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Posted by on Mar 22, 2010 in Breaking News, Economy, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 9 comments

Some Initial Reaction to Passage of HCR Bill (TWO UPDATES)

In addition to the right-wing calls to repeal health care reform, which have been going on since well before it actually passed,  the immediate reaction to yesterday’s historic passage of  the Affordable Health Choices Act has included one act of actual, and one act of implied, violence, and a veiled call for secession.

Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer yelled “Baby killer!” at Bart Stupak when he urged passage of the bill last night after the Democratic leadership agreed to support an Executive Order affirming that the Hyde Amendment applied to the health care reform bill. Rep. Neugebauer apologized for directing the imprecation at Stupak, and for the timing of it, but not for the sentiment itself:

A Republican congressman from Texas on Monday admitted he shouted “baby killer” from the House floor as Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., defended his change of position on health care legislation on Sunday. But Rep. Randy Neugebauer said that his remark was a comment on the bill itself and not directed at the Michigan lawmaker.”In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase ‘it’s a baby killer’ in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership,” Neugebauer said in a statement released by his office. “While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself.

“I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill. The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate.”

In Arizona, the Tucson office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was vandalized. The article does not identify Rep. Giffords party affiliation, but it’s clear she is a Democrat (she voted for the health care reform legislation).

The front door was smashed out at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ congressional office last night.

At 2:40 a.m., just a few hours after staff left the building after the late-night vote, the alarm system went off, said spokesman C.J. Karamargin. The panel to the front door and the glass panel alongside it were smashed out. The perpetrator likely had to hop the gated fence to get access to the door, since it’s not viewable from the parking lot.

Karamargin said it was unclear if the glass had been shot out with a kind of pellet gun, if it had been kicked or smashed with an object. The door has been covered with plywood.
While the calls into the office in the past week were “more nasty and rude” and laced with profanity than the office had ever received before, Karamargin said, they did not reach the level of threat that prompted any police involvement. …

The veiled secession threat (as well as language that implied physical violence, although presumably it was meant figuratively) came from Steve King (R-Iowa). Emphasis is in original:

Yesterday as the House passed historic health care reform legislation, groups of Tea Party activists were still amassed on Capitol Hill protesting the bill. When word reached them that they had lost their battle, they began singing the national anthem and reciting the pledge of allegiance. “The most important thing to remember,” said Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots, “is that the fight for freedom, it never ends!” Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and Steve King (R-IA) then went out and spoke to the protesters, with King floating the possibility of secession (even though he said they should “hope” it doesn’t come to that):

KING: I just came down here so I could say to you, God bless you. … You are the awesome American people. […]

If I could start a country with a bunch of people, they’d be the folks who were standing with us the last few days. Let’s hope we don’t have to do that! Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s take them out. Let’s chase them down. There’s going to be a reckoning!

It should go without saying that saying things like “Let’s beat the other side to a pulp!” to a gathering of far right, anti-government activists who have already demonstrated their capacity for hatred and violence, is stunningly irresponsible.

UPDATE 1: I just saw this.

UPDATE 2: Just reported on Rachel Maddow: The Democratic Party headquarters in Rochester, NY, and the offices of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) were also vandalized. Rep. Slaughter’s office is in Niagara Falls, NY.