By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Coakley supporters cross the line

Over the past few days we’ve received numerous fliers on behalf of the two major-party Senate candidates, Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown. Somehow, though, this one eluded us: a nasty piece of work put out by the Democratic State Committee accusing Brown of wanting to turn away rape victims from hospitals.

The truth about Brown and rape victims is bad enough. Under an amendment Brown unsuccessfully sponsored in the Massachusetts Senate in 2005, hospitals and individual health-care workers would have been allowed to refuse rape victims emergency contraception on the grounds that such contraception amounts to abortion. Brown has waffled on the subject during the past week, and his supporters have ludicrously claimed that insisting health-care workers do their jobs is a form of anti-Catholic discrimination.

But that hardly adds up to this:


As I said, the flier was produced not by the Coakley campaign but by the Democratic State Committee. I don’t know whether or not the campaign and the party are legally able to coordinate their efforts. But I think there’s a good chance Coakley didn’t know this was coming.

Should she denounce it? Yes. Will she? Probably not.

On the other hand, it looks like the Brown campaign is going to overplay the hand it’s been dealt. According to an e-mail posted at Red Mass Group, the campaign plans to file a “criminal complaint” about the ad. Sen. Brown, meet Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Then again, I’m not surprised that Brown would take this gift the Democrats have handed him and turn it into another example of his reverence for the Constitution — and his contempt for its actual provisions.

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  1. Tom G

    I see. A liberal reporter must be equally critical of both political opponents in the the same article lest his criticism be called unbalanced, opaque and biased.

  2. O-FISH-L

    “I think this is just too close to infanticide. A child has been born and it has exited the uterus. What on Earth is this procedure?” –liberal Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan on partial-birth abortion, which Coakley embraces.

    There’s only one candidate in this race with ludicrous, extreme views on abortion. That’s the one being propped up by the Abortion Rights Action League and Early Money is Like Yeast. Follow the cash.

    I applaud Scott Brown and Democrat Sen. Jack Hart for trying to ensure that Catholics and others with a conscience are never mandated to perform the horror that is abortion, at any stage of pregnancy.

  3. Nial Liszt

    Martha Stanley Dukakis– Where are they hiding the tank? If the Globe has a poll out Sunday, they will have to report that Brown has pulled within ten points.

  4. PG

    Incompetent. Coakley’s campaign can’t even do attack ads right. They obscure one of Brown’s greatest vulnerabilities by going too far.


  5. Harrybosch

    “There’s only one candidate in this race with ludicrous, extreme views on abortion.”

    No reasonable person “embraces” abortion, Fish.

    In terms of Coakley’s stance on “partial birth abortion,” this op-ed seems to outline her objection, that the court upheld an abortion law that does not contain an exception for the life of the mother, as well as her objection to the Supreme Court attempting to inflict their own morality on us.

    Perhaps you believe that the life of the fetus is more important than the life of the mother, and that is certainly your right.

    And maybe you don’t object to the Supreme Court legislating morality, and that too is your right (though I suspect you won’t mind it until their morality conflicts with yours.)

    But I don’t find the argument as expressed in that linked op-ed to be either ludicrous or extreme.

  6. Harrybosch

    “I applaud Scott Brown and Democrat Sen. Jack Hart for trying to ensure that Catholics and others with a conscience are never mandated to perform the horror that is abortion, at any stage of pregnancy.”

    The issue at hand is medical personnel providing “morning after” pills to women who have been raped so they are not forced to bear their rapists child.

    Your position seems to be that a minutes-old fertilized egg is a human being.

    Let me say that again.

    Your position is that a minutes old fertilized egg is a human being.

    Someone here does indeed hold views on abortion that are both ludicrous and extreme.

  7. Harrybosch

    PS: If I were Martha Coakley’s campaign manager, at some point within the next 24 hours, or maybe first thing Tuesday morning, I would invite every camera in town to come see her shaking hands outside Fenway Park, demonstrating that she can admit when maybe she’s said or done something foolish, that she does indeed have a sense of humor, and that she’s a . . . frigging human being, damnit.

  8. I believe it was the Globe or the Times, I cannot recall, that said Brown’s legal challenge is a state law that prohibits campaign material that is untrue. Not sure if that law has ever been challenged in court or brought up. Moot point if he wins, I think. He won’t pursue it.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Brian: The law is clearly unconstitutional. That the Brown campaign would invoke it fits right in with its contempt for the constitutional rights of terrorism suspects and his telling school kids in Bolton that he’s happy to have given up some of his rights under the Patriot Act. He even thinks rape victims should give up their constitutional right to reproductive choice if they encounter a health-care worker thinks emergency contraception is the same thing as abortion. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a candidate in Massachusetts who’s as anti-liberty as Brown is and who’s come this close to winning.

  9. How about libel? I am just playing devil’s advocate.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Brian: Libel is a civil offense. The Brown campaign apparently wants John Walsh led off in handcuffs and locked up. The two are slightly different, eh?

      Reprehensible though the Democrats’ ad is, it would make for an extremely weak libel case in any event. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that political speech deserves the highest degree of protection, even when it’s caustic, hyperbolic and exaggerated. The ad is offensive and a distortion, but it probably would not be considered false under the libel standards.

  10. Dunque

    I believe that the legislation Senator Brown supported also mandated in those cases where the institution (such as a Caritas Christi facility) or an individual practicioner, due to religious beliefs, declined to provide the requested care the institution or individual were required to provide a referral to where the requested care could be provided.

    The fact that Martha Coakley’s campaign (this angle of attack has not been the sole provenance of the Democratic State Committe, Dan) twists this into “Scott Brown wants to deny rape victims access to medical care” is another sign of the grasping desperation of this candidate.

    It’s fashionable to say Attorney General Coakley has run a bad campaign. I think it’s more likely she is a bad candidate. This is a “crime fighter” who has denied seeing someone shoved to the ground who was clearly in her line of vision. Even if she didn’t “see” the incident directly wouldn’t her “crime fighter” role have at least indicated some interest in what might have happened? Apparently not.

    But really I think her “crime fighting” has always been about political expediency. One need only look at her reluctance to go after Somerville police officer Keith Winfield vs. her eagerness to keep Gerald Amirault in jail to conclude that this candidate’s principles are not as concrete as she would lead one to believe.

    In baseball there’s a saying about your team’s weaknesses that “the ball will find you.” Over the course of a long season due to the nature of the game your failings will be exposed. Martha, I think the campaign ball has found you.

  11. ron

    Liberals in Mass have been on autopilot long enough. I applaud those who are willing to do what’s right for the country for a change instead backing a corrupt democratic party which lacks both integrity and intelligent policy.

  12. Steve Stein

    Krugman asks a question today – does the Democratic Party have access to the Outrage Machine?

    A video clip has surfaced from 2008 in which Scott Brown, the Republican candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, clearly suggested that President Obama may have been born out of wedlock.


    If Brown were a Democrat, it would instantly be a huge scandal. The outrage machine would be working overtime. And the news media would, of course, pick it up.

  13. mike_b1

    1700s: Framers write Constitution, legislating that government and religion will not mix.
    2000s: Right-wingnuts continue assault on Constitution by trying to legislate religious beliefs.

    Have I missed anything?

  14. mike_b1

    Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for catholics (and other religions) to launch their attacks against condom makers. After all, any form of birth control interferes with god’s will.

  15. lkcape

    The law is clearly unconstitutional, eh Dan?

    Do you have any legal citations that state that? Are you relying on a Harvey Silvergate pronouncement? Has he, or anyone else, won this point in court…any court?

    Until it is declared unconstitutional by a court, it is legal.

    Something tells me you either missed something in your civics classes or you’re flogging another liberal wish.

  16. Tunder

    It is not too late to do something for Coakley’s election. I have been all around Cape Ann this weekend and it is Scott Brown everywhere, all the time. They have done a great job organizing and making themselves visible.

    So, tracked down a Coakley sign for my lawn (the woman had tons of them in her garage) and am spending some time at a phone bank in Beverly today.

    You snooze you lose in this one.

  17. Harrybosch

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say . . . yeah. Clearly unconstitutional.





    Chapter 56: Section 42. False statements relating to candidates or questions submitted to voters

    Section 42. No person shall make or publish, or cause to be made or published, any false statement in relation to any candidate for nomination or election to public office, which is designed or tends to aid or to injure or defeat such candidate.

    No person shall publish or cause to be published in any letter, circular, advertisement, poster or in any other writing any false statement in relation to any question submitted to the voters, which statement is designed to affect the vote on said question.

    Whoever knowingly violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Harrybosch: Gee, ya think? Excellent detective work.

  18. Harrybosch

    Thanks, Dan, though I fear one or two of the comments made in this very thread meet the exacting standard that the law lays out.


  19. Harrybosch

    LOL. Similar to Captain Renault, I am indeed shocked to find people spreading falsehoods in the midst of an election campaign.

    Almost tempted to “publish or cause to be published” a blatant lie right in this little box here, just to, you know, see what would happen.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Harrybosch: My guess is that Jay Severin is looking at eight consecutive life sentences.

  20. Harrybosch

    Be hilarious, Dan, if they got him on that before they got him on incitement to violence against Muslims or Mexican immigrants.

    But I guess that’s sorta how they got Capone too.

  21. Dunque

    mike_b1 says:
    “Have I missed anything.”

    Yes. The point.

  22. Just recalled this from Ted Kennedy’s letter to the pope:

    “I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I’ll continue to advocate for it…”

  23. Ben

    On Brown being anti-liberty:
    I actually agree with Brown about keeping true enemy combatants out of Federal courts. What disturbs me is that he wants to treat American citizens arrested in America as enemy combatants. I asked Brown on talk radio if he would allow any due process to American citizens before stripping them of their Constitutional rights and shipping them off to Camp Gitmo. He said he would not. This is pretty right wing – even Bush eventually tried Jose Padilla in Federal District Court.

    Of course, Coakley doesn’t exactly have a libertarian record either:
    Coakley also wants to expand Federal power over health care, which she well knows may threaten women’s access to reproductive services.

  24. Harrybosch

    “I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I’ll continue to advocate for it…”

    Even the Catholics weren’t buying that . . .

  25. Harrybosch

    Ixnay on my advice above about Coakley going to Fenway to shake hands.

    Just heard her gaffe where she called Curt Schilling a Yankee fan.

    She should go nowhere near Fenway Park.

  26. mike_b1

    Republicans are Yankee fans. You can’t like the Red Sox and be a bad guy, ergo…

  27. mike_b1

    Dunque: No, I don’t think so. This is just another attempt by the Religious Right (aka the GOP) to distort the Constitution.

    Next up: human bondage.

  28. Harrybosch

    “Next up: human bondage.”

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    Must be okay.

  29. Peter Porcupine

    DK – the national health care bill contains a conscience clause for providers based on religious objections (I had noticed the Amish were exempted from participating as well).

    So if Brown wants to deny help to 1,700 rape victims…how many MILLIONS does Obama want to deny?

    And Coakley has pledged to vote for a bill which would accomplish Brown’s suggested amendment come hell or high water – so what is she complaining about? Whence the denunciation?

    She DID know the contents of the bill she pledged to vote for, right?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Peter Porcupine: Unless you can provide a reliable link, I’m going to assume that you are comparing apples and pineapples. As I understand it, the federal conscience clause pertains to abortions, not to emergency contraceptives provided to rape victims. And the clause you are referring to is already in effect. There had been some early talk of repealing it, but that went by the wayside.

  30. lkcape

    Give it a rest B1. Bible thumping is not exclusive to one party or one race.

    The Rev. King, whose birthday is Monday, was “left wing” and a preacher, too. How about Ralph Abernathy? Jessie and Al? How ’bout Reverend Jeremiah?

    Even Dan, our host, has a certain religious ferver.

    Take a breath once in a while; bright red or blue are not becoming colors for you.

  31. mike_b1

    @lckape: A rightwinger is trying to meld MLK and conservatives? Did I miss the time MLK suggested killing the whites? Or when Al Sharpton called Katrina the result of red-state Louisiana’s “pact with the devil?” You really want to put Pat Robertson’s legacy up against MLK’s?

    History lesson: A rightwinger killed MLK. A rightwinger killed JFK. Rightwingers took shots at Reagan and Ford (yes, Manson and his followers were rightwingers — there’s nothing liberal about hating blacks). Rightwingers tried to kill Bush 1.

    Last time I checked, it was the rightwingers who were blowing up this country. McVeigh, Kaczynski, Rudolph, etc. The GOP is lawless. It’s freaky, dude. Hitler, Stalin, Mao: Rightwingers all. Do you ever get tired of being on the wrong side of history?

  32. insideknowledge

    How about when Mike Dukakis promised the voters “no new taxes” to get elected? He clearly lied to us, not just to his opponents. Without that promise, he would not have been elected. This was clearly fraudulent, which also violates Massachusetts law. The Dukakis campaign falsehood clearly violated the statute being discussed here. But, of course, when American Party candidate for Governor, Leo Kahian, filed a criminal complaint against Dukakis and his campaign under this statute, the corrupt Massachusetts courts rejected it, not declaring that the law was not violated, but claiming that the campaign promise didn’t mean anything anyway. The whole purpose of this law in the first place was not to protect the voters agains liars, but simply to gove the Establishment one more little tool in their inventory to use against any anti-establishment candidates if needed. That is also the real purpose of the so-called “ethics” financial disclosure laws which retard democracy by scaring off potential candidates who are afraid that they might run afoul of a complex law even though they haven’t done anything wrong. Ask George Hansen.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @insideknowledge: Dukakis meant it when he said it. Gov. Francis Sargent had run up a huge deficit, the extent of which no one knew until after the election.

      BTW, Leo Kahian is an old family friend. My uncle and I ran in to him just a week ago.

  33. Nial Liszt

    Final PPP poll out 11 p.m. Sunday- Brown 51-46.

  34. lkcape

    Rant on Mr. B1.

    It’s fun to watch.

  35. Harrybosch

    “A rightwinger killed JFK . . .”

    Not sure handing out “Fair Play for Cuba” tracts and emigrating to Russia qualifies as “rightwing.”

    Not that it matters.

    Insanity knows no wing of no political party.

  36. mike_b1

    @Harry: Not sure handing out “Fair Play for Cuba” tracts and emigrating to Russia qualifies as “rightwing.”

    Best bit of sarcasm I’ve read here — ever.

  37. O-FISH-L

    Mr. B1 – By all accounts, James Earl Ray was a Democrat, and Dr. King was a Republican. In fact, most blacks at the time were members of the party of Lincoln. As we honor Dr. King today, here is a nice piece on why King was a Republican.

    As for rightwing this, rightwing that, labels are for jars.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Fish: The most liberal governor in Massachusetts history, Frank Sargent, was a Republican. The controversial liberal president of Yale in the 1960s and ’70s, Kingman Brewster, was a Republican. Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who brought down Richard Nixon, was a Republican. Today’s Republican Party is not exactly the same as it was then.

      Apparently King was a registered Republican. But we also know he voted for John Kennedy in 1960 and, by the end of his life, had moved far to the left on issues of peace and social justice. Somehow I don’t think he would be welcome in today’s Republican Party.

  38. Harrybosch

    “In fact, most blacks at the time were members of the party of Lincoln.”

    Not exactly sure what you mean by “at the time,” however given the obstacles the vast majority of blacks had historically even registering to vote, that statement is highly suspect.

    But history suggests blacks began supporting Democrats with the election of FDR, where he garnered 71% of the black vote. He did just as well in subsequent elections.

    And it seems that Truman’s decision to integrate the armed forces was the tipping point where the majority of blacks began identifying themselves as Democrats.

  39. mike_b1

    @Fish: There you go again. You love repeating that myth, don’t you?

    As we have discussed many times, Dr. King’s father was a registered Republican. He switched parties in 1960, and mostly supported Democrats the rest of his life. He campaigned heavily for Jimmy Carter, among others.

    The King family, including his widow, has definitively declared King Jr. was a Democrat.

  40. BillH

    Just to return to the impending election for a minute, I think that if Capuano had been nominated he’d be cleaning Brown’s clock. Coakley’s not only a bad candidate, she’s a terrible campaigner who’s poorly served by her handlers. Capuano is certainly more liberal than Coakley, but he’s also a brawler who knows the issues backward and forward. He’d give Brown more than he could handle. This is what happens when a candidate is handed the nomination without any heavy lifting.

  41. Tunder

    Agreed. Capuano would have stripped Brown’s Cosmo sheen right off of him. Coakley and handlers treated the election as a foregone conclusion (as did most Democrats)and put it in cruise control.

    That being said, I’m wary enough of polls not to be surprised if Coakley beats Brown and, possibly, beats him convincingly.

  42. Scutch

    What’s this? A member of the New Left demonstrating outside of a 1972 Nixon rally?
    Nope. A Brown supporter outside of the Obama/Coakley Rally:

    Scott Brown Supporters Call Coakley Supporters Nazis

  43. mike_b1

    @Scutch: How embarrassing! A white woman — clearly visible and soon-to-be-identified — so out of touch with history, she calls a black man a “Nazi.”

    Doesn’t she realize Hitler hated blacks?

    Reminds me of that Dave Chappelle skit where he plays a blind black man who is also a KKK leader. Good stuff.

  44. O-FISH-L

    mikeb_1 wrote: “@Fish: There you go again. You love repeating that myth, don’t you?”

    b1: Apparently Dr. King’s niece, Dr. Alveda C. King, loves repeating the “myth” too.

    @Dan Kennedy: “Somehow I don’t think he would be welcome in today’s Republican Party.”

    Don’t be so sure Dan. Dr. King dreamed of a day when blacks wouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin. What makes you think he’d associate with the party of race-based preferences, quotas and affirmative action? The young black Congressman J.C. Watts had it right when he said today’s black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are little more than “race baiting poverty pimps.”

  45. mike_b1

    @O-FISH, that is the funniest thing you’ve ever said.

    “Dr.” Alveda King is considered by the family to be a complete joke. She works for the Tocqueville Institution … need I say more?

    She uses her familial relationship to MLK Jr. to make claims historians know to be untrue. The family disowned her years ago.

    She’s not even a Ph.D. She received an honorary degree and fraudulently claims this gives her the right to call herself a “doctor.”

  46. Harrybosch

    From my limited Googling, there is no evidence of King’s specific party affiliation, whatever his relatives may claim now.

    And aside from this allowing folks to claim him as their own now, perhaps this is as it should be, and is apparently the way King wanted it.

  47. JOhn

    MLK Jr. became a Democrat, while Eldridge Cleaver became a Republican.

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