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Unions Protest Outside McCain's Va. Condo


A protestor demonstrates outside one of the homes owned by Republican presidential nominee John McCain in Arlington, Va., September 16, 2008. (Reuters/Jim)

By Michael Laris
A quick-fingered concierge clicked the glass doors locked before protesters could file into the lobby of John McCain's Arlington condo complex today.

The 50 labor organizers and workers who had gathered to call attention to McCain's economic policies and multiple residences then proceeded to march in a tight circle around the maple tree out front.

"They are blocking our driveway!" snapped the desk attendant, impatient for the police watching outside to jump into action as the crowd chanted, "One, four, seven, ten, how many houses do you have again?"

The carefully choreographed demonstration -- one protester held a sign reading, "Can I crash on one of your couches?" -- was meant to tap economic anxiety in a week of frightening financial news.

It soon moved without incident to a patch of grass across the street, where a "tent city" in the form of a couple of backpacker shelters and three camouflaged hunting tents stood as the latest props in a campaign that the Barack Obama supporters hope turns their way on economic issues.

"For every Wall Street crisis, there's a main street crisis," said Jeffrey Lerner, a political organizer working with the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters, the Carpenters' union and others.

Sixteen counter-protesters responded with equal message discipline, one waving a placard reading: "Hollywood $ / OBAMA = OUT OF TOUCH."

Unlike some other McCain family properties, such as a multimillion dollar condominium in Phoenix, the three-bedroom Arlington condo is not too far out of line with many of the McCains' neighbors. The median price for a single family home in Arlington last year was $667,000, and the McCain condo was assessed this year at $848,000. The Virginia property is held under the name of McCain's wife, Cindy.

Jean Irwin, who was laid off in 2006 as an administrative assistant at the Michigan Department of Transportation, was flown in from Detroit for the protest.

"In my street alone, in four blocks, there are 32 houses, as of yesterday morning, empty," Irwin said. Foragers are peeling off aluminum siding and stealing windows from the vacant homes, she said, and she backed way off on the heat last winter because she didn't have the money. "I'd wait until it got so cold I couldn't stand it, and I'd turn it back on," she said.

Irwin, 57, said she bought her 800 square-foot home in 1995 for about $60,000, but still owes $58,000 on it today, after a refinancing a few years back. She said she's making some payments using unemployment benefits before they run out, and is searching for work.
She joined up with a Michigan group trying to pass a two-year moratorium on foreclosures, which led to the phone call which brought her to the Washington area today for the first time since she was a kid.

The years between visits have not been easy. She was orphaned at 10 years old after her mother died of cancer, then was raised by her grandparents and fought off cancer herself in 1998. "It's okay. It makes me a tough old bat," Irwin said.

She wants Obama in the White House, but will pushing hard on whoever wins.

"I intend to hold their feet to the fire. If they get in there, they better listen to us," Irwin said. "I certainly hope other people realize we can't keep putting people into office that don't pay attention to us."

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 16, 2008; 4:50 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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Next: Immigration Again Focus of McCain -- in Spanish

Comments

Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.
Abraham Lincoln
Illinois

Posted by: History | September 18, 2008 2:42 AM | Report abuse

Wrap that flag tightly around yourselves, Republicans because if your boy gets into office, it is literally all you will have left. As Wall Street fails and McCain and Palin are ready to drum up a war with Russia the Republicans are ready to bring the democratic experiment to its final crescendo.

Posted by: PJ | September 17, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

From Obama's Hometown Paper-

"Obama Sidesteps Reform in Illinois
By Dennis Byrne

For those of you who still cling to the fantasy that Barack Obama is "about change," you should note how he, or his minions, want nothing to do with reforming politics in Illinois, perhaps the most corrupt state in the Union.

"Throughout his political career, Barack Obama has fought for open and honest government," proclaims his campaign Web site. Apparently, no longer. When the Democratic presidential candidate--now his party's industrial-strength voice for our deliverance from political corruption everywhere--was asked by a reformer if he would help get his political mentor back home to get off the dime and move the most minimal of state ethics legislation toward passage, the Obama campaign sent word back that amounted to a "no."

State Sen. Emil Jones (D-Chicago) is the Chicago machine politician who might have been most instrumental in jump-starting Obama's political career. Now, as Illinois Senate president, Jones is the one sitting on the reform legislation, refusing to call it for an expected favorable vote before it officially dies of neglect.

Jones is the pal of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, no friend of reform, who used his amendatory veto power to change the legislation after it passed both houses so that Jones would get another chance to kill it.

If all that's confusing, welcome to Illinois politics, where intricacy is the best camouflage for chicanery. Suffice to say, neither Blagojevich nor Jones is working for reform.

So, along comes Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, thinking that now might be a good time for Obama to parlay his friendship with Jones to do a good deed: Won't you intervene with Jones and try to get him to call the Senate back into session to get this law passed? "[T]his is a place [Obama] could come in and quickly clean up some of the damage and serve his state," she told the Chicago Sun-Times. After all, her group and Obama worked together during those halcyon days when he actually supported reform in Illinois, so maybe he'll be receptive to a plea to intervene on behalf of Illinois folks who have been getting gouged for years by the likes of Jones. "A 30-second phone call to the Illinois Senate president could yield huge dividends to this state," she said.

In response, Obama's campaign issued an oozy statement reaffirming Obama's alleged commitment to reform, while getting no more specific than urging everyone to get together and love one another right now. What Canary was asking Obama for wasn't all that much. Maybe a 30-second phone call to back up his usual pap of, "Look, ah, I've, ah, always been for, ah, reform." For most people, the reform that we're talking about is so basic that they might ask, "You mean it's not illegal already?"

The legislation would make illegal the widespread abuse called pay-to-play politics, by which companies doing business with the state contribute to the state official in charge of ladling out contracts. The new law wouldn't let you do it if you have more than $50,000 in state contracts, which, even at that, leaves open a nice loophole. In Illinois, this is a huge leap forward from how things are done. Blagojevich, who has reaped bundles of cash from state contractors, could be one of the pols most jolted by the prohibition. That explains why he rewrote the legislation in a way that would make it ineffective and why the House overwhelmingly rejected his changes.

Jones now is the only one standing in the way of the reform, with Obama abetting.

Here's another example of how Obama has revealed himself to be a creature of the Chicago machine. Who can forget his silence when he could have affirmed his reformer credentials by endorsing Democrat Forrest Claypool over machine creature Todd Stroger as Cook County Board president? When things got too hot, Obama severed his ties from his racially inflammatory pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. That's not too hard; you can always find another pastor.

But betraying your political godfather(s) in Chicago and Illinois is an entirely different matter. Especially if you lose the presidential election and return to being just another senator from Illinois. Cutting his ties with the corrupt Chicago machine is one bridge you will not see Obama burn. Not now, not ever.

Agent of change, my foot."

Dennis Byrne is a Chicago Tribune op-ed columnist. dennis@dennisbyrne.net.

Posted by: Scott | September 17, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Actually...work does cut it. But then...you need to ask what you want from life and if the WORK you're doing is sufficient. Showing up isn't good enough.

If you want wha t adoctor can afford - figure out how to be a doctor. If you want what Bill Gates has - figure out the next best thing.

It has to do with:
- being smart
- taking measured risk
- perseverance
- being able to adapt
- continuing to learn

You can be a farmer and work hard and have nothing or work hard and have a lot of something.

You need to be smart about it. Just showing up at work for 60 hrs doesn't mean you're guaranteed anything....never has and never should.

Posted by: makeusproud | September 17, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

All the dopes that fell for the free money scams and refinanaced their homes are crying the blues now that the bubble burst. Their last hope is Obama and socialist wealth distribution.

Posted by: circlerj | September 17, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I love the assertion that Cindy's father 'worked and worked' for the wealth. Let's talk about the mob associations there....
NotaPawn, others work every day, day in and day out, and we don't make $100,000 a year. Just 'work' doesn't cut it anymore in this country... it's a combination of luck, timing, associations, location, and what economic class you come from.
My husband works 6 days a week, I work 3-4 while raising kids; we have NOTHING to show for it. Nothing. I only wish one of us could get a union job, but there aren't many left.
Republicans, get a clue.

Posted by: Valerie | September 17, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

no...my uncle lives in Germany. The liberal government there measured his roof for rainwater runoff and gave him a bill for disposal based on rain levels (same for his driveway).

the private industry is much better...at least I can choose with it.

There's no choice when government is involved.

Posted by: makeusproud | September 17, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

no...my uncle lives in Germany. The liberal government there measured his roof for rainwater runoff and gave him a bill for disposal based on rain levels (same for his driveway).

the private industry is much better...at least I can choose with it.

There's no choice when government is involved.

Posted by: makeusproud | September 17, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

How would you like to be sent a bill every time it rains?

If you think socialism is bad, wait till the private industry gets their hands on utilities. An american company Bechtel took over the water system in Bolivia and began charging the residents for rainwater that fell on their land.

Every state that has deregulated and privatized electricity has seen their monthly bills double and triple.

The private industry is 100X worse than any socialist government.

Posted by: matt | September 17, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Obama's Double-Dealing Diplomacy
1 hour, 52 minutes ago (9-16-08)
Investor's Business Daily


Election '08: Barack Obama premised his campaign on calling for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. But now he's been quietly telling Iraq "not so fast." It's part of a deceptive pattern.


Election: Barack Obama, who premised his campaign on calling for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, has now been quietly telling Iraq "not so fast." It's part of a deceptive pattern.Iraq's Foreign Minister Moshyar Zebari told the New York Post's Amir Taheri that Obama made delaying the troops' return a key theme of his talks with Iraqi leaders during his campaign stop in Baghdad last July.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the U.S. elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari told Teheri, on the record.

Funny, that's not what Obama told voters. He has made an immediate pullout the cornerstone of his campaign. Taheri's report signals the Democratic standard-bearer would manipulate the war's end for political advantage and is willing to deceive voters to do it.

This in itself is reprehensible. But his secret calls also leave U.S. troops unnecessarily in harm's way. It's the kind of foreign policy meddling that serves Obama's interests over the national interest.

"Obama has given Iraqis the impression that he doesn't want Iraq to appear anything like a success, let alone a victory, for America," Taheri reported. "To be credible, his foreign-policy philosophy requires Iraq to be seen as a failure, a disaster, a quagmire, a pig with lipstick or any of the other apocalyptic adjectives used by the American defeat industry in the past five years."

Can Obama be trusted? We ask because he's shown a pattern of secretive double-dealing with voters, not just in his talking about small town voters one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco, as Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin pointed out, but particularly in foreign affairs.

It dates back to at least February, when Obama's economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, secretly told the Canadian embassy that Obama's demagoguery against NAFTA in the primaries was just a Styrofoam-pillar bid to win the Ohio vote.

Obama's pattern of deception continued. In March, Colombian troops raided a FARC terrorist camp in Ecuador and recovered a terrorist computer belonging to a top FARC warlord, Raul Reyes.

Computer e-mails revealed that someone who knew Obama's positions had secretly met with the terrorists and assured them Obama would cut U.S. military aid under Plan Colombia and veto its free trade pact. Both are major goals of the Marxist terrorists aligned with America's enemies.

Subsequent events confirmed this. Obama did come out in favor of shutting Colombia out of free trade. More disturbingly, Obama adviser Daniel Restrepo last week told Colombia's Radio Caracol that Obama planned to convert the military aid Colombia needs to crush terrorists into social aid programs that don't.

That's not the end of it. Now Obama is double-dealing with Iraqi officials to leave American troops in harm's way and prolong the appearance of war long enough to call it a failure and win votes.

The astonishing thing about Obama's deals is they're the very thing Democrats accused Republicans of without a shred of proof.

They accused Richard Nixon of making a secret deal with the North Vietnamese to prolong the Vietnam war enough to presumably win election in 1968.

Years later, in 1980, they accused Ronald Reagan of making a secret deal with Iranian terrorists holding U.S. diplomats hostage to win election over incumbent Jimmy Carter.

Neither of these claims, often repeated by leftist historians, has ever been proven. But the statement of Iraq's foreign minister, speaking to a leading writer on foreign policy, is considerably stronger as evidence. It signals that Obama places politics over the national interest to the extent that he would work against his own public positions to gull voters into electing him.

It's the absolute opposite of John McCain's courageous position supporting the surge in Iraq, even as politicos were warning him he'd lose the election for it. "I'd rather lose an election than lose a war," McCain said.

With Obama's promises to sit down with dictators in Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and Iran, voters have a right to ask if he's made any deals at odds with his public condemnations of them, too. Before he starts acting like president, he needs to come clean to voters and reveal his true positions. Whatever they are, voters have a right to know.


Posted by: Scott | September 16, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I am a conservative first and Republican second. I say this not to perpetuate an argument but rather as a frame of reference and perhaps establish that most of us are not so very different when we get past the political rhetoric. Unions played a major role in making America the greatest country on earth. My grandfather was making fifty cents per day when the United Mine Workers organized miners and fought to improve safety and wages. Today we have all watched as the high paying jobs of the most productive workers on earth have been exported to third world countries. Like most Americans, I want to see this stopped and I want to see Americans be able to raise their families without the fear of losing everything if they lose their job or have a major illness. Unions should and in fact must play a critical role in solving the problems we face together. The $64 question is how you do that.

The main difference between Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama is who should be most responsible for fixing the problems we all face. Sen. Obama would have the government play a much greater role whereas Sen. McCain would put more emphasis on people solving our problems.

Our country is divided on how much control government should have. Union members are equally divided as well. The concern I have is with union leadership spending union dues on electing liberals when half of the union workers hold to conservative values. In the end, that is a union membership issue and I, like most conservatives, respect union member’s right to choose for themselves.

Posted by: Dr Jack | September 16, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

7 Houses, SO WHAT!

His wife's dad worked and worked and worked. Happens more often than you think.

The fact is 50 Cent is NOT the richest man on the planet, he's only worth 400 Million Dollars. Warran Buffet is the richest man on the planet, worth 62,000 Million Dollars. 50 Cent is worth about .65 of a full 1% of Warren Buffet.

Warren Buffet works everyday, that's why he's worth 15500 times more than 50 CENT.

I personally started working in Houston, Texas for a mere $40.00/Day wage. After only 5 years I am making $100,000.00/Year. WHY?!?! Because I WORKED!!!

Most Americans only work 40 Hours a week, if you want 7 Houses, work 60 - 80 Hours a week and you will...

Posted by: Not a Pawn to ObamaCON! | September 16, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

It's funny to read the posts...the fact is I know of several union members. Half are die hard - anti company people. They feel it's their duty to protect their job with rules versus performance. That's the American spirit...not.

The other half think it's a joke and definitely see where they are limited in performance options and can't stand that everyone gets the same despite different performance.

Socialism anyone.

McCain/Palin are kicking A$$. I love it.

Posted by: MakeUsProud | September 16, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Paranoid republican xenophobes for the McFailin' ticket are delusional enough to think the solcialist boogey man will get us if we answer the Right Wing War Against Workers .
Theirs is a type of primitivism that requires complete ignorance of the history of organized labor.
They're like the habitual gambler who, after losing his familie's house, still praises Vegas as the land of opportunity.

Posted by: Charles | September 16, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Blah blah blah anti-union hurfa durfa huuuuuuur barfing all over the pages. Get a clue jack asses, I can't even believe you'd compare unions as being predatory over the practices of corporate reality. What planet do you exist on? It's impossible to even rationalize that using abstract thought and empirical data. How the Hell are you so clueless?

Posted by: Octopus Dropkick | September 16, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

texasproud,
you are so right on that one,I betcha
all them employees,wish they had a union
about now,so listen to the repubs taking points,but can you put them on the dinner
table I think not!

Change(08)

Posted by: hoffa | September 16, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Liberals sitting around smoking crack and waiting to watch their god, Nobama walk on water when a single remaining brain cell fires -"let’s go down and picket John McCain's house - that will get him dude."

Conservative comes home from work and watches news report of liberal chant, one, four, seven, ten, how many houses do you own again?

Conservative thinks, I remember those stupid high school ball game chants and makes up his own -

2, 4, 6, 8 - name a liberal that we hate, NOBAMA, NOBAMA, NOBABA.

Conservative decides to share thoughts with liberals in a useless effort to get some to think rationally before he moves on to more important work cutting his grass.

Posted by: Dr Jack | September 16, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Texas writes:

"when will union members realize that their union heads are more interested in Democratic party power than the actual members of their union?"

Do you belong to a union ? I do.

I don't agree with this type of public display by union members(nor do I agree with your statement). I see it as a waste of time and effort.

Their time would be better spent working phone banks for Obama and canvassing neighborhoods for pro Labor Congressional candidates, both Republican and Democrat.

The leaders of my union are elected, can be recalled or voted out of office. And the members are their top concern. If you aren't a dues paying member of a union, you have no frame of reference other than your opinion.

Posted by: MA | September 16, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The modern corrupt labor union,
is more of threat to us,
then the companies we work for.
How much do the bigwigs make?
when I was a local pres.
my international pres
earned 397k plus all expenses.
and the office workers in Ten.
were suing the union for
unfair labor practices.
more leftist propaganda.

Posted by: simonsays | September 16, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

all grieances have been postponed
so the US Steel workers can
concentrate all their efforts
on the coming election?
great way to represent
the working men and woman
who fund this spectacle.
Talk about 'taxation' without
representation.
my union dues go to promote
liberal politicians
that I do not support.

Posted by: usa3 | September 16, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

There's some interesting spin coming from ol' straight-talker Johnny McCain today considering that he has voted with Bush over 90% of the time the last eight years and that McCain's economic advisor, Phil Gramm, was the biggest player out there in the deregulating of Wall Street.
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxXMFW1YsNQ
.

Posted by: say what? | September 16, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet the folks at Lehman Bros. wish they had been Unionized.

Posted by: thebob.bob | September 16, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

when will union members realize that their union heads are more interested in Democratic party power than the actual members of their union?

Posted by: TexasProud | September 16, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"One, four, seven, ten, how many houses do you have again?"

That might be one of the cleverest picket slogans I've ever heard. Kudos.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | September 16, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

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