Friday, December 29, 2017

Aristotle, Ayn Rand and Robert Bidinotto

It is obvious that Robert Bidinotto—author of the three Hunter novels—was influenced by the late Ayn Rand, whose fiction (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, We the Living, Anthem) was influenced by Aristotle.

In the July 1968 issue of The Objectivist Rand wrote “[t]he most important principle of the esthetics of literature was formulated by Aristotle, who said that fiction is of greater philosophical importance than history, because ‘history represents things as they are, while fiction represents them as they might be and ought to be’.” Rand added that “[a] novel is a long, fictional story about human beings and the events of their lives. The four essential attributes of a novel are: Theme—Plot—Characterization—Style.” (The latter won’t be discussed here because as Rand has written, “[t]he subject of style is so complex that it cannot be covered in a single [review].”)

It is against these attributes that the worth of fiction generally, and Bidinotto’s current Winner Takes All in particular, must be judged (without, in a review, deliberate or accidental spoilers).

Rand holds that “[a] theme is the summation of a novel’s abstract meaning” as for example “[t]he theme of Gone with the Wind is: ‘The impact of the Civil War on Southern society’.”

In today’s popular fiction “thriller” genre—politics, terrorism, journalism, crime, war, revolution, pestilence—even though interesting characters and exciting events abound, usually a clear, significant theme is either difficult to discern or entirely lacking. The novels of Robert Crais, Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Robert Ludlum,Tom Clancy, et al., while entertaining and set in today’s dangerously tumultuous times, do not rest on a pervasive objectively important theme from which their plots and characterizations arise.

No so with Winner Takes All, whose theme is anchored in a profoundly important psychological and moral question that drives the book’s plot.

Rand on plot: “[T]he crucial attribute of a novel, the attribute which makes it a specific entity, a novel (as distinguished from a work of non-fiction): the plot. Since a novel is a story about people’s lives, it has to be presented in terms of action, i.e., in terms of events. A story in which nothing happens is not a story.” 

Not so with Winner Takes All. So much happens in this page-turning novel—all growing from the book’s theme—that the requirement of action and events is met over and over again: multiple murders, fierce fights, unsolved crimes, double crossings, love affairs, financial machinations, political intrigues, intelligence agencies, confused identities, foreign affairs, and more.

Rand again: “Since the nature of an action is determined by the nature of the entities that act, the action of a novel has to proceed from and be consistent with the nature of its characters.”

In Winner Takes All, the author has populated his story with a diverse group of them, good guys and bad guys, straight-shooters and devious manipulators, strong patriots and weak bureaucrats, loyal friends and disloyal opportunists. 
At the book’s center is vigilante Dylan Hunter, an enigma to some, adversary to others. But to those who count in his life, a hero.

Ayn Rand—a fan of Mike Hammer, and his creator Mickey Spillane—would have liked Winner Takes All.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Is Mueller through? An interesting analysis

From A Legal Perspective, Mueller’s Investigation is Dead. Here’s Why
Posted By Nick James On 1:51 PM 12/07/2017 In |
Like a headless turkey running around in circles, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s anti-Trump investigation is dead, even if he does not yet realize it. While his investigation stumbles onward, with life support provided by the biased media, from a legal perspective the viability of any criminal case that Mueller could possibly bring has been effectively gutted thanks to the news (suppressed for months by Mueller’s team) that the FBI’s “key agent” in both the Russia investigation and the Clinton email probe was an ardent Hillary supporter with an anti-Trump bias.

Under federal law, a prosecutor is required “to disclose exculpatory and impeachment information to criminal defendants and to seek a just result in every case.” Specifically, pursuant to Giglio v. United States, prosecutors are obligated to provide defendants with impeachment evidence, which includes, according to the DOJ’s guidelines, evidence of a witness’s biases, “[a]nimosity toward defendant,” or “[a]nimosity toward a group of which the defendant is a member or with which the defendant is affiliated.”

As a result, in any prosecution brought by Mueller against a Republican target, defense counsel would be entitled under the Constitution to all evidence in the government’s possession relevant to exploring the apparent biases of FBI agent Peter Strzok and his animosity toward Trump and the Republican Party. This, in and of itself, could be a case-killer because it is very unlikely that Mueller or the DOJ would want defense counsel poring through all the records and documents, emails, and texts in the DOJ’s and Strzok’s possession revealing the agent’s biases since this could fatally undermine any other cases or investigations the agent has worked on—such as the FBI’s decision to recommend charging General Flynn with lying to federal agents even though Hillary Clinton’s besties, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, were given a free pass despite apparently doing the same thing.

Significantly, the fatal damage done to Mueller’s anti-Trump investigation does not only rest in the fact that defense counsel will be able to conduct an unlubricated prostate examination on the FBI’s key agent at trial. Instead, the real reason why Mueller will not risk a criminal trial is the lasting damage that would be done to the FBI’s reputation by having Strzok’s baggage brought into the daylight.

 To expose the agent’s biases, defense counsel would have the opportunity to cross-examine the agent and his apparent mistress, an FBI lawyer who also worked on Mueller’s investigation and the Clinton email probe, about their exchanged messages showing support for Clinton and hostility to Trump. Additionally, the agent’s wife, a high-profile attorney at another federal agency, apparently was a member of several pro-Obama and pro-Clinton Facebook groups and is a follower of a Facebook page called “We Voted for Hillary.”

One can only imagine the fun that an aggressive defense attorney would have shredding Strzok’s credibility by grilling him to see if he shared his wife’s posted political views.

The prospect of having to reveal to defense counsel and the public the FBI’s dirty laundry concerning Strzok—the former deputy head of the agency’s counterespionage unit—plus having to watch as defense attorneys parade the disgraced agent, his disgraced FBI mistress, and possibly his betrayed wife before the jury to explore the extent of his anti-Trump biases pretty much kills the likelihood of Mueller indicting any other Republicans. There’s simply too much downside.

Undeniably, if Mueller were to proceed with a trial under these tainted circumstances, he would be exposing the country’s vaunted legal system and the agency he once headed, to both national and international ridicule. The FBI’s reputation for impartiality would be forever flushed down the toilet. This price simply is not worth it particularly since he has found no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia. Indeed, one wonders, cynically, if this realization prompted Mueller to offer a light plea deal to Flynn so that he could quickly sign him up as a cooperator and add the general as a notch on his prosecutorial belt before the DOJ notified the public of the real reason for Strzok’s removal from Mueller’s team? (Arguably, Giglio disclosure obligations only apply after a person has been indicted but not if he pleads guilty pre-indictment.)

Finally, it is worth noting that under principles analogous to the fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine, any FBI agents or officials who worked with Strzok (including James Comey) would be tainted by, and subject to cross-examination to explore, Strzok’s biases and whether he is the type of person who hid from them his biases while making key charging recommendations.

In short, Mueller’s anti-Trump investigation is effectively dead (unless his targets’ lawyers are nincompoops). And, ironically, this is all the fault of Strzok and his mistress who wanted to help “Crooked Hillary” and target Trump. How do you like ‘dem apples?

Nick James is a trial attorney in the D.C. area who formerly worked for the United States Department of Justice as an award-winning federal prosecutor.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Article printed from The Daily Caller:
URL to article:
Click here to print.

Copyright © 2017 The Daily Caller. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 20, 2017

"Racists" and "victims"

By sheer coincidence, while I was writing about real and imagined racists, my friend Joan Swirsky was writing about real and imagined victims. Her essay is well worth reading.