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Man in the mirror

Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald today begins: “Insanity, according to one insightful definition, is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

And then, for the second time this week, he finds a way to relate the Big Dig tragedy to those marriage-mocking, gay-coddling pols on Beacon Hill:

Legislators jumping into the fray to make sure their constituents are well-represented are insulting our intelligence, too, if they’re the same ones who just conspired to muzzle those constituents on the volatile issue of homosexual matrimony.

It’s enough to make you despair, if this is where you make your home. But truth be told, we’re only reaping what we’ve sown in Massachusetts, and it’s a bitter, fatal harvest.

You could probably hire a couple of reporters to supplement the Herald’s understaffed newsroom with what Fitzgerald is making. Can’t publisher Pat Purcell talk him into retiring?

“Deadly politics”

Jon Keller: “Keep politics out of the Big Dig? What a farce. Politics long ago turned it into highway robbery. And now politics, Massachusetts-style, has killed a woman.” Watch it here.

Epoxy — holding up three-ton concrete panels — that’s “brittle and cracked.” Metal supports that “were not fully weather-protected or fabricated to contract standards.” A city that could be gridlocked for weeks — and that’s being optimistic, given the likely number of people who will refuse to use the Big Dig even after it’s reopened.

The Boston Herald runs an interview with Melina Del Valle’s daughter Raquel Ibarra Mora, conducted by the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación: “Nobody from Boston has spoken to me. The only person who has contacted us is the Costa Rican Consul in New York, Alejandra Solano.”

Former Big Dig spokesman Dan McNichol tells the Los Angeles Times: “It is just disgusting, because those tunnels are an extension of our government. You think of the subway tunnels in London — people took refuge there from the bombing during World War II.”

Thinking out loud

For years now, we’ve heard what an engineering triumph the Big Dig is. We are supposed to marvel at its complexity, and hail the skill of those who put it together.

Now, that may all be warranted. But, for some reason, I can’t help but think about the Callahan and Sumner tunnels, and all those century-old tunnels used by the subway system. They’ve worked from the day they opened, and I can’t think of a structural disaster that’s ever befallen any of them.

So why is the Big Dig so different?

Glue and concrete

This graphic in today’s Boston Globe is absolutely terrifying. Look at it. Absolutely nothing is holding those three-ton ceiling panels in place except glue. Somehow it doesn’t make me feel better that this type of system may be in use all across the country.

Nor does it help to learn that the only purpose in installing the panels may have been aesthetic, to hide ugly ceiling fans; or that much lighter panels could have been used, but were rejected because it would have been harder to keep them from vibrating. And don’t forget: There are at least 60 more of these bolts that are flawed.

The Boston Herald today is taking credit for its Tuesday online exclusive, which reported that Monday night’s fatal accident was due to an adhesive failure. The Herald is also a good example of how a tabloid can focus and reflect public outrage at a moment like this. While the Globe goes with a strong, newsy front, the Herald goes with pure emotion.

The page is dominated by a big splash reading “BIG DIG DISGRACE” and a photo of Milena and Angel Del Valle. The subheads: “Officials stonewall on Hub tunnel tragedy”; “Mitt grandstands, then returns to vacation”; “We get silent treatment from Bechtel.”

Granted, these are mini-editorials, not news headlines. But given the Herald’s mission as the city’s feisty, number-two daily, I think they’re absolutely justified.

Universal Hub has been gathering up blog commentary here.

Worse and worse

But not as bad as it’s going to get.

From “Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said at an afternoon press conference that anchor bolts similar to those involved in the partial collapse of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel failed field studies as far back as 1999.”

From Dig officials have discovered more than 60 compromised ceiling panels in the I-90 tunnel where a woman was killed Monday, raising the specter of widespread defects in all corners of a tunnel where investigators are methodically gathering evidence in a criminal probe.”

Bishop versus Israel

I find it inexplicable that Episcopalian Bishop Thomas Shaw will once again protest outside the Israeli Consulate.

Never mind whether Israel’s response to the kidnapping of its soldiers could be considered disproportionate. That’s just part of a larger picture in which Palestinians elected a terrorist-led government dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

Now Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, has gotten into the act.

Unless Shaw believes that Israel ought to hand over all of its territory to Hamas, then it’s hard to understand precisely what it is he’s protesting. And, well, what about it, Bishop Shaw: Is that what you believe?