Here are some quick hits on recent events that I haven’t had a chance to bloviate about at length.
The Herald reported yesterday that AG/Gov candidate Tom Reilly signed a confidentiality agreement with Big Dig contractor Bechtel Parsons Brinkerhoff that prevents information about the notorious tunnel leaks from being disclosed without Bechtel’s OK. Reilly’s office defended the agreement as “standard.” And it is of course routine to agree to confidentiality in the course of settling routine cases. The problem here is that the Big Dig leak business is anything but routine. To the contrary, literally billions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into this project, and the public safety is directly affected by the leaks. Much as it pains me to say it, I find it hard to disagree with Romney’s flack, Eric Fehrnstrom, who described the agreement as “not in the public interest.” Deval Patrick and Christy Mihos have also criticized the agreement, according to the Herald. This strikes me as a story that could be nipping at Reilly’s heels for some time – especially if, God forbid, another significant leak shows up in the tunnels.
“Governor” Mitt Romney filed his hilariously-entitled “Act Protecting Religious Freedom” yesterday. The Globe reports that the bill would permit religious organizations to do whatever they want with respect to adoptions – as long as they don’t discriminate on the basis of race, creed, national origin, gender, or handicap. And thus was revealed Romney’s bill to be little more than gay-bashing. After all, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that a religious adoption agency might want to place children only in families that share their religious beliefs – that is, that share their “creed.” And Romney’s filing letter, which piously intones that the “preservation of liberty” requires that “government not dictate to religious institutions the moral principles by which they are to carry out their charitable and divine mission,” seems to say that that practice should be allowed. But by including “creed” in the list of prohibited criteria, Romney’s bill would actually make such “discrimination” illegal, even as it permits discrimination because the adoptive couple is gay – even if they’re of the same religion as the agency. So under this bill, a Catholic adoption agency might have to place a child with heterosexual Satan-worshipers, but could refuse to place them with gay Catholics. Welcome to the crazy upside-down bizarro world of Romneyesque policy! Fortunately, all indications are that this wretched bill is dead on arrival in both the House and the Senate.
The Herald has a brief story on Mike Festa’s endorsement of Gerry Leone’s Middlesex DA campaign. Money quote from Festa: “I donât know how you can run that office well without that experience.”
The Herald properly takes Kerry Healey to task for her “exceedingly ill-conceived” proposal to give the final say on whether judges stay on the bench to the Governor and the Governor’s Council. In the Herald’s words, “what on Earth could Healey be thinking!” There’s also a good op-ed on the Herald which concludes: “to suggest that a constitutional principle integral to the integrity of our judicial process be eviscerated – just because good judges occasionally issue decisions that some people donât agree with – is political grandstanding of the worst kind.” Yup.
Also on judges, Romney has lately been suggesting that the Judicial Nominating Council is to blame for his pathetic record of filling judicial vacancies in a timely fashion, and of naming women and minorities to the bench. But there is reason to think that Romney’s position is more truthiness than truth. Also, Lt. Gov. candidate Tim Murray sent out a press release in which he “criticized the Romney/Healey Administration for dropping the ball on judicial nominations and leaving empty benches which have clogged the entire court system. ‘This administrationâs judicial nominating process, cloaked in secrecy, has been a total failure,’ said Tim Murray.” He also said that “‘This administration talks a good game, but fails to govern. In Hampden County, for example, a vacancy in the Juvenile Court has been unfilled for twenty months, preventing important cases dealing with the welfare of children from being heard in a timely way. This is totally unacceptable.'” And he described Romney’s Johnny-come-lately criticisms of the Judicial Nominating Council as “a very poor excuse.”
Turning to national issues, specifically the UAE/Dubai ports deal, the Herald ran this column in its print edition yesterday (I can’t find it on the Herald’s website, but trust me – it was there) by everyone’s favorite paleocon Pat Buchanan. The column strikes me as a fairly accurate analysis of how the deal got derailed. Buchanan, ever the isolationist, thinks what happened to the deal was good; I tend to think it was bad. But I basically agree with his explanation of what happened. (For more on Dubai, check out this amusingly-edited video of W’s idiot nephew Pierce – hat tip to UGD.)
And finally, Russ Feingold’s move to censure President Bush is the subject of this article in the NY Times, which is itself the subject of this post by Andy over at Mass Revolution. We’ve got our own little debate going on the merits of what Feingold is doing. I haven’t weighed in yet because, frankly, I’m not sure where I stand. For now, I’ll just say this: if what Feingold is doing is really re-energizing a demoralized Republican “base,” as the NYT article suggests, that would make me sad.