Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Month in Review

Pundit Press is glad to bring you another month of the coverage you've grown to expect from us. We've had a successful March, with traffic rising to all-time highs. Since the last Month in Review in February we've done very well.
Since March first we've had 160,365 total pageviews. This is a 19% increase over February's figures. We're up to 76 followers, 47 Twitter followers, and 124 subscribers. Make sure to subscribe if you like the site!

We wound up with exactly 300 articles for the month.
  • Thomas led the way with 94 articles, or 31.33% of the total. His top article was Arif Uka Identified as Frankfurt Airport Shooter with 1,397 total views.
  • Aurelius came in second with 91 total pieces, or 30.33% of the total. His top article was Pictures of Japanese Earthquake with 58,492.
  • Unlikely Hospitalist came in with a respectable third, with 48 articles, or 16% of the total. He had 15.3% last month. His top article was They're Baaaack with 3,892 hits.
  • Mr K. entered in at fourth, with 42 articles, or 14%. He had 11.8% of the total last month. His top article was about the tsunami that hit Oregon, with 449 hits.
  • Dr. Lawrence W. White had 8 articles, or 2.66%. 
  • Eric Dondero had 4 pieces, or 1.33%.
  • Dr. Robert Owens also had four articles, or 1.33%.
  • Joe C. came back with 4 whole articles, or 1.33%.
  • Fenway Nation entered into the first MiR with two articles, or .67% of the total.
  • Kaptain Krude had 1 article, or a total of .33%.
Now, to the part you're all waiting for, the top twenty articles of March 2011:

1. Pictures of Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami March 11, 2011 by Aurelius comes in with 58,492 views or 36.5% of the total hits for the month.
2. Live Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami Coverage Updates (March 11, 2011) by Aurelius with 7,499 views, or 4.7% of the total.
3. Hawaii Tsunami, March 11, 2011 by Aurelius with 6,838 views. or 4.3% of the total.
4. Obama Libya Speech Scheduled To Accommodate 'Dancing With The Stars' by Aurelius with 6,050 viewsor 3.8%.
5. Arif Uka Facebook Profile Found? by Aurelius with 4,965 viewsor 3.1%.
6. They're Baaaack....... by Unlikely Hospitalist with 3,892 viewsor 2.4%.
7. Lara Logan Video? by Aurelius with 3,378 or 2.1%.
8. Internists Remind Physicians About Universal Ethical Principles by Unlikely Hospitalist with 2,711 or 1.7%.
9. Obama Attempts to Restrict 2nd Amendment without Congressional Approval by Aurelius with 2,665 or 1.7%.
10. Video- Obama Advisor: 'Invade Israel' by Aurelius with 2,381 or 1.5%.
11. Live Video of Hawaii Tsunami by Aurelius with 2,315 or 1.5%.
12. Arif Uka Pictures? by Aurelius with 2,136 or 1.3%.
13. Obama Speech Live (March 11, 2011) by Aurelius with 1,904 or 1.2%.
14. Kucinich: Obama Should be Impeached by Aurelius with 1,533 or 1%.
15. Muslim Brotherhood Leader: Qaddafi Must Die by Aurelius with 1,401 or .9%.
16. Arif Uka Identified as Frankfurt Airport Shooter by Thomas with 1,397 or .9%.
17. Japan Earthquake, March 11, 2011 by Aurelius with 1,336 or .8%
18. Obama Speech on Libya Live March 18, 2011 by Aurelius with 1,298 or .8%
19. Live Bombing Libya Attack Video by Thomas with 1,041 or .65%
20. Deranged Liberals: Walker Must Die by Aurelius with 1,002 or .62% of the total.

We've welcomed Fenway_Nation aboard this month. Fenway runs one of our favorite blogs, Not Another New England Sports Blog.

Next, we want to recognize our Top Writer of the Month. Last month it was Unlikely Hospitalist for his great coverage of the Wisconsin doctor drama. This month, it's Aurelius.

To Those that Linked to Us

We want to thank the following sites for their consideration:

Protein Wisdom
Reaganite Republican
Pirate's Cove
Michael Savage

Gateway Pundit
The Lonely Conservative
Michelle Malkin
Tomb of the Unknown Blogger (for those that linked but we missed)

Some interesting notes:
  • Pundit Press' Alexa ranking has grown again, now to 195,387, passing the 200,000 mark for the first time in our history.
  • As said earlier, we added Fenway_Nation to our staff.
  • Joe's article percent went up infinity.
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Marcellus Shale Takes Public Relations Hit

New Study from Gregory FCA and Shows Marcellus Shale Continues to Take Hit in Public Opinion

A recent survey of Marcellus Shale public opinion, conducted by Gregory FCA and, reveals that this vital source of domestic clean energy continues to take a public opinion thumping as traditional media reporting turns negative toward development of natural gas in the Appalachian Basin.

The study—which used Nielsen BuzzMetrics to cull more than 45,000 traditional media sources and over 150 million social media sources, including blogs, blog comments, message boards, forums, Facebook and Twitter—shows that the interest in Marcellus Shale by the media and general public is immense, drawing some 56,625 comments over the past year, more than the online and media interest shown in the eight other major shale plays throughout the United States.

While the interest is intense, the public sentiment toward Marcellus Shale development is exceedingly negative, compared to other shale plays. In fact, in traditional media, Marcellus Shale proves to be a lightning rod for negative press reports, with a positive sentiment of only 1.1 on a 10-point scale with five being the most positive sentiment and negative 5 being the lowest sentiment. As a point of comparison, Niobrara and Bakken Shale plays scored positive sentiments in the traditional media over the past year, with 5 and 4.5, respectively. Only the Utica Shale play scored more negative sentiment in traditional media, with a negative 1.5 sentiment in traditional press.

Interestingly, Marcellus Shale showed higher public sentiment in the digital domain, scoring nearly double the positive sentiment in online comments—a positive 2.8 sentiment in social media compared to 1.1 positive sentiment in traditional media.

“Clearly, traditional media has been persuaded by environmental groups as well as broad-based media vehicles—such as the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Gasland,’” says Keith Mauck, the publisher of “This has had a corrosive effect on the public opinion of Marcellus Shale, penetrating the reporting by mainstream media and tainting their worldview of the issue.”

At the same time, sentiment in user-generated content—social media—is nearly twice as positive than comments and reporting in traditional media.

“That’s an interesting and counterintuitive conclusion, particularly considering that environmental groups are typically savvy social networkers who know how to get their message out online,” says Greg Matusky, President of Gregory FCA, one of the nation’s 50 largest public relations agencies. “It tells me that while the media is decidedly negative, citizens and supporters of natural gas development in the Appalachian Basin have found a place online to voice their support, a place that’s unfiltered by reporters and editors. It also suggests that the industry has not done a good enough job of communicating facts to traditional media.”

Conversely, industry groups may have found an effective way of countermining traditional media reporting.

“The recent New York Times expose comes immediately to mind,” says Matusky. “The article, which reported on groundwater contamination by Marcellus Shale development, was strongly attacked online by industry groups. Our study shows that this kind of rapid response through unfiltered and direct channels can affect public opinion.”

What is not so clear, however, is whether more positive online sentiment will eventually affect traditional media coverage and convince reporters and editors that domestic, clean energy, if developed responsibly, represents a major energy advance for America.

“The stakes are high—as evidenced this month when America went to war arguably over Mideast oil and on the heels of a nuclear disaster in Japan,” says Mauck. “America’s future depends on an effective, long-term energy policy, and public opinion weighs heavily in the direction of that policy, which is why this study is so timely and important for our nation.”

The study, which includes sentiment reporting by energy type, development method, and company players, can be downloaded at

Interesting thoughts in the comment section. I for one blame the New York Times.

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Nine Marcellus Shale Stocks With Top Buy Ratings

In spite of all the negative publicity associated with hydraulic fracturing within the Marcellus shale nine stocks have been identified by The Street to be top buys for the next year. Identified stocks have up to a 41% upside potential.

"Nine Marcellus Shale stocks...have received analysts' to buy ratings and hold the potential to deliver attractive returns over the next one year. Analysts' consensus estimate indecates an average return of 16% for the portfolio and the potential to deliver up to 40% upside over the next one year."

Good buys in tough economic times are hard to come by. Of course, I own none of these stocks, so take that into consideration.

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Vote in Our Poll: Should the United States Arm Libyan Rebels?

With a no-fly zone in place and American and NATO planes patrolling the skies of Libya, the Obama Administration has been kicking around ideas on how to help Libyan rebels without putting (more) American boots on the ground.  The most notable:  their discussion on whether to arm Libyan rebels.

Supporters of this plan see it as pretty straight-forward:  the Obama Administration wants to take down Gaddafi, the President supports the rebels, so why not just give weapons to the rebels so they can dethrone/kill Gaddafi?  Critics of the idea see it in a different light.  With reports that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are infiltrating the rebellion, opponents of arming rebels fear that weapons could easily fall into the wrong hands.  They worry that the weapons the US would be handing out could be turned against our very troops.  They further question its constitutionality.
Maummar Gaddafi
So, what say you?  Should the United States arm the rebels in Libya?  Is it too risky?  Is it the right time?  Vote below:

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Depressing: Canada's Highest Income Tax Rate is 29%

Have you ever researched Canada's income tax brackets?

Until this morning, I hadn't either.

However, the numbers will probably make your head spin.

In Canada, which Americans have long called a "quasi-capitalistic" state in jest, the highest earners pay 29% in federal income taxes. For those of you playing at home, or work - that is almost 17% less than in the United States. And Canadian corporations pay nearly 50% less than their American counterparts.

Is your head spinning yet?

Those numbers explain why Canada didn't suffer during the 2007-09 recession, and why Irish immigrants are no longer coming to America for work, but to our friends in the Artic North.

America must ask herself this very important* question: are we really going to allow economic conditions to be more favorable for businesses in Canada than here? The answer should be short and simple: absolutely not.

What say you?

* - Especially when it comes to corporate income taxes.

Scott Brown's Approval at 73%

Wow. Just wow.

Scott Brown hails from perhaps the bluest state in the union. Yes, Massachusetts-- the People's Republic of. The first term Republican Senator wowed the political world last year when he beat Attorney General Martha Coakley to take his seat.

And he's not giving it up easily.

Brown, the first GOP Senator in decades from the state is wildly popular, even in the state with less than 20% Republicans. The former state senator and current member of the National Guard holds a very healthy approval rating in the Bay State.

And this poll was conducted on behalf of the DSCC!

To make matters even more interesting, Brown now holds higher approval ratings than Barack Obama! Even better, he now polls over 50% against every potential challenger in 2012.

But the DSCC received some bad news this week when a poll it commissioned found that Brown's popularity is soaring. The survey, which has been seen by at least one D.C. insider and was detailed for Salon, measured Brown's approval rating at 73 percent -- easily surpassing the scores for Barack Obama and the state's two top Democrats, Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen. John Kerry. It also found him running over the magic 50 percent mark against every potential Democratic challenger, and crushing the strongest perceived Democrats (Reps. Michael Capuano and Ed Markey and former Rep. Marty Meehan) by double-digit margins. The results only grew closer when respondents were primed with negative information about Brown.

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Ohio Passes Law Restricting Collective Bargaining

 The Ohio legislature has passed a controversial bill which will ban collective bargaining for that state's public employees. This comes after weeks of debate in which the Senate passed the bill by only one vote. Governor John Kasich (R) is expected to sign the bill as soon as possible.

The passing of this new law is a big victory to try and reign in that state's budget deficit and comes after similar efforts in Wisconsin are held in limbo. This is also a big defeat for public employee unions, which have mounted a serious counter-offensive against the Governor and the Republican-held legislature.

The bill passed the Ohio House by 53-44, a more comfortable than the 17-16 vote in the Senate. There are hopes that this will help cover the $8 billion shortfall the state faces.

Of course, the excuses have begun:
The Rev. Michael Harrison, a member of Protect Ohio Families, a pro-union group, said says the legislation is reckless and Kasich is using the budget shortfall to chop away at the rights of government workers.
"SB-5 proves that reckless Ohio legislative leaders care more about corporate special interests than Ohio families," he said.
 Good for Governor Kasich and the the government of the state of Ohio. Maybe this will be the first step in getting that state back on track.

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Breaking: Judge Delays WI Union Law

 This is not to be unexpected but it's bad news nonetheless. Unfortunately, a Wisconsin judge has ruled that the public employee union law passed earlier this month in Wisconsin is not in effect.

More on this outrage from Channel 3000:

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi made the amended ruling at 8:15 a.m. She has already issued an emergency order blocking Wisconsin's secretary of state from publishing the law. Sumi called a hearing Tuesday to weigh District Attorney Ismael Ozanne's lawsuit alleging Republican legislative leaders violated Wisconsin's open meetings law during debate on the proposal.
Sumi re-issued her order on Tuesday -- and this time she has warned that anyone who violates it will face sanctions. She amended the ruling on Thursday to read, "Further, based on the briefs of counsel, the uncontroverted testimony, and the evidence received at the March 29 evidentiary hearing, it is hereby declared that 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has not been published ..."

What a crook. Hey, Maryann, how much is the SEIU paying you?

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Saleh's Mubarak Option

 Yemen’s dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh is still refusing to step down. According to published reports, he flirted with the idea of no longer leading the Middle Eastern country. However, he has decided that it was in the country’s ‘best interest’ to stick around until the end of the year.

Saleh and pals
Now, he’s still pushing the same idea, but in a different capacity. Call it a copy of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak’s plan. Mubarak ‘handed over’ control to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, in an attempt to stay in power. However, protests continued, leading to his stepping down several days later. Saleh has a similar ploy.
Ali Abdullah Saleh made his offer at a meeting on Tuesday night with Mohammed al-Yadoumi, head of the Islamist Islah party. It was the first time Saleh had dealt with Islah, once a partner in his government, an opposition spokesmen said.
“The opposition could pick a head of government of its own choosing and there would be parliamentary elections by the end of the year,” an opposition source said of Saleh’s offer.
To make matters worse, this plan would give undue influence to the Islamists. Saleh probably has about two weeks left unless he is willing to massacre the Yemeni people.

Cross-posted on WorldThreats.

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Obama Approval Falls Again

Barack Obama's approval rating has been slipping over the last week. Briefly in January he touched the 50% range and has fallen since. In a Quinnipiac poll taken yesterday, Obama's approval rating fell to an all-time low of 42% in the wake of higher gas prices and the war in Libya.

Today Rasmussen, the most accurate national pollster, has a survey along the same lines.

Approve: 44%
Disapprove: 55%
Other/und: 1%

This is certainly bad news for the President as he's about to announce a re-election bid.

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President Obama Calls for Expanded Drilling in the Marcellus Shale

President Obama gave yet another speech on energy independence yesterday (transcript here). The Lonely Conservative takes issue with his remarks saying that the plan is seated on selling the Chevy Volt, paying off political donors, and raising the cost of energy. She also notes that he mocks the millions of Americans (myself included) who call for increased domestic oil and natural gas production. On the whole it is hard to argue with the logic, but I would like to play devil's advocate for a moment.
Two parts of the speech jumped out at me. First he says the energy crisis can be solved by good old American ingenuity.
But our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard. And we boast one critical, renewable resource the rest of the world cannot match: American ingenuity.
In this regard, he is absolutely correct. When the shackles of government regulation are limited and americans are free to create and produce, we cannot be beat. Lately I have been highlighting the benefits of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formation. For years this abundant supply of clean burning, energy efficient fuel has been off limits because of technological limitations, but over the past few years this technology has been enhanced and improved. Hydraulic fracturing has opened a potential reserve of energy that could fuel the nation for a century or more and the president is right to highlight the creativity of America's best and brightest in providing for this resource.
The second portion of the speech I took note of is below.
In terms of new sources of energy, we have a few different options. The first is natural gas. As I mentioned earlier, recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves – perhaps a century’s worth – in the shale under our feet. Now, we have to make sure we’re doing it safely, without polluting our water supply. And that’s why I’m asking my Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, to work with other agencies, the natural gas industry, states, and environmental experts to improve the safety of this process. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but he’s got a Nobel Prize for physics, after all. He likes to tinker on this stuff in his garage on the weekend.
But the potential here is enormous. It’s actually an area of broad bipartisan agreement. Last year, more than 150 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle proposed legislation providing incentives to use clean-burning natural gas in our vehicles instead of oil. They were even joined by T. Boone Pickens, a businessman who made his fortune on oil. So I ask them to keep at it and pass a bill that helps us achieve this goal.
When the president highlights T. Boone Pickens, you know he must be serious (snark). With this passage he is bucking the far left of his party. Understanding that drilling must take place in "shale" the president instead mocks the rhetoric of upstate class warriors invading town halls across upstate New York who are calling for a ban of the practice in its entirety. Refusing to acknowledge the safety record of natural gas drilling, their overblown rhetoric and intimidation tactics will fail, but the fight is on and the science is on our side. In this instance I am happy to find that President Obama is on my side, at least for now.

Unfortunately, we have heard all this before in previous speeches and his prior actions regarding US energy independence doesn't leave me with much hope that this speech will make a difference, but I tend toward optimism and "hope springs eternal".

In spite of what is being said, folks in favor of natural gas drilling don't want to kill babies, spoil fresh water aquifers or contaminate streams. It doesn't take much research to find this out, but it does take an inquiring mind.

On the economic front I offer a few links as to why this industry is a boon for the country.....

Huge economic impact in south Texas. Jobs paying $45,000-$90,000 dollars. For what it's worth, these are not outsourced, but are provided by the local communities.

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Possible Deal to Cut $33B

 Let's just start by saying it's not enough. $33 billion per department, maybe. If we want to get our fiscal house in order, we should start with a number ten times as large. Still, with Republicans too timid and the Democrats opposing any possible serious plan, this may be the best possible option.

So we see the both sides in Congress agreeing on this deal, which will swipe away approximately 2% of our deficit and less than 1% of our total budget. Forgive me if I'm not celebrating.

“There is no magic number at this time,” Rogers insisted after meeting with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). But he told POLITICO: “We’re going to start talking with the Senate to see if we can find some good common ground.”
The House set this debate rolling last month when it approved its own budget for the remainder of Fiscal 2011, cutting appropriations to $1.026 trillion, about $102 billion less than Obama’s initial budget requests for 2011 and $61.3 billion below the spending under a continuing resolution (CR) that expired March 4.
Too bad. Weren't we promised $100 billion?

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Three Reasons I Oppose Trump 2012.

Donald Trump has transformed himself into the top talk of 2012 Presidential politics on the radio, television and internet. His "take-no-prisoners" approach has won over some Republican voters to this side, but I remain firmly against a potential Trump candidacy for three main reasons.

1. Trump's early thoughts on war, peace and America's role in the world is quite disturbing. He basically views the United States Military as just another way to make money, instead of a force for American interests, and advancing liberty in the world.

2. Trump's opinions on American trade with China are just dangerous. He wants to move our trade relationship with China from a policy of free trade to a policy of protectionism, which would result in higher costs for nearly all consumers in the United States because a trade war would occur.

3. Trump's growing enthusiasm in the birther movement is the most baffling of all. Here we have a smart man, who never makes a move without examining the benefits to him, attempting to sway the craziest, fringe bloc of voters to his side for a run for President.

In conclusion, he is a showman using the 2012 election to gain more attention, because if he's really running for President - I'm going to bang my head against the wall. Repeatedly.

What say you?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sec. Clinton: WH Needs "No Congressional Authorization" for Future Decisions on Libya

Whether you support the overthrow of Dictator Maummar Gaddafi or not, the administration's handling of the situation cannot be described other than horrendous.  First, according to critics, the President dithered for over a month on what to do in Libya.  He waited for the Arab League to act, then the United Nations.

Eventually, he stated that Gaddafi "must leave," and waited several more weeks.  After that time, he decided that the United States, pushed by a UN resolution, should bomb Libya, saying that the War Powers Act gave him the right to order the attack without Congressional approval.  He also unequivocally stated that the United States was not at war, but pursuing "kinetic military action."

Now, according to the President, the War Powers Act allows the President, at least in the short term, to order the attack, bombing, or infiltration of a foreign country without even notifying Congress, let alone waiting for their approval.  That is a nice line and all, but apparently that's all it is: a line.

According to legislators who were in a meeting with Secretary Clinton today, she told them:
[T]he administration acted within the requirements of the War Powers Act and needed no congressional authorization for further decisions on the mission.
Let me emphasize that for a moment: the administration needs no congressional authorization for further decisions on the "kinetic military action" in Libya?  What does that mean exactly?  Does that mean that, should the President want to expand the attack, he simply can without approval?  Does that mean that, according to this Administration's interpretation of the War Power's Act, that the President can declare war unilaterally?

I certainly hope not.

And there's already evidence that the President has gone beyond his promise not to send any "boots" to Libya.  Namely, that he's already doing it.

Reuters reports:
President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the last two or three weeks, according to four U.S. government sources familiar with the matter.

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Obama Falls Behind 'Generic' Republican Candidate

Barack Obama's standing with the people of the United States appears to be falling again. This comes after a slight increase in his polling numbers earlier this year. Now, with gas prices rising and an unclear situation in Libya, the President's numbers have fallen yet again.

According to a Quinnipiac poll, the President would be in some trouble if the election was held today. According to the polling, his approval rating has fallen to his lowest level yet: 42%-- and a disapproval number of 48%.

Behind a GOP Candidate
And fewer and fewer voters believe that the President deserves to be re-elected. Last month, when asked, the public was split 45%-45%. This month paints a different story.

Does President Obama Deserve Re-election?

Yes: 41%
No: 50%
Other/dk: 9%

For the President, the number is not well for his re-election prospects. When paired against a generic Republican, Obama has fallen behind for the first time. This comes as the GOP field still remains wide open, without a firm favorite.

Obama: 36%
Generic GOP: 37%
Other/und: 25%

Notice the high level of undecided voters. With a quarter of the electorate without an opinion, this could show that these voters are keeping the door open on voting for a Republican candidate. Obama is polling almost 20% less than the actual vote total in 2008. This is a particularly weak figure for a President that entered office with approval ratings over 60%.

This will not help Obama, but it also highlights the work still left for the Republican Party. There must be a firm candidate that can have wide support within the party and not allow Obama and the Democrats to split the vote.

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Judge Judy Rushed to Hospital

Some breaking news. Celebrity judge Judy Scheindlin has been rushed to the hospital. Some details from Radar Online:

Judge Judy Sheindlin was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital Wednesday morning "feeling nauseous" and suffering "intestinal discomfort", is exclusively reporting.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department confirmed to that a paramedic ambulance was dispatched to the KTLA Studios in Hollywood, where Judge Judy tapes her show, at 9:12 a.m. today.
A 911 call was made and paramedics responded to a "medical call" and then transported the 68-year-old judge to a local hospital.
"The judge was feeling nauseous and had some intestinal discomfort and decided to go to the hospital to get it checked out," Judge Judy's rep, Gary Rosen, told in an exclusive interview.
"They are keeping her overnight for tests."
A source inside the studio told cameras rolled during the drama.
"She was just sitting on the stand during her taping and she started saying things that didn't make any sense," the insider told, exclusively.
"It was only during the second case.
"The judge said couple of sentences that didn't have anything to do with the case and then she stopped speaking and said she wasn't feeling well."
The judge, clearly suffering, told the audience: "I need to stop, I'm not feeling well!"

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Is Bashar al-Assad of Syria a Reformer?

“Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “Face the Nation”, March 27, 2011

“President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had.  I think it’s incumbent on us to try to move that relationship forward in the same way.”   Senator John Kerry,  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 16, 2011

As we all know, Syria is the latest potential domino in the widespread Middle East upheavals . Demonstrations against the Assad government  in Syrian have been increasing despite a brutal and bloody reaction from the regime.

President Obama spoke this past Monday evening of the justification for intervening in Libya. I support the humanitarian impulse underlying this. Yet I am mystified at the insistence on defending the Syrian rulers, and the claim that they are not as brutal, not as deadly, as Qaddafi.
There is a big divide between our response in Libya and non-response in Syria. In  Libya, Obama has called on Qaddafi to leave, and military steps are being taken to help the rebels. Any such steps have been ruled out in the case of Syria.

Our government has largely given Syria a pass, and this continues as evidenced by Hillary Clinton’s assurance that Assad is a “reformer”. The Obama administration  has taken no action, and has had not one word to say in support of the opposition, a situation eerily reminiscent of Iran two years ago, when Obama stood by while the opposition was crushed in the streets of Tehran. Barry Rubin  wonders why “Mubarak, a U.S. ally and far less oppressive than Syria or Iran, was bad; but Assad, an enemy of the United States and a far more repressive dictator is good?”

One of the lessons of Libya is that if a brutal dictator is willing to do whatever it takes, including murdering his own people, he will prevail unless outside help is forthcoming. And so, following  this logic,  the Assad government reaction has been murderous.  According to one witness, “They used live ammunition immediately — no tear gas or anything else.” And Assad  need not fear any outside help for the opposition.

A major center for the uprising is the southern town of Daraa, but there have also been protests in Banias, on the Mediterranean coast, in the central city of Homs, in the capital Damascus, and other places.. Thousands have taken to the streets, urged on by a Facebook page “the Syrian revolution 2011” and  chanting “God, Syria, and Freedom only!”

Jeff Jacoby has recently written an article questioning “ why not Syria?”  Jacoby says the following; 

“If the United States has good reason to support the popular revolt in Libya -- and President Obama argued Monday night that there is "an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him" -- it has considerably more reason to do so in Syria. If it made sense to speed the departure of Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak, accelerating the fall of Syria's Bashar al-Assad should be an even higher priority. If North Africa was improved when the people of Tunisia threw off their dictator, the entire Arab world would be a healthier place if a Syrian uprising toppled Assad.
So why doesn't Washington say so?”

At a moment like this, the Obama administration should be taking every reasonable step to encourage the Syrian uprising and undermine the regime. In his remarks on Libya the other night, the president cheered "the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa," and promised that "wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States."  Does he really mean it? Or does this apply only to Libya and Egypt but not Syria or Iran?

Jacoby wonders  if our President seriously believes that “wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States”, why has there been no White House denunciation of the murder of protesters by Syrian security forces? Why haven't US officials publicly exhorted the Security Council and the Arab League to “take as strong a stand against Assad as they did against Qaddafi?”  
Rather than intensify the pressure on a regime that is every bit as odious as Qaddafi's, and that arguably has more American blood on its hands that any other government in the Arab world, the Obama administration is bending over backward to reassure Assad.
Among the reasons given for intervention in Libya but not Syria, Hillary Clinton tells us, is because Qaddafi was far more brutal than Assad.

Given Secretary Clinton’s statements, I have looked for any reforms made by Assad and found none. Here is the Assad record that I have found;
In 2007, Bashar al-Assad was found to be building a nuclear reactor with North Korean help; it was obliterated by Israel. (Moammar el-Qaddafi agreed to dismantle Libya's nuclear weapons program in 2003)

Despite wishful thinking by President Obama and Senator Kerry that Syria could be peeled away from Iran, Assad has  moved closer to, and is now Iran’s major ally. .

Bashar al-Assad orchestrated the murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri. He has asserted control over Lebanon by threatening or using terror against Lebanese opponents.

Bashar al-Assad supplied arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, prior to the war with Israel, then resupplied them after the war, making another war with Israel all but certain.

Bashar al-Assad has funneled Sunni  fighters  into Iraq, where they have killed Americans

Under Bashar al-Assad Syrian dissenters have “disappeared”

During the current protests, Assad’s security forces have killed more than 150 citizens. In the town of Sanamin, witnesses told Al Jazeera of seeing 20 peaceful demonstrators killed  in under 15 minutes

The Assad family has gotten rich while surrounded by poverty.

Syria Is the major backer of Hamas in its battle with Israel.

And so Assad can accurately be called many things, but "reformer" is not one of them

And of course, Bashar al-Assad, a physician educated in Britain, is the son and successor to Hafez al-Assad  who was responsible for the murder of  25,000 Syrian citizens  in Hama in 1982. Further, Syria under the elder Assad was an aggressor in each of Israel’s three largest wars, (1948, 1967, 1973) and it has never had any real interest in pursuing peace with Israel. 

Yaakov Katz  has  pointed out that “when considering the large arsenal of long-range Scud missiles Syria has stockpiled over the years and the accompanying chemical warheads, Israel needs to be concerned”  (The US and the other countries in the region also need to be concerned).  Syria has recently announced that it will rebuild its aging air force, and will obtain  new Russian MIG fighter jets. It currently has advanced surface-to-air missile systems and hundreds of Scud missiles.

Despite all this, Hillary Clinton  calls Assad a reformer. Why? Is this simply ignorance? Or is it loyalty to Obama’s misguided agenda?  Or is it a way to explain why we intervened in Libya but not Syria?. Regardless, this enormous mistake in judgment has tarnished Hillary Clinton, and put into doubt her political future

Secretary Clinton is not alone in making excuses for the Assad regime. Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been a vocal supporter of Assad. Even this month, as protests starting gripping Syria, Mr. Kerry said he thought Syria’s president was an agent for change. “President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had,” Mr. Kerry said during a March speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I think it’s incumbent on us to try to move that relationship forward in the same way.”

Kerry has  met with Assad five times over the last two years, seeking to re-establish negotiations with Israel on peace arrangements. It is clear, as stated by Barry Rubin ,  that Senator  Kerry is an “apologist for an oppressive anti-American dictator”

After the Hariri murder, relations between the US and Syria cooled, and  our ambassador was removed. But based on nothing other than wishful thinking, and the mistaken belief that Syrian could be pulled away from its alliance with Iran, Obama tried to woo Assad by reestablishing  relations and sending  Ambassador Robert Ford to Damascus.  Nothing changed on the  other side.  Assad continues to supply Hezbollah, continues to control Lebanon, continues to help terrorists kill Americans, and has  moved closer to Iran

Omri Ceren reminds us that Secretary Clinton has stated that the U.S. would not act to remove Assad unless it had the backing of an international coalition, a Security Council resolution, a call by the Arab League, and “a condemnation that was universal” . This is an impossible grouping of circumstances. The Arab league almost certainly will not support action against a fourth Muslim nation. And  Russia or China will veto such action directed against an arms client . And when have we ever had universal condemnation?

According to Ceren, Clinton is setting the bar high in order to reassure liberals that  the president will not  get America involved in any new  military adventures. “The left spent eight years insisting you’d have to be an idiot or a neocon to rush into war unilaterally, and Obama went to war in a week with a crumbling coalition” He needs to make it up to his left flank.

So what can be done? Alana Goodman and Elliott Abrams recommend measures that Obama should take immediately. Goodman in particular points out that  “President Obama’s dithering response to both Egypt and Libya should be a model for exactly how not to respond to the escalating violence in Syria”. Here is Goodman’s list.

Robust vocal condemnation: And not just from the White House. “All those who were taken in by Assad” – (such as Senator Kerry) – “should be loudest in denouncing his bloody repression”.

Ramp up the pressure on Assad at multilateral forums.  Abrams names the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Commission, and the ICC as three possibilities. It might be helpful for the UN SC to expedite the Hariri tribunal, and add Assad to the prosecution list.

Bring in the Arab League: “Libya was expelled; let’s demand that Syria be, too,” writes Abrams.

Push for sanctions from the Europeans: Abrams notes, “U.S. sanctions against Syria are strong and probably cannot be increased effectively now, but the European Union has far more trade and investment.”

Bring home Robert Ford: Abrams writes that the Obama administration “erred badly” by sending an ambassador to Syria. He argues that we should recall Ford and “unveil a hard-hitting political and human rights campaign against a bloody regime whose people want it gone.”

A good case can be made for not recalling Ambassador Ford., Josh Block suggests that keeping Ambassador Robert Ford there as a critic of the regime may be very useful. He recommends that Obama send Ford to Daraa, where dozens of demonstrators have been killed,  to show American solidarity with the protestors and to demand an international investigation.

Nothing in this list requires military action. Indeed none of the critics of the coddling of Assad are asking for military intervention against Syria, but are asking for other measures of assistance to all those who are opposing the dictatorships of the Middle East, including  Syria and Iran. The Obama administration is setting  up a straw man in stating that they will not engage in a Libyan-style military intervention. Words matter; we need clear statements of opposition to Assad. Covert operations supplying aid to the demonstrators would also be useful. Fear of offending the Syrian rulers is  pointless.  

Despite Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, there are other, more sane, voices. Martin Indyk,  former American ambassador to Israel,  and not generally  known for creative thinking, nonetheless has stated that the end of the Assad regime would be helpful to the US by depriving  Iran of an ally and by reducing repression in Syria — “an unusual confluence of our values and interests.” Well said. Yet his opinion is unlikely to influence the foreign policy gurus in the administration, who can only think in conventional terms and have bought Obama’s arguments. .

And so the big question is posed by Barry Rubin “If President Obama can say that ‘Mubarak must go’ and ‘Qadhafi must go’ why can't he at least say: ‘Ahmadinejad must go’ and ‘Assad must go.’”

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