Editorial: Impeachment hearing just gave us a Constitution lesson. Will the GOP bother to learn it?
From left, constitutional law experts Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, Michael Gerhardt and Jonathan Turley are sworn in before testifying to the House Judiciary Committee.(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
By The Times Editorial Board
Dec. 5, 2019 3 AM
Excerpts from the Los Angeles Times
Since the hearings began in earnest three weeks ago, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have argued over and over that President Trump’s behavior in asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden falls short of justifying the extreme sanction of impeachment.
On Wednesday, three law professors who testified before the House Judiciary Committee effectively dismantled that defense, arguing persuasively that the framers of the Constitution intended impeachment as a curb on exactly that sort of abuse of power.
Although the professors’ testimony on constitutional law and history was less dramatic than the factual accounts provided by a series of witnesses before the House Intelligence Committee, it was nevertheless important. Despite the fact that three presidents (including Trump) have been subjected to impeachment investigations in the last 45 years, the public understandably remains confused about the purpose of impeachment and the offenses for which a president can reasonably be put on trial by the Senate. That confusion makes it easier for Trump’s defenders to argue that the Democrats who launched this investigation are motivated purely by politics.
Article II of the Constitution says that the president and other officials can be impeached and removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Three of Tuesday’s witnesses — the ones who had been called by the Democrats — made a powerful case that Trump had committed offenses that would be deemed impeachable by the founders who wrote that constitutional restraint.
Professor Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School told the committee that Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Biden, a prospective 2020 opponent, “constitutes a corrupt abuse of the power of the presidency.” Quoting William Richardson Davie, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Feldman said Trump’s request embodies the framers’ central worry that a sitting president would “spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself reelected.”
Professor Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School emphasized the framers’ fear of foreign involvement in American elections and said that, in asking Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden, Trump was soliciting foreign interference. “That is not politics as usual, at least not in the United States or any other mature democracy,” Karlan said. “It is, instead, a cardinal reason why the Constitution contains an impeachment power.”
Professor Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina Law School noted that Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers wrote that impeachable offenses were those “which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Referring not only to Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine but to his efforts to thwart special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and his refusal to provide information sought by Congress, Gerhardt concluded that Trump’s misconduct was “worse than the misconduct of any prior president, including what previous presidents who faced impeachment have done or been accused of doing.”
The fourth expert was professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School. Turley, who was called by committee Republicans, complained that House Democrats were rushing toward an “exceptionally narrow impeachment resting on the thinnest possible evidentiary record.” But even he conceded that “a quid pro quo to force the investigation of a political rival in exchange for military aid can be impeachable, if proven.”
Turley also agreed with other scholars that “it is possible to impeach a president for noncriminal acts.” He noted, however, that Presidents Nixon and Clinton were accused in articles of impeachment of committing crimes and suggested that impeaching a president solely on grounds of misconduct that wasn’t criminal would be a mistake.
We disagree. A president can commit an egregious abuse of power without violating a criminal statute. And the inclusion of “bribery” among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” justifying impeachment isn’t a reference to bribery as defined in federal criminal law. As Karlan noted, “bribery” in the impeachment clause refers to any situation in which an official “solicited, received or offered a person a favor or benefit to influence official action — that is, putting his private welfare above the national interest.” That is precisely what Trump is accused of doing in withholding congressionally approved aid to Ukraine in order to extract a political “favor” for himself from the Ukrainian president.
Finally, if there are gaps in what Turley called the “evidentiary record,” Trump has only himself to blame. Potentially crucial witnesses such as acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security advisor John Bolton presumably would testify if Trump withdrew his unreasonable directive that they not cooperate with the investigation. (The president said this week that he might direct senior administration officials to testify at a Senate impeachment trial because it would be fairer than the House process.)
The law professors provided Congress with an important lesson in constitutional law and history on Wednesday. The problem is that most if not all Republicans in the House and the Senate seem unwilling to learn it.
“Paraprofessionals play a vital role in classrooms and in our children’s lives, particularly for students with special needs,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This new law ensures that qualified aides get the opportunity to support our hardworking teachers and help our kids reach their potential, as we work to address teaching shortages across the state.”
The new law reinstates the opportunity for individuals who hold a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent to become licensed after passing a paraprofessional competency test. Many paraprofessionals serve as aides to special education students. The legislation also makes various changes to address teacher licensure.
“As we work to build a robust teacher workforce in Illinois, this bill ensures a merit-based route to licensure for paraprofessionals who are looking to advance their careers,” said Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the Senate sponsor of the measure. “Thank you to ISBE for working with us to see this legislation through.”
“I want to thank Governor Pritzker for signing SB 10. School districts throughout the state are facing a teacher shortage that’s impacting their ability to adequately staff classrooms,” said House Assistant Majority Leader and House sponsor Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates). “With the passage of SB 10, districts will now have another tool to increase the number of paraprofessionals to assist in the classrooms.”
Senate Bill 10 takes effect immediately.
Building on a strong team of diverse experts in their fields, Governor JB Pritzker announced the following appointments in his administration:
JOINT COMMISSION ON ETHICS AND LOBBYING REFORM
Christine Radogno will serve on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. Radogno is the former Senate Minority Leader, the first female leader of a political party in the Illinois Legislature. She served as a Republican member of the Illinois Senate, representing a Legislative District in Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties from 1997 to 2017. She also serves as a co-chair of the Governor’s Pension Consolidation Feasibility Task Force. Prior to serving in the state senate, Radogno served for eight years as a Village Trustee in LaGrange. Radogno received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in social work from Loyola University in Chicago. She was employed in the field of mental health before entering politics.
HEALTH FACILITIES AND SERVICES REVIEW BOARD
Debra Savage will serve as Chair on the Health Facilities and Services Review Board.* Since 1990, Savage has been a Registered Nurse practicing in hospitals and home health agencies in Illinois and various other states as a staff nurse, charge nurse, nurse manager, nurse director and clinical application specialist. She now serves a nursing professor and Assistant Dean at Chamberlain University since 2013 in addition to experience as an adjunct nursing instructor for Governors State University. Savage is elected as a Will County Regional Office of Education Trustee and is a member of the Exchange Club of Northern Will County, the American Organization of Nursing Leadership and the American Nurses Association as well as the past Section Chair for the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics & Neonatal Nurses. Savage holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Rush University and a Master of Science in nursing administration and education from the University of Phoenix.
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR AND PUBLIC GUARDIAN OF MASON COUNTY
Thomas Brewer will serve as the Public Administrator and Public Guardian of Mason County.* Brewer has held the same post in Tazewell County for over 17 years, serving from 1996 to 2013 and since August 2019. He has also practiced law at his law office since 2004. An active member of his community, Brewer has served the Knights of Columbus, Tremont Community Unit School District #702 and the Tazwood Center for Wellness. Brewer is a graduate of Illinois Central College, Illinois State University where he received his bachelor’s in political science, and Creighton University where he received his law degree.
* Appointments pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate.
Excerpts of “College Behind Bars,” a new PBS documentary executive-produced by Ken Burns, shines a light on a program that every major university in America should be sponsoring
By Jamil Smith
When you watch College Behind Bars, which began last night on PBS and concludes tonight, or any other documentary like it, please don’t say that it “humanizes” the people who are photographed. Because they’re people. Our society teaches us to consider folks like Dyjuan Tatro and Giovannie Hernandez, two of the film’s subjects, to be numbers or vermin or somehow less than us when they’re locked up, and they are considered to be little more than the property of a state or federal prison. But we have to remember that is a judgment that someone, or a system, has put upon them.
Also, we should remember that they’ll likely get out one day. What then?
“Ninety-five percent of people who are incarcerated will eventually get out,” Ken Burns, the executive producer of the documentary, told Rolling Stone. “And the question is, do we want them as contributing members of society, or do we want them having used prison as a different kind of school to hone criminal skills? If you’re spending $100 billion a year to maintain our prison system and it has a 75 percent recidivism rate, something is broken.”
This is the question that the four-part film examines with a critical eye. Directed by Lynn Novick
and produced by Sarah Botstein, College Behind Bars profiles the Bard Prison Initiative, a Bard College program that extends its curriculum and has awarded nearly 550 full degrees thus far to matriculated students in six New York State prisons.
“It was an enormous privilege to work on a film that was living, breathing American social history,” said Botstein. “The politics changed so drastically in the five years that we were filming and editing. When we started, people kind of would shrug and kind of lean in a little bit when we said we wanted to make a film about higher education in prison. And by the time we locked picture, everybody was really excited that we had.”
The hyper-awareness of issues revolving around incarceration, education, and race did not merely manifest on the outside. “You know, a lot of times, when we don’t have access to things we decide that they are not for us,” Tatro told me in a phone interview. He added that he had spent his entire life thinking he’d never go to college. “The opportunity was there for me to even dream of this possibility. Seeing black men, Latino men, men like me who came from the types of neighborhoods and went through the same types of bad schools that I did speaking Mandarin, doing higher-level mathematics, sitting down and having these complex political discussions — that, even before the coursework, had a really profound effect on my sense of identity.”
Tatro entered prison at the end of his teenage years and felt that he applied to BPI, one year into his 12-year sentence, because he had “nothing else better to do.” He would go on to become a member of the Bard debate team that defeated Harvard in a well-publicized 2015 matchup and is now working for BPI as a government-affairs and advancement officer.
“Even before [I took part in] the classes, the existence of Bard College in that space allowed me to reimagine what I was capable of and to think of myself as a college student,” Tatro said.
My mother has a saying that she has repeated to me in trying times: If the train doesn’t stop at your station, it isn’t your train. It is meant to convey that not every job, or person, is meant for you. But what if you never know that your train exists? Our carceral state, one that prioritizes punishment over the actual correction that the facilities promise, is the America we continue to build. That’s why it is so urgent that Bard Prison Initiatives become the rule, not the exception.
“When Thomas Jefferson said, ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ he wasn’t after material things in a marketplace of objects. He was after lifelong learning,” Burns said to me when we spoke. “I think what College Behind Bars suggests is the power of education.”
Neither Burns nor I have a stake, as this society of ours does, in the dehumanization of people end up incarcerated. The millions sunk into a failing prison system are more like an investment, maintaining a status quo that rots the very notion of a fair and just America but at least makes the elite feel like the heroes of their own story. Those who profit from every loophole that benefits the wealthy, white, and privileged may not want to see someone like Giovannie Hernandez coming out of prison after nearly 12 years with a degree and ready to make America more equitable.
The work BPI does is also a strike against recidivism. These people are less likely to go back to jail or prison. We know that there are elites who either enjoy looking down on folks or who actually benefit financially from people going to prison. Studies and experience have been proven that increasing opportunities for prison education reduces crime, helps communities thrive, and boosts the economy. Those of us without private prison stock should all want fewer people incarcerated and more education for those who are. Instead, we’ve seen states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia either seek (unsuccessfully, after protest) to block book donations from the public or charge those who are locked up egregious amounts to use e-readers.
But doesn’t it lift us all to see these folks come out of prison not just with more skills and more education, but with more hope? It is hardly a spoiler to tell you that a documentary like this ends with a graduation, and the overriding emotion that both the graduates and the audience are left with: hope. What you see at the end is a testament to the power of education, and why it remains such a dangerous and underrated weapon against a racially and economically unjust status quo in this nation.
When I spoke to Hernandez, he told me that he didn’t really have hope in prison before the Bard program entered his life. “I felt that I had to carry myself in a manner like I couldn’t care too much,” he said to me. “It was a defense mechanism. But Bard made me care about something. It gave me a way to figure it out.”
Now a Bard graduate and a case manager for the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Hernandez wrote an op-ed in USA TODAY in which he described his education as “emerging from Plato’s cave.” He told me that Novick, the director, found his story particularly moving.
“At the very beginning of the film, Giovannie talked about the person who encouraged him to apply to BPI,” Novick said. “The single kindest, most loving thing anyone had ever done for him was to force him to apply to the program. I think there’s just this sense of untapped potential that has been languishing, for lack of a better word, and neglected in our society — particularly in communities of color and other underserved communities where there’s generations of people who have ended up incarcerated and been exposed to subpar education.”
That is why the experience of watching College Behind Bars is, as Novick describes the process of making it, so inspiring and heartbreaking. She, an alumna of Yale, and I, who went to Penn, lamented that universities like those were sitting on multibillion-dollar endowments and didn’t have programs like Bard’s.
“These places,” Novick says of places like our Ivy League alma maters, “are just hoarding privilege and just sustaining and perpetuating inequality.” Novick noted that Yale did have a prison program this year that used a grant from BPI — ”because they didn’t want to put their own resources into it, if you can imagine” — that was very successful, proving that elite universities should be looking to prisons not merely to be charitable and to contribute to society, but to remain competitive. “If you, Fancy College, pride yourself on being the place where the most brilliant students develop their potential, you are missing out on an extraordinary talent pool.”
And if these institutions can’t just do it for their own benefit, perhaps they’ll understand — as Bard College clearly has — that it is part of their mission to help everyone realize their own humanity. If anyone is watching, I hope that some of my fellow classmates and the administrators at universities like Penn are watching College Behind Bars. The people who hold the purse strings, the professors who love to signify their positivity online and in their published work, and those students and alumni looking to make a difference: This is your chance. If your college or university won’t use its endowment or solicit donations to establish such a program and share its prestige, find one that will. Every state, every locality, every prison should be educating those who are incarcerated. You see the blueprint. Follow it.
Jesse White Targets Holiday Shoppers Abusing Disability Parking at Malls Statewide beginning on Black Friday Marks the 13th Year Secretary of State Police Conduct Stings
Secretary of State Jesse White announced today that Secretary of State Police will conduct statewide parking stings targeting individuals illegally parking in spaces reserved for persons with disabilities at shopping malls beginning on Black Friday, Nov. 29.
Secretary of State Police will enforce the provisions of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities at shopping centers in Aurora, Bloomington, Carbondale, Chicago, Fairview Heights, Oak Brook, Orland Park, Peoria, Rockford, Schaumburg and Springfield on Nov. 29. Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season and one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Other enforcements will take place during the holiday season in Chicago, the suburbs and throughout the state.
“Our mission is not to issue tickets, but to ensure that accessible parking spaces are available to those who need them,” White said. “Parking illegally in a space reserved for people with disabilities means a possible driver’s license suspension and a hefty fine, money which could otherwise be used on gifts. Remember, if you don’t belong there, don’t park there.”
Drivers caught misusing a placard face a six-month driver’s license suspension and a $600 fine. Repeat violators will face a one-year driver’s license suspension and a $750 fine for a second offense; for third or subsequent offenses, violators will face a $1,000 fine plus a one-year driver’s license revocation. The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a disability placard or disability license plates can be up to $350. Using a deceased person’s placard or a fraudulent placard can result in a $2,500 fine and one-year revocation of a driver’s license.
Currently, there are 550,073 permanent placards; 34,585 meter-exempt placards; 59,818 disability plates; and 6,800 disabled veteran plates registered in Illinois.
Secretary White urges individuals to report abuse of parking spaces for people with disabilities by calling 217-785-0309. Callers should be prepared to report placard and license plate numbers, as well as the location of vehicles. People can also report abuse via the Secretary of State’s website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com and complete the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities Abuse Complaint Form.
By Ben Settle
One of the biggest “roadblocks” for creating a clientless copywriting business for us copywriters (who are not traffic and list people) is building an email list. Without having a list, you can have memorized everything Gary Bencivenga ever said or wrote and you might even be able to write circles around Clayton Makepeace but it doesn’t matter because you’ll still be dead in the water.
With a list (especially a responsive one), even someone with below average copywriting skills can make a very good living.
So how do you build an email list then?
One way that’s perfect for copywriters is to take a page from the late, great copywriter Gene Schwartz’s life. That name sound familiar? It should. He wrote Breakthrough Advertising … a book every copywriter should have on their shelves.
Gene was way ahead of his time. He died in 1995, but had he been able to play on the internet, I suspect he’d have made more money than all his clients combined.
Why do I say this?
Because he treated his copywriting skills like an investment.
By that I mean, he wrote for all the big direct mailers — like Rodale Books and Boardroom. But, he did not work for a fee or for money. Nor did he work for royalties, either. Instead, he got paid in mailing list names. In other words, instead of accepting a copywriting fee, he wrote ads in exchange for access to his clients’ mailing lists. And he would then mail his own offers for his own products to those lists, and make far more than any fee or royalties could pay him.
He rapidly built a clientless copywriting business that made him rich.
And before you even ask, yes, anyone wanting to start their own clientless copywriting business can apply this same method today.
The only difference is, it’s a lot easier to do now.
Here’s a real-life example:
Several years ago, I was struggling to build my own clientless copywriting business and email list, and nothing seemed to work. I wrote hundreds of e-zine articles. I tried setting up joint ventures with other list owners. I even added loads of fresh content to my site hoping to attract search engine traffic and leads.
All of these things were helpful.
But they didn’t deliver the big “hit” I was looking for and needed to make my business work.
Then one day, I decided to “adapt” what Gene Schwartz did to build his mailing list: I traded writing a half dozen press releases to a marketer I knew (who had a big list — and had told me he was wanting press releases written in a style I knew how to create) in exchange for plugging my site a set number of times to his list over the course of a month.
Did it work?
In fact, it only took a few hours to write the press releases, and every time he plugged my site, a new batch of leads came in like clockwork. Before long, my list was up and running with dozens of fresh new responsive subscribers who had been “pre-sold” on me.
The total cost?
A few hours of my time doing something I enjoyed.
I’ve also done this with a few other clients, too (not writing press releases, but sales letters, creating content, etc.). And each time, it helped build my list without spending any money on traffic, without knowing how to use Facebook or Google advertising, and in a way where I had been edified to them beforehand.
And you can do the same thing, no matter how new or seasoned a copywriter you are.
All you have to do is find clients in the niche you want to sell in, offer to write for them in exchange for plugging your site to their lists, and then start selling your products to your new list. Do this long enough, and you’ll be able to segue out of doing freelance copywriting work, and have a clientless copywriting business, instead.
(Or have a hybrid of them both, like Gene Schwartz had.)
Below are five ways you can start using this concept today:
1. Social Media Networking
With Facebook, for example, you can befriend a would-be client and get to know them (by chatting them up about common interests, responding to their updates, etc.). And sometimes that can naturally turn into a valuable contact. That contact may or may not have a list of people who would be interested in your joining your list. But he/she probably will know someone who does and can give you an intro.
2. Ask Your Colleagues
Chances are, you know other business owners. And it can’t hurt to ask them:
“I want to build my list and am wanting to trade my XYZ service/product in exchange for other list owners plugging me to their lists. Do you know someone who needs an XYX service/product?”
All it takes is one referral like that to yield a big payout.
You can also go to online forums where list owners in your industry hang out and look for people asking questions you can answer. Don’t try to pitch them your offer. Just answer their questions and be helpful. Eventually you will create relationships with people you help. And when the time is right, simply make them your offer.
4. Start Small
Don’t pooh-pooh the smaller lists owners! Especially if you’re a newer copywriter. Someone with a small list is far more likely to accept your offer. And after you’ve helped them, simply ask if they know someone who might be interested in the same deal … and would they mind giving you an intro?
This is simple referral marketing. And it lets you leverage social proof to the hilt as you work your way up the food chain to bigger list owners.
5. Excel at What You Do
Finally, as the great negotiator Jim Camp says:
“The more effective people are, the more we respect them.”
When you’re starting out, it’s tough getting anyone to take your calls. But as you rack up successes … and as people on the lists you’re promoted to see your name … and as word spreads about how good you are at what you do … people will eventually start promoting you without you even asking them.
They’ll want to do it. It makes them look good to their lists.
And that’s all there is to it.
Your next step is to start implementing the information in this article and you’ll be off to the races building your clientless copywriting business in no time. Do you have any questions about how to get started with a clientless business? Share with us in the comments. Editorial Note: If you’d like Ben’s help building your own clientless writing business, you should check out his program, 10-Minute Workday. In it, he walks you through how you can create a $1 million writing business, step-by-step, to virtually ensure your success. Get all the details here.