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The Boogeyman has been around for a while. He’s older than Santa Claus and, unlike the Jolly Red Fat Man, he’s kind of a bummer. He’s more infamous than even Big Foot or the Loch Ness. He can be found in every country and culture. He goes by various names and might have a slightly different MO depending on his geographical location, but his motivations are the same. In Spain and Portugal, for instance, they call him Sack Man because he puts naughty children in his sack and then takes them away to his lair where they are eaten alive. Sweet dreams, junior. In the Netherlands they call him Black Pete. He brings presents to good boys and girls and kidnaps the bad ones, who are then either brutally murdered or forced to become the next generation of home invading child abductors. This one carries the distinction of being both terrifying and racially insensitive. There are many variations, but they all seem to involve the gruesome butchery of minors and, usually, cannibalism. The Boogeyman is the most useful sort of monster because he has no specific origin or appearance; he can’t be picked out in a lineup of other mythical beasts. He is simply an embodiment of terror, used by (psychologically abusive) parents to scare their children into compliant behavior. The Boogeyman can be whatever they want him to be.

Now go back and read that again, but change a few words – “parents” to “government,” “children” to “citizens,” “Boogeyman” to “terrorists” – and you’ll begin to see just how prolific this monster really is. I know what you’re thinking: “But terrorists are real! We’re fighting a war against them!” Are we? We’re shooting at people we call “terrorists” in Afghanistan, but then they go to Syria and all of the sudden we hand them a bucket of cash and a bushel of grenades, call them “rebels,” and John McCain flies over to make out with them on camera. We fought them in Iraq, but in Egypt we call them a “democratically elected government.” We call Iran a terrorist nation, but we’re BFFs with the Saudis even though almost all of the hijackers on 9-11 were from that country. A couple of scumbags with bombs fashioned from kitchen appliances have been given the terrorist title for inflicting mass casualties in Boston. Yet a man guns down an entire classroom of 1st graders and we’re told he doesn’t deserve the distinction. Then you throw the word “domestic” in front of “terrorist” and it becomes virtually impossible to discern what exactly a guy has to do to earn or avoid the label. What the hell is a “terrorist,” exactly? You’d think at some point in the last decade or so we might have at least come up with a definition.

The dictionary offers a suggestion. “Terrorism: the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” So maybe it isn’t the Boogeyman who’s the terrorist – it’s the people who use the fear he evokes to manipulate others into submission that are the real terrorists. It’s the parents who say “do your chores or a horrible beast will eat your heart while you sleep,” and, yes, it’s the politicians who say “give up your liberties or shadowy villains will blow up your neighborhood.” It’s the turncoat tyrants in the House of Representatives who last night voted against an amendment that would have de-funded the NSA’s “data collection” program.

Of course, referring to the warrantless seizure of every American’s phone records every day as mere “data collection” is a bit of an understatement. This is broad totalitarian surveillance straight from George Orwell’s nightmares. It’s not even close to constitutional, which is why the pitiful sycophants in the media who try to justify it can only muster some unconvincing nonsense about how it’s all OK because there’s a secret court that says so. Yes, I’m sure the Founding Fathers would be highly impressed with our government’s plan to make an end run around the 4th Amendment by creating a court whose only job is to tell them everything they’re doing is totally cool.

But of course our politicians — fools though they are — aren’t nearly dumb enough to believe it an efficient, nor legal, strategy to look for a small number of “terrorists” by monitoring every single human being in the United States. 85 year old retirees? 16 year old white girls from North Dakota? Yeah, I’m sure they’ve gleaned a lot of useful information for the “fight against terrorism” by tracking the communications of the dangerous malcontents in these demographics. Our leaders in DC aren’t that stupid, even if some of their constituents are gullible enough to buy it. No, this isn’t a choice between liberty and security, it’s a fight between American freedom and government power. It’s the same thing it always is and always has been since the beginning of human civilization.

Our politicians wish to maintain and grow their power by an means necessary. They would kill for it — and they have — but it’s more effective to convince us to give it to them willingly by sowing the seeds of paranoia and fear in our minds. They use terror to get what they want. They are terrorists. So while you worry about the terrorists sitting in caves in the Middle East, I’m more concerned about the ones you keep voting into office in Washington.