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The alarming link between the increase in ‘despair deaths’ and counties that voted for Donald Trump

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The 2016 election brought to light a cohort of Americans whom activist Michael Moore tried to warn the country about before the 2016 presidential election.

“From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling – the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class,” Moore wrote in his viral article “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win,” which compared Middle America to Brexit.

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A new analysis by researchers at Columbia University, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine this week, has corroborated Moore’s theory about the men and women previous politicians have seemingly left behind.

According to the study, there is an alarming link between an increase in “despair deaths” – a term which describes deaths caused by drug overdoses, alcohol or suicide – and counties that voted for Trump. In other words, those who have been left behind — the ones who voted for Trump, because they presumably thought his presidency would improve their quality of life — are enduring higher despair death rates.

“Although life expectancy is increasing in many parts of the country, especially in urban areas, we’re not seeing nearly the same gains in rural and middle America. We shouldn’t underestimate the degree to which some portions of the country have been left behind in terms of their health,”said study leader Lee Goldman, chief executive of Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, in a press release. “And it’s not surprising that health disparities correspond with voting behavior.”

The study started when Dr. Goldman and his team of researchers hypothesized that changes in health outlook may have impacted the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. To test this hypothesis, they used data from America’s 3,112 counties to observe changes in presidential voting and death rates. The results concluded counties that had a net percentage increase of those who voted for the winning 2016 presidential candidate had a 15 percent higher 2015 age-adjusted death rate than those counties with a net increase in Democratic voters. The rise in deaths caused by  alcohol, drugs and suicide was 2.5 times higher in 2016 those counties, too.

“It’s commonly argued that President Trump won by receiving more votes from people who have been left behind economically — especially older, less-educated, and less-urban, white voters,” Dr. Goldman said. “Based on our data, we can also say that changes in life expectancy were an independent factor in voting choices. Reduced health prospects are an important marker of dissatisfaction, discouragement, hopelessness and fear — sentiments that may have resonated with voters who sided with President Trump. Although correlation does not imply causality, our findings also suggest that plausible improvements in life expectancy in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin might have shifted their electoral votes to Secretary Clinton.”

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The correlation between population health and voting trends is indeed interesting — and one researchers can look to for ways in which public health crises could be mitigated.

“Regardless of your political persuasion, our paper suggests that, if health disparities were important enough to influence presidential voting, they may have an even broader impact on our country’s future than we had imagined,” said Dr. Goldman. “It also highlights how much work remains to reduce health disparities.”

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So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire

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In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump lawyer Purpura busted by MSNBC for lying on the Senate floor during impeachment trial

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Moments after the end of the Saturday's Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump concluded, MSNBC host Brian Williams pointed out that one of Donald Trump's attorney's lied on the Senate floor about the president's Ukraine scandal-- and he had a clip handy to prove it.

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Any normal president could find some defense attorneys who aren’t clowns and grifters

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Donald Trump's penchant for telling reporters about his crimes doesn't leave his legal defense team a lot to work with. In the first week of his Senate trial, they've pounded the desk and rended their garments over how mean their Democrats opponents are toward their client. But the worst is yet to come--WaPo reports that during the next phase of the proceedings, Trump's legal team will offer "a scorched-earth defense of President Trump in the impeachment trial, mounting a politically charged case aimed more at swaying American voters than GOP senators — and damaging Trump’s possible 2020 opponent, Joe Biden."

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