Friday, December 31, 2010

Let There Be Peace On Earth

I think it was seeing the movie, "One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest" starring Jack Nicholson some years ago that first interested me in the unusual sounds that can come from playing a carpenters saw. I got myself a new saw a couple weeks ago and have been toying with it. It has provided hours of entertainment for me trying to make some music with it. So far, my wife is calling it a "screeching saw", but I'm determined to get it to play music some day.
Anyway, here you will experience my first attempt and hopefully I'll be able to show improvement in a few weeks.
I'm pretty sure it will make you wince a few times in listening to this so please be prepared for it.
Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Excessive Celebration

The "excessive celebration" rule for college football games is the best thing they ever came up with. Watching football players saluting, dancing, doing cartwheels and the like after making a touch down, catching a pass, executing a good block or tackle etc. is disgusting and takes away from the game.
Hopefully, the same rule can come out for pro football as well.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Five year blog

I just realized that I've been posting on this blog for five years now. Sure doesn't seem that long and it sure has been enjoyable.
Thanks to all of you for keeping it going.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Too Early for Basketball

This evening, Elaine is switching the television between football and basketball. Woe is me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Some 2011 Changes in Medicare

Here are some major changes to medicare for 2011.

1. In the past, Medicare allowed for a one-time free check up when
seniors joined the Medicare program. Beginning in 2011, seniors will
be able to get a free check up every year.

2. Beneficiaries will no longer have to pay any cost sharing for
Medicare covered preventive services that are recommended by the U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force and rated A or B. The law also waives
the medicare deductible for colorectal cancer screening tests.

3. In 2011, the Medicare part D drug benefit doughnut hole is from
$2840 to $6447.50. When beneficiaries fall into the doughnut hole,
they must pay the entire cost of their prescription medications.
Beneficiaries would not exit the doughnut hole until they have paid a
total of $4550 in out-of-pocket costs. Beginning in 2011, Medicare
beneficiaries who fall in the Part D drug benefit doughnut hole will
receive a 50% discount on the price of their brand name drugs.
Beneficiaries who fall in the doughnut hole will also receive a 7%
government subsidy toward the cost of generic drugs.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh no, Republicans might have to work holidays

Yesterday, when Republicans learned that they might have to work until Christmas, Arizona senator, Jon Kyle, blubbered to the media that it was simply sacrilegious to expect congress to work up until one of the two most sacred holidays of Christianity.

Now, I used to work in a power plant and we had to work whenever we were needed. The soldiers fighting and dieing in Afghanistan are working through the holidays and working people all over America work during "holy week". Kyle also suggested that Senator Harry Reid was disrespecting Christmas to require that congress continue doing the country's business instead of being allowed to go home with their families and wrap presents, etc. I wonder what the homeless and those who are without jobs think of Senator Kyl's remarks.

Such hog wash, and truly disgusting. We need adults in congress. Or, maybe congress should declare that the week before and after Christmas should be national holidays for all to quit working.

Unfortunately, Jon Kyle thinks like most right wingers and we aint seen nothin yet.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NIPSCO - Listen up

OK, NIPSCO. If you think I enjoy having to write about you, you're nuts. I don't. But I don't like hearing about your disciplining your workers when they have an accident either.

Now the union has worked with you to improve your appalling safety program and you've been doing great things in reducing accidents and preventing more deaths of your workers, but for some reason, you're beginning to slide back into your old ways.

When someone is hurt on the job, all other workers need to be educated as to what happened and how they can prevent future accidents of the same type. Forget the discipline. If you must discipline someone, discipline the employees boss. That's the one allowing safety rules to be broken.

Now that's all I want to say about this, so just stop the craziness.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Keep Your Stinking Hands off of Social Security

“We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program. Those taxes aren’t a matter of economics, they’re straight politics,”
FDR told... a Treasury official in 1941.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Find them Cookies

No matter what Elaine does to keep me from eating her Christmas cookies, I am able to find them. I really do believe that this exceptional ability to sniff out cookies is a gift from the Almighty.

I want to share what I've learned over the years so as to make it possible for my friends to also locate these wonderful treats without getting into trouble.

One way is to wait until she leaves the house. After making sure that she has driven off down the road, search high and low in every possible nook and cranny. It's important to lock the door first.
When you do locate a batch, take no more than two cookies. That way it's less likely that you will be caught.

It's important to keep looking because there are bound to be more hidden away. Some possible hiding places would be under the bed, in her dresser, in her craft room, under the kitchen sink, between the pizza pans, on the top shelf behind the Crisco can, or the ever popular empty bag of sugar in the pantry, or lastly, if all else fails, check the trunk of her car.

When you think you've spent enough time in this excercise, put the cookies in a plastic baggy and wrap in newspaper so they can be placed next to your favorite chair to be eaten later in the evening.

I enjoy nibbling on them when her attention is on something else like a football game, etc.
Good hunting to you my friends.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Your Action is needed

Dear SOAR member,


Tell Congress: Don’t Cut OUR Social Security. CALL TODAY.

Join today’s National Call Congress Day at 1-866-529-7630 and tell your Senators to SAY NO to cutting our Social Security.

The Co-Chairs of the National Fiscal Commission have proposed deep cuts to Social Security – increasing the retirement age to 69, cutting benefits for middle-class workers and reducing annual Cost of Living Adjustments. We need your help to stop them!

Social Security is a promise that must not be broken—we’ve worked hard for it and paid taxes for it. Social Security belongs to our children, our parents, our neighbors and ourselves.

ACT NOW! Your voice needs to be heard.

Call your Senators RIGHT NOW at 1-866-529-7630. After providing your zip code you’ll be given a choice of which of your state’s two senators to be connected with. Call BOTH if you have the time. It only takes a minute each.

Tell the person who answers the phone:

"I am a voter/constituent living in [your state]. I am calling to tell the Senator – NO TO SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT CUTS! HANDS OFF SOCIAL SECURITY."

Please take the time for this very important effort today. This is for you, your children and your grandchildren. Don’t let politicians in Washington cut OUR Social Security. Act today.

In Solidarity,

Charlie Averill
SOAR Secretary Treasurer
6700 East S.R. 10
Knox, IN 46534
Ph: 574-772-3332

Unofficial website:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Something to think about

A few months ago I was in Pittsburgh visiting a friend. While looking over his garden, I heard a ruckus and saw a fire coming from a car parked in the parking lot of a drivethru restaurant. You can see the video here. The fire was the result of the driver throwing his change into his ash tray which was missing the lighter. Evidently a dime got stuck in the hole where the lighter would normally be. The car was totalled.

Today, I was checking smoke detectors in the house and after replacing a weak battery, placed the old battery into my front pocket. Later this evening, all of a sudden I felt a burning sensation. Evidently the battery terminals had come in contact with some change in my pocket. Man, that battery was hot hot hot.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tell Congress: Don't Carve Up Social Security

Tell Congress: Don’t Carve Up Social Security

The Co-Chairs of the National Fiscal Commission have proposed carving up Social Security like a Thanksgiving turkey. They want to increase the retirement age to 69 – making us work longer, deeply cut benefits for middle-class workers and reduce annual Cost of Living Adjustments. We need your help to stop them!

Join thousands of Americans in a National Call Congress Day on Tuesday, November 30—CAN WE COUNT ON YOU?

We need you to SAVE THE DATE - Tuesday, November 30th to TELL CONGRESS – DON’T CUT OUR SOCIAL SECURITY!

Social Security is a promise that must not be broken—we’ve worked hard for it and paid taxes for it. It belongs to all of us sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Save the date to join the National Call Congress Day on Tuesday, November 30. The number to call is 1-866-529-7630. (*This phone number is not live yet, you must wait until the big call-in day!)

Call your United States Senators and your Representative. Tell them not to cut Social Security. Help ensure that your Social Security will be there for your children and your grandchildren.

After you’ve marked your calendar, please e-mail this message and tell your friends, family and co-workers to add their voice and participate in the National Call Congress Day on Tuesday, November 30. Don’t let politicians in Washington cut OUR Social Security!

P.S. If you don't act, Congress will assume you don't mind your Social Security benefits being carved up like a turkey.

Alliance for Retired Americans
815 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thoughts of Gardening

We're still enjoying lettuce hear in Northern Indiana gardens. Our leeks are still in the ground and since I've never eaten leeks before, I'll be glad when they find themselves in some soup or whatever you do with leeks.
Such nice weather we've had. Just like Spring. Garden catalogs are beginning to come in and soon, when the weather gets cold, I'll enjoy looking through them and deciding what to plant come Spring.
I suppose I could prune the raspberries for next year's growth, but it's a little to wet for me so I'll wait till Spring.
Last Friday was our SOAR Chapter meeting. We all brought in something to share for lunch with Mike Henning, our chapter Vice President bringing in a deep fried turkey. Gosh, was that ever good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Unions Improve Happiness

People who live in countries with a high density of union membership are happier than those who do not.

So says Benjamin Radcliff, a professor at Notre Dame and the co-author of a study about unions in 14 nations.

His study crunched life-satisfaction data from several European countries, as well as Japan, Australia and the Unite States.

Radcliff said he found "a causal relationship" between happiness and the density of unions.
"People who have union jobs like their jobs better," he told reporters. "And that puts pressure on other employers to extend the same benefits and wages to compete with the union shops."

Denmark ranks near the top in both categories while the United States, by contrast, ranks in the bottom third for happiness among the countries studied.

Resource: USW@Work

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good year for a garden

What a great year it was for a garden. The only things left are leeks and lettuce. This will be the last week for harvest as the weather is supposed to get pretty cold.
Soon the seed catalogs will be arriving and as most gardeners, am looking forward to planning next years crops.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nancy Dembowski Congratulated by SOAR

SOAR Chapter 30-18 President, Dorine Godinez (left) and SOAR International Secretary Treasurer, Charlie Averill (right) congratulate Indiana House District 17 Representative and SOAR member, Nancy Dembowski on her recent re-election.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nancy Dembowski is a real winner

"To the hundreds of volunteers who made more than 15,000 phone calls, especially the teacher groups and union members who gave so many evening and weekend hours to our campaign, we can never thank you enough. To the Democratic Party organizations in Starke, Marshall and LaPorte counties who never fail to stand with me, I thank them for caring so much about the working families of this district. We will continue to stand for those working families and fight for them because they are the very foundation of this great district."

Nancy Dembowski, Indiana House District 17

Source: The Starke County Leader

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Congratulations and the time

Congratulations Indiana State Representative Nancy Dembowski on her win in House District 17.
Congratulations to Nick Bourff for win for Starke County Prosecuting Attorney.
Congratulations to Joe Donnelly, Indiana District 2 Congressman.
You've all done very well, and the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees is proud of you all.

Now.......who the heck is responsible for it being dark outside in Starke County at 5 pm? That person shoud be..........I'm afraid to say.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Vote for America

Big day tomorrow. This election will have a huge impact on working families and retirees. Many things could be affected by the result.
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • “Right to Work for less”
  • The minimum wage
  • Workers Compensation
  • Labor laws
  • Safety laws
  • Retirement security
  • Jobs
  • Education
  • War
  • Health Care
Having a garden for several years has taught me a great truth. Whatever type of seed that I put in the ground, that is what the crop will surely be. The result of tomorrow’s election will be no different; In this election, Americans will ultimately reap what they sow.
Please Vote!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vote for Nick Bourff for Starke County Prosecutor

Nick Bourff is a practicing attorney at the law firm of Nichols & Wallsmith in Knox, Indiana. He specializes in the areas of Criminal Defense and Family Law. To date, he is unbeaten in criminal jury trials.

Nick grew up in Knox, and went on to earn his Bachelor's Degree in English and Speech from Wabash College. He then attended the University of Dayton School of Law and earned his Doctor of Law degree. Nick passed the Indiana Bar Exam the summer after he graduated law school, and has been practicing law in Starke County ever since.

Nick is married to Erin Bourff, who is originally from Winamac, Indiana. They have one son, Clive, who was born on May 24th, 2010. They currently live in Knox, and are both very active in the local community. Nick is the Vice President of Kiwanis, and holds positions on the Knox Park Board, the Starke County Junior Achievement Board of Directors, and the Purdue 4-H Extension Board. He is also a member of the Indiana Trial Lawyer's Association. Erin is a member of Starke County P.E.O. and the Pulaski County YMCA Board of Directors. They are members of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Knox.

The Committee to Elect Nick Bourff Starke County Prosecuting Attorney represents both Nick and Erin's first journey into a political campaign, and all the support that can be raised will be much appreciated! On November 2nd, remember to vote, Bourff For Prosecutor!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nancy Dembowski Our pick for sure

Nancy Dembowski has been endorsed by the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR). Nancy is a member of SOAR and is a friend of working families and retirees.
Let's maintain that necessary check and balance in Indiana.
Nancy's opponent is a "right to work for less", Chamber of Commerce, killer coke distributor and would be a nightmare for workers and retirees.

Vote for Nancy Dembowski !

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Vote for David Matsey!

Election Day is quickly approaching. Voters have an important choice to make for Circuit Court Judge. I have a longstanding committment to my profession and to Starke County. We need to make a change and get the court back on track. I have a proven record of experience, hard work, and effective results. As Judge, I will:
  • Control court spending
  • Improve court efficiency
  • Eliminate the huge backlog of unresolved cases
  • Better manage the jail population and reduce dangerous overcrowding
  • Provide the Change We Need
  • Work effectively with other office holders

I am honored to serve Starke County and will do all I can to make sure Starke County is a safe place to live and raise a family. Thank you for your support! I ask for your vote on November 2nd.

David P. Matsey

Help the rich get richer

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Donnelly v. Walorski

The Following is from the USW Rapid Response:

Congressional Candidate Comparison

Please click on the following for printable candidate comparison information for this key race in Indiana.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Climbing out of the Republican Ditch

Vote for America-Vote for

Brad Ellsworth for U.S. Senate
Joe Donnelly for Congress in Indiana 2nd CD
Nancy Dembowski for Indiana State Representative in House District 17
Dwight Fish for Indiana State Representative in House District 21
Steve Kramer for Dyer Town Council

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All Tricks and No Treats

Washington could have an especially frightening “treat” for Americans this Halloween. The President’s Fiscal Commission and deficit-hawks in Congress have a terrifying new plan for America’s workers, requiring them to stay on the job until 70 years old before qualifying for full Social Security benefits.

Be afraid…be very afraid…

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nancy Dembowski

Nancy Dembowski is my Representative in the Indiana House of Representatives District 17.

Nancy is a member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR). She has done a magnificent job of representing working families and retirees in our state.

SOAR Chapter 30-18 representing NIPSCO retirees voted unanimously to endorse the re-election of Nancy. We hope that you will vote for her as well.

You can visit her website at this web address.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

BOYCOTT Del Monte Fresh Fruit


Members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, have serviced Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A. through a stevedore at the Pier 5, Camden, New Jersey facility for the past 22 years. They have performed their duties professionally, efficiently, and with respect to Del Monte’s economic concerns. They have never heard any complaints about their service or economics from this company. The employees that work on the terminal have been working for the same wage rate that they were making 19 years ago. They have the lowest pension plan in the industry as a result of keeping costs under control.

Del Monte has a lease agreement with the State of New Jersey until 2018, and is now vacating the Pier 5 facility. Del Monte also has an operating agreement with Delaware River Stevedore, Inc, until December 31, 2010.

On Thursday, July 22, 2010, Del Monte’s officers demanded $5 million in labor cost reductions and approximately $25 million in infrastructure improvements from the State of New Jersey. Del Monte imposed an unrealistic deadline of 4 days to meet its demands.

Based on the threat of losing at least 200 family-sustaining jobs, and the tax revenue generated by these jobs, they agreed to reduce their wages in some case 25%, cut manning, and possibly eliminate some benefits. They met Del Monte’s demands to reduce labor costs by $5 million.

The State of New Jersey acted quickly and prudently and offered a great modification package, and also offered to extend Del Monte’s lease, providing longer term security.

Del Monte has now served notice that it is moving to a Gloucester, New Jersey facility. Family-sustaining jobs will be replaced with “working poor” employment. This will erode further the already declining New Jersey tax base. The workers lose, the employers lose, and the states on both sides of the Delaware River lose.


Del Monte had its 2nd Highest Sales year in 2009 following its record year in 2008 with over $3 billion in sales.

Del Monte’s “NET” Profit for 2009 was $144 million; in 2008 it was $157 million.

North America is 48% of net sales.

It is clear that the predominantly foreign ownership of Del Monte wants to exploit American workers to inflate its high profits.

I'm done with Del Monte Products until this company changes its ways.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Labor Supports Dembowski, Donnelly, Ellsworth

Active and retired union members came out last Saturday in Plymouth, Indiana to support Nancy Dembowski for Indiana House of Representatives, Joe Donnelly for Congress and Brad Ellsworth for U.S. Senate.

Elect Pro-Worker Allies

Sisters and Brothers,

We've already fought successful trade cases that are protecting workers in rubber and pipe production, and we're actively pursuing cases that would boost paper and other sectors. We're working to promote manufacturing and prevent offshoring by taking China to task for their unfair, illegal, and job-killing trade practices. And we're constantly fighting to protect our workers by pushing for improved health and safety laws.

But our success in efforts like this often depends on support from elected officials. That is why it is crucial that we elect pro-worker allies when we vote in November's midterm elections.

In the coming weeks, you'll be hearing from the Union and your fellow Steelworkers with information on our candidates and the choices we face in 2010. I hope you will seriously consider this information and ultimately decide to join me and thousands of others as we support candidates who will stand with the Steelworkers and fight for our working families.

Leo W. Gerard
International President

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Republican Teaparty Contract?

“Hmmm.....The Republican Contract with America.....Brought to you by the same folks who don’t believe YOU should have any contract at all. What a concept”.

Meridith Merriner

Friday, October 01, 2010

Tits for an Ass

The President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, looking for ways to balance the federal budget, met for the fifth time on Wednesday, but hard decisions are not expected until after the November 2 elections.

Social Security is one of several areas being considered by the panel for changes, and picketers outside the meeting demanded the commission keep its hands off the program. A top target of protesters was Alan Simpson, the former Republican senator and now a co-chairman of the commission, who this summer described Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits.”

The National Organization for Women (NOW) has a new slogan: “Tits for an Ass,” and NOW members arrived on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with 1,500 rubber baby bottle tops (nipples) and presented them to the Fiscal Commission as part of its campaign calling for the removal of Simpson.

According to The Washington Post, NOW President Terry O'Neill told Simpson that she was giving him the nipples “in hopes that you'll have the decency to resign from the commission.” When Simpson said that cutting Social Security had historically never happened, O’Neill responded, “Well let's hope that your efforts to make it happen now fail.”

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Union Steward

When are these of lowly pay

With haggard look and hair of gray?

They get no rest by day or night.

They’re always wrong. They’re never right

They do not have a law degree

But go to bat for you and me

Though seldom have they been to college

They must have the widest knowledge

Of labor grades and when to grieve

Vacation pay and sickness leave

Of overtime and who’s to do it

Of coffee breaks and who’s to brew it

The how and which and why and when

And the problems of women and men

If, with forepersons they agree

Then they’re rats who’ve got weak knees

If, to workers they try to cater,

They’re branded as agitators

Those who have to take this job

Are called STEWARDS of your shop.

Thank Your

Union Representative

For their hard work

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Please do this for your country - and me

Please copy and print the letter below, sign it and mail it to your congressman. Then let me know you did that by phoning me at 574-772-3332 or email me at If I can get enough of them mailed, my SOAR Chapter will get a free banner and I'll be very appreciative.


Charlie Averill

Here's the letter:

U. S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative ________________________

I am writing to inform you of the callous disregard David Cote, CEO of Honeywell and a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has for working families and urge you to demand his resignation from this Presidential Commission.

On June 28, Honeywell locked out 230 union workers at its hexafluoride plant in Metropolis, Illinois, even though they offered to continue working under the terms of their expired labor agreement. Under Cote’s leadership, Honeywell had proposed eliminating retiree health care and increasing workers’ out-of-pocket health care maximums to $8,500 a year. The union declined to accept that proposal and offered to continue working as they attempted to reach an agreement. Honeywell refused and instead locked out the workers.

A profitable company’s demands that workers and retirees relinquish health benefits and its locking out workers who offered to continue talks demonstrate that its CEO, David Cote, is out of touch with mainstream America and has absolutely no compassion for his fellow man. Anyone who would force their workers onto the streets in these times of economic uncertainty cannot competently or justly serve on a Commission charged with issuing recommendations that may impact our nation’s citizens for decades.

What we find extremely troubling is how Cote is proposing to end health insurance for retirees who were for years exposed on their job to hazardous materials, including substances listed as carcinogens by the Department of Energy. These workers suffer high cancer rates. Cote’s proposal to terminate their health insurance is cruel and inhumane.

Mr. Cote’s cruel and calculated behavior toward workers clearly illustrates that he’s unqualified and inappropriate to help decide issues such as whether to reduce the federal deficit by cutting crucial programs like Social Security or by upgrading the faulty military contracting process, from which Honeywell benefits. David Cote’s complete disregard for working Americans, makes him unfit to serve on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He must be removed immediately, before he can use that position to harm more working people.


Name _______________________________________________

Mailing address _______________________________________________

No Tax Cuts for the Rich

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Do you have the program iTunes on your computer?
If not, you should get it.
Every computer should have iTunes.
It's free and you can get it here.

Once the program is downloaded. Open it.
Then go to the iTunes Store.
In the upper right hand corner, search for The Voice of SOAR.
Then, look for the SOAR logo and click on Subscribe.
The podcast will downloaded to iTunes.
You can then click on the words Get All and all of the episodes for that podcast will be downloaded to your computer.
Podcasts are free and there are podcasts for any interest you may have.
They can either be heard right on your computer or if you have an iPod you can plug it into your computer and have them transferred to your iPod so you can listen to them later.
Give it a try.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Premium Reductions


September 21, 2010 Jim Centner (412) 562-2575

Medicare and Medicaid Announce Premium Reductions in Medicare Advantage Program

(Pittsburgh) --The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that seniors in the Medicare Advantage program would see an average one percent reduction in annual premiums in 2011, while benefits will remain similar to what was offered in 2010.

"This flies in the face of some of the lies being spread," said USW SOAR Director Jim Centner. "Critics from the right have claimed that the healthcare overhaul law would lead to companies abandoning the Medicare Advantage program in significant numbers and seniors facing higher premiums and reduced benefits."

SOAR says that this is another example of how the Affordable Care Act benefits seniors because it provides the CMS with ability to negotiate health plans in competitive marketplace.

"This combined with the closing donut hole for prescription drug coverage provides quality health care to seniors most in need," said Centner.

# # #

Monday, September 20, 2010

Help Do Away With Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Tomorrow afternoon, September 21, the U.S. Senate is to take up the defense authorization bill which contains language to overturn the military policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell which discriminates against gay and lesbian soldiers.

As I understand it, this issue has been festering for at least 17 years.

Senator John McCain from Arizona said at one point that if the military brass agreed with doing away with the policy, then he would consider going along with that.

Well, the military brass now agrees that to do away with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is the right thing to do. However, tomorrow, Senator McCain is expected to lead the Republicans in a filibuster of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Isn’t it time that we do away with this discriminatory policy in our military? Why must Americans always find someone to feel superior to? We’ve done it because of skin color. We’ve done it to women in the workplace. We do it with people who want to form unions. We do it with those of a different religion. We do it with undocumented immigrants.

When I served in the military 50 years ago, gay people were a threat. Not any more. Please call your U.S. Senator tomorrow and insist that they not participate in the filibuster because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A September 11th Memory

September 11th, 2001

A September 11th Memory - by Charlie Averill

In September, 2001, a legislative internship program was developed for members of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR). The program was put together by the United Steelworkers Legislative office in Washington, D.C.

I, along with about ten other retirees took advantage of the program and checked into our motel in Arlington Virginia. On September 10, 2001, we reported to the legislative office for our orientation. The program was to begin the following day.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, while enjoying our coffee and listening to our first instructor, one of the workers came into the room, turned on the television, and told us to watch. As we saw the two planes crash into the World Trade Center and soon collapse, we also heard sirens outside our building as fire trucks, emergency vehicles and police headed towards Arlington where another plane crashed into the Pentagon.

Our building was locked and we were told that if we were to leave, we would not be allowed back in. We were told that the subway system, (Metro) was not in service.

I remember checking my email and seeing a message from my son to my wife Elaine, asking, “is Dad ok?”

I must say that only once before had I experienced the same feelings as produced on that day. It was the day my ship was returning from the Vietnam area and receiving a message by flashing light saying simply that, “The President has been shot” (President Kennedy).

A couple hours later we heard that the Metro was back in service. We were also told to head for home as the internship was put on hold and that we would be called back at a later date. We tried to get transportation out of Washington with no success. Planes were grounded, buses were booked solid, trains were out of the question as well. On the following Friday, we were able to rent a car. One of us, Don Badie, headed home to Florida. Dave Trach from Minnesota and myself also rented a car. We drove to Indiana were Dave stayed the night at my house and headed for Minnesota the following morning.

USWA/SOAR Legislative Internship Program

After writing an article to explain this photograph, I decided to check past issues of a SOAR Chapter newsletter that our SOAR Chapter puts out every other month. Success…..I was surprised that the two articles were very similar, proving that I still have some of my memory left.

Because so many steel companies have filed for bankruptcy due to the illegal dumping of foreign steel into our country, about 600,000 Steelworker retirees are in jeopardy of losing their medical insurance, and in some cases, part of their pensions.

These benefit costs, which companies overseas don’t have to deal with, are referred to as “legacy” costs.

Our Steelworkers Union and SOAR decided that it would be a good idea to include SOAR members in their lobbying efforts. I was asked to participate in this new program and reported to the USWA Political and Legislative Office in Washington D.C., (located just a few blocks north of the White House), on Monday, September 10th along with seven other members of SOAR.

A photograph was taken and an accompanying article about the program appeared on the cover of the Sept/Oct issue of the Oldtimer magazine.

And now….. The rest of the story:

On the second day of the program, Tuesday, September 11th, terrorists attacked our country. The Pentagon was hit by one of the planes. We watched the unfolding tragedy on television as the World Trade Center buildings came crashing down and we listened to the sirens as the police cars, ambulances and fire trucks raced to and from the Pentagon.

The subway (Metro) was shut down and our building was locked.

I remember checking my email and seeing a message from my son to my wife Elaine, asking, “is Dad ok?”

I must say that only once before had I experience the same feelings as produced on that day. It was the day my ship was returning from the Vietnam area and receiving a message by flashing light saying simply that, “The President has been shot” (President Kennedy).

Bill Klinefelter, USWA Legislative Director, and Jim Centner, SOAR Director, thought it best that the program be postponed until the situation returned to normal and we were advised to head for home.

Three of us had flown to Washington and were unable to catch either a flight, train or bus. Washington took on the appearance of a combat zone with Hummer vehicles on practically every corner manned by soldiers directing traffic for the passing ambulances and fire trucks. We were unable to get close enough to the Pentagon to get a good view or photo. Finally, on the following Friday we rented cars and headed for home.

I rode back to Indiana with Dave Trach, SOAR Executive Board Member from District 11 who lives in Minnesota. Dave stayed over night at my house and after breakfast the following morning, he headed for home.

The Internship was rescheduled for October 22 – November 9. Four retirees were able to make it. Upon reporting for work on the first day, we found fire trucks and police cars in front of building and the street blocked off. Apparently, a below ground level transformer had blown up. We entered the building through the rear entrance but about an hour later, the electricity was cut off and we were forced to evacuate the building until the following day.

Our original mission had been to lobby the Senate for passage of HR 808, the Steel Revitalization Act. The program was later changed to work on the Unemployment Compensation part of the “stimulus package” and it was again changed to find out if Senators would support an amendment to the stimulus package dealing with the legacy costs.

Senator’s offices, because of the anthrax problems, were extremely difficult to find. Their offices were closed for cleaning and they had set up their temporary offices in any closet or cubbyhole they could find. They were accepting no mail or faxes so we had an almost impossible mission of delivering material to them. Some of us got the feeling that their staffs were enjoying the disruption.

The experience I had in Washington D.C. was a very good one nevertheless. Like other things in life, practice makes perfect and I think I’m better able to do a decent job lobbying my congressmen than I otherwise would have been.

I hope our USWA and SOAR will continue this program.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Employee Rights

Employee Rights

The National Labor Relations Act extends rights to many private-sector employees including the right to organize and bargain with their employer collectively. Employees covered by the Act are protected from certain types of employer and union misconduct and have the right to attempt to form a union where none currently exists.

Examples of Your Rights As An Employee Under the NLRA Are:

  • Forming, or attempting to form, a union among the employees of your employer.
  • Joining a union whether the union is recognized by your employer or not.
  • Assisting a union in organizing your fellow employees.
  • Engaging in protected concerted activities. Generally, "protected concerted activity" is group activity which seeks to modify wages or working conditions.
  • Refusing to do any or all of these things. However, the union and employer, in a State where such agreements are permitted, may enter into a lawful union-security clause requiring employees to pay union dues and fees.
The NLRA forbids employers from interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of rights relating to organizing, forming, joining or assisting a labor organization for collective bargaining purposes, or engaging in protected concerted activities, or refraining from any such activity. Similarly, labor organizations may not restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of these rights.

Click on National Labor Relations Act to access the full text of the law.

The Toll of War - Howard Zinn

The Toll of War

Democracy flies out the window as soon as war comes along. So when officials in Washington talk about democracy, either here or abroad, as they take this country to war, they don't mean it. They don't want democracy; they want to run things themselves. They want to decide whether we go to war. They want to decide the lives and deaths of people in this country, and they certainly want to decide the lives and deaths of people in Iraq and all over the Middle East.

Faced with this attitude, our job is just a simple one: to stop them.

I am not going to go into the Bush arguments, if that's what they are. No, don't make me do that.

Don't make me point out the U.S. violations of international law.

Don't make me point out that even if Saddam Hussein has not gone along with this resolution or that resolution of the U.N. Security Council, the United States is about to violate the fundamental charter of the United Nations, which declares that nations may not initiate wars.

No, don't make me do that.

Don't make me point out how this fear of weapons of mass destruction does not extend to the United States. Bush officials think if they use that phrase "weapons of mass destruction" again and again and again that people will cower, cower, cower. Never mind that this fifth-rate military power is not even the strongest in the region. Israel, with 200 nuclear weapons, has that distinction. Bush is not demanding that Ariel Sharon rid himself of his weapons of mass destruction or face "regime change."

The media are a pitiful lot. They don't give us any history, they don't give us any analysis, they don't tell us anything. They don't raise the most basic questions: Who has the most weapons of mass destruction in the world by far? Who has used weapons of mass destruction more than any other nation? Who has killed more people in this world with weapons of mass destruction than any other nation? The answer is simple: the United States.

Please, I don't want to hear anything more about Saddam Hussein's possibly making a nuclear bomb in two years, in five years, nobody knows. We have 20,000 nuclear weapons.

No, I don't want to talk about that. It's not worth talking about.

I'd like to make a few general points about war. I was a bombardier in the Air Force during World War II. I say this not to indicate that I am an expert on war--although, in fact, I am. People who've served in the military, they have a thousand different view points, so nobody can say, "Oh, I served in the military therefore you have to listen to me." However, in my case. . . . I served in the best of wars. The neatest of wars. The war that killed the most people, but for good purpose. The war that had wonderful motives, at least on the part of some people. But that war ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki and was interspersed with other atrocities committed by the good guys against the bad guys. I, being one of the good guys, feel very proud that I was on the good side, and that if atrocities were to be committed, they were to be committed by good guys.

One point: War always has unintended consequences. You start a war, you never know how it ends.

Another point: By now we have reached a point in human history when the means of war have become so horrible that they exceed any possible good that come out of using those means.

Since World War II, war has taken its toll increasingly against civilians. In World War I, there was a ten-to-one ratio of military personnel killed versus civilians, whereas in World War II that ratio got closer to one-to-one. And after World War II, most of the people who have gotten killed in wars were civilians.

And by the way, I don't want to really make the distinction-and this is something to think about-between innocent civilians and soldiers who are not innocent. The Iraqi soldiers whom we crushed with bulldozers, toward the end of the Gulf War in 1991, in what way were they not innocent? The U.S. Army just buried them--buried them--hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. What of the Iraqi soldiers the United States mowed down in the so-called Turkey Shoot as they were retreating, already defeated? Who were these soldiers on the other side? They weren't Saddam Hussein. They were just poor young men who had been conscripted.

In war you kill the people who are the victims of the tyrant you claim to be fighting against. That's what you do.

And wars are always wars against children. In every war, unforgivable numbers of children die.

This brings me to the last general point I want to make. We ought to really remind our neighbors, remind our friends, remind everybody we can that if we really believe that all people are created equal we cannot go to war.

If we really believe that the children of Iraq have as much a right to live as the children of the United States, then we cannot make war on Iraq.

And if we're going to have globalization, let's have a globalization of human rights. Let's insist that we consider the lives of people in China and Afghanistan and Iraq and Israel and Palestine--that we consider the lives of all these people--equal to one another, and therefore war cannot be tolerated.

-- Howard Zinn is the author of "A People's History of the United States." This article is adapted from a speech Zinn delivered in Madison, Wisconsin, on October 10.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Alan Simpson Could Not Get on a Jury

8815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor Washington, D.C. 20006 (202) 637-5399

For Immediate Release Contact: David Blank (202) 637-5275
August 31, 2010

Retiree Leader: Alan Simpson Could Not Get on a Jury

Slurs Toward Women, Seniors Disqualify Service on Fiscal Commission

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, who late last week wrote President Obama to demand the resignation of Alan Simpson as Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Simpson referred to Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits" and told a prominent advocate for older women to, “call when you get honest work.”

“There is not a judge in this country that would allow Alan Simpson to serve on a jury if Social Security were on trial.

“Co-chairing a presidential panel is serious business. Much like serving on a jury, it requires a fair, balanced, and honest evaluation of the evidence. By this reasonable yardstick, Alan Simpson has disqualified himself from serving on this commission.

“Simpson’s remarks were not only deeply hurtful and inaccurate, but they clearly compromise his ability to objectively weigh the arguments presented to the commission during its deliberations. His conduct is unbecoming someone trusted with this level of responsibility, and it is time for President Obama to replace him with someone with a greater sense of comportment and impartiality.”

# # #

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 4 million retirees and their families.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Letter to the Editor - Starke County Leader

Retirees of NIPSCO who are on Medicare Part D, often find themselves entering the infamous “donut hole”, which was the result of the Republican answer to our seniors difficulty in paying for the high costs of prescription drugs and where seniors have to pay the full premium but get no benefits. Thanks to President Obama and the Democrats, those finding themselves in the infamous donut hole this year will receive $250 and next year will get their brand name prescriptions at half price. By the year 2020 this ill conceived donut hole will be completely closed.

The new health care law is not easy to fully understand, but wanting to fully understand it is certainly no reason for Talia Reed in her letter of June 17 in the Leader to criticize our State Representative, Nancy Dembowski for wanting to do just that.

Then, in the July 22 issue, Talia Reed once again wrote a letter to The Leader criticizing our State Representative, Nancy Dembowski, for having received a poor rating from the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce.

Good grief!! If I want a map - I’ll go to the Chamber of Commerce, but if I want someone who will look out for the interests working men and women and retirees, I’ll put my money on Nancy Dembowski every time. Name one organization that works harder than the Chamber of Commerce to deny unemployment compensation for someone who loses a job, or fights harder to keep the minimum wage rates as low as possible, or works harder to keep Workers Compensation benefits at miserably low levels when a worker get hurts on the job, or works harder to deny the right of workers to form a union. Nope - the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce is no friend of workers.

The U.S. Chamber is even worse. It’s the nation’s most powerful business lobbying organization. It is a key ally of the Bush-era corporate agenda that has empowered Big business at the expense of workers. They’re the ones that aired the lies about so called “death panels” in the new health care law. They keep the pressure on state Chambers to increase corporate subsidies, lower corporate taxes, go slow on law enforcement of consumer, investor and environmental protection laws, and they fight tooth and nail to keep workers from organizing.

Get it? Businesses and corporations have their organization, the Chamber of Commerce, but they do everything in their power to keep their employees from organizing.

Well, there’s one thing that would get me out to work against Nancy Dembowski, and that is if the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce was to give her a high rating. Until then, I’ll work to ensure that Nancy Dembowski continues to provide that necessary check and balance in Indiana.

Nancy Dembowski commented in her letter that local Chambers do lots of great things for local communities and businesses and her comments were directed to State and National Chambers, but you see, Nancy Dembowski works for working families and retirees. That’s why the Chamber gave her a poor rating. And that’s why I’m working to ensure she keeps her job.

Note: Nancy Dembowski is the Indiana State Representative for Indiana State House District 17

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thanks to Democrats

House Passes Jobs Bill for States, Obama Set to Sign

Posted By Mike Hall On August 10, 2010 @ 3:28 pm In Economy, In the States, Legislation & Politics | No Comments

After months of Republican obstruction [1] in the Senate, vital aid to states facing massive budget shortfalls [2] and layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, public employees, police officers and firefighters is on its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature. The bill just passed the House by 247-161 [3] a few minutes ago. Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

Simply put, this vote keeps us on the path to economic recovery….Republicans who continue to fight for tax cuts for the super rich did everything in their power to defeat funding for teachers and firefighters, adding to the laundry list of anti-jobs votes they’ve taken.

Read Trumka’s full statement here [4].

BTW, it’s fully paid for in part by closing costly corporate tax loopholes that allow corporations to ship American jobs overseas. Works for us. Too bad so many Republicans think it’s a bad idea.

Article printed from AFL-CIO NOW BLOG:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] Republican obstruction:

[2] budget shortfalls:

[3] 247-161:

[4] here:

Monday, August 09, 2010

Republicans announce Economic Policy

What is their policy?

  1. Maintain tax cuts for the rich.
  2. Pay for this tax cut by soaking the middle class.
  3. Repeal the Medical Insurance law.
  4. Amend the constitution whenever it doesn't suit them.
  5. Raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 years old.
  6. Always vote no.
  7. Do things the way Republicans did under George W. Bush
What a bunch of clods.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Corporate Traitors vs. Working Class Heroes

At the Honeywell Corp. plant in Metropolis, IL, workers process "yellow
cake" uranium into a highly refined "green salt" for the atomic power
industry and nuclear weapons.

The United Steelworkers have been negotiating with Honeywell for months.
Despite an offer by the union to continue working without an agreement,
corporate "greed-heads" locked out the workers.

These workers have performed this dangerous work for over fifty years.
There is growing proof that workers, families and local residents have a
cancer rate much higher than normal. Any clues?

During war-time, unions give up raises and agree to "no-strike" clauses and
pay freezes. US Steel, Ford, GM, Alcoa, and others continue to make huge
profits from war production.

What would the public say about a union that went on strike against the
steel, aluminum, aircraft, or automotive industry during time of war? They
would be reviled. People would demand the greedy "union thugs" return to

Currently, the United States is in TWO WARS that have killed over six
thousand Americans. If this plant does not produce, it could potentially
endanger National Security. Where are the "patriots" and Tea Baggers in
this - crying out against unpatriotic Honeywell?

Honeywell CEO David M. Cote got $9.74 million last year. That's almost $45
thousand per worker at the Metropolis plant.

It's time for Honeywell executives to give up some of their million dollar
incomes and do the right thing for the people that really earn profits and
make the sacrifices for the corporation - the workers.

Gary Gaines
132 South Thorngate Dr.
Granite City, IL 62040


Monday, July 26, 2010

District 7 SOAR coordinators gear up to fight

A lively group of SOAR members attend a special school at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. The school focuses on how to organize and build active, fighting SOAR chapters. This special SOAR school is a first time pilot project and takes place during the regular District 7 Summer Institute. The Institute is sponsored by District 7 and the U of I Labor Education Program. This year is the 64th annual Institute.

Posted by Scott Marshall, Dist 7 SOAR

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Teabagger Pledge

Posted by Mike Workman

The Teabagger Pledge

I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls.

Also, I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

• Social Security
• Medicare/Medicaid
• State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
• Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
• US Postal Service
• Roads and Highways
• Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
• The US Railway System
• Public Subways and Metro Systems
• Public Bus and Light Rail Systems
• Rest Areas on Highways
• Sidewalks
• All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations)
• Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, garden sprinkler)
• Public and State Universities and Colleges
• Public Primary and Secondary Schools
• Sesame Street
• Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
• Public Museums
• Libraries
• Public Parks and Beaches
• State and National Parks
• Public Zoos
• Unemployment Insurance
• Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
• Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government (pretty much all of them)
• Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
• Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)
• Use of the Internet, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
• Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
• Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies
• If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care
• I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
• I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:

* Smithsonian Museums, eg. the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
* The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
* The government-operated Statue of Liberty
* The Grand Canyon
* The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
* The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
* All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in DC

• I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.
• I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.
• I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.
• I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.
• Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.
• Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.





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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets

Posted on the Huffington Post, July 13, 2010

By Robert Creamer, Political organizer, strategist and author

Dirty Little Secrets the Republicans Don't Want You to Know

The Republicans have a set of dirty little (actually not so little) secrets they don't what you to know -- and certainly don't want you to think about when you go to the polls in November.

And the fact is that some of those secrets could provide Democrats with silver bullets this fall. But first let's recall the context.

Over the course of eight short years -- between 2000 and 2008 -- the Republicans methodically executed their plan to transform American society. They systematically transferred wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest two percent of Americans -- slashing taxes for the wealthy. They eviscerated the rules that held Wall Street, Big Oil and private insurance companies accountable to the public. They allowed and encouraged the recklessness of the big Wall Street banks that ultimately collapsed the economy and cost eight million Americans their jobs. They ignored exploding health care costs, tried to privatize Social Security, gave the drug companies open season to gouge American consumers and presided over a decline in real incomes averaging $2,000 per family. They entangled America in an enormously costly, unnecessary war in Iraq, pursued a directionless policy that left Afghanistan to fester, and sullied America's good name throughout the world.

Their economic policy of cutting taxes for the wealthy and deregulating big Corporations failed to create jobs. In fact, over his eight year term, George Bush's administration created exactly zero net private sector jobs. They inherited a Federal budget with surpluses as far as the eye could see and rolled up more debt than all of the previous Presidents in the over 200 years of American history. And in the end they left the economy in collapse.

This was not a disaster that could be remedied overnight. By taking bold action at the beginning of his administration, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress prevented the financial crisis from morphing into a Great Depression -- but the Republicans, some Democrats, and the powerful special interests have done everything they can to throw sand into the gears of change. Most importantly, they have stood in the way of providing enough economic stimulus to launch a robust, widespread economic recovery.

But notwithstanding Republican opposition, Obama, the Democrats and their progressive allies have -- after a century of trying -- finally passed health care reform allowing America to end its status as the only industrialized nation that did not provide health care as a right. They are on the brink of reining in the recklessness of the big Wall Street banks. And they have set the stage for massive long-term investments in economic growth and clean energy.

But it has been hard to pull the car out of the deep economic ditch and Americans are angry at the slow pace of economic recovery -- and also at the special interests that profited from their economic pain.

So the Republicans now have the audacity to argue that President Obama and the Democrats are somehow responsible for the hardships that they themselves created. In effect they want the election to be a referendum on whether the Democrats have mopped and swept fast enough cleaning up the mess that they created.

They will do everything they can to prevent America from focusing on the real choice before them in the fall elections -- a choice between going backward to the failed policies of the past that caused this catastrophe and a new direction that will create sustainable, long-term, bottom-up, widely shared economic growth. The real question before the country is whether it is willing to hand over the keys to the economy once again to the same gang that just caused the most serious economic pile up in 60 years.

That's where the dirty little secrets come in. It turns out that the leaders of the Republican Party have learned nothing from the reckless escapade that caused so much economic pain, and came perilously close to inflicting mortal wounds on the American economy.

They still actually believe -- despite what we have all just experienced -- that by "freeing" big oil, the insurance companies and Wall Street banks of the "burdens" of government accountability, that the plutocrats and the "invisible hand" of the market will lead American into the promised land of economic prosperity.

Some of the things they believe are not only dangerous to the economy, luckily they are also politically radioactive. And quite remarkably, many key Republicans are actually willing to say them out loud. Here are a few:

  • Meet Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee. If the Republicans once again take control of the House, he will be the Chair of the Budget Committee. Ryan believes -- and says out loud -- that Medicare, one of the most popular Federal programs in history, should be abolished and replaced with vouchers for private insurance. Let's recall that one of the ways Republicans stirred up opposition to health insurance reform was by falsely accusing Democrats of wanting to cut Medicare. They convinced some unwitting seniors that "Government" should keep its hands off Medicare -- which is, of course, a "Government" program. Democrats need to make it crystal clear in this campaign that Republicans -- who opposed Medicare from its inception -- actually want to abolish the program and hand over control of health care for America's seniors to the same private insurance companies responsible for driving up rates three times faster than wages while their profits have exploded.

  • Congressman John Boehner, the House Minority Leader, has endorsed another Ryan proposal to raise the retirement age of Social Security to 70 years old -- a proposal that might go over fine with a guy like Boehner who makes speeches for a living. But it won't be very popular at all with someone who has laid bricks, or run an earth mover, or waited tables for forty-five years.

  • The whole Republican crew wants to resurrect the failed Bush proposal to "privatize" Social Security. The defeat of Bush's privatization plan was the turning point in the Bush Presidency. It was all downhill from there. Yet -- whether it's to pad the investment accounts of their friends on Wall Street or because they are "private markets uber alles true believers" -- the Republicans want to try it again. Only this time retirees won't have to work very hard to imagine what it would have been like if their Social Security checks had plummeted in value the way their 401K's did when the market collapsed just two years ago.

  • The Republicans want to weaken and repeal the new law to rein in the recklessness of the big Wall Street banks. Most Republicans and Democrats voted to bail out the big banks to prevent a 1930's style market collapse. The difference is that Democrats supported legislation to rein in their recklessness -- that had cost 8 million Americans their jobs -- and assure that a bailout was never allowed to happen again. But with very few exceptions, the Republicans voted to a person against holding Wall Street accountable. Given a chance, they plan to team up with their pals on Wall Street to free them to return to their reckless ways at will. In fact, they told the titans of Wall Street as much in fundraising meetings, where those "masters of the Universe" were asked to ante up. Republicans claim to oppose more Wall Street bailouts, but they refuse to support legislation that would prevent one in the future and hold Wall Street accountable. That -- coupled with those big contributions from Wall Street -- is a position that is very difficult for average voters to swallow. In fact, the polling says it's down right toxic.

  • Republicans have consistently voted against extending unemployment benefits to workers who have been laid off because of Bush-era policies and the recklessness of Wall Street. Remember, people who get unemployment benefits -- by definition -- are looking for jobs that the economy doesn't provide. In addition, many Republicans actually believe that the best way to spur employment is to lower the minimum wage.

  • Finally, meet Congressman Joe Barton. If the Republicans win back control of Congress, he would once again most likely serve as the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the Committee that oversees the oil industry. Congressman Barton has never met an oil company he doesn't like. In fact, he's the guy who actually apologized to BP when they were forced by the Obama Administration to take economic responsibility for the disastrous Gulf oil spill. As a political matter, that's like apologizing to Jack the Ripper.

These are politically radioactive positions that do, in fact, define the core of Republican policy if they were once again to control the gavel in either House of Congress.

We hear a lot about how Democrats have to "localize" the elections to have a chance of victory in November. And it is true that people vote for people in elections -- and the quality of Democratic candidates will give them a major edge in many races. So while it is a good idea to "personalize" the races for Congress, the last thing Democrats should do is to "localize" them, because the party that nationalizes a midterm -- and dominates the national dialogue -- almost always comes out ahead.

Instead, Democrats need to take the offensive and dominate the national conversation by talking about what the Republicans actually believe and what they would do if they win in November. Voters must be offered a stark choice between Democratic and Republican policies in the fall. If they are, "Conventional Wisdom" that keeps predicting a Democratic disaster will be proven wrong, the same way it was when it predicted that America would never elect a tall, skinny African American guy named Barack Obama.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on