Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Come Tonight and Learn about Agenda 21!

from the Dagger
From Harford Campaign for Liberty:
Join us at the September 27, 2011 meeting of the Campaign for Liberty!

Get the latest update on the Toll Hikes from the MdTA and the pending tax increases of the Special Session this October.

This month’s guest speaker is Richard Rothschild, the Carroll County Comissioner– He will speak about the United Nations “Agenda 21 implementation and why it matters to us in Harford and Cecil Counties. The federal government, state government, and county government are working together to centrally plan our futures– come and learn about it so that you know what we are up against.

It’s also time to start putting pressure on the Harford County government to make sure they are focusing on NOT RAISING TAXES next year. Together, we can make a difference!

See you this Tuesday night September 27 at 7PM at the Forest Hill Knights of Columbus Hall at 23 Newport Drive.
In Liberty,

Your Harford Campaign for Liberty Team

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Does this Sound Like a Man That Should be Regulating America's Banking and Investment Industries?

from Townhall.com
With Barney Frank it’s hard to tell where his old reforms start and his newest reforms begin.

They all look the same.

Frank has long been an advocate of legalized prostitution and online gambling in order that they both can be "regulated" by the government. And by regulated, he means, squeezed.

Gee. What could go wrong with a scheme where the federal government regulates prositution and gambling? In the Democrats' minds, nothing.

Before you know it, Obama will be giving out stimulus dollars for federal jobs training programs in the prositution and gambling industries to schools run by big donors.

Let's put the word s-e-r-v-i-c-e back into SEIU and save/create some more "green" jobs. Think of the potential. Hurray for reform! And when I say reform, I mean graft.

As a three-decade veteran of congress Frank knows that you don't have to wait for something to be legal before you start peddling influence. And when I say peddling influence, I mean peddling influence.

Already Frank has been taking money from offshore gaming company Full Tilt Poker (FTP) that the Justice Department now says is just a Ponzi scheme. Full Tilt’s Howard Lederer, Rafael Furst and Chris Ferguson are being charged by the DoJ with defrauding online poker players and diverting money to the accounts of board members at FTP.

The Democrat "reformer" from Massachusetts and a thirty-year veteran in Congress, reportedly took $18,600 from Full Tilt.

From the Boston Herald:

Sheila Krumholz of the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics said, “There’s certainly the potential for conflict of interest here, and this is an illegal industry.”

She noted Frank was the top recipient of campaign cash from the Poker Players Alliance Political Action Committee, which received hefty contributions from the three accused men, in the past two election cycles. “He’s clearly on their radar screen as someone they need to befriend.

“Rep. Frank may be taking contributions from backers of an ‘illegal industry,’ but he’s not alone,” Krumholz said. “Other such industries — casinos, liquor and gun manufacturers — also play the Washington influence game, but this one is still illegal. And Frank’s donors associated with Full Tilt Poker’s alleged Ponzi scheme certainly doesn’t help matters.”

Frank, the man who wrote the so-called bank reform legislation; the man who pimped for Fannie Mae and Feddie Mac on Capitol Hill, took money from a company that not only operated illegally in the United States, allegedly, but that also apparently committed criminal fraud against US citizens by being nothing more than a Ponzi scheme meant to enrich members of the board of directors according to government attorneys.

Wait. It sounds an awful lot like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, actually, on second thought. No one knows more about that kind of scam than Frank does. That's probably why FTP hired him.

So far the Obama administration has been silent as to whether the company now qualifies for federal loan guarantees. I’m sure a major Obama donor will turn up in this mess at some point.

“I want to control it as a business,” said Frank recently “to keep it respectable. I don't want it near schools -- I don't want it sold to children!”

Oh wait. Nope. That’s a line from Joseph Zaluchi, a crime syndicate boss in the movie the Godfather. Hard to keep those two straight anymore.

Frank apparently doesn’t care that online gambling is still illegal in this country. But the Justice Department does. While enforcing the law that makes online gambling illegal in the US, the Justice Department came across evidence of the scheme.

“Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company,” said the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, “but a global Ponzi scheme. As a result of our enforcement actions this alleged self-dealing scheme came to light. Not only did the firm orchestrate a massive fraud against the U.S. banking system, as previously alleged, Full Tilt also cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. As described, Full Tilt insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited with the company.”

According to the Wall Street Journal “[B]etween April 2007 and April 2011, various owners and directors of Full Tilt collected $444 million dollars from the company for themselves, the government alleges.”

But Frank dismissed the scandal with an ironic reference to the mortgage scandals at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac according to the Boston Herald: “The US attorneys haven’t done enough about mortgage fraud,” said the congressman who might be, more than any other legislator, responsible for the collapse of the housing market in the US. “They should be spending less time on full houses and more time on empty houses.”

This is the best that the voters from southern Mass. can do?

If so, coming soon: More Frank-sponsored reform.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Judicial Watch Joins Maryland DREAM Act Opposition Petitioners

from the Baltimore Sun
The Washington group Judicial Watch filed papers Thursday to intervene in the lawsuit over legislation to extend in-state tuition discounts to illegal immigrants.

he conservative group, which bills itself as a watchdog on immigration, can bring money and national attention to the battle in Maryland, where the controversial measure was suspended after opponents successfully petitioned for a statewide vote.

“There is no question that the Maryland DREAM Act should be put to a referendum,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The illegal immigration lobby simply wants to keep Maryland voters from having their say on the issue.”

The legislation was approved this year by the Democratic General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.

But a Republican-led petition drive gathered enough signatures to put the Dream Act on the ballot in November 2012. The effort, which attracted Republicans, Democrats and independents, was the first successful petition drive campaign in ten years. That effort was overturned in a court challenge.

CASA de Maryland and other immigrant advocates are suing the State Board of Elections, which they say validated many of the signatures improperly.

Judicial Watch said Thursday it would represent the organizers of the petition drive.

CASA spokeswoman Kim Propeack said her group and other plaintiffs consented to Judicial Watch intervening in the case.

“They are representing the petitioners, and the petitioners clearly have a reasonable role in the dispute,” Propeack said.

A motions hearing is scheduled for the end of January.

Immigration advocates across the country have long argued that state universities should charge illegal immigrants the same in-state rates that apply to other residents. They've lobbied successfully for such breaks in about a dozen states, including Texas under Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who now faces heat from opponents in the GOP presidential primaries for supporting the law.

O'Malley has praised Perry for that support.

“I do like the fact that he recognizes that fair is fair and if a family’s paying in-state taxes, they should pay in-state tuition,” O'Malley said.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

State Revises Toll Plan for Hatem Bridge

from the Baltimore Sun
The Maryland Transportation Authority board plans to keep the AVI decal toll bridge sticker system for another year, raising its cost to $20 in July 2012, and then institute a special EZPass program for Hatem Bridge users after that, Sen. Nancy Jacobs reported Thursday.

At a work session Thursday morning, the board released the plan expected to be public Sept. 22, Jacobs said.

The board plans to give Hatem Bridge users a free EZPass transponder for two years and no monthly administration fee, and will keep the annual cost of going over the bridge at $10.

The tolls at Hatem Bridge and I-95 will go up to $6, and then $8 on July 1, 2013, she said.

Although Jacobs said she is not as happy as she would be if they had kept the decal, "they took my plan," she noted.

"They came down on everything. It's amazing," she said. "They are going to lose $30 million under this plan from what they originally proposed."

That meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in Baltimore, at 2310 Broening Highway.

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, who represents Harford and Cecil counties, had said last week she expected the vote to take place by October.

The toll authority board pushed off the final decision by about a month after thousands of residents living around the Susquehanna River bridges protested MdTA's plan to raise tolls and eliminate the AVI decal commuter discount on the Route 40 Thomas J. Hatem Bridge.

Jacobs also said last week she expects the board's final decision to take citizen feedback into account.

The MdTA board said on its website in mid-August it had received about 4,000 comments. The public comment period ended Aug.1.

"They did hear loud and clear from Harford and Cecil regarding the Hatem, and I think they are really going to be taking into consideration everything that went on," Jacobs said.

Jacobs also has sent the state attorney general a letter listing court cases from around the country that upheld local decision-making on issues such as this one, to justify the possibility of making special toll exceptions for the Hatem Bridge.

The proposed toll increases on the Hatem and I-95 Millard Tydings bridges are set to increase Oct. 1, when the base cash toll to cross both spans northbound will rise from $5 to $6. The original MdTA plan would increase those tolls to $8 in July 2013.

The toll authority wants to eliminate the $10 a year, unlimited trip AVI decal and replace it with what the authority calls a "discounted" E-Zpass costing $36 a year but eventually raising to $72 a year in July 2013.

In addition, the E-Zpass system requires the purchase of a transponder and payment of a monthly account maintenance fee of about $1.50.

A toll authority spokesperson said earlier this year there are 150,000 Hatem Bridge AVI decals in circulation. According to the bridge's website, 11 million vehicles cross annually.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Annapolis Has GOT to Spend....

Maryland's Controller JUST announced that he had collected $195 million more than expected in tax revenues, and the Governor announces a special session of the legislature in Annapolis to figure out how to spend it... they NEVER learn.

Monday, September 19, 2011

O'Malley Plays the Race Card... Again. Yawn!

from the Harford County Dagger
Governor O’Malley, the first governor since Spiro Agnew to have the opportunity to speak at a breakfast sponsored by Christian Science Monitor, used the forum to refer to people who opposed the Dream Act as engaging in “thinly veiled racism.” Mr. O‘Malley, Chairman of the Democrat Governors’ Association, praised Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry for his support of a Texas law that allows illegal immigrants to receive a taxpayer-financed benefit for college tuition. O’Malley said, “I do admire his willingness to stand up to the immigration bashers and thinly veiled racism and scapegoating that is so rampant in their party.”

Delegate Pat McDonough who is the honorary Chairman of the successful petition drive to place the Maryland Dream Act on the 2012 ballot, called O’Malley’s remarks, “Divisive, unfair, and inaccurate hate speech. To brand an entire national party as racist is inflammatory and below the dignity of a sitting governor, especially one who has a national platform as Chairman of the Democrat Governors’ Association. It is blatantly inaccurate since many Democrat legislators in the Maryland General Assembly voted against the Dream Act, including African-American lawmakers. One hundred thirty thousand Maryland voters signed the petition, almost half of them were non-Republicans, and many were from the African-American community. Governor O’Malley resorted to name-calling like other proponents of illegal aliens instead of engaging in intelligent debate. Recently, Vice President Biden referred to Tea Party activists as ‘terrorists.’ Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa used violent language to stir up the crowd against the Tea Party movement while introducing President Obama. And Nancy Pelosi referred to them as racists. Governor O’Malley’s insulting remarks fall into the same category of uncivil personal attacks.”

O’Malley’s use of the term “immigrant bashing” is dishonest and a cheap political tactic. The Dream Act and other legislation the Governor promotes has nothing to do with “immigrants” but is totally related to “illegal aliens” as defined by federal law. The tone of

Maryland’s highest state elected official reflects the same misleading divisive campaign rhetoric used by the supporters of his “sanctuary” policies.

After the shooting of Arizona Representative Giffords, President Obama, in an eloquent speech to the nation, called for more civility in our national political discourse. Apparently, Governor O’Malley, Obama’s close political ally, failed to get the message.

The Democrat Governors’ Association should reprimand Governor O’Malley and deny any association with his overkill comments. Hopefully, the other Democrat governors do not support O’Malley’s language.

Governor O’Malley owes a public apology to not only the Republican Party, but to the large number of Maryland citizens who support the rule of law and respect American citizenship. Governor O’Malley has not only turned Maryland into a Disneyland for illegal aliens with his sanctuary policies costing taxpayers billions of dollars, but now has insulted them on a personal basis.

“I think we can do better. To begin that process, the Governor should offer a public apology and demand that his allies in the illegal alien movement use more civil commentary when attacking their opponents. Demonizing decent people for political gain is shameful,” concluded Delegate McDonough.

Democrats Offer to Sacrifice Republican Sacred Cows Upon Altar of Budget Cuts

from Colin Hackley for the New York Times
As Washington looks to squeeze savings from once-sacrosanct entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, another big social welfare system is growing as rapidly, but with far less scrutiny: the health and pension benefits of military retirees.

Steve Griffin left the Army after five years and thus receives no pension. But he believes the system provides incentives for recruitment and rewards retirees who have endured great hardship.

Military pensions and health care for active and retired troops now cost the government about $100 billion a year, representing an expanding portion of both the Pentagon budget — about $700 billion a year, including war costs — and the national debt, which together finance the programs.

Making even incremental reductions to military benefits is typically a doomed political venture, given the public’s broad support for helping troops, the political potency of veterans groups and the fact that significant savings take years to appear.

But the intense push in Congress this year to reduce the debt and the possibility that the Pentagon might have to begin trimming core programs like weapons procurement, research, training and construction have suddenly made retiree benefits vulnerable, military officials and experts say.

And if Congress fails to adopt the deficit-reduction recommendations of a bipartisan joint Congressional committee this fall, the Defense Department will be required under debt ceiling legislation passed in August to find about $900 billion in savings over the coming decade. Cuts that deep will almost certainly entail reducing personnel benefits for active and retired troops, Pentagon officials and analysts say.

“We’ve got to put everything on the table,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said recently on PBS, acknowledging that he was looking at proposals to rein in pension costs.

Under the current rules, service members who retire after 20 years are eligible for pensions that pay half their salaries for life, indexed for inflation, even if they leave at age 38. They are also eligible for lifetime health insurance through the military’s system, Tricare, at a small fraction of the cost of private insurance, prompting many working veterans to shun employer health plans in favor of military insurance.

Advocates of revamping the systems argue that they are not just fiscally untenable but also unfair.

The annual fee for Tricare Prime, an H.M.O.-like program for military retirees, is just $460 for families and has not risen in years, even as health care costs have skyrocketed. Critics of the system say the contribution could be raised substantially and still be far lower than what civilians pay for employer-sponsored health plans, typically about $4,000.

Those critics also argue that under the current rules, 83 percent of former service members receive no pension payments at all — because only veterans with 20 years of service are eligible. Those with 5 or even 15 years are not, even if they did multiple combat tours. Such a structure would be illegal in the private sector, and a company that tried it could be penalized, experts say.

“It cries out for some rationalization,” said Sylvester J. Schieber, a former chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board. “Why should we ask somebody to sustain a system that’s unfair by any other measure in our society?”

But within military circles, and among many members of Congress, the benefits are considered untouchable. Veterans groups and military leaders argue that the system helps retain capable commissioned and noncommissioned officers.

And having volunteered to put their lives at risk, those people deserve higher-quality benefits, supporters argue. The typical beneficiary, they add, is not a general but a retired noncommissioned officer, with an average pension of about $26,000 a year.

“The whole reason military people are willing to pursue a career is because after 20, 30 years of extraordinary sacrifice, there is a package commensurate with that sacrifice upon leaving service,” said Steven P. Strobridge, a retired Air Force colonel who is the director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America, which is lobbying against changes to the benefits.

A wild-card factor in the debate is the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, which some experts say could avoid the stigma of cutting benefits while troops are at war.

“The fact that you are getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan does make it easier,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration who was a co-author of a recent proposal for reducing the cost of military health care. “When the war in Iraq was in terrible shape, it was hard to get people to join the military, and no one wanted to touch any military benefits.”

By far the most contentious proposal circulating in Washington is from a Pentagon advisory panel, the Defense Business Board. It would make the military pension system, a defined benefit plan, more like a 401(k) plan under which the Pentagon would make contributions to a service member’s individual account; contributions by the troops themselves would be optional. Mr. Panetta has said that if adopted, the plan would not apply to current military personnel.

While health care costs for active and retired troops are growing faster, military pension costs are larger. Last year, for every dollar the Pentagon paid service members, it spent an additional $1.36 for its military retirees, a much smaller group. Even in the troubled world of state and municipal pension funds, pensions almost never cost more than payrolls.

Citing the fiscal hazards and inequities of the system, the Defense Business Board proposal would allow soldiers with less than 20 years of service to leave with a small nest egg, provided they served a minimum length of time, three to five years. But it would prevent all retirees from receiving benefits until they were 60.

The business board says that its proposal would reduce the plan’s total liabilities to $1.8 trillion by 2034, from the $2.7 trillion now projected — all without cutting benefits for current service members.

Steve Griffin of Tallahassee, Fla., is the type of soldier the defense board is trying to appeal to: a former captain who did two tours in Iraq, he left the Army in 2010 after five years of service and thus receives no pension.

Yet in a sign of the deep support for the existing system, Mr. Griffin says it should be left alone because it provides incentives for recruitment and rewards retirees who have endured great hardship.

“Yes, it would be nice for people like me,” Mr. Griffin, 28, said of the proposal. “But I think the retirement system now is fair. We shouldn’t take anything from it. If anything, we should add to it.”

Much like in the debate over Social Security, questions about the sustainability of the military pension system abound.

Each year the Defense and Treasury Departments set aside more than $75 billion to pay not only current and future benefits but also pensions for service many years in the past. But the retirement fund has not accumulated nearly enough money to cover its total costs, with assets of $278 billion at the end of 2009 and obligations of about $1.4 trillion.

The government tries to close the shortfall by simply issuing more Treasury securities each year, thereby adding to the nation’s debt.

Given the political potency of veterans groups, it is unclear whether anyone in Congress will lead an effort to revamp the pension or retiree health systems.

But the debt ceiling agreement approved this summer by Congress, under which the Pentagon must find $400 billion in reductions over the next 12 years, may force cuts once considered unthinkable. And if Congress does not adopt the recommendations of the bipartisan committee studying deficit reduction, the mandated reductions in Pentagon spending would more than double, to about $900 billion, and fall on just about every category of defense spending.

Deficit hawks, led by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, have begun taking smaller steps, pushing for an array of cuts to military benefits, including ending subsidies for base commissaries and tightening disability compensation for diseases linked to Agent Orange.

But those trims are considered marginal compared with the deeper reductions many experts say are necessary to contain Pentagon spending.

“If the trend continues, it will call into question the military’s ability to do other things, like buy equipment, do maintenance, train troops and equip them,” said Nora Bensahel, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a nonprofit organization with ties to the Obama administration.

“At some point, the cost pressures by the retirement benefits will really start to impede military capabilities.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Town Hall Meetings w/Andy Harris

From the office of Del. Kathy Szeliga:
I just heard from Congressman Andy Harris that he will be hosting two Town Hall meetings on Monday, September 19.

Come get an update from Andy about what is going on in Washington DC. Also, bring your questions and comments to share with the Congressman and his staff.

Harford County
3 PM to 4 PM
Fallston Branch Library
1461 Fallston Road, Fallston, MD 21047

Baltimore County
5 PM to 6 PM
Cockeysville Branch Library
9833 Greenside drive
Cockeysville, MD 21030

I will be attending both meetings and hope to see you Monday.

If you cannot be there but have a question you need answered, please feel free to send me an email,


I would be happy to pass along your comments and questions to Congressman Harris.
Delegate Kathy Szeliga

Friday, September 16, 2011

Crab Pickers and Gardeners are in "Short Supply"???

...and we need to a different and higher minimum wage law that varies in different states from the federal government to regulate their wages so that Lousiana can't out-compete foreign workers temporarily in Maryland??? Perhaps we should just cancel the H-2B Visa program... oh wait. That might force our intellectual elites to hire neighborhood kids to cut their grass instead of "legal" temporary Mexican workers (after all, politicans DO have to run for office and having an "illegal immigrant" gardener just WON'T do). We can't have that. And American kids would demand more money....

What's next, a special H-2B Visa for hiring jockeys to help maintain Maryland's already heavily subsidized horse racing industry? Where does it end?

No, I doubt they'll need many foreign jockeys... unless of course the jockey's began preparing and serving meals at the Maryland Jockey Club.

from the Baltimore Sun
Unable to get a response from the Department of Labor about a new, higher wage requirement for seasonal foreign workers employed in Eastern Shore seafood plants, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said Friday that she had taken her case to the White House.

The Maryland Democrat wrote White House Chief of Staff William Daley, asking the Obama administration to intervene to delay new requirements that would raise the hourly rate of the foreign workers who come to the U.S. to pick crabs and shuck oysters. Business owners have threatened that they will have to close if the higher wages take effect.

The U.S. allows 66,000 foreigners to come to the country each year under what is known as the H-2B visa program. The temporary workers are hired for seasonal industries such as crab picking, oyster shucking or landscaping. They are required to return home once the season is over.

Labor Department officials proposed higher wages for H-2B workers in January after a federal court struck down guidelines for the program crafted by the Bush administration. Under the new rules, workers in Maryland who now make $7.25 an hour would receive $9.24, according to the industry. The new wages will take effect after Sept. 30 – in the middle of this year’s crab season.

“The wage rule was drafted without regard for or consultation with the industries it would affect,” Mikulski wrote in the letter. “I’m for everyone making an honest living and an honest wage, but I will not support the federal government changing the rules of the game in the middle of the tide for these watermen.
Yep. THAT would just be "racist"? Update 9/21

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baltimore a Bellweather for 2012?

from the Baltimore Sun
A fraction of the city's electorate trickled into polls for Tuesday's primary — apparently the lowest recorded turnout in Baltimore's history.

About 78,000 Baltimore residents had voted in the election, with 99.3 percent of precincts reporting, according to elections officials. That total, which included ballots cast during early voting but not absentee ballots, amounts to less than 25 percent of registered voters and less than 13 percent of the city's 620,000 population.

Cheswolde resident Barbara Hoffman, a former state senator, lamented the low turnout.

"How mortifying," she said. "Oh my dear. That's really terrible. What does that say about all these people? There are a bunch of really good candidates running for mayor. Its not like it's a poor field. It's a good field. There should be more interest."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake cruised to victory in the Democratic primary, and she is expected to win in November's general election, given the city's heavily Democratic electorate. While she drew a number of challengers — including state Sen. Catherine Pugh, former city planning director Otis Rolley, former City Councilman Jody Landers and Baltimore City Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway — they apparently were unable to motivate supporters to go to the polls in large numbers.

In 2007, voter turnout was 28 percent in the Democratic primary carried by former Mayor Sheila Dixon. In 2003, 34 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the mayoral primary won by Martin O'Malley, who is now governor. Even when William Donald Schaefer faced token opposition in seeking his second and third terms in 1975 and 1979, 30 percent of city's voters turned out.

The previous record for the lowest turnout was 27 percent in 1991, election officials said.

On Tuesday residents who shied away from the polls cited time constraints, lack of interest and disillusionment with politics.

"It was all the same old stuff," said 21-year-old Mount Vernon resident Kevin Clark, shrugging his shoulders.

Others said they felt their votes wouldn't matter in an election that Rawlings-Blake was widely predicted to win.

"I didn't vote because I'm pretty sure that Stephanie Rawlings-Blake would win," said Caryn Bell, 25, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University.

Rolley supporter Tom Aloisi, 46, said he also hesitated, citing a Baltimore Sun poll that showed Rawlings-Blake as a heavy favorite. But he voted anyway.

"I was tempted not to vote today because the mayoral race is supposed to be a runaway," he said. "I didn't think it was going to matter."

The lack of turnout was worrisome to University of Baltimore public affairs professor Lenneal J. Henderson, who blamed a political malaise that has befallen the country and proved difficult for Baltimore mayoral candidates to overcome. He described the contenders as a "very good field."

"Baltimore is not insular," he said."There's a cloud of pessimism that has descended on the electorate nationally."

Henderson said low turnout could spell trouble for President Barack Obama's re-election effort if it persists.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County public policy professor Donald Norris blamed the local news media for what he called a "lack of coverage" and the candidates for failing to inspire voters.

"This was really one boring campaign," he said. "None of the candidates caught fire. None of the issues caught fire. As hard as the opponents of the mayor tried, they couldn't make any one issue stand out. … And there was damn little media coverage."

Todd Eberly, assistant professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary's College of Maryland, pointed to another problem hampering turnout in Baltimore elections: They take place on different dates than state and federal elections.

"It's always an issue with Baltimore that these elections fall at strange times," he said.

Whatever the reason behind the low turnout, Hoffman said the lack of interest does not bode well for the future of the city.

"People die for the right to vote all over the world," she said. "You get the representation you earn."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Signs of Democratic Voter Despair?

from the Baltimore Sun
Voter turnout sharply down from 2007 primary

Far fewer Baltimore voters have cast ballots in the city primary this morning compared to the 2007 election, according to the director of the Baltimore Board of Elections.

By 11 a.m., 15,283 people had cast ballots, which is about 4,100 fewer voters than the last city primary, said Armstead B. Crowley Jones Sr, elections director.

That means that about 4 percent of the city's 380,000 registered voters had voted.

Jones predicted that about 20 percent of registered voters would come to the polls.

In the six days of early voting -- which marked the first time that Baltimoreans have been able to cast ballots in a city race before the primary -- 7,815 residents voted.

"I'm looking at 18-20 [percent], somewhere around there," Crowley said. "By the time everything is added up, we may get to 25."

Jones reported no significant problems at the polls this morning, but said that two of the city's 290 polling places opened about 20 minutes late due to tardy judges.

Polls will remain open until 8 p.m

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Goldstein Plan's His Next Two Minutes' Hate x 720

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.
- George Orwell, 1984

For more info on Organized Leftist Anarchy's planned events on 9/17 around the country and thereafter in DC through October. And the Democrats call the Tea Party a "bunch of haters...."

What do Marylanders Think of the Republican Presidential Field?

from the Baltimore Sun

Perry edges Romney in Md. GOP poll

Texas Gov. Rick Perry edged former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination in a straw poll held at the Maryland State Fair, the state GOP announced Friday.

Perry, who also leads national polls among Republicans, scored 25.8 percent of the nearly 900 votes cast, according to the state party. Romney picked up 21.2 percent.

Republican former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee, came in fifth, despite not having indicated a campaign for 2012. That put her ahead of Georgia businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, all of whom have declared their candidacies.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came in third with 16.8 percent of the votes. Rep. Michele Bachman of Minnesota finished fourth with 12.5 percent.

"From the attendees, we heard a strong desire to turn our nation and state around and a commitment to make Maryland a two-party state," state GOP Chairman Alex Mooney said. "The Maryland Republican Party is committed to giving individuals, families, and businesses a stronger voice in Annapolis and Washington, D.C."

The complete results, as released by the state party, after the jump.

Rick Perry 25.8 percent
Mitt Romney 21.2 percent
Ron Paul 16.8 percent
Michele Bachmann 12.5 percent
Sarah Palin 7.2 percent
Herman Cain 5 percent
Other/Write-Ins 4.4 percent
Newt Gingrich 2.3 percent
Jon Huntsman 2.2 percent
Rick Santorum 1.4 percent
Buddy Roemer 0.5 percent
Gary Johnson 0.3 percent
Thaddeus McCotter 0.3 percent

Friday, September 9, 2011

AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka's Declaration of War Against the Tea Party

Sept. 11, 2011: A Day to Commit to Activism - A Message from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
All of us will remember the horror and anguish we experienced 10 years ago. Whether we lost loved ones ourselves—family members, union brothers and sisters—or felt the shock of a society that lost nearly 3,000 people and was forever changed, we need no reminding.

Instead, I would like to reflect on doors that were opened on Sept. 11, 2001, and what has come of them in the 10 years since.

Working men and women rushed through doors to danger and became America’s everyday heroes. Firefighters, construction workers, nurses and EMTs—all kinds of professionals and volunteers—were there not just on the fateful day but some for weeks and months and even years after. And we swore we would never forget.

Doors opened within us to each other. We came together. We flew the flag. We comforted one another. In our grief, we found the best in ourselves.

What an overwhelming sense of unity we shared, all across our nation. And it was this unity that allowed us to begin healing and rebuilding. There is no time in my memory of a more proud example of what we can accomplish when we work together. Solidarity, the cornerstone of the union movement, flowed through all of us and carried us through.

But other doors opened, too—doors to hate, suspicion of “others” and self-centered greed. Our fear was twisted into something much more dangerous.

The unity that had helped us survive faded as divisiveness took root. I look around today in amazement at just how far apart our nation has become—the endless possibilities that came with our unity have all but vanished.

Just 10 years after 9/11, despite our vows, the public servants, construction workers and others who lost their lives or still suffer with the cancerous remnants of the Twin Towers haven’t just been forgotten. They’ve been vilified. The extremist small government posse has turned them into public enemy No. 1, as though teachers and firefighters, EMTs and nurses and union construction workers ruined America’s economy.

In state after state this year—with the heroism of 9/11 less than a decade behind us—politicians targeted the paychecks, benefits and basic rights of these workers in a rabid campaign to shift government support to tax breaks for the wealthy and already profitable corporations.

Wealthy CEOs, anti-government extremist front groups and frothing talk show hosts—from the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks to the Koch brothers, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the American Legislative Exchange Council—also pushed open the door to hate.

Make no mistake—setting workers against workers is a highly profitable endeavor. How many times during the vilest state attacks on public workers did we hear the question: “Other people don’t have pensions. Why should he?” Prompting that question required twisting the American psyche—which, by its founding nature, seeks to lift the common good. The appropriate question should have been, “Why doesn’t everybody have a pension?” followed by collective action for retirement security.

We’ve seen the costs of hatred in ill-thought wars, in shameful attacks on immigrants and our LGBT neighbors. We saw it in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. We saw it in the racism that has found overt and covert expression since Barack Obama began his run for office—from outright declarations of people who said out loud they would never vote for a black man to the ridiculously persistent obsession with our president’s birth certificate. Regardless of his policies or priorities, President Obama is shadowed by the drumbeat of suspicion based on his “other”-ness. And those suspicions are fed and watered constantly by forces that were threatened by his message of “hope and change.”

We’ve seen the cost of greed in the recklessness of financial institutions that created the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression and the devastating jobs crisis that persists today.

But I remember that other door that opened on 9/11—the door to our better selves, to our understanding that we are one and our values require us to care for one another.

That’s what sent 347 firefighters to their death at the Twin Towers 10 years ago. It’s also what sent firefighters to stand with teachers in Wisconsin even though Gov. Scott Walker had exempted them from his attack on public employees. It’s what moves employed people now to demand good jobs for the 26 million Americans who are looking for work. It’s what gives us the courage to take on a crumbling economy and the politicians preaching austerity and ignoring our jobs crisis—to take them on and say, “We are America. We are better than this. And we are one.”

Brothers and sisters, friends, I hope you will join me in marking this solemn anniversary by committing to redouble your activism on behalf of America’s everyday working heroes. We will rise or fall together.
Evidently, Trumka left his "better self" at home and decided to write a divisive screed to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and tribute to the ALL heroes of 9/11 to focus on a small minority of undoubtedly brave Union Members only, instead. Talk about the CRASSEST 9/11 manipulation possible... this one takes the cake!

President Obama’s Jobs Plan: Stimulus II

from a Congressman Andy Harris (MD-1) Press Release dated September 8, 2011
“Over Labor Day weekend I met with many small business owners on the Ocean City Boardwalk – a common theme I heard from those potential job creators was their desire to get government out of the way so that they could do what they do best: grow their businesses and create American jobs. President Obama’s newest spending plan is nothing more than a second Stimulus bill. Just like the first Stimulus passed by the previous Congress, it will not create jobs, but instead delay recovery, increase the debt and grow the size of government. I believe that common sense ideas like a balanced budget amendment, elimination of job-destroying regulations and making America energy independent will create American jobs and get us out of this recession.”

BRAC's Impact Upon Harford County

from the Harford County Dagger
Regional economic, political, and military leaders gathered Wednesday to mark the end of what they called a highly successful first chapter of Harford County’s Base Realignment and Closure experience.

Noticeably absent from the final BRAC “Town Hall” meeting at Aberdeen High School were local residents, who numbered less than 20 and were outnumbered more than two-to-one by the assembly of staffers and executives from a variety of economic organizations, military personnel from Aberdeen Proving Ground, and local elected officials.

A series of speakers from all three groups highlighted the smooth integration into APG of military organizations transferred from Ft. Monmouth, N.J. and elsewhere, but touched only lightly on the elephant in the room: ongoing traffic concerns which have begun clogging Route 40 and Route 22 at rush hour (not to mention Mountain Road, Rt 147!).

The last in a series of public meetings on the BRAC process came six days before the Sept. 15 deadline set by the Army for the move of thousands of jobs and several major commands to APG. Despite lingering transportation issues, the six-year-long process has been among the smoothest the Army has ever seen, Major General Nick Justice, APG senior installation commander, said Wednesday.

By the Numbers

A portion of the presentation given by Harford County Economic Development Director Jim Richardson follows, outlining many of the key statistics the county claimed BRAC has brought. Among them:

–APG will grow from a $3.5 billion installation to one totaling $20 billion;

–67 percent of the 8,300 employees affected by BRAC relocated with their jobs;

–60 percent of those moving with BRAC chose to reside in Harford County, according to a study conducted by one of the relocating organizations;

–APG is tied with Johns Hopkins University as the state’s third largest employer by number of employees, with approximately 25,000—only the University of Maryland system and Ft. Meade are larger;

–the average household income in Harford County has grown to $84,000 from $73,000.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Union "Flashmob" Thuggery - No Arrests? Why Not?

from the Seattle Times
Work is at a standstill at some Northwest seaports, including Seattle, as a long-simmering labor dispute turned violent Thursday morning.

At least 500 longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview about 4:30 a.m. and broke out windows in the guard shack, according to Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha. As longshoremen wielding baseball bats and crowbars held six guards hostage, others cut brake lines on box cars and dumped grain, according to Duscha.

Fifty police officers from Kelso, Longview, Cowlitz County, the Washington State Patrol, Woodland, Kalama and the Burlington Northern Railroad responded to the scene. No one was injured, and there were no arrests Thursday morning, Duscha said.

Roy San Filippo, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said the incident started Wednesday afternoon when police pepper-sprayed, struck longshoremen with clubs and "manhandled" ILWU President Robert McEllrath after the union members blocked a train on its way into the EGT Terminal at the Port of Longview. Police arrested 19 longshoremen on Wednesday.

"If he (McEllrath) was one of the crowd that surged forward, some of them were sprayed. When it's 400 against 20, what are you going to do?" Duscha said. He said he didn't know anything about reports that police had hit protesters with clubs.

When the longshoremen stormed the terminal Thursday morning, police were "not surprised," Duscha said. "A lot of the protesters were telling us this is only the start."

One police sergeant was threatened with a baseball bat and retreated, Duscha said. "One officer with hundreds of Longshoremen? He used the better part of discretion."

Reasons behind the dispute

There have been other incidents throughout the summer, police said, including the arrest of seven longshoremen in July for blocking a train, but San Filippo said Wednesday's incident sparked the wildcat walkout of Longshoremen at some Northwest ports and the destruction of property Thursday morning at the Longview port. Longshoremen were out Thursday at Anacortes, Tacoma, Everett and Seattle. Port spokesmen said they have no information about when Longshoremen may return to work.

Tensions between the ILWU and EGT Development, the owner of the new train superterminal, have run hot for the past few months after contract negotiations broke down. EGT, which is jointly owned by Korean, Japanese and U.S. investors, contracted with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701, based in Gladstone, Ore., to fill the 25 to 35 jobs at the terminal. But the Port of Longview has a contract for ILWU to do the work.

EGT sued the port in U.S. District Court in January seeking the right to pursue its own contract. EGT wants its own people — specially trained to work in the $200 million terminal and capable of unloading a 110-car train in less than four hours.

According to the lawsuit, "The lease did not impose any obligation whatsoever upon EGT to utilize union labor at the terminal, much less obligate EGT to utilize persons who are represented by Local 21 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union."

The Port of Longview disputes this, saying it had a working agreement with the union that EGT knew about when it began negotiating the lease in 2007.

"If you disagree, then we have a serious dispute" that needs to be addressed in court, wrote Port Executive Director Kenneth B. O'Hollaren in court documents.

"The Longshoremen are fighting for good middle class jobs at the grain handling terminal," San Fililppo said.

Union under a restraining order

A federal restraining order was issued against the Longshoremen last week because the union had made death threats and was accused of assaults, Duscha said

On Thursday, police remained at the terminal trying to assess the damage, Duscha said. After the protest, the Longshoremen returned to their union hall and set off fireworks, Duscha said.

At the union offices in Longview, the doors were locked and people who occasionally left the building declined to talk to reporters, though one complained of slanted media coverage.

"We held six people hostage? Come on," that man said.

The union is to appear Thursday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma for a hearing on a petition filed eight days ago by Richard Ahearn, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board. It alleges ILWU Locals 4 and 21 had targeted EGT officials, workers and contractors with increasingly violent unfair labor practices.

In one instance, Ahearn alleges union workers bombed the EGT terminal with a bag of manure from an airplane. It had signs attached saying "scabby 701," a reference to another local that was doing work on terminal construction.

Ahearn alleges the Longshoremen have "induced or encouraged individuals employed by EGT and other persons ... to refuse to handle or work on goods and/or refuse to perform services, and has threated, coerced, or restrained" the company and others, intending to force the company to employ its workers. The union has also been involved in a labor dispute with EGT's contractor, General Construction, according to the documents.

Already, Ahearn said, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has refused to deliver cargo to the EGT terminal because the union has refused to give assurances that it will not block the tracks.

The ILWU locals have been picketing the EGT grain terminal since July, according to the petition, which said that union workers have spit on, threatened and "verbally assaulted" EGT officials, blocked entrances, thrown eggs and knocked down signs at the terminal. In one instance, a shop steward for another local working at the terminal was assaulted and followed onto the freeway.

In seeking the injunction, Ahearn wrote "The threat of further unlawful conduct and property damage is tangible," saying local police stated — a week before Thursday's violence — that they "do not have the staff to control the pickets."

Public Hearings - Political Redistricting

from the Maryland Department of Planning
Redistricting Hearings for Baltimore and Harford Counties Rescheduled Hearings were postponed due to complications arising from hurricane.

BALTIMORE – Public hearings of the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee (GRAC) for Baltimore and Harford counties have been rescheduled for Monday, September 12, 2011.

The original dates for these hearings were postponed due to complications in the region caused by Hurricane Irene.

The hearing times and locations are:

Harford County
Hearing begins at 4:00 p.m.

Harford Community College, Amoss Center
200 Thomas Run Road
Bel Air, MD 21015

Baltimore County
Hearing begins at 7:00 p.m.

Randallstown Community Center
3505 Resource Drive
Randallstown, MD 21133

Those who wish to offer public comment may sign-in beginning one hour prior to the start of the hearing. Pre-registration is also available online at the following links: Harford County or Baltimore County.

The Committee is holding hearings for the lower and upper Eastern Shore this Saturday, September 10th, at Salisbury University (starting at 12:30 p.m. in Perdue Hall – Room 156 Auditorium; 1101 Camden Avenue; Salisbury, MD 21801) and Chesapeake College (starting at 4:00 p.m. in the Todd Performing Arts Center; 1000 College Circle; Wye Mills, MD 21679).

For more information, go to http://planning.maryland.gov/Redistricting

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meet Christine O'Donnell on September 8

From the Dagger and the Route 40 Republican Club:
The Route 40 Republican Club will be holding its September Meeting with special guest speaker Christine O’Donnell. The meeting begins at 7pm on September 8th and is being held at the Ramada Inn Conference Center (1700 Van Bibber Rd, Edgewood, Maryland, 21040).

As a woman of principled determination, with a governing philosophy centered on the core values of the great American tradition and a wide experience in taking on the liberal establishment, Christine O’Donnell was a candidate for U.S. Senate from the First State. Christine O’Donnell is a nationally recognized political commentator and marketing consultant. She has appeared on national news outlets such as the Fox News Channel, CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC and ABC, including major ratings hits like “The O’Reilly Factor,” “Sean Hannity Show,” “The Glenn Beck Show,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and “Entertainment Tonight.”

Mrs. O’Donnell will be signing her new book “Troublemaker” and posing for pictures, following the meeting. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served followed the meeting.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rick Perry to Fundraise in Maryland

from The Baltimore Sun
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, is set to make a stop in Baltimore later this month to raise money for his presidential bid, an event that would be his first in Maryland since announcing his national intentions last month.

Organizing the fundraiser is Republican money man Dick Hug, a veteran from Gov. Robert Ehrlich's tenure. He also raised money for President George W. Bush.

Hug said that he flew down to Texas about three weeks ago with other fundraisers and spent time with the Perry team. "When you see him and meet with him you'll be very impressed," Hug said. "He's going to be our next president."

The Perry fundraiser is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Tuesday Sept. 27 at The Center Club in downtown Baltimore. Tickets are $2,500 and include a photo-op with the presidential hopeful, according to a list compiled by Annapolis lobbyist Bruce Bereano.

Blue Maryland isn't often where GOP presidential candidates spend time looking for votes, though as my colleague John Fritze noted in a story earlier this summer, the state is great place to scoop up cash.

In June potential contenders and big shots stopping by the state for fundraisers included: Pizza magnate Herman Cain, tea party star Sarah Palin and the top GOP budget maker in Congress Rep. Paul Ryan.

Also former House Speaker Newt Gingrich headlined an event for the Maryland Republican Party over the summer. And last year former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke at the state GOP party dinner.

MAFIA Bosses to Shake Down Their Lieutenants, Again!

Shifting Blame from Pennsylvania Ave. to Wall Street

from the New York Times
The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency suits, which are expected to be filed in the coming days in federal court, are aimed at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among others, according to three individuals briefed on the matter.

The suits stem from subpoenas the finance agency issued to banks a year ago. If the case is not filed Friday, they said, it will come Tuesday, shortly before a deadline expires for the housing agency to file claims.

The suits will argue the banks, which assembled the mortgages and marketed them as securities to investors, failed to perform the due diligence required under securities law and missed evidence that borrowers’ incomes were inflated or falsified. When many borrowers were unable to pay their mortgages, the securities backed by the mortgages quickly lost value.

Fannie and Freddie lost more than $30 billion, in part as a result of the deals, losses that were borne mostly by taxpayers.

In July, the agency filed suit against UBS, another major mortgage securitizer, seeking to recover at least $900 million, and the individuals with knowledge of the case said the new litigation would be similar in scope.

Private holders of mortgage securities are already trying to force the big banks to buy back tens of billions in soured mortgage-backed bonds, but this federal effort is a new chapter in a huge legal fight that has alarmed investors in bank shares. In this case, rather than demanding that the banks buy back the original loans, the finance agency is seeking reimbursement for losses on the securities held by Fannie and Freddie.

The impending litigation underscores how almost exactly three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of a financial crisis caused in large part by subprime lending, the legal fallout is mounting.

Besides the angry investors, 50 state attorneys general are in the final stages of negotiating a settlement to address abuses by the largest mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, JPMorgan and Citigroup. The attorneys general, as well as federal officials, are pressing the banks to pay at least $20 billion in that case, with much of the money earmarked to reduce mortgages of homeowners facing foreclosure.

And last month, the insurance giant American International Group filed a $10 billion suit against Bank of America, accusing the bank and its Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch units of misrepresenting the quality of mortgages that backed the securities A.I.G. bought.

Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan all declined to comment. Frank Kelly, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, said, “We can’t comment on a suit that we haven’t seen and hasn’t been filed yet.”

But privately, financial service industry executives argue that the losses on the mortgage-backed securities were caused by a broader downturn in the economy and the housing market, not by how the mortgages were originated or packaged into securities. In addition, they contend that investors like A.I.G. as well as Fannie and Freddie were sophisticated and knew the securities were not without risk.

Investors fear that if banks are forced to pay out billions of dollars for mortgages that later defaulted, it could sap earnings for years and contribute to further losses across the financial services industry, which has only recently regained its footing.

Bank officials also counter that further legal attacks on them will only delay the recovery in the housing market, which remains moribund, hurting the broader economy. Other experts warned that a series of adverse settlements costing the banks billions raises other risks, even if suits have legal merit.

The housing finance agency was created in 2008 and assigned to oversee the hemorrhaging government-backed mortgage companies, a process known as conservatorship.

“While I believe that F.H.F.A. is acting responsibly in its role as conservator, I am afraid that we risk pushing these guys off of a cliff and we’re going to have to bail out the banks again,” said Tim Rood, who worked at Fannie Mae until 2006 and is now a partner at the Collingwood Group, which advises banks and servicers on housing-related issues.

The suits are being filed now because regulators are concerned that it will be much harder to make claims after a three-year statute of limitations expires on Wednesday, the third anniversary of the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While the banks put together tens of billions of dollars in mortgage securities backed by risky loans, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is not seeking the total amount in compensation because some of the mortgages are still good and the investments still carry some value. In the UBS suit, the agency said it owned $4.5 billion worth of mortgages, with losses totaling $900 million. Negotiations between the agency and UBS have yielded little progress.

The two mortgage giants acquired the securities in the years before the housing market collapsed as they expanded rapidly and looked for new investments that were seemingly safe. At issue in this case are so-called private-label securities that were backed by subprime and other risky loans but were rated as safe AAA investments by the ratings agencies.

In the years before 2007, “the market was so frothy then it was hard to find good quality loans to securitize and hold in your portfolio,” said David Felt, a lawyer who served as deputy general counsel of the finance agency until January 2010. “Fannie and Freddie thought they were taking AAA tranches, and like so many investors, they were surprised when they didn’t turn out to be such quality investments."

Fannie and Freddie had other reasons to buy the securities, Mr. Rood added. For starters, they carried higher yields at a time when the two mortgage giants could buy them using money borrowed at rock-bottom rates, thanks to the implicit federal guarantee they enjoyed.

In addition, by law Fannie and Freddie were required to back loans to low-to-moderate income and minority borrowers, and the private-label securities were counted toward those goals.

“Competitive pressures and onerous housing goals compelled them to operate more like hedge funds than government-sponsored guarantors, ” Mr. Rood said.

In fact, Freddie was warned by regulators in 2006 that its purchases of subprime securities had outpaced its risk management abilities, but the company continued to load up on debt that ultimately soured.

As of June 30, Freddie Mac holds more than $80 billion in mortgage securities backed by more shaky home loans like subprime mortgages, Option ARM and Alt-A loans. Freddie estimates its total gross losses stand at roughly $19 billion. Fannie Mae holds $38 billion of securities backed by Alt-A and subprime loans, with losses standing at nearly $14 billion.