There is a scent of pine trees coming through my window. Peace and stillness is all around. Its hard to believe I live in a city. The loudest sound in my environment is the hum of my refrigerator when it kicks on.

To experience the flip side of this picture all I need do is turn on my television. I'm immediately bombarded by politics, war and terrorism. The evils of the world get major play through the media. Rather than portray the beauty and true nature of the world around us, crime, tragedy and death are trotted out and highlighted. The media does all it can to take a bright, beautiful world and paint it dark.

Speaking of darkness in the world; "There's a man going around taking names". That is the title of a Johnny Cash song. Also it's the subject of today's rant.

It has been a tool of governments and repressive regimes for a great many years to gather information and compile facts and evidence that can be used to blackmail, control and silence their targets. This information need not even be used in a court trial or charges brought against it's victim. Just the fact of it being collected and held as a threat over him is sufficient to cause great fear, anxiety and intimation. These tools and practices are powerful methods of coercion and control.

These days however, long gone are the little men in trenchcoats wielding pencils and notebooks. Now days its your computer, email, smart phone and mail. All are liable for inspection, search and data mining. It matters not if you are a walking saint. No complaint against you or probable cause is deemed necessary for this intrusion. This is all justified of course with the seemingly lofty goal "of making your world safe and secure".

Safe and secure for whom and from whom I would like to ask? We have secrete courts,(FISAS), secrete witnesses, and tens of thousands of laws that can be directed against whatever target the powers that be wish to go after.

This is not East Germany in the fifties and sixties. This is the US of A here and now today. Where is the outcry from the public? Where are the pitchforks and torches? Where is our Constitution, the law of the land?

One can love and treasure his country yet fear and distrust his government. They are not one and the same. They are separate entities. But sadly it appears, many these days look at and depend on their government with somewhat of a religious reverence.

Liberty and freedom could be compared to our privacy and independence. Sadly these have been eroding quite rapidly in recent times. Like the example of the frog sitting in the pot of water being slowly heated; very few have noticed or are concerned. Safety, security and protection promised by the state appears more important to most. They don't view facial recognition cameras and drones overhead as threats. Meantime the poor frog is oblivious to the gradual warming temperature of the water he is sitting in nearing the boiling its point.

Is it the function of our government "public servants" to constantly spy, monitor and store practically all communications of those they are supposed to serve? Try to enter a courthouse, Federal building or board a plane; you notice their intimating attitude right away. Its a government that views it's people as suspicious criminals rather than individual sovereign citizens.

Have you ever tried to obtain information from the government? Did it require the influence of attorneys and the Freedom of Information Act? How did that work out?

Our surveillance state here today would be a dream come true for Hitler, Mao and Stalin. What awesome powers they could wield with the electronic surveillance abilities of the NSA, CIA and other intel agencies both public and private. It would be the essence of leverage over their downtrodden citizens to enhance their dictatorial power and control.

I turn off my television. The world of fear, anxiety and darkness ends with an electronic blip.

Dan O'Connor can be reached at