a liar.

Even sources described as "generally sympathetic" to the NSC adviser questioned her many shifting and contradictory statements regarding Iraq's alleged uranium purchase and the WMD (non)threat. But Rice's dogged loyalty to Bush served her well, and she stayed put.

In August, barely noticed during the campaign, former chief weapons inspector David Kay went before Congress and in impassioned testimony spent most of his time faulting Rice for botching intelligence information before the war. Kay's remarks reflected a widespread view among intelligence specialists that Rice and the NSC have never been held sufficiently accountable for intelligence failures before the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq.

This just in: Colin Powell is out. Throughout much of 2002 and 2003, I urged Powell to resign. It was clear he did not believe in George W. Bush's war in Ir...

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the health insurance industry heir who went into politics for the purpose of protecting his family's financial interests against even the most tepid federal regulation, is not exactly an expert on the workings of Congress.

But that has not stopped the Tennessee Republican from launching an attack on one of the Senate's most time-honored traditions.

Speaking to the Federalist Society, the conservative legal affairs group that has become the nation's premier proponent of judicial activism, Frist lashed out against Democrats who threaten to use filibusters to block corrupt, incompetent or ideologically extreme nominees for federal judgeships.

Dr. Marc regularly answers readers' questions on matters relating to medicine, healthcare and politics. To send a query, click here.

This just in: Colin Powell is out. Throughout much of 2002 and 2003, I urged Powell to resign. It was clear he did not believe in George W. Bush's war in Ir...

Earlier this week, I wrote about some small but sweet election victories which progressives should be celebrating. I ended by asking readers to send me victories they believed were worth highlighting. The response was overwhelming. Please read a selection of the letters below. Many thanks to all those who took the time to write and apologies to those whose good letters we weren't able to include.

In Minnesota 13 new Democrats were elected to the House of Representatives. This sharp increase in Democratic representation came about because of voter opposition to the failure of the Republican-controlled House to pass a bonding bill to fund much-needed road and higher education construction; cuts in education, welfare, and health care funding; and passage of conceal/carry gun laws, gay marriage, and regressive school standards, all driven by Republican House members' pledges to not raise taxes. Given this voter mandate, the new legislature will no longer be able to use religious right issues to mask having to deal with declining education, welfare, and health care funding.

Richard Beach, Minneapolis, MN


Here in North Carolina, we elected our first openly gay member of the General Assembly. Democrat Julia Boseman, a former New Hanover County (Southeastern part of state) Commissioner, will represent that county in the North Carolina Senate.

B.J. Eversole, Wilmington, NC


The Los Angeles City Council unanimously adopted the nation's most aggressive anti-sweatshop ordinance by a unanimous vote after two years of lobbying by local unions, sweatshop workers, clergy and activists.

Tom Hayden, Los Angeles, CA


Colorado replaced the Republican State Legislature (both houses) with a Democratic legislature (both houses.)

Corlyn Seifer, Littleton, CO


Bucking national trends, one third of the Dean Dozens candidates won their respective races at the national, state, and local levels.

Corinne Marasco, Kingstowne, VA


In the category of small but important victories, we should include the election of Bob Hasegawa to the Washington State House of Representatives.

Hasegawa was for nine years the principal officer of Teamsters Local 174, the largest trucking local in the Northwest, following several years as head of the State Teamsters for Democratic Union. During the WTO demonstrations in Seattle, perhaps a majority of the Teamsters in the "Teamsters and Turtles" garb were from his local. He's a long-time leader in the progressive and Asian-American communities.

What's significant about Hasegawa's victory, beyond his background and politics, is that he's determined not to just be another "good vote." He plans to use his position to develop a popular movement in his largely working-class district. He hopes to hold meetings throughout the area to develop a "people's legislative agenda" that reflects the wants and needs of his constituents.

Paul Bigman, Seattle, WA


In Massachusetts, Democrats picked up three seats in the legislature despite the Republican governor's attempt to promote conservative and anti-gay marriage lawmakers.

Victoria Fowlre, Boston, MA


Here in the Central Valley of California we elected a Democratic State Senator against the endorsement of Governor Schwarzenegger and major money from the large land developers. In Yolo County we pay a lot of attention to preservation of farm land and the prevention of sprawl so common in other places in California. Even though the campaign got nasty, the Democrat prevailed. In fact, the Governor lost every one of the candidates he backed, further proof that Californians may register Republican but when it comes to voting they go moderate or Democrat.

Martie Dote, Woodland, CA


A small bit of good news from Massachusetts: A very progressive Democrat just won a seat on the Governor's Council, the body that signs off on (or blocks) judicial appointments. Peter Vickery beat out better funded Democrats in the primary, and a substantially more well-funded Independent in the general election. Given that the conservative Democrats and the Republicans in Massachusetts want to get the gay marriage decision overturned, this is actually a pretty important victory.

Joe Gabriel, Northampton, MA


Oregonians defeated a Tort reform bill that would have put a cap on jury awards for medical liability. The proponents said this change would lower our medical insurance premiums, but Oregonians voted (narrowly) against it. This is in-line with the recent Nation article about Tort reform in Texas. The country needs insurance reform and we hope Oregon can be an example.

Bill Ziebell, Central Point, Oregon


Cincinnati voters overturned an 11 year charter amendment that prohibited city officials from passing any laws aimed at protecting gay and lesbian people.

William P. Fleischmann, Plymouth, MI


Small (and not so small) victories in Red State Colorado: We not only replaced an outgoing Republican Senator and House member with Democrats but also reclaimed both the State House and Senate for the first time in 40+ years. In addition we defeated the Republican governor's request to overhaul the State personnel system by 61 percent to 39 percent and approved a referendum requiring the phase-in of renewable energy by 53 percent to 47 percent. In the Denver Metro area we passed a large light rail/mass transit funding initiative by 57 percent to 42 percent and extended funding for scientific and cultural facilities by an overwhelming margin. The vast majority of school tax and bond issues passed.

Andy Stone, Wheat Ridge, CO


I am a middle aged woman and this is the first time that I got deeply involved in activism. I have always been a Democrat but this year I was very active in the Fairfax County Democratic Party. I was very passionate about the Bush Administration being voted out of office. I took election day off from work and I worked as a Democratic Poll Watcher.

Another bright light is that Kerry won Fairfax County--the largest in Virginia. This is the first time in 40 years that a Democrat has won Fairfax County. He won by a 6 percent margin.

Susan Kent, Springfield, VA


Democrats in Iowa gained 5 seats in the State Senate so that it is now split evenly with Republicans.

Carlo Veltri, Cedar Falls, IA


My younger brother, Commissioner Todd Portune, Democrat, was re-elected by a large majority in heavily conservative Hamilton County, Ohio. (You may recall that this area of the Buckeye State, which includes the city of Cincinnati, once took its own art museum to court for daring to exhibit Robert Mapplethorpe's work.)

In this repressive atmosphere, Todd has managed to stay true to his progressive ideas and goals, and yet somehow become the first Democrat elected to his post in over 35 years. His is a voice of intelligence, compassion, tolerance and reason in a county which has for too long advocated none of the above. And he has succeeded in appealing to voters on both sides of the political fence, an accomplishment to which our party should aspire on a national level.

Bob Portune Cresskill, NJ


Seventeen-term Illinois Republican Rep. Phil Crane was defeated by progressive Democrat Melissa Bean. Crane had a 0 percent lifetime AFL-CIO voting record. Bean's major criticism of Crane was that he had grown complacent and had failed to change with the times and stand up for working people. She cited as prime examples his voting to cut student loans, allowing exploratory oil drilling on Lake Michigan and supporting privatization of Social Security.

Crane fought back, calling his opponent out about not living in the district, claiming Bean would raise taxes if elected and saying she flip-flopped in support of the Bush tax plan. He failed to make the usual Republican attacks stick to Bean.

Dennis Barker, Collinsville, IL


In Maine, Green Independent John Eder was redistricted into a Democratic incumbent's district for the State House of Representatives in an effort to defeat the Green presence in Augusta. It didn't work as Eder won 55 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Democrats ought to learn from this. Gerrymandering in Maine is just as wrong as it is in Texas.

Daniel Jenkins, Timonium MD


Here in Portland, progressive Democrat Tom Potter, who was endorsed by Howard Dean, won the mayoral race by a large margin.

Anthony Johnson, Portland OR


In Utah (despite giving Bush an incredible 70 percent of its votes) there were some small victories (perhaps one not so small). We now have a county governor who is a Democrat and all three "at large" county council seats are held by Democrats as well.

Also, Jim Matheson managed to hang on to his Congressional seat despite a nasty campaign run by his Republican opponent.

Minor victories to be sure; however, in a state like Utah, believe me, every little victory is a sweet blessing.

Valerie Heath-Harrison, Kearns UT

One symbol of Palestine is now gone, but the Palestinian people continue to suffer under the tyranny of occupation.

As times change, so do the questions that a movie prompts.

The tasks of poetry have never been more important or more difficult than they are now.

Beginning in the fifteenth century, Africa, Europe and the Americas came together in the Atlantic to create new economies, new cultures and new societies.

When she was 30, Mónica M. fled her violent husband, taking her two small children and only the clothes on her back. But leaving did not solve her problems.

Maybe labor should give up on Washington in favor of friendlier terrain.

In the postelection world, holding evangelical Protestantism up to the light has become all the rage, which does seem somewhat like shutting the barn door after the horse has left the barn.

It's impossible to pinpoint any single factor that determined the Democrats' defeat on election day, but a significant disadvantage that is going unremarked in the discussion of "God," "gays" and

A remarkable number of those in Blue America who hoped for an end to the Bush era on November 2 received the news of his election victory almost as if it had been a physical blow.

The Nader Vote, we find, did not exist.
No harm was done by Ralph, that avis rarest.
So, not a factor, as he was before,