Sunday, February 27, 2005

"The Broker" by John Grisham

The yearly winter dose of Grisham arrived early this year and caught me a bit off guard. Since I was busy finishing a little novel called Anna Karenina, Grisham's The Broker had to wait.

The book is fun and fast-paced, typically Grisham. As you'll discover from the inside cover, much of the plot is set in Italy, and Grisham does well describing the attractive culture and lifestyle of some Italian cities. He also delves into quite a bit of Italian in the book, adding to the setting and giving the reader a taste of the language, especially as it pertains to espresso drinks and restaurants. The book is a quick read and is best accompanied by a cup of strong Italian Roast or a Cappuccino if reading before 10:30 in the morning.

Grisham himself has openly admitted that he is not a classic author (I think I remember him saying this in an interview, though if I'm wrong, I take it back), and when one reads his books they are simply written, moving along at break-neck speeds.

Personally, my two favorite John Grisham books are The Testament and The Chamber. Ranking The Broker will take a couple of weeks for it to settle in and take its place with the others. (Interestingly, the book feels a lot like The Partner…enough said.)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Torts Lose

The bill that has passed Congress and been signed by the President is hardly the end of class-action lawsuits but does seem to be a step in the right direction. Listening to a little 'left' commentary from places such as NPR one would think, though, that we have unleashed corporate America from all restraints and accountability. Even on the local level there have been attorneys interviewed who claim that the move is one intended to harm the average person.

When our legal system has become one where certain courts are deemed 'friendly' to certain types of lawsuits, and when attorneys can choose to file their "cases" in these courts rather than their local courthouse, then Houston, we have a problem. If a company like Ford knowingly equipped vehicles with bad tires then people should be reimbursed or awarded damages. But when problems are being manipulated and lawyers are getting rich while people are getting a couple of bucks or some discount coupons, only the legal guys are winning.

This is a step in the right direction. Another move that has to take place is one to curtail medical liability. When physicians can't afford to practice medicine (especially certains types in certain states) then adjustments have to come. Insurance agencies are winning, lawyers are winning, and doctors and patients are losing. The legal beast is making prey of the system. Insurance premiums are out the roof. The left wants socialized medicine. Bad answer. (Actually, not really an answer at all.) I think the tort reform that has just passed is one step that will eventually make other steps (like the one concerning the practice of medicine) more reasonable.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Winds of Change in the Mid East

Nathan Guttman at Haaretz points out the new policy of the U.S. concerning the diplomacy between Israel and Palestine. In a nutshell, the U.S. is moving from the mediator to the supporter, pledging support to both sides in the Rice era, which demonstrates a shift from the first 4 years of the Bush administration and an even stronger shift from the role that Clinton took.

Is it a good shift? Under the present circumstances, probably. With the passing of Arafat, one has only to check the headlines to notice that terror has declined in the region. You don't hear such a report from the mainstream in the U.S., but the Nobel Prize winning Arafat was one of the world's greatest hindrances to peace. I'm not saying that the road is going to be smooth now. In fact, the trouble will continue, but we all still have an obligation to attempt to work for peace.