Democratic Underground

Ghost in the Machine
July 4, 2001
by William Rivers Pitt

Ghost in the Machine

(for tigerlily)

"It was then that I began to look into the seams of your doctrine. I wanted only to pick at a single knot; but when I had got that undone, the whole thing raveled out."

- Henrik Ibsen

Something has gone wrong.

This is your day: you wake to the braying of your alarm clock. Depending on your situation you will either wake the children, feed the baby, walk the dog, prepare breakfast…or you will dress as quickly as you can and streak out the door alone because you hit the snooze button one too many times again. By reasonable statistical probability, this is likely the beginning of your day.

You go to your place of work. If you are 23-35 years old, you will probably be in a cubicle. If you are older, you might have your own office. You probably like your job well enough, whatever it may be. The money is reasonably good. You have friends there, 5:01 p.m. Friday drinking buddies. You might even call what you do a career. If it isn't, then it's a step along the way to one.

You work away the day and head home. At some point in the evening you will flake out for a while in front of a TV or a computer monitor. You might have a beer or a glass of wine. You go to bed pretty early because you have to get up early. If you are 23-35 years old, this will still bug you a bit.

This is your day. Add a dash of color here and there - a blue sky, love, bourbon. You've been doing it for a while now, and you have gotten into that groove. You may have passed several seasons worth of days like this already.

But now, something is wrong.

There is this tension in the air. You can feel it on your skin. When you are walking down the street, you are sizing things up, trying to put your finger on what is troubling you. It comes to you one day, out of a closet in your mind. You are afraid.

What are you afraid of? Well, there has been a lot of nerve-wracking stuff on the news lately, for one. Didn't we almost go to war with China? Is the environment really as messed up as they say? Are the lights going to go out? Will I be able to afford gasoline in next month? Did someone just say 'recession'?

The odds are that you've been pretty comfortable these last eight years. If you are a teenager, it is likely that you can only remember times of relative peace and prosperity, and you never saw "The Day After." If you are older, you can probably remember that you were almost always able to find a job doing something or other.

Now, it all seems to be unraveling.

There is more to it than that. Something happened. It went on for so long that you eventually tuned it out, treated it like the bad noise it was. You just wanted it to be over. Eventually it was, and you tried to get back into that groove again. But all the days you have passed since have been burdened by your unease.

Something happened on November 7th. Something happened on December 13th. Something happened on January 20th. Everything in between was a riot of incivility and utterly inescapable media saturation. It made you nervous. Over and over, you heard from the media the words, "This is a peaceful and orderly transfer of power." The words pacified you, put you at ease, like the soothing voice of the airline pilot over the airplane loudspeaker. Just a few bumps, folks. We'll be through this storm soon.

It seemed as though a lot of people were really angry at the time. Were they afraid, too?

This is your day, but you are no longer soothed. It rankles you, somewhere down inside you where love for your country holds a candle in the gloom. What happened was wrong, and something is badly out of joint.

If what you fear is true, then so much damage has been done. If what you fear is true, a Presidential election in America has gone horribly awry. The Supreme Court was at the center of it all, you remember, but you can't recall the legalistic details. The end result, however, seemed like they picked the President instead of the American people. You wonder about the political connections involved in that selection.

This is your day, and everything has changed. America may appear to be humming along as usual, but she is now haunted. You are the ghost in the machine.

Perhaps the time has come for you to take the next step.

More than anything else, it is the uncertainty that is making you afraid. When you walk those streets, you are looking into people's faces. You are wondering whose side they are on. You are wondering if they are on your side, even though you are none too sure what side you are on.

There are places on the Internet you can go, areas of information where those who share your fears can write, read, and become informed. There are forums, and there are organizations.

Begin with these: (Citizens for Legitimate Government)

If you cannot trust what you find on the Internet, there are books available for you to read about what is troubling you.

Begin with these:

The Betrayal of America, by Vincent Bugliosi - regarding the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore;

Down and Dirty, by Jake Tapper - author wrote a balanced yet edgy review of the days between the election and the Supreme Court decision;

Fuzzy Math, by Paul Krugman - excellent read on the truth of the Bush tax cut.

There are other good works out there on the subject. Find them.

America is filled with ghosts like you. You haunt the body politic with your doubts and fears. The beginning of wisdom heralds the end of fear. What you find will make you angry, to be certain. But it is a far better thing to be angry than afraid.

Take the step. Cleanse our house of ghosts.

If you know someone who feels as you do, send this to them. Advise them to send it along to others who are haunted. The time has come.

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