Police tape was still blowing in the breeze Tuesday in Washington’s Navy Yard when conversation turned from the shooting that claimed 12 innocent lives to gun control. The shift was not unexpected — debate over gun laws in the United States naturally spikes immediately after mass shootings. But, as history has shown, the conversation will inevitably die out within a few months.
The story of the boom-and-bust of national interest in the gun debate can be documented using Google Trends. In the past six years, the popularity of the search term “gun laws” in the U.S. remained steady, save for in the immediate aftermath of mass shootings.
The lone spike early on, in 2007, coincided with that April’s shooting at Virginia Tech, in which 32 people were killed. The slight uptick in November 2009 coincided with the Fort Hood shooting, in which an Army major fatally shot 13 people and wounded more than 30 others on a military base in Texas. The spike in January 2011 follows the shooting in Tucson that killed six people and severely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was shot in the head at point-blank range.
A later jump in searches, this one larger than earlier ones, coincided with the shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured 70 others. The biggest spike on the chart, starting on December 2012 and lasting well into the New Year, was a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Conn., in which 20 children and six teachers died.
Search volume for the term “gun laws” during this time was its relative highest in Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming, states with some of the country’s most lenient gun laws.
The search term “gun control” follows a similar trajectory, but saw a bigger spike this spring when several pieces of gun-control legislation reached the Senate floor, and then failed. Interest peaked again in Wyoming, as well as in Idaho and West Virginia, states with similarly lax gun legislation.
The most revealing chart, however, may be this one, which shows the birth and growth of what the term “gun debate” means today in the United States. In 2004, people googled “gun debate” to learn more about an actual debate: a presidential debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry on domestic policy, in which the pair sparred over gun legislation. Today, people who Google “gun debate” are searching for something completely different: What a string of devastating mass shootings means for the nation’s gun laws.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”