Thursday Reads: Lying Politicians vs Truly Egregious Behavior; Crazy Republicans; and More

Good Morning!!

I’m sick and tired of the Weiner story, and I know most of you are too; but I just want to highlight a few reactions that I found interesting–all G rated.

I love this Lambert post, especially this part:

ZOMG!!!!!!! Offensive behavior online!!!!!!!! [Too tired for the riffs about the pearl clutching and the fainting couch.]

Anyhow, so Weiner’s an asshole. And so what. As William Gibson said:

“Fortunately,” he said, “it isn’t about who’s an asshole. If it were, our work would never be done.”

Love that quote! As Lambert points out, these “ethics” investigations never seem to happen to people who engage in torture, election fraud, or handing over the U.S. treasury to banksters.

Speaking of assholes, Andrew Breitbart claims he still has one more “lewd picture” of Weiner that he hasn’t released–and it’s not the one going around today. Talk about an evil human being. Breitbart is disgusting. If you read to the end of that piece, you’ll find out Breitbart’s notions of female sexuality.

One person who seems to have a little sympathy for Weiner is Charlie Rangel.

“His most serious problem is keeping his wife and family together at this time,” Rangel said in an interview on Fox Business Network set to air Wednesday evening.

Rangel did not suggest that Weiner resign. Here’s what he had to say about “ethics” investigations:

“They may do that, and God knows, I know what people feel they have to do as politicians to protect themselves. It’s totally unbelievable, but it happens,” Rangel said. “They love you, but they love themselves better and they make political decisions not to how it affects you, but to how it affects them and their reelection.”

They are all slime, yet they presume to sit in judgment on others. What Weiner did makes me sick, but the rest of them make me even sicker.

Melanie Sloan of CREW says there is a double-standard operating in the many calls for Weiner to resign.

“This is a massive overreaction and I don’t understand it,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

She points out that Charlie Rangel was censured for serious ethical breaches, yet was not forced to resign.

Sloan explained that the mounting pressure on Weiner may stem in part from the early precedent set by House Speaker John Boehner when, at the first sign of sexual misconduct, he urged Reps. Mark Souder (R, Ind.) and Chris Lee (R, N.Y.) to resign, even though their behavior didn’t appear to involve any abuse of their office.

“A lot of people really hate Weiner, too,” she said, referring to Weiner’s colleagues in the House, some of whom are said to have been rankled by his personality and frequent media appearances.

What about Weiner’s denials before he owned up?

“A politician lying is not that unusual,” Sloan said. “If the new standard is that politicians are out the second they lie to us, then a lot of politicians could be gone.”

How true.

As egregious as Weiner’s behavior was, it wasn’t a crime. Here’s an example of truly egregious behavior: U.S. pediatrician on trial for raping toddlers

A Delaware pediatrician went on trial for allegedly raping or sexually exploiting 86 young patients, all girls except one and almost all younger than three.

Earl Bradley has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts against him, and sat quietly in gray prison scrubs as a veteran state trooper spent hours Tuesday describing the doctor’s cache of home videos of the assaults.

They were so “horrible,” testified state police detective Scott Garland, a specialist in forensic computer evidence. “They were beyond anything I had ever witnessed. Nothing prepared me for it.”

And then there’s this: Casey Antony told a fellow inmate that she used chloroform to knock out her daughter Caylee when she (Casey) wanted to party.

And how about this?

Gaddafi bought Viagra-like pills for troops to attack women

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he may ask for a new charge of mass rape to be made against Gaddafi following the new evidence. The chief International Criminal Court prosecutor is expecting a decision from judges within days on his request for crimes against humanity charges against the Libyan leader.

“Now we are getting some information that Gaddafi himself decided to rape and this is new,” Mr Moreno-Ocampo told reporters.

He said there were reports of hundreds of women attacked in some areas of Libya, which is in the grip of a months-long internal rebellion.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said there was evidence that the Libyan authorities bought “Viagra-type” medicines and gave them to troops as part of the official rape policy.

“They were buying containers to enhance the possibility to rape women,” he said.

“We had doubts at the beginning but now we are more convinced that he decided to punish using rapes,” the prosecutor said. “It was very bad — beyond the limits, I would say.”

Let’s move on to the horrors of the Republican 2012 presidential field. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, voters aren’t ready for a Mormon president.

Sorry, Mitt. John Huntsman is also a Mormon. I guess voters don’t mind looney religionists as long as they claim to be Christians though. Have you heard about Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan?

Pawlenty calls for sweeping tax cuts dubbed by some as “breathtaking.” He’d cut the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 15 percent, and eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest income, dividends and inheritances. There would be two tiers of personal income taxes — 10 percent and 25 percent.

Pawlenty would require Congress to reauthorize all federal regulations and radically reshape the federal government by privatizing services such as the U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak. He also would support an ill-advised balanced budget amendment. You could almost hear the corporate special interests uttering “check, check and check!” as the South St. Paul truck driver’s son ticked off items on their wish lists and then one-upped them.

Just reading about it makes me want to run out into the street screaming and tearing my hair out.

Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are supposedly feuding now because Ed Rollins said that Bachman is more “serious” than Palin. I had to really look around to find an article that didn’t call it a “cat fight.” Here’s Rollins, quoted by NPR:

“Well I’m going to work for Michele Bachmann if she runs. That’s the one that intrigues me the most at this point and I think to a certain extent she’s articulate, she’s a conservative. She’s got a great story to tell. She’s on the Intelligence Committee. You know, she’s unknown to the national audience, but she’ll become known and that’s the candidacy that I’m going to work for if she runs.

“Sarah has not been serious over the last couple of years. She got the vice-presidential thing handed to her. She didn’t go to work in the sense of trying gain more substance. She gave up her governorship. You know, I think Michele Bachmann and others have worked hard. She has been a leader of the Tea Party, which is a very important element here. She’s an attorney, done extraordinary things with family values and what have you. So I think she will connect. She’s a great, great communicator and I would say in the race today she is probably the best communicator.”

Kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Now check this out: Santorum Calls Abortion Exceptions To Protect Health Of The Mother ‘Phony’

Longshot GOP presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum stomped for votes in Iowa on Tuesday, trumpeting his “culture wars” message. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Santorum is selling himself as the leading social conservative in a crowded field. Yesterday in West Des Moines, he made an appearance at a “crisis pregnancy center” called Informed Choices that tries to talk women out of having abortions. Santorum said that he “separates [himself] from the rest of the pack” and criticized the other candidates for simply “checking the box” on anti-abortion issues.

When discussing his track record as a champion of the partial birth abortion ban, Santorum dismissed exceptions other senators wanted to carve out to protect the life and health of mothers, calling such exceptions “phony”:

SANTORUM: When I was leading the charge on partial birth abortion, several members came forward and said, “Why don’t we just ban all abortions?” Tom Daschle was one of them, if you remember. And Susan Collins, and others. They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective.

In other stupid Republican news, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a painting of poor and homeless children removed from the governor’s mansion. From Mother Jones:

Walker has made headlines again after he removed a painting depicting three Wisconsin children—one had been homeless, one came from low-income family, and a third who had lost family members in a drunk-driving accident. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the painting was one of numerous pieces of art commissioned by the fund that operates the governor’s mansion—works that were intended to remind the governor of the constituents he or she represents.

Here’s the Journal Sentinel on the painting by artist David Lenz:

In an interview, Lenz said he carefully selected the three children portrayed in “Wishes in the Wind.” The African-American girl, featured in a Journal Sentinel column on homelessness, spent three months at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission with her mother. The Hispanic girl is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. And the boy’s father and brother were killed by a drunken driver in 2009.

“The homeless, central city children and victims of drunk drivers normally do not have a voice in politics,” Lenz explained in an email. “This painting was an opportunity for future governors to look these three children in the eye, and I hope, contemplate how their public policies might affect them and other children like them.”

He added: “I guess that was a conversation Governor Walker did not want to have.”

In other news, at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, 77 army cadets were struck by lightening and hospitalized. Let’s hope they’ll all be okay. The weather sure is strange this year!

I’ll end with this interesting story from the LA Times: Autism linked to hundreds of genetic mutations.

Autism is not caused by one or two gene defects but probably by hundreds of different mutations, many of which arise spontaneously, according to research that examined the genetic underpinnings of the disorder in more than 1,000 families.

The findings, reported in three studies published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, cast autism disorders as genetically very complex, involving many potential changes in DNA that may produce, essentially, different forms of autism.

The affected genes, however, appear to be part of a large network involved in controlling the development of synapses, the critical junctions between nerve cells that allow them to communicate, according to one of the three studies.

Although the work will have no immediate value to patients or their families, the insights provide a wealth of targets to pursue in developing treatments for the disorder, scientists said. Understanding the genetic causes of autism spectrum disorders may promote more accurate diagnoses, and research on synapse formation and function could yield treatments that address the flow of signals between nerve cells.

What are you reading and blogging about today? Please share!!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! Here are the stories that caught my eye this morning.

Reuters: Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret help for Libya rebels

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 government sources familiar with the matter.

Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.

Washington Post: In Libya, CIA is gathering intelligence on rebels

The Obama administration has sent teams of CIA operatives into Libya in a rush to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, according to U.S. officials.

The information has become more crucial as the administration and its coalition partners move closer to providing direct military aid or guidance to the disorganized and beleaguered rebel army.

Although the administration has pledged that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed to Libya, officials said Wednesday that President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.

I can’t imagine why anyone would be surprised that the CIA is involved in Libya (they are everywhere). But the progs are looking down their noses in strong disapproval.

Emptywheel: Where Will Obama Try Himself for Material Support for Terrorism?

After all, according to Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project any help to a terrorist group–even counseling on how to make peace–is material support. And no matter how we try to spin arming rebels as an act of peace, it’s a good deal more help than legal counsel.

And, as the DC Circuit’s decision yesterday in Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman’s habeas suit makes clear, it’s not enough for a person to stop associating with al Qaeda in the 1990s, nor does the government need any real evidence of a tie between someone in al Qaeda’s vicinity to claim that person is a member of al Qaeda.

Glenn Greenwald: The wisdom and legality of arming Libyan rebels

Then there’s the question of the legality of arming Libyan troops. Salon’s Justin Elliott reported on Monday that the administration was actively considering arming the rebels despite an absolute arms embargo imposed by U.N. Resolution 1970 (“imposing an arms embargo on the country”). Today, The Guardian elaborates by citing numerous legal experts insisting that it would be a violation of the U.N. Resolution for the U.S. to arm the rebels. For its part, the U.S. insists that it is legally entitled to do so, with Hillary Clinton announcing that the arms embargo has been “overriden” by the broad mandate of U.N. Resolution 1973, allowing “all necessary measures” to be used to protect Libyan civilians.

On the strictly legal issue, this seems to be a close question. Can the specific arms embargo really be “overriden” by a general clause allowing the protection of civilians? That seems redolent of the Bush arguments that specific prohibitions in the law (such as the ban on warrantless eavesdropping) were “overriden” by the broad war powers assigned by the AUMF. More to the point, can it really be said that arming Libyan rebels is necessary for the protection of civilians? That sounds much more like what one does to help one side win a civil war.

I don’t know, and I admit I don’t like the idea of this action in Libya expanding too far. I remember when Reagan armed the “Contras.” Of course back in those days we were arming right-wing groups and the US was involved in countless human rights violations. In Libya, the opposition forces are trying to depose a genuinely evil dictator who has been involved in terrorist attacks.

But here’s my question: why don’t the progs convince the guy they supported to get us the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan? They wanted this guy, they forced him on us, and now they’re whining. and what are they doing to find a decent alternative? A big nothing.

I’m not going to be happy if we get involved in a ground war in Libya or anywhere else, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost ten years!

Raw Story: Most Americans think Obama does not deserve re-election, according to new poll

Obama’s approval rating is also at its lowest point ever, at 42 percent, while his disapproval rating rose from earlier in the month to a new high of 48 percent.

A similar Quinnipiac poll published March 3 found President Obama with 46 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval.

In that earlier poll, voters also split on whether Obama deserves reelection, with 47 percent saying yes and 45 percent saying no.

The latest poll reflects the president’s sliding fortunes in other studies, with a full 50 percent now saying that he does not deserve to stay in office beyond 2012.

The big problem with this is that the Republicans are bound to nominate someone who is to the right of Atilla the Hun and about as crazy and unempathetic as Muammar Gaddafi. I refuse to vote for Obama, but what if we end up with Michelle Bachmann or Mike Huckabee as President?

Anyway, the Tea Party’s polls are in the crapper along with Obama’s.

Just 32 percent of respondents viewed the tea party favorably, while a record-high 47 percent had a negative view of the movement that propelled Republicans to dramatic Congressional victories last November. Fourteen percent had no opinion, and 7 percent said they’ve never heard of the tea party.

I sure hope the Congresspeople find out about that.

Russ Feingold doesn’t think Jeffrey Immelt is a very good jobs czar. No kidding, lol.

Feingold’s new group, Progressives United, is set to launch a new campaign to pressure General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to step down as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness. Feingold’s campaign — which I’m told will be joined by Move On later today — is based on two pieces of news that, Feingold says, render Immelt unfit for the gig of Obama jobs chief: GE paid no American taxes in 2010; and Immelt’s compensation doubled .

In an email to members of his new group, Feingold will argue that if Immelt doesn’t step down, Obama should fire him, arguing that Dems need to stop coddling corporations whose behavior undermines our economy:

I’ve got a couple of semi-humorous stories to get your mind off all the bad news. Get out your tiny violin. Did you know that the super-rich are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives?

The Atlantic: Secret Fears of the Super-Rich

Does great wealth bring fulfillment? An ambitious study by Boston College suggests not. For the first time, researchers prompted the very rich—people with fortunes in excess of $25 million—to speak candidly about their lives. The result is a surprising litany of anxieties: their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.

Awwwww. Too bad, so sad. Then give your money away to people who actually need it, why don’t you. And then get a real job.

Raw Story: Death anxiety linked to acceptance of intelligent design: study

Research conducted at the University of British Columbia and Union College found that people’s death anxiety was associated with support of intelligent design and rejection of evolutionary theory.

Death anxiety also influenced those in the study to report an increased liking for Michael Behe, a prominent proponent of intelligent design, and an increased disliking for Richard Dawkins, a well-known evolutionary biologist.

The findings suggest that people are motivated to believe in intelligent design and doubt evolutionary theory because of unconscious psychological motives.

Okay, time out. Because? No. This is a correlational study, and as we all should have learned long ago, Correlation does not equal causation.

The study was lead by UBC Psychology Assistant Professor Jessica Tracy and and UBC psychology PhD student Jason Martens. It was published in the March 30 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE.

“Our results suggest that when confronted with existential concerns, people respond by searching for a sense of meaning and purpose in life,” Tracy said. “For many, it appears that evolutionary theory doesn’t offer enough of a compelling answer to deal with these big questions.”

There are a lot of variables unaccounted for in this description of the study. Maybe death anxiety is just associated with fundamentalist Christianity. I guess I could look up the study and see what the findings really were… But I probably won’t.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Tuesday Reads

Good morning, political junkies!! Let’s get right to the news.

President Obama gave a speech last night in which he made a pretty good case (IMO) for U.S. limited intervention in Libya. He stated that there were not going to be American boots on the ground and that the U.S. is essentially finished with its part of the operation–it will be up to the UK, France, and Italy to police the no-fly zone and to the Libyan people to depose Gaddafi and decide what comes next.

Surprisingly, Obama was a bit more animated than usual–actually emphasizing points with his voice and at times appearing almost passionate. At least the speech didn’t start to put me to sleep until the last several minutes.

Obama indicated that the U.S. will continue to support efforts to set up a functioning government in Libya, but that will be a non-military effort. If he stands strong with that, I think he’s finally done something I agree with and can support.

Obama also argued that just because we can’t intervene in every conflict doesn’t mean that we should never intervene at all. We have to choose our battles, and in the case of Libya we had a dictator who was using his military–and his air power to kill his own citizens indiscriminately. If he had managed to attack Benghazi he might have murdered hundreds of thousands of people.

Furthermore, Libyans had asked for our help, and our action was supported by other Arab countries and by the Arab League. For once the U.S. was doing something that most Arabs wanted us to do. If we had not acted, we would have seen an atrocity take place, and that would have encouraged dictators in other Arab countries to crack down violently on protesters.

Here is the full text of the speech, if you are interested. I do think Obama went on too long after making the case for Libya. The speech would have been much better if he had done that and then wrapped it up.

I must say, I do not understand the criticisms of this Libya policy that I’m seeing in the progosphere, and from some people here at Sky Dancing. Maybe I’m nuts, but I think the U.S. finally had a chance to do something good with its massive military power and at the same time we get some good PR in a part of the world that has long hated us–with justification because we have enabled most of the tyrants in the region. I’m glad Hillary was able to convince her boss to do the right thing.

I want to call attention to some very knowledgeable people who agree with my assessment–and we do appear to be in the minority.

Thomas Ricks was on Monday’s edition of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. He said that he was struck by how many people either aren’t listening to what Obama, Clinton, and Gates are saying or they are discounting it out of hand.

Ricks said that these three are saying that the U.S. goals in Libya have already been achieved. The rebel forces are knocking on the door of Tripoli, thanks to the no-fly zone and some strategic bombing by the coalition countries. As Obama said last night, it is now up to Libyans to decide what to do with Gaddafi. We aren’t going to try to take him out.

Here’s what Ricks wrote on his blog after his appearance on Meet the Press with Gates and Clinton:

I was on Meet the Press yesterday, following Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. I was struck at how frequently they emphasized the short-term, limited nature of the U.S. action in Libya, and how they used the past tense to discuss it:

Gates: “I think that the no fly zone aspect of the mission has been accomplished.”

Clinton: “I think we’ve prevented a great humanitarian disaster.”

Gates: “we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to — to decline.”

Gates: “in terms of the military commitment, the president has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do.”

Gates: “I don’t think it’s [Libya] a vital interest for the United States. But we clearly have interests there. And it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States.”

I also was struck at how much more assertive Clinton seemed than Gates. A friend of mine calls this “State’s War.”

Ricks also blogged about his take on Obama’s speech: Obama on Libya: Watch out, Saudi Arabia

What we saw in the NDU speech was a logical defense of what the president has ordered the military to do and an exposition of what the limits of the action will be. The cost of inaction threatened to be greater than the cost of action, but now we have done our part. Next role for the U.S. military is best supporting actor, providing electronic jammers, combat search and rescue, logistics and intelligence. That was all necessary, and pretty much as expected.

But I was most struck by the last few minutes of the speech, when Obama sought to put the Libyan intervention in the context of the regional Arab uprising. He firmly embraced the forces of change, saying that history is on their side, not on the side of the oppressors. In doing so he deftly evoked two moments in our own history-first, explicitly, the American Revolution, and second, more slyly, abolitionism, with a reference to “the North Star,” which happened to be the name of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper. If you think that was unintentional, read this.

Hmmm…I totally missed that. Follow me below the fold…

Read the rest of this entry »


Where is Iman al-Obeidi?

Iman al-Obeidi

The Libyan government claims she has been released and is staying with her sister in Tripoli. But al-Obeidi’s parents say she is still being held in Gaddafi’s private residence. Her mother also says that al-Obeidi has been offered a bribe to change her story.

The mother of Eman al-Obaidi said she received a call from an unidentified person purportedly representing the regime, the parents told Al Jazeera news.

The caller asked the family to tell Ms al-Obaidi to change the rape claim in return for her freedom and benefits, including a house or money, according to the victim’s mother.

According to the UK Telegraph,

Aisha Ahmad, who lives in the rebel-held eastern town of Tobruk, told The Washington Post she had passed on the request to her daughter, who had rejected it.

“I am very happy, very proud,” said Mrs Ahmed.

Iman al-Obaidi, a 26-year-old law student in Tobruk, was held last week after she burst into a Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying and told them of the attack.

“Film me, film me, show the whole world what they did to me,” Miss Obaidi had screamed, as she was dragged off by security guards.

Musa Ibrahim, the Libyan government’s spokesman, said Miss Obaidi has been freed, “but the prosecution is still questioning her to determine the circumstances (of her claim).”

So if government agents are questioning her, are they doing it at Gaddafi’s palace or in her sister’s home? Is the sister al-Obeidi is supposedly staying with the same sister her was used by the Libyan government to smear her? <a href="“>From the Guardian story:

…a man claiming to be her cousin told Reuters that Obeidi was targeted by authorities after taking part in a protest in the west of the country during the initial days of the uprising against Gaddafi.

Wadad Omar said his cousin worked for a tourism company in Tripoli and was detained along with three other women who took part in the protest as they returned to the Libyan capital.

The government also used Obeidi’s sister to denounce her publicly, Omar said: “(Obeidi’s) sister went on television to say her sister is crazy. Muammar wants to prove to the world that she is insane. She (the sister) is certainly under pressure from the government.”

If it is the same sister, how can we be sure that al-Obeidi wants to be with her or that she is safe from further attacks or even torture?

There are reports that either four or five men have been arrested in the case, one of them the “son of a high-ranking official.”

Today protesters in Benghazi organized a rally in support of Iman al-Obeidi.

Following disturbing pictures of Ayman Al Abidi that hit the TV airwaves in Benghazi almost 24 hours after the alleged incident, there was outrage in this rebel capital. Men and women held a rally in support of her and marched towards the courthouse in Benghazi. “We are very sad for this and no will accept what happened,” said a Libyan protestor.Many people in Libya are concerned about her situation and they say that is just a glimpse of what they’ve been facing for decades.

Al-Jazeera reported:

Several doctors say they have found Viagra tablets and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Gaddafi fighters, alleging that they were using rape as a weapon of war.

They say they have been treating female rape survivors who were allied with pro-democracy forces.

At the Financial Times, Charles Clover, one of the journalists who tried to help Iman al-Obeidi and was knocked down and kicked by Libyan security men for his trouble, writes about his experience:

Ms Obeidi said she had been arrested at a checkpoint on Salahidin Street in Tripoli “because I am from Benghazi”, and then held and repeatedly raped by 15 soldiers over two days.

Hearing the disturbance, a group of waiters and waitresses came over and tried at first to soothe her, then, when that did not work, to shut her up.

Suddenly a melee broke out between journalists and hotel staff. A group of athletic leather-jacketed men barrelled in and began throwing us around the room, chasing Ms Obeidi around the restaurant and finally putting a coat over her head. Many of the journalists at the Rixos jumped into the fray, trying to protect her, but it was a battle we were certain to lose.

Cameras were smashed and one journalist was punched in the face. I ended up wrestling for my Dictaphone, getting thrown down and kicked.

Clover has been told that he is “no longer welcome in Libya,” but he believes that the incident in which he was a bit player is a real tipping point.

All the careful efforts of the Libyan government to nurture their parallel reality were demolished that day. The hired mobs, the theatrical set pieces designed for foreign press consumption, and the alleged civilian casualties of the allied air campaign for which we have been shown little evidence – they all came crashing down, because of one woman’s bravery and desperation.

The questions remains: where is Iman al-Obeidi now? According to Anderson Cooper,

A group of lawyers and human rights activists tried to approach her sister’s house Monday, but were blocked by security forces. Al-Obeidy’s sister’s mobile phone has apparently been turned off, a source with the Lebanese opposition in Tripoli told CNN. And no one has seen the sister since the incident at the hotel.

Journalists and human rights activists much continue their demands to talk to al-Obeidi. She must not be disappeared by Gaddafi’s storm troopers. She is a living symbol of what Libyan rebels are fighting for–freedom of movement and association, freedom to speak truth to power, freedom to control one’s own body.

Yes, I know women are not treated equally in Arab cultures. Guess what? We aren’t treated equally here either. We need to stand up and fight for our rights just as this “lone, brave woman,” — as Charles Clover referred to her — fought for hers. And we must stand with her now and demand that she be freed and returned to her family.