Christmas Carols Nobody Asked For, Vol. 2: Christmas Will Christmas on Christmasing Day

(For an explanation of this project, see Volume 1.)

Many Christmas carols in English are in 6/8 time. These carols tend to belong to a long tradition of English folk music, which is often in 6/8.

These types of English folk tunes are among my favorites to play, sing and arrange, so I thought I’d take a stab at writing one.

In the audio file, I also took a stab at voicings similar to those you might find in a medieval English ensemble – or as close as I could get with the MIDI equivalents of modern instruments. The sheet music has these voicings and also the original piano score.

As always, lyrics are composed on Botnik’s predictive text keyboard and music is composed in Noteflight.

Christmas Will Christmas On Christmasing Day

In Hollywood news, old Santa is here
In merry old farmhouses, peace is on fire
In town they shine brightly on gifts for the saint
While Christmas will Christmas on Christmasing Day.

Your children sing carols with faithful reasons
And merry are needy men everywhere
All of the newborns pray for santa snow
while Christmas will sing out for milk and a roll

What sounds of holly are rockin’ you slow?
Your stockings decorate dinner, you ho
In Bethlehem wise men saw Santa ‘s woe
And Christmas time Christmasing slow

Ring out the sweet booty and make it more night
For Christmas is coming soon maybe it might
Wrap me a peppermint baby, be gay
While Christmas will Christmas on Christmasing Day!

Here is the score (pdf).

Here is the audio file (mp3).

4 Things to Consider Before Taking the Freelance Plunge

So you want to become a freelancer.

You’re not alone. A 2018 study from the Federal Reserve found that 30 percent of US adults engaged in some kind of gig work in the month before the survey, including freelance work. A study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University found that the number of 1099s (the form used to claim freelance and other miscellaneous income) filed with the IRS rose 22 percent since 2000.

Whether you want a side gig or you’ve had it with conventional employment, freelancing might be right for you. Here’s how to decide.

Question One: Can I Afford It?

The first and most vital question to ask before becoming a full- or part-time freelancer is Can I afford to do so?

Here’s a quick way to do the math:

  1. Calculate the total amount of money you need to sustain yourself and any dependents at the standard of living you deem essential for your comfort, per year. Include everything you can think of: housing, transportation, utilities, food, medical costs, educational expenses, retirement funding, various types of insurance, clothing, toys, computers and phones, subscriptions, replacing furniture and household goods, haircuts, vacations, HOA fees, and so on.
  2. Add 10 percent to the above number for each person this income will support.
  3. Double this total.

This number is the minimum amount you will need to make as a freelancer each year.

“But wait!” you may say. “My current job doesn’t pay this much! How on Earth could I need to make so much more as a freelancer to maintain my current standard of living?”

The answer is that your take-home pay isn’t the total amount of your compensation from a conventional employer. Your compensation includes things like workers’ comp insurance, half your Social Security and Medicare taxes, federal and state tax withholdings, and so on. If you’re employed full-time, it also includes the costs of things like health insurance and (possibly) a retirement plan.

Your employer also pays for things like your desk, chair and work computer – things you’ll be buying if you’re a freelancer.

As a freelancer, however, you’re both the employer and employee. Which means you’re on the hook for all the costs.

The other reason this number needs to be so high is that freelance pay is unreliable. You’ll do work, but you won’t receive the pay for six months or more. You’ll spend uncompensated time chasing down deadbeats who accepted your work and then skipped out on the bill. You’ll have months with no paycheck at all and months where half the money you make all year all comes in the door at once.

Which brings us to the next question….

Question Two: How’s My Personal Discipline?

Can you put yourself on a strict budget and stick to it, even when faced with the temptation not to do that?

Can you pretend that half or more of the money in your bank account doesn’t even exist?

Can you make yourself get up at the same time each morning and work efficiently, even when you’d rather do literally anything else?

Can you make yourself step away from your desk when the work is done, even though you could do just one more thing because you really need the money….?

If the answer to these questions isn’t “Yes, because I already do that,” you’re not ready to freelance full-time.

If the answer is “I think so, but I haven’t tried it,” then freelancing in your spare time offers a way to test your own self-discipline and determine whether you’re ready to take the leap into full-time freelance work.

All successful freelancers have one trait in common: They succeed because they exercise self-discipline.

As your own boss, you don’t have anyone requiring you to do certain jobs at certain times. You have to make sure the work gets done well, on deadline, and within budget – no matter how many other exciting events surround you.

Question Three: Can I Express Confidence in Myself and My Work?

One of the most common Terrible Freelance Questions I see on Quora is “how much should I charge as a beginning freelancer?”

This question is terrible because it indicates that the freelancer in question doesn’t trust their own skills. They think of their work as “beginner” work. They’ve put training wheels on their confidence and merging onto a superhighway.

Every freelancer was once a beginner. But to move from beginner to long-term pro, you must have the confidence to stand behind your work and its value.

This means:

  • Researching market rates for your work and pricing according to the value and complexity of the project, not your own skill set.
  • Standing up for yourself when clients complain, try to “revise” a piece to an entirely new project, or drag their feet on pay.
  • Saying “no” to projects that don’t adequately compensate you for the time and effort you’ll spend on them.

These are not easy things to do. The freelance world is, unfortunately, full of predatory clients who will do their best to get free work from you, whether that means offering to pay in exposure, demanding “on spec” work, or simply ghosting you as soon as your invoice arrives.

But the freelance world has its fair share of good clients, too. You can maximize your time with the good ones and spot the bad ones early, if you have the confidence to assert your own value.

Question Four: Does Constantly Changing My Skill Set Sound Fun, Or Horrible?

The entire work world is moving faster than ever. Current research estimates that our work skills become obsolete every ten years. If you’re in tech or any tech-adjacent field, your skills become obsolete every four years.

Freelancers’ skill sets become obsolete on the same timeline – or even faster, given that freelancers often spearhead new systems and processes that later become adopted by conventional employers.

In other words, expect that you won’t be doing the same kind or quality of freelance work in five years that you’re doing today, nor will you be doing it in the same way.

People tend to have one of two reactions to the news that they’re going to need a whole new skill set every five years. Either they’re dismayed, or they’re excited.

If you’re in the latter category, freelancing might be the right choice for you. If your primary complaint about conventional employment is that you don’t get to learn new things or try new projects fast enough, freelancing is almost certainly going to suit you more than a regular day job.

If you like predictability and being told what to do, however, you’ll definitely prefer regular employment to freelancing.

Next Steps

If you’ve decided to give freelancing a shot, the next thing to do is to decide what types of work you want to do, as well as to set up certain systems like your budget and workspace. See my guide on how to make a living as a freelance writer for more details, and do plenty of research on your own.

Was this helpful? If so, please buy me a coffee or share this post on social media.

The History of Thanksgiving: An Educational Post by Botnik

U.S. Thanksgiving can be a confusing holiday for Americans and non-Americans alike. Even I, a direct descendant of William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Plantation and signer of the Mayflower Compact, don’t always grasp that the holiday is about more than overeating bland bird meat.

I fed the first 20 Google search results for “history of Thanksgiving” into Botnik for greater enlightenment on the roots of our national feast day.

The History of Thanksgiving: Basics for Children

(a predictive-text history by Botnik)

Thanksgiving Day is probably sacred to our lord, Harvest Stuffed Turkey. But the holiday began in a simpler time.

In 1620, the Mayflower Collard Greens landed on the shores of November. But the Pilgrims were not prepared for winter in Massachusetts.

England only had turkey for three days each year, so the Mayflower Pilgrims had no idea how to tackle them. Beaver skins were used as medicine in England, but only for murdered teeth.

Unable to celebrate food, the first English settlers arrived unprepared and not all themselves. Prayer and pious humiliation made many people assume the worst.

Fortunately, heathens and their friends left behind friendly meals. Casseroles and other gifts that schoolchildren carried across the country developed into a lesson on historical distortions.

In 1621, Americans forgot native communities. Plymouth happened nearly 400 years too often. Besides, abstaining from England will make anyone mistrust you.

To thank God for destroying religion, the Puritans used corn and pumpkin pie as fowling pieces. The Mayflower became associate with obesity and Presidential melting. William Bradford, who was a year old then, became governor of magical 1789 and heart disease.

Smallpox had a tremendous first Thanksgiving. The survivors, not Christopher Columbus, learned how to plant their own cuisines, like geese. Ham gave protection from English colonialism, but only to the Pilgrims.

Instead of celebrating the Wampanoag, people prayed for particular items. Information was proclaimed stereotypes. Years of native mascots greatly outnumbered native stories.

President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Dinner Table in 1863, during the Starving November of the 1800s. At the time, Thanksgiving was probably not what we think it was. Documents support the United Thanksgiving Story told by the Puritans, but their custom of rejoicing after much starvation is cultural.

Today’s Thanksgiving holiday is about specific food allergies. In 1924, Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed a national bird cartoon. Later, references to magical women appeared in Plymouth. In particular, colonists decided deerskin moccasins were very important.

In 1989, it was customary to celebrate a potato salad. Foods like Santa became ubiquitous. Regional tensions were intertwined with difficult cultural artifacts, causing the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is not going to be very good this year.

#VerityLTstheBible: Links to Numbers

Part 4 of 66 of a project I started in the summer of 2019: To reread the Bible publicly, evaluating the oft-repeated notion that the text is inerrant, self-contained, and a bearer of clear, self-evident truths.

I remain skeptical.

(Looking for another book of the Bible? Click this link for a master list of threads, sorted by book.)

Num. 1-7: God counts up the Israelites. He gives specific instructions on how the Levites are to Levite and tells us all how to work ACTUAL MAGIC to determine if a woman has committed adultery. Then He gets some fabulous gifts.

Num. 8-14: Trumpets! Quail! Complaining!

Num. 15-21: The Israelites think they can get away with just about anything. (Narrator: They cannot.) Bronze snake poles cure snakebite.

Num. 22-36: Talking donkeys, feminism, and other wonders of the ancient world.

#VerityLTstheBible is a labor of love, but it’s also a lot of work. Show your support by buying me a coffee or checking out one or more of my books.

Never Quit Failing: How to Enjoy Failure (And Grow Past It)

I spent last week at band camp.

In other words, I spent seven consecutive days working with high school musicians and colorguard members on movement, music, dance, drill and all things related to marching band success.

It was one of the most productive band camps I’ve ever worked, but that also made it one of the most exhausting band camps I’ve ever worked.

Be Careful What You Wish For

For years, I’ve said my fondest wish was to work with a group who pushed me to get better. Who exhausted my usual lesson plans. Who sent me home thinking “Crap, I’d better step up my game.”

This year, I got that group.

I went into this band camp with my usual lesson plan for beginning of the year movement for colorguards. I planned to spend a lot of time breaking down jazz walks, building up dance fundamentals, and so on. If we were lucky, I thought, we’d make it to jazz runs by the end of the week.

We made it to jazz runs by the end of the second hour.

I went home on Tuesday realizing that I’d better brush the dust off some of my decidedly non-beginner repertoire, because these kids were bound and determined not to be beginners for any longer than they could help.

The One Who Can Do Everything

Halfway through Wednesday, one of my students asked, “How are you so smart?”

I paused, flabbergasted.

“How do you know all this stuff?” she clarified.

“Well, for one thing, I’ve been doing it for years,” I said. (I did not clarify that, in fact, I’ve been dancing and spinning since before any of my students were born – although I have).

“But,” I continued, “I think if I have a superpower, it’s that I’m always failing at something.”

Always Fail At Something

Allow me to clarify: I’m not always failing at something so much as I’m continually working to get better at something.

Perpetually failing at things is easy. For instance, I am perpetually failing at skydiving (never tried it), lassoing a calf (tried it only once), and bowling (try it once every decade or so).

There are lots of ways to be in a state of ongoing, static failure, and most of us spend our lives in a failure relationship with most human activities. It’s inevitable. No one can be good at literally everything.

What’s harder is to deliberately choose one of those failure points and say, “I’m going to do this until I don’t suck at it anymore.” And then to do that again. And again. And again.

What’s even harder is to make that choice for no reason other than that you’ve decided you’re going to get good at something new.

For instance: Recently, I took up contact juggling. I did so because a Twitter friend said they had taken up contact juggling “because the failure rate for beginners is 100 percent.”

That’s exactly the kind of thing that grabs my attention. A failure rate of 100 percent, you say? Bring it on.

I’m not sure whether this particular character trait is a blessing or a curse. I do know I’d hate my life without it. Seeking out things that are hard to do and doing them until I can do them well is one of my primary joys in life. It helps me maintain a growth mindset, which in turn helps my students grow.

It also makes me kinda badass at parties.

If I have a superpower, it’s that willingness to keep failing until I stop failing. And if I have a motto, it’s this:

#VerityLTstheBible: Links to Leviticus

Part 3 of 66 of an ongoing project I began in the summer of 2019: To reread the Bible publicly, and to do so while evaluating the oft-repeated claim that the text is the inerrant work of an omniscient God.

Results so far: Skepticism.

(Looking for another book of the Bible? Click this link for a master list of threads, sorted by book.)

Lev. 1-11: Having gotten himself a tabernacle, God begins issuing instructions on how to burn animals, how to be a priest who burns animals, and what animals are Not Food.

Lev. 12-27: God’s list of rules for the Israelites reveal his obsessions. Among them: sex, skin diseases, mold, and NO IDOLS.

INTERLUDE: A closer look at Lev. 18:22 and 20:13.

#VerityLTstheBible is a labor of love, but it’s also a lot of work. Show your support by buying me a coffee or checking out one or more of my books.

What Every American Needs to Know About Hearsay and the Trump Impeachment

Thanks to the impeachment hearings, have watched more coverage of Congress doing business in the past week than I have in my entire adult life prior to last week. And one point that seems to come up over and over again – from my fellow Twitterers, from callers on C-SPAN, even from members of Congress – is that the transcript of the July 25 phone call and/or witness testimony over the past week is “hearsay.”

Most people using this term aren’t lawyers, so they aren’t using “hearsay” the way lawyers do. Instead, they’re musing it as a synonym for “irrelevant” or “prejudicial” – the way in which it frequently appears in colloquial conversation and in media depictions of courtroom trials.

It’s not the public’s fault that “hearsay” gets used in this way. Hearsay as a legal concept is extremely complex. It’s not uncommon for law students to spend more than half of their entire time studying the rules of evidence on hearsay and its exceptions. The colloquial meaning is much easier to grasp, and it’s often the only one non-lawyers really need to know.

Yet it’s important to understand that “hearsay” is a legal term, with a specific legal meaning. And not only is Trump’s statement in the July 25 transcript not hearsay, Trump and his supporters would actually fare worse if it was.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Hearsay?

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(c) defines hearsay as follows:

(c) Hearsay. “Hearsay” means a statement that:

(1) the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and

(2) a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

What does this mean?

Essentially, hearsay has three elements:

  1. A statement,
  2. Made outside the trial/hearing where the statement is submitted,
  3. Submitted in order to prove that the content of the statement is true.

All three elements must be met for a statement to be hearsay.

Why Isn’t Trump’s Statement Hearsay?

At the core of the impeachment case against President Trump is a statement he made to Ukraine president Zelenskyy in a July 25 phone call:

Zelenskyy: We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

Trump: I would like you to do us a favor though.

When it comes to the hearsay question, the first two elements are undisputed. No one is arguing that Trump speaking the phrase “I would like you to do us a favor though” isn’t a “statement” (it is). Nor is anyone arguing that it was made during a formal impeachment proceeding (it wasn’t).

The claims of “hearsay” depend on the third element: Is Trump’s statement “I would like you to do us a favor though” submitted in a formal impeachment proceeding (assuming one occurs) in order to prove the truth of what that statement says?

Answer: No. And here’s why: Trump’s feelings regarding the “favor” he asked Ukraine to do don’t matter. The fact that he tried to use the promise/withholding of military aid in order to get that favor does.

The statement at issue here is “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

Imagine that Trump were accused of breaking a law that says “No U.S. President may want the leader of a foreign country to do him a favor.” To make the case that he broke this law, prosecutors submit the transcript in which Trump says “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

That’s the closest we would get to this statement actually being hearsay in a court proceeding against Trump (and it’s still not hearsay, for reasons I’ll explain below). Here, the statement would be submitted in order to prove the contents of the statement: That Trump would like it if the Ukrainians did him a favor.

Formal articles of impeachment haven’t been filed yet, so we don’t know exactly what Trump might be accused of. We do know, however, that the accusations will need to fall under at least one of three headings: “treason,” “bribery,” and/or “high crimes and misdemeanors,” per Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Code contains definitions of both treason and bribery. It’s reasonable to assume that, if articles of impeachment contain either term, the standards applied will parallel those in the U.S. Code. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is not defined, but Congress has historically understood that term to cover more than just criminal acts (see, for instance, the Clinton impeachment).

Of the three, bribery currently appears to fit best, given what we’ve learned from the impeachment hearings and the transcript itself. Generally speaking, the core elements of bribery are (1) giving/trying to give or withholding/trying to withhold (2) something of value (3) in order to make someone else do/not do something.

In this context, “I would like you to do us a favor, though” would be submitted to prove Trump made an attempt to withhold something of value from Ukraine (in this case, a shipment of Javelin tank-busting missiles) until Trump got something from Ukraine (in this case, political dirt on the Bidens or the appearance thereof). Whether or not Trump “likes” that deal is irrelevant; what matters is that he tried to make it.

I Don’t Buy It. It Still Sounds Like Hearsay to Me.

Hearsay is sometimes a fine line to draw, and this is one of those times. Fortunately, the Federal Rules of Evidence help us clarify whether or not Trump’s statement is hearsay.

Even if Trump’s statement is “an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement,” it’s still admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence in two ways:

First: In an impeachment hearing, the statement is excluded from the hearsay rule as the statement of a party opponent.

A “party opponent” is someone who is (a) both a party to a case (either plaintiff or defendant) and (b) on the opposite side from the party that wants to submit a statement. In a Trump impeachment, Trump is a party opponent of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is currently controlled by a Democrat majority.

FRE 803(d)(2) provides five grounds for excluding statements of party opponents from the hearsay rule. The first one applies here:

(2) An Opposing Party’s Statement. The statement is offered against an opposing party and:

(A) was made by the party in an individual or representative capacity;

To exclude Trump’s statement from the hearsay rule, an opposing party would only need to demonstrate that (a) it’s submitting the statement to make its case against Trump (not in support of him) and (b) Trump made the statement.

Here, no one is disputing that an impeachment proceeding would be “against” Trump. Nor is anyone disputing that Trump was the one who said “I would like you to do us a favor, though” in that July 25 transcript.

Statements of a party opponent are one of several classes of statement that are excluded from the hearsay rule. That is, even though they technically meet the definition of hearsay, we do not treat them as hearsay.

In the case of the party-opponent exclusion, the reason we don’t treat an opposing party’s statements as hearsay is that the opposing party is participating in the hearing. Arguably, no one has a better chance to explain an out of court statement than the person who made it.

If the House decides to file articles of impeachment, then, they might decide to include the July 25 transcript in their case against Trump. If they do, Trump will have a chance to explain why his response to Zelenskyy’s request for Javelins was “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” Specifically, he’ll need to explain why that statement wasn’t an attempt to influence Zelenskyy’s/Ukraine’s behavior.

Second: Even if the transcript is hearsay, it meets one or more exceptions to the hearsay rule.

In addition to the list of exclusions from the hearsay rule, there are also (currently) 23 exceptions to the hearsay rule. These are statements that meet the definition of hearsay, but which we allow in court anyway because we trust the reliability of the statements.

So far, we’ve focused on Trump’s spoken statement itself: “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” In a legal proceeding, that statement would need to be entered into evidence in some concrete way.

Here, that way will almost certainly be by submitting the July 25 transcript itself, and the transcript likely falls under an exception to the hearsay rule.

The most relevant one is probably FRE 803(1):

The following are not excluded by the rule against hearsay, regardless of whether the declarant is available as a witness:

(1) Present Sense Impression. A statement describing or explaining an event or condition, made while or immediately after the declarant perceived it.

The transcript of the call was made in real time by staff in the White House Situation Room. As such, it functions as a “present sense impression” – the transcribers were noting what they heard as they heard it. (Testimony from witnesses like Ambassador Taylor, who took their own notes while they were present for the call, would likely fall under the same exception.)

The transcript may also fall under FRE 803(5), “recorded recollection,” or FRE 803(6), “records of a regularly conducted activity.”

It’s important for non-lawyers to understand that in most situations, finding even one applicable exception or exclusion to the hearsay rule can be difficult. In the case of Trump’s statement in the July 25 phone call, however, we have as many as five possible avenues of exception or exclusion – and that’s only if the argument that the statement isn’t hearsay fails in the first place.

In other words, this statement isn’t merely not hearsay. This statement is not hearsay in two different ways (by definition and by exclusion). And even if the statement was hearsay, it would still be admissible (as a present sense impression, recorded recollection or recording of a regularly conducted activity).

Why Would Trump Fare Worse If This Statement Was Hearsay?

The claim that the transcript is “hearsay” are most popular among supporters of President Trump. It’s one of many claims in the pro-Trump arsenal, all of which are aimed at proving the same thing: It would be improper or illegal to impeach the President.

These supporters, however, are arguing at cross-purposes. If Trump’s statements are hearsay (and if no exception or exclusion applied), they would actually be in a worse situation.

To understand why, let’s return to the core statement in question.

Trump: I would like you to do us a favor though

Suppose Trump was facing an article of impeachment that claimed that his preference that Ukraine do something for him is an impeachable offense. In that case (and absent any exclusion or exception), this statement would be hearsay. It would be an out of court statement submitted to prove that what it says is true.

To prove any charge based on a statute, the prosecution has to prove every element of the charge. For example, if I’m charged with “assaulting someone with whom defendant is or has been in a domestic relationship” (aka domestic violence), it’s not enough to prove that I punched Susie in the face. The prosecutor also has to prove that Susie and I are/were dating or married. I can’t be guilty of assaulting someone I’m in a relationship with if I have never been in a relationship with them.

In our hypothetical world where Trump’s “I would like you to do us a favor, though” is hearsay, the charge in question would have to be “No Preisdent may prefer that someone else do him a favor.”

In order to prove that charge, Congress (and let’s be real, we mean “Congressional Democrats and maybe Justin Amash”) has to demonstrate that Trump, personally, would prefer that Zelenskyy do a “favor.”

To prove Trump wants the favor (rather than that he simply asked for it), Congress would have to prove a number of additional facts. They’d need to answer questions like “Why would Trump like it if Zelenskyy did him a favor?” “How would Trump benefit from Zelenskyy doing him a favor?”

And, perhaps most damning, “What favor would Trump be asking for that would be a favor he would like?”

Trump answers that question on the next page of the transcript:

The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it …

To make this statement hearsay (and thus keep it out, barring exceptions/exclusions), there would have to be evidence that the contents of this statement are true: That there is “a lot of talk about Biden’s son,” that “Biden stopped the prosecution,” that “a lot of people want to find out about that,” that “whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” and that “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution.”

And here’s the catch: There is little to no evidence that any of this ever happened.

In other words, this statement can’t be kept out as hearsay, because it wouldn’t be submitted in order to prove the truth of what it asserts. In fact, it’s currently possible to prove that what it asserts is actually false.

An out of court statement isn’t hearsay if it’s submitted to prove something other than the truth of what is contained in the statement. Such as to prove that Zelenskyy felt persuaded to help Trump (or not). Or, more damningly, that Trump himself would have benefited from Zelenskyy’s belief that the Bidens needed to be investigated.

So even if there was a way to avoid bringing up Trump’s statement “I would like you to do us favor, though” during an impeachment proceeding (or courtroom trial), there is no way to keep out this additional evidence that Trump would personally benefit from making Zelenskyy believe the Bidens needed to be investigated.

In practice, this argument is academic (at best). An impeachment proceeding is not perfectly analogous to a civil or criminal trial. Among other things, Congress can impeach a President based on conduct that is merely improper for an elected official holding high office, even if that conduct isn’t proscribed by statute.

As such, it’s very likely that the Democrats will make the above argument even though Trump’s statement “I want you to do us a favor, though” is not hearsay. One doesn’t depend on the other; both arguments are available.

So Where Are We Now?

We are several days into impeachment inquiry testimony right now. As I write this, Fiona Hill is answering rebuttal questions from Rep. Adam Schiff.

For several days, I’ve watched Republican representatives ask questions and give speeches on a host of satellite issues: Were the Bidens actually involved in wrongdoing? Did Ukraine actually get the Javelins mentioned in the July 25 call? How many times did the Ukrainians offer Lt. Col. Vindman a job? Why was Ambassador Yovanovitch recalled?

The core facts, however, are not in dispute: Insofar as Trump was interested in Ukraine, it was in how he could get the Ukrainians to help him defeat a political opponent.

All the other questions are at best irrelevant to the core of the matter and at worst orthogonal. And I suspect that many in the pro-Trump/anti-impeachment camp know it. It’s why the “this is hearsay!” argument has legs: Because it would be one of the few ways to actually neutralize the July 25 transcript.

If the transcript were hearsay. If no exceptions or exclusions applied. Unfortunately for Trump, that is not the case.