Monthly Archives: April 2013

Living La Vida Española

plaza-de-olavideWhen I first started the original Grave Error back in 2006, my intention was to write silly little digressions relating to my every day life. I think I was fairly successful in that department, but over time, my posts got more and more political, especially as a result of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections. Since then I have probably spent much too much time writing about U.S. politics and foreign policy, especially for an American living in Spain. For the reader, it could have been more interesting to hear more about European politics from the American perspective.

That’s not to say that I haven’t written about life in Spain. I have, but for whatever reason, what has moved me the most over the past few years have been issues relating to my own government and society’s remarkable hypocrisy with respect to civil liberties, the economy, guns, and foreign policy. And of course, I am fully aware that my writing on these topics not only bores my family and friends, it simply doesn’t have much of an audience for those, once again, interested in reading what an American ex-pat has to say.

Now with Spain really falling apart with no end in sight, I am going to make an effort to switch gears and write more about the country I have lived in for the past 13 years. I will still write occasionally about what irks me in American political discourse, as well, as on literature, music and fútbol.


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Why Don’t We Treat Guns Owners Like Potential Terrorists?

[Updated Below]

On an April 26th edition of Bill Moyers with Glenn Greenwald about the “High Cost of Government Secrecy”, Moyers opens the segment with the following:

On Fox News the other day, New York congressman Peter King said: “If you know a threat is coming from a certain community, that’s where you have to look.” Proceed with caution here, Mr. King. And first take a look at that “Council on Foreign Relations” analysis of an FBI study showing that from 1980 to 2001, around two-thirds of domestic terrorism was carried out by American extremists who were not Muslims. That number actually skyrocketed to 95 percent in the years immediately after 9/11. And the magazine “Mother Jones” found that of the 62 mass shootings in America since 1982 – mass killings defined as four deaths or more – 44 of the killers were white males.

While Greenwald takes a different approach, what I want to get at – which is something that I just recently wrote about — is that first quote that Moyers cites, because it says so much about how our political and social discourse on violence is centered in American life:

“If you know a threat is coming from a certain community, that’s where you have to look.”

And yet the vast majority of mass murders comes from white Americans with guns. So why aren’t Peter King and other tough guys like him who to act all tough as nails against terrorism doing more to address the community of people who buy, own, possess and sell guns?

In the meantime we have two tales of government: Big Government throws trillions of dollars at foreign wars and domestic surveillance to protect us from a relatively minor domestic threat, and Small Government that refuses to take any measures, no matter how sensible to limit the access of guns to those who may use them to kill innocent people, by far the larger of the two threats. And you guessed, the tough guys are both Big and Small Government advocates, whichever and whenever it best meets their political interests.

Could you imagine one these tough guys actually prescribing an anti-terrorism remedy to the sale and/or possession of firm arms: background checks, obligatory registrations, online surveillance? Of course not, we are a bunch of phonies selling snake oil. Continue reading

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Terrorism versus the Cheneys

Dick and Liz Cheney

What is the difference between the terrorists and Liz and Dick Cheney?

The Terrorists hate us for our freedoms.

The Cheneys just hate our freedoms.

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Filed under We The People

On Boston

Boston StrongWithout much time to write in depth on various matters that interest me in relation to the recent Boston Marathon bombings, I am summarizing my thoughts here, many of which were previously expressed in 140 characters or less:

America is a Uniquely Violent Society

The Tsarnaev brothers’ violent rampage last week not only had a terrible human toll, it also revived the tough guys’  “the sky is falling” narrative. And the tough guys always react in the same way: they demand we be very scared, especially about foreign jihadists in our midst. We need to immediately stop immigration reform, suspend Miranda rights, and probably even impose a moratorium on all cookware.

Once the boys were identified and the press was drawing the Chechnya connection, I kept thinking that these brothers had finally become uniquely American, though something was missing. Come on, what is more American than a psychologically deranged person – disgruntled for any number of reasons – lashing out at innocent bystanders, resulting in a blood bath?

The only thing that kept the Tsarnaevs from earning true citizenship was that they hadn’t gone on a shooting spree (at least not until confronted by the police). And that was the good news for Massachusetts because had they used the Red, White and Blue weapon of choice, we would have seen death tolls in the high double digits, as we saw in Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine.

But Massachusetts wasn’t the only one to benefit from the fact that these boys were not American enough to inflict real carnage. The NRA also must have let out a huge sigh of relief. Everyone was so focused on their makeshift bombs, that no one was asking how they got their hands on a sizable stockpile of guns. Moreover, we were able to focus on Islam as being inherently violent and not on how guns and the violence they cause are are unique to American society.

As I wrote after the Sandy Hook shootings, where 20 children and 6 adults were slaughtered by a deranged gun owner,

So, for example, when a crazy Muslim American shoots up an American military base – something oh so uniquely American – we immediately call it terrorism and blame Islam. But if that American man had not been Muslim, as in the other 61 mass shootings during the last 30 years (seven this year alone), we’d all be talking about mental illness, how we’d be safer if everyone were armed, and generally treating the senseless murders as an unavoidable natural disaster that lasts a two day news cycle.

Consider that we have since learned that the Tsarnaevs did not receive any help from foreign terrorist organizations. They were, like in the case of Columbine, nothing more than very disturbed young men, intent on inflicting harm and getting attention; what Juan Cole has called “a tale of adolescent rebellion“. Continue reading

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