As Votes Were Cast and Counted, The Horrors Continued

By Larry Jones

A seemingly interminable election season has finally drawn to a close. As people trooped to cast their ballots for the future head of an empire of war and torture, millions were hoping for relief from the nightmare of the Bush years.

But beyond the long voting lines and the polling booths, the horrors continued

· In the hell holes of Guantanamo and other American torture chambers, bodies were being maimed, lives destroyed and ended. How much did we hear about torture in the campaign of 2008? Damn little. Yet as this very moment there are thousands of human beings, many completely innocent, who are being held in prisons from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib to scores of secret rendition sites in countries which allow torture. Unbelievable human sadism is taking place in our name. People are handcuffed and hung above the floor by their wrists until their shoulders slowly and painfully are pulled out of joint. Others are shacked to the floor in painful positions in either freezing cold or unbearably hot cells where they are questioned. Beatings are common during interrogations as are hard slaps across the face for 30 minutes as questions are asked. This is just a small sample of this ongoing gross inhumanity committed and orchestrated by the U.S. government.

· U.S. bombs have rained on people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the days and weeks leading up to the election. U.S. forces have staged at least 17 bombing raids into Pakistan since the election race heated up in late August. Bombing Pakistan without the approval of or even forewarning to the Pakistani government is a policy first proposed by the "peace candidate", Barack Obama, and since adopted by Bush. In Afghanistan there have been more civilian deaths in 2008 than any year since the U.S. invaded. And this is the war that Obama calls the "central front in the war on terror", and for which he promises more troops.

· The U.S. staged a helicopter raid into Syria, adding another country to the list of those who have experienced American military aggression, and eliciting protest from neither major candidate for president.

· Life after years of U.S. occupation has become unlivable for most people in Iraq. Victims of an illegal and immoral war, they suffer widespread diseases from lack of clean drinking water and available medical care. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, a huge number of them innocent civilians, in particular children and the elderly.

· Bush continued to push forward with and enforce police state, fascistic measures, including the removal of the right of habeas corpus, which is intended to allow a prisoner to be brought before a court to determine if he is imprisoned legally, a right that has been a key stone in Western law for centuries. He has also instituted illegal wiretapping of U.S. citizens who have no connection whatsoever to "terrorists," and given immunity to telecoms who illegally participated in this program, a move both Obama and McCain supported. Following his lead, police forces from numerous jurisdictions have brutally attacked and sought to silence people non-violently exercising their constitutional rights of free speech at both the Democratic and Republican conventions. Did anyone hear of opposition to this from Obama or McCain as their campaigns wound to a close?

· An ugly, racist, movement coalesced around the candidacy of Sarah Palin - who represents an extreme form of religious theocracy that isn't going to go away no matter what the results of the voting. Palin's theocratic beliefs call for the literal hunting and killing of "witches", declare that entire geographic areas of the U.S. (and world) are "demonically possessed", and promote building an "Army of God", among many other totally repugnant ideas and programs. Obama never took on this ominous development - and in fact promises to continue and extend many of the policies of the Bush Regime so favored by Christian fascists, including extending "faith based funding" for social services, declaring that "we all agree that abortion is terrible", and ceding time after time to attacks on birth control, in the name of "reaching compromise".

Take a good long look at what has been going on in this country for the past 8 years. Obama is poised to be at the helm of a political and economic system in great crisis, with more turbulence sure to come. He is taking over a government whose basic direction has been decisively shaped by the Bush policies of war and torture for the defense and expansion of empire. He has declared that he intends to wage "intelligent" wars, to expand the military and use it more aggressively in more countries, and conciliated endlessly to overtly fascist theocratic forces in this country. Is this the "change" people have been waiting for?

As Debra Sweet wrote, "Only the independent action of the people can create the conditions where those in power can be forced to act in accordance with our demands. This is the change we can believe in. Stop thinking like an American, and start thinking like someone who cares for the whole planet."