TeroVesalainen, Pixabay, CC0

Has America’s ongoing obsession with low-gluten diets caused the inexorable increase in mass shooting deaths?

It’s a pretty dumb question, and the obvious answer is “no.” But with some raw data, spreadsheet software, time, and creativity, it’s pretty easy to make a graph that seems to imply a negative correlation between Americans’ average consumption of wheat and the trend in mass shooting deaths.

All you need is the United States Department of Agriculture’s data on wheat consumption, population estimates from the United States Census (1990-2000, 2000-2010, and 2010-present), and the mass shooting data from Mother Jones. Throw all of that into a spreadsheet, do some math, make a graph, and here you go:

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President Bush

Former President George H.W. Bush (R), who was a World War II veteran, businessman, congressman, ambassador, CIA director, vice president, and president, died last night at the age of 94. Bush has been in declining health, and was suffering from a form of Parkinson’s Disease. His wife, Barbara, died in April at the age of 92. Bush is so-far the longest-lived of any U.S. president, and he and Barbara are the longest-married presidential couple.

Bush enlisted in the U.S. Navy on the day he turned eighteen and trained as a pilot. After completing his training, he was commissioned an ensign and, at nineteen, became the youngest naval aviator in history up to that point. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto, which was fighting in the Pacific theater of World War II. During one battle, his plane was shot down and he was forced to bail out. He was rescued after about four hours adrift in a life raft.

After the war, Bush, who was originally from New England, became a successful businessman in the Texas oil industry, and eventually became a millionaire.

In 1964 Bush first ran for elective office, unsuccessfully challenging Senator Ralph W. Yarborough (D-TX). Two years later, he was elected to represent Texas’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served two terms in the House, and then ran (again unsuccessfully) for the Senate in 1970. After his second Senate loss, President Richard Nixon (R) appointed Bush as the Ambassador to the United Nations, a role he held for two years.

During the Watergate scandal, Bush become the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Initially he defended Nixon, but, as the president’s involvement in the scandal become more clear, Bush formally asked Nixon to resign for the good of both the Republican Party and the nation. Nixon did so about one week later. President Gerald Ford (R) appointed Bush to serve as envoy to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a role he held for about fourteen months in 1974 and 1975. We did not have formal diplomatic relations with the PRC at the time, so this was not officially an ambassadorship, although it was similar in practice. For the last year of Ford’s presidency, Bush served as the Director of Central Intelligence.

Bush ran for president in 1980, but was defeated in the Republican primaries by future-President Ronald Reagan (R). Reagan ultimately chose Bush as his vice presidential running mate, and Bush served as vice president throughout Reagan’s two terms as president. In 1988, Bush sought the presidency again, and this time won, becoming the first sitting vice president to be elected president since Martin Van Buren in 1836. His presidency was generally regarded as a success, most notably including the first Persian Gulf War, where Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was successfully reversed. Politically, Bush was generally regarded as a pragmatic, middle-of-the-road Republican. He sought reelection in 1992, but, facing a national recession and a broken campaign promise on taxes, as well as a charismatic opponent, he was defeated by future-President Bill Clinton (D).

George and Barbara Bush had six children, including former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and former President George W. Bush (R).

Per the Tangent style guide candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.
Winners are denoted with (w).

U.S. Senate, VA
Tim Kaine (D):57.0% (w)
Corey Stewart (R):41.0%
Matt Waters (L):1.8%
U.S. House, VA-10th
Barbara Comstock (R):43.7%
Jennifer Wexton (D):56.1% (w)
VA Flooding Tax Amend.
Yes:70.7% (w)
VA Veteran Tax Amend.
Yes:84.4% (w)
Loudoun Transp. Bonds
Yes:76.7% (w)
Loudoun School Bonds
Yes:75.4% (w)

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I Voted

I voted this morning at my polling place in South Riding, Virginia. If you are a U.S. citizen who is eligible to vote, you should go to the polls today too.

There are many important races all across the nation today. Here in Loudoun County, Virginia, we are voting for U.S. Senator, U.S. House of Representatives, two Virginia constitutional amendments, and two local ballot issues.

Take the time to research the candidates and issues on your ballot and make informed choices. Don’t let anybody tell you that your vote doesn’t matter. Don’t let anybody tell you that your choice is wrong. No informed vote is a wasted vote.

And let’s respect one another. I’ve made my choices—and I encourage you to read my reasons why—and you are free to make yours. I may not agree with you, but as long as you have seriously considered your choices, I respect them. I hope you’ll offer me the same courtesy in return.

Please come back to Off on a Tangent this evening for live results from the races that I am following.

One of the stranger trends in American elections is the adoption of various forms of early voting. It has always been possible to get an absentee ballot that can be cast by mail, which is important for those who are traveling, deployed, have mobility issues, or are otherwise unable to get to the polls on election day. But in addition to the traditional absentee ballot, in many states you can now cast an in-person ballot weeks—sometimes even months—before the purported day of the election.

The argument in favor of these accommodations is that it makes it easier for more people to vote . . . and, in and of itself, that’s probably a good thing (as long as we take reasonable steps to ensure the integrity of the ballot and the identity of the voter). But it also presents a serious problem that gets far too little attention.

Consider, for example, the voters who cast a ballot for now-President Donald Trump (R) on or before October 6, 2016. The next day, the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released, with audio of Trump’s crass comments about how, “When you’re a star, [women] let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Voters after October 7 had this new information about Trump, which may have influenced some of their decisions. In a very real way, voters who had already cast their ballots were at a disadvantage.

If Trump’s comments had changed their minds, in some states they were stuck. Their ballot was already irreparably cast. In some states there are ways to change an early ballot, but it is not always easy, and many did not even know they had the option . . . or how to use it. . . . Continued