Thursday, September 24, 2009
It's funny how subjective time can seem.
You know the feeling? Like when you go driving, trying to find a business or house you've never been to before; getting there seems to take forever, as you look all around for the address, but when you retrace your route, it seems to take no time at all getting back.
That's how these last six months have seemed to us. Six months ago today, March 24, 2009, at 5:12 p.m PST, my wife Julie's mom Chantelle slipped away from this world. Looking forward from that day, half a year seemed so far away; now, looking back, it seems as though it just happened, as fresh as yesterday.
Now, I look back at the blog posts (links below) where I recorded the events and our thoughts and feelings from those fateful four days, and I wonder to myself, "How did this all happen?" From the time her heart stopped, the 45 minutes of CPR and shocking, her "revival" into a deep coma, and our agony over what to do as the doctors gave us less and less hope for her recovery, we grew more and more puzzled. She had some medical issues, such as high blood pressure, borderline diabetes, and her ever-present weight problems. But What killed her is going to forever be a mystery, because the doctors were never able to figure out exactly what it was.
We've spent the last six months asking ourselves pretty deep questions, but the most troubling to us has been, "Why then?" Chantelle was ONE WEEK away from retiring from her job, had just gotten her first Social Security check, and was looking forward to our impending move to her beloved Denver, Colorado so she could get back into a church, find some social groups, and hopefully even find a husband to spend the rest of her sunset years dancing the night away, traveling the world, or at least having a serious cuddle with as often as possible. Instead of ending 65 years of always-struggling, often-painful, sometimes-depressing life by finally enjoying herself and once again finding love, her life ended just a few days before all that could happen.
A sudden death never seems "fair", but sometimes you have to wonder if some aren't more unfair than others. We still often get into conversations that of course go nowhere... asking "Why?!?"
But as we've spent these many months sifting through years of her accumulated "crap" (Julie's word!), from enough cake decorating equipment to open a bakery to enough fabric and patterns to outfit a craft store, and after what seems like hundreds of trips to Goodwill and other charities, we have finally boiled down her life's possessions into a manageable and precious collection of what we hold most dear. There are the pictures, of course. And we kept some of her hand-made clothing (even though much of it no longer fits) and many of her "crafty things" that don't really seem to have a purpose, but she loved them so much we can't seem to bear to part with them. We made new discoveries: pictures we never knew about, artwork she had done, diplomas and certificates for programs she never used, letters she had written, old birthday cards and drawings from her two girls she had stashed safely away. The debris of a life of love, of missed opportunities, of half-finished projects, of cherished memories and keepsakes.
But part of the "Why?" we have been able to answer, at least in part. And it's a story of two kinds of medical systems in this country.
Chantelle was very much interested in the current administration's plans to revamp healthcare, so I do not feel I am over-reaching to turn this from a discussion of her last days into a discussion of the healthcare situtation in this country. The reason is because both Julie and I have come to the conclusion that at least one aspect of Chantelle's death came from her years of stress over an enormous medical bill.
At the time of her death, Chantelle was working for Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon. She was covered by Kaiser's cadillac insurance program, so when she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, she received absolutely excellent care in every regard. Even though she was taken to Providence Medical Center rather than a Kaiser hospital, they covered everything; they just took a photocopy of Chantelle's insurance card and some information from Julie, and that was it. When it was all said and done, Julie and I had to pay only $50 out of Chantelle's estate to cover the cost of the ambulance. This, from a final bill of nearly $50,000. On top of it, as we were standing beside the bed saying our last goodbyes, Providence had a harpist come in, dim the lights, and sing and play as she was removed from life support and her body allowed to join her soul, which had obviously gone on four days before. It was all very beautiful and even joyous in a quiet, peaceful, and sad sort of way.
This is how end-of-life care should be for everyone, not just for those with "cadillac" insurance!
Now contrast this with an event seven years earlier: Chantelle collapsed in a faint, was rushed to the hospital, and was told she had to have a pacemaker installed immediately or she would most likely die: her heartbeat was hovering around 20 beats/minute. While her mom was in the ER getting checked out, Julie was ushered into the financial services office of the hospital. Since they had just arrived in Riverside County, California from the adjacent Orange County, and had not yet found jobs, they had no insurance. The financial advisor told Julie, "Don't worry, if you can't pay the county will cover it." Reassured, Julie completed the paperwork and went to be with her mom.
After the surgery and brief hospital stay, they went home and Chantelle began the recovery process. It didn't take long before a letter arrived, demanding nearly $50,000 in medical expenses. After calling the hospital, Riverside County, and even Orange County, they discovered that since they had not lived in Riverside County for at least 30 days, they were not considered "residents" and thus not eligible to have the county cover the bill; since they had moved out of Orange County, they were no longer their problem; and the hospital basically said "Nobody here would have told you the county would cover it without checking first." So, unemployed, fresh out of pacemaker surgery, in the middle of a recession, the collectors started their relentless hounding.
Over the years, Chantelle made some efforts to negotiate the bill, all rebuffed. She sought the advice of lawyers and medical legal experts, who essentially told her to either pay the bill or declare bankruptcy. The collectors became ever more insistent, sometimes calling her at work, at home, or on her cell two or three times per day. She put call blocks on the phone numbers, and they just kept changing numbers on her. She would get at least one written notice every week, sometimes more, and often in the most threatening of tones. Threats to take her to court, to confiscate her house (which she didn't own), or to take her car, or to seize other assets. Legislation in the middle of this decade helped a little to ease the abusive tone of the calls and letters, but they kept on coming relentlessly nonetheless.
Six years passed, the legal "statute of limitations" for taking an old debt to court. And the calls and letters still came. She sent them official notice to cease and desist. When they weren't outright ignored, the collectors pulled their loophole out and sold the debt to another collector, who would start everything all over again. For nearly seven years, collectors caused her enormous stress and literal heartache over a debt that SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED!
In those seven years, Chantelle had regular visits to have her pacemaker checked out. Every time, it dumped the collected data of her heart activity for the doctors to view. And every time... every SINGLE time... it came back clean. No sign her heart had any trouble keeping a beat all on its own. She had one just before her final collapse, and again it came back clean; in fact, the doctors were suggesting she have it removed completely. So why had she had to have one installed in the first place, if it seemed as though she never needed one in the first place?
Various legal folks have told us that we don't have a case, and we're not interested in suing anyway. What bothers us is how what may have been a simple misdiagnosis of irregular heartbeat when it could have merely been an early sign of diabetic shock turned into a $50,000 bill and seven years of sheer collector hell? That's the problem here; it's not the misdiagnosis, which may have simply been due to related symptoms and the rush of the ER. It's the fact that seven years later, after being hounded by a relentless and endless group of collectors, her life ended at least partly due to the stress of having to pay tens of thousands of dollars for an operation that she evidently didn't even need.
One final bit of irony, and overwhelming anger, happened on the day she died. As we were driving home from the hospital, quiet in our thoughts, her cell phone rang. I answered it, and it was "her" collector. I quietly explained that Chantelle had just passed away minutes earlier, and to please stop calling and sending her collection notices. After the most perfunctory of "I'm sorry to hear that" comments, this person then asked me, "So will you be paying her debt out of the estate?" After a moment of shock, I lost it. Here we were not even home from the hospital, and this vulture was already swooping in for scraps! I yelled back at her, "You're not getting a cent out of her, her estate, or anything else... she's dead! Do you not understand what I'm saying? SHE JUST DIED A FEW MINUTES AGO!!! And you helped kill her!"
I was angry and upset, and the person on the other end made some weak apology and hung up... and gloriously, we have never heard from them again. But those words have come back to me time and again, and I really do think now that the collectors had some part in killing Chantelle. Not quickly, but like slow poison... bit by bit, nibble by nibble, slice by slice... they ate away at her soul. For all her joy at retiring and starting a new life in Colorado, her one persistent concern was "those goddam Riverside people, they'll never leave me alone".
And nobody in this country, or any other country in the world, should have to spend the last years of their life giving serious consideration to declaring bankruptcy just to gain some peace from a medical collection agency. Chantelle was interested in the healthcare debate, but following her death it has come front and center for Julie and myself. At minimum a public option with open enrollment (as the Wyden amendment provides) is a necessity; I would prefer a universal system that covers every single human being in this country such as the Conyers bill, so that nobody ever has to go through what Chantelle, and those who loved her so much, has had to go through ever again.
For those who would like to know something more about the tragic events of those days, some recollections of Chantelle's life, hopes and dreams, and perhaps if you have not yourself lost anyone dear to you a glimpse of the chaotic mixture of joy and grief that losing a loved one entails, please read my blogposts from March 21st onwards:
Friday/Saturday - Chantelle collapses, "goes to sleep"
Saturday/Sunday - I've never been so proud of Julie
Sunday/Monday - Waiting for family to arrive, hope changes to acceptance
Monday/Tuesday - Saying goodbye
Wednesday - "Mumzy", a poem to the fallen
Friday - The perfect (and funny) tribute to a life lived face-on
Chantelle's Memorial Page and thank-you to the doctors, nurses, friends and family who were so supportive both during and after her passing
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Perhaps if we all stopped for a moment and realized this is not "us vs. them"; it is all of us together.
"Blessed are those who prefer others before themselves."
"Hurt not others in ways that you would yourself find hurtful."
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
"This is the sum of all duty: treat others as you yourself would be treated."
"No one of you is a believer until you desire for another that which you desire for yourself."
"In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, regard all creatures as you would regard your own self."
"What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor."
"Be not estranged from another for God dwells in every heart."
"Human nature is good only when it does not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self."
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Alexis de Tocqueville hit the nail on the head way back in the 1830's. It just took longer than he predicted.
He described Americans as a tough, proud, independent people, with much to be admired and great potential, and marveled at how what he viewed as "26 American republics" could continue to work so well together. But he also warned that this "go-it-alone" pioneer independence also would lead Americans to be a less caring, less cohesive society. He compared American society to European society, and while the latter was more village-based and the people more used to working together and supporting one another, the former were more likely to look out for themselves first, and devolve into faction and tribalism.
He also saw a key element that was critical to that young American society: for a democratic republic to operate properly, the citizens must be at least moderately educated and must be kept informed of what the issues of the day were all about. To him, those who chose their leaders based on emotion, ignorant of the issues and the people they were selecting to represent them, were inviting tyranny through the front door.
170 years later, what do we have? Americans screaming "socialism" at the very thought of covering every citizen of this country with good healthcare as if it were some monstrous spawn of the Devil, and Europeans shrugging their shoulders and making sure everyone has universal healthcare, because they just think it's the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, we have a country where one in four people believe Obama is a Muslim, or a socialist, or a fascist, or all of the above. We rank 29th in the world in science, and nearly half of the people in this country think creationism should be taught in schools. Almost ten percent of the population believes we did not go to the Moon, and about half of those believe this because they are convinced the world is flat. If you randomly stopped 100 people on the street and asked them, "Of these five countries, which is a democracy: France, England, Spain, South Africa, or the United States", more than 60 of them would reply "The United States" (hint... trick question... they're ALL democracies).
Perhaps worse of all, despite repeated failures including our latest Great Recession, nearly half of our people still think that an unregulated free market is the best way to handle just about anything, including their own healthcare.
Tocqueville anticipated all of this, and his warning that only an informed, educated population would be able to stave off collapse has been lost to history. The media, which along with the schools used to be the prime resource for keeping the population informed, has instead turned into a corporate-led propaganda machine feeding pablum to soften the brains of the masses. And schools have been under assault for decades with every variety of "new teaching" method that ends up only dumbing-down the material and sends our kids off to college barely able to read or write, much less use critical thinking or have a real sense of culture and history. Meanwhile, we complain about offshoring of jobs, when many of our children are growing up with barely the capacity to perform the jobs that are being offshored.
I think that 19th Century Frenchman was a pretty smart apple... and I wish they would require at least the first half of Democracy in America to be read, reported upon, discussed, and analyzed deeply in every high school in the country. And while we're at it, make it required reading for incoming politicians and officials. But I fear it's already too late for that.
Lurking in the darkness behind any democratic republic is a monster which feeds on ignorance and apathy. While both exist in any society, when they come together in a large enough segment of the population, they form a seething, synergistic mass which grows like a cancer. How large a segment is needed before a democratic republic collapses, and devolves into a neo-monarchic tyranny, or worse? While there are no hard and fast numbers for that, just remember: nearly one in three Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Birthers. Tenthers. Now we have "Indocrinators". What's the next steaming pile of crazy?
As I write this, schools around the country are sending out "permission slips" for parents to sign to view the Obama webcast, and in some cases are refusing to show it at all. This, because angry and irate parents are innundating schools everywhere with phone calls and emails complaining that their children will be "brainwashed" by President Obama. These people believe that exposure to even a few moments of encouragement to do well in school, take responsibility for their lives, and work hard in their communities is tantamount to socialist indoctrination, Hitler-Youth propaganda, and the beginnings of a Black Panther/SEIU/ACORN takeover of our country.
What's next, permission slips to view old newsreels or films about FDR, or Ike, or Lincoln, or Truman, or Nixon, or Kennedy? Permission slips to read history books that contain anything vaguely "political"? This is where we are as a country today? Have we become so divided as a country that we politicize our own children?
When I was in 3rd grade my class wrote letters to then-President Ford. I guess it was some sort of contest or something, because we all got invited to go meet President Ford and get our class picture taken with him. We took the school bus from Iowa to DC. I really don't remember much about the trip, and the White House was a blur, but here's the kicker:
Every parent, Democrat or Republican, was excited and thrilled that we were going. Everyone in town was thrilled. It made the papers, and people of all stripes cut out the article, putting it in store windows for everyone to see. I heard many years later that some grumbled about Ford's politics, but not a single parent would have let us miss that chance, and thought it was marvelous. My mom, a devoted Democrat, was bubbling with excitement for me. Today? Even the brief appearance by our current President in a classroom webcast brings horror and cries of outrage from ultra-right-wing parents who do not want their children to even LISTEN to a liberal President. THEIR President, liberal or not.
Where is the respect for the OFFICE, if not the man? Did the Bush years so damage our country, that we no longer hold dear the values that have built and sustained this country? Does it go back to the Clinton "scandals" that Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich were so anxious to promote to divide and conquer in the House and Senate? Are these the final fruits of Nixon's corrupt administration? Whatever the cause, or causes, it has led to a disintegration of respect for the Office of President, no matter who occupies it or what their political or ideological views may be.
Those that are doing this are profoundly un-American, even anti-American, in every sense I know of the terms: "At long last, have you no decency?" This is disgusting, shameful, repugnant behavior for anyone who calls themselves a citizen of this country. They have no sense of shared citizenship, shared country, or shared history. They do not believe that liberals (or even those who identify themselves as moderate Republicans and conservatives) should be allowed to exist in "their" country; we're no longer "fellow citizens" to them. To these people, liberals and all those to the left of John McCain (and many include him as well) are interlopers, somehow alien and diabolic, who are out to destroy "their" country. They really, truly see us as the ENEMY; not in some hyperbolic political or ideological way, but as actual enemies of the State. THEIR State. Though they're somewhat tolerant of moderates, to them liberals are a cancer, a blight, a pestilence, an abberation that must be wiped away to restore the moral clarity they claim only for themselves.
For to them, liberals (and moderates: no room for "independents" in the "You're with us, or you're against us" crowd) are a light shining on their hypocrisy, exposing their lies, and contradicting their dystopian worldview: a worldview that justifies endless war as a "righteous cause", that amplifies and rationalizes class distinction and income inequality, that shows how they wrap themselves up in the Constitution with one hand while taking an eraser to the parts they don't like with the other. Liberals are the antithesis of all they hold dear. And what they hold dear is fear, power, greed, money, exclusivity, and hatred. They are Golem, enamored by "My Precious". They see nobody else, care for nobody else, think of nobody else, except for themselves and those few who share their twisted, myopic worldview.
Today, years after invading Iraq, when it has been proven conclusively that Saddam Hussein was not trying to build a nuclear bomb or creating chemical weapons, more than 25% of the American public still believes he was actively building WMDs. Think about that a minute. More than ONE IN FOUR PEOPLE you walk past on the street still hold onto a belief that has been disproven time and again. Why? Because those in their tribe, their authority figures, told them it was true. Anyone else who comes forth with proof otherwise is ignored, because the information doesn't come from their tiny group of trusted sources. More than ONE IN FOUR. And that's just the WMD issue.
George W. Bush said, "They hate us for our freedoms"; he thought he was talking about the terrorists, but he was really talking about his own followers. The Teabaggers, the Birthers, the KKK and NRA crowds (which are increasingly hard to tell apart), the Bachmanns, the Palins, the Becks and Hannitys and Coulters... these people hate, loath, resent, and try to destroy anything they consider "liberal" because they are deeply, deeply fearful of what liberalism represents: trust, love, openness, diversity, equality, compassion, compromise, and acceptance. Liberals represent freedom; they represent repression.
These people are not "conservatives" in any commonly-used sense of the word, and we should stop lumping them in together with true conservatives. If they were, we wouldn't be having these kinds of problems. True conservatives have open minds, use reason and judgement, and are willing to compromise and work with liberals, even when the two vehemently disagree.
No, these people are conservative in the most limited of senses: they are Tribalists. They see only themselves and those in their tight inner circles as being worthy of attention. They dearly love one another, and have true compassion for their neighbor... as long as their neighbor isn't "one of those". They are open and accepting... as long as you agree with them. They are trusting... as long as the person they trust is either a recognized authority figure, or someone whom they have authority over. They believe in equality... as long as it's within their very narrow group of "acceptable" people (remember who wanted "separate but equal" segregation?). They believe in a good education... as long as it doesn't include "dangerous" subjects.
They cannot imagine life outside of their chosen tribe, and if they do, it is by categorizing everyone else as "other" and somehow not quite human, not quite worthy. Friendships outside their tribe are limited and always subject to scrutiny. These people are closed off from the rest of the world, and see no reason to join it. But they certainly expect the rest of the world to conform to their worldviews, and if it doesn't, all hell breaks loose.
So if Tribalists represent something so closed off, so fanatically afraid of "the other", what do you call the rest of us, liberal, "true" conservatives, moderates, non-aligned? For the sake of the rest of this, let's just use one term: Real Americans.
Real Americans encourage understanding of other people and other ways of doing things. They are interested in other cultures and other beliefs. The toleration threshold for differing opinions and worldviews is very high, and though not perfect, Real Americans generally adopt the attitude of live and let live, agree to disagree. They actually go out of their way to demonstrate compassion for their neighbors, no matter what they believe. They try to live by the adage of Samuel Johnson, "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good". Real Americans are big on freedom of education: that learning and knowledge is what keeps us free, and that it expands the mind of man so that new ideas and new innovations can grow and prosper. When the world doesn't hew to the Real American's mindset, the tendency is to at least try to expand that mindset to see other points of view. If the world is unjust, they seek justice through peace and cooperation, not force.
The people screaming at townhalls, glorifying Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, consistently re-electing people like Michelle Bachmann and James Inholfe, and now calling our school districts to rabidly and irrationally complain about the President of the United States of America speaking to children about the IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD EDUCATION are not Real Americans, they are sick. I don't mean that as a perjorative, I mean it literally. From the standpoint of the rest of Real America, they are ill, not in their right minds, rationally impaired, cognitively dissonant, living in a false reality of their own making: crazy, if you will.
Some tribes of the American Indians believe that a crazy person is actually someone to respect, a sign of being inhabited by a spirit. But they don't necessarily venerate them; they understand that spirits can be benevolent, neutral, or malevolent. What we have here is a malevolent spirit, occupying more than ONE IN FOUR people in this country, and though we need to show it respect, it is the same type of respect you show a dangerous, wild animal.
This malevolent spirit feeds on fear, hate, and anger... but mostly fear. Fear of the unknown, of the "other". Instead of wanting to live in Real America, these people all want to live in Mayberry, living Ozzie & Harriett lives, where everyone is a Good Christian who goes to church on Sunday, everyone is white (except for Ol' Joe, the Negro porter down at the railway), everyone gets good grades in school and never kisses on a first date (and God forbid, never see each other naked until the night after the wedding, if then), and everyone gets along (so long as everyone does what they're supposed to do). These are people who saw the first half of the movie Pleasantville and were thrilled to see their ideal life playing out on the big screen, only to stalk angrily out of the theatre after the flowers began to acquire color. Life just isn't "right" unless everything always stays the same, when everything is comfortably black and white. As we heard during the 2008 elections, this is what these crazy people think is "Real America"... a fantasy from TVLand.
And of course, when things aren't "right", when things are changing and upsetting to them, they scream bloody murder. They shout "traitor", "communist", "Nazi", "socialist", and worse. Why? It's certainly not because they understand the dictionary meaning of these words, it is what they represent. They represent "wrong"; they represent radicals, upsetters of the status quo, people and ideas that uproot the very foundation of their beliefs. These are not actual descriptors of liberals or Obama himself; they are epithets of fury cast to label what they cannot describe, what doesn't fit their tidy world of make-believe. They see swarming demons in the mist, and unable to cognitively accept what they are seeing, seek more familiar terms to describe the indescribable. They are quite literally being driven mad by the demons they feel are attacking them from all sides: and they are doubly maddened because they know they are losing.
Which is why we must be ever more vigilant for the wild animals these people will more and more closely resemble in the coming months. As every shred of what they thought was true about the world is shown to be false... that Stepford-like perfection of exclusivity and blind obedience to authority, the rightness of class, racial and income inequality, the belief that they are God's Chosen laying a path for His return... they will become more virulent, more irrational, more strident. And more violent.
Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Coulter, and all the rest make today much, much different than the upheaval and violence of the 60's. Here we have a well-armed, in many cases military-trained group of people who feel marginalized, threatened, and convinced that not only their own government, but their own NEIGHBORS, are a danger to them and their way of life. They will do everything they can to stay in their fantasyland, and they are willing to say and do anything they feel is necessary to maintain their Pleasantville lives.
Add to this a fatalistic radicalism from a bastardized and hardly-recognizable version of Christianity that would have Jesus throwing up His hands in disgust, and you have a recipe for suicide bombers, snipers, "citizen militias" armed with military-grade weaponry, lynchings, vandalism, and worse. Thanks to extreme-right-wing talk radio and Fox, we have our own al-Queda, whipped into a frenzy of hatred and unremitting anger. And this time, they are not "foreigners" with dark skin and funny accents. They are our neighbors, and they see US as targets.
This, my fellow Real Americans, is what we are dealing with now. And this will go soon from words, to actions. At any time, and I fear it will be sooner rather than later. What will we do to protect ourselves, our families, and the country (the Real one, not their dystopian fantasy one) we love?
In the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, as the Genesis planet was collapsing all around them, Kirk and the Klingon commander were locked in a deadly struggle. The planet was falling apart, boiling lava spewed everywhere, and for a moment, the Klingon slipped and fell off the edge of a precipice, grabbing on with one hand. Kirk, feeling compassion for his enemy, reached out to try to pull him back up. Instead, the Klingon grabbed Kirk, and began to pull him over the edge with him. Realizing that the Klingon would rather kill them both than see Kirk live, Kirk finally makes his decision: he sits back, raises his boot, and repeatedly kicks the Klingon in the face until he loses his grip and falls into the lava below.
With each kick, Kirk says, "I"...(kick)..."have had ENOUGH"...(kick)..."of YOU!!!"...(kick, scream, toasted Klingon)
With this latest demonstration of ultra-right-wing crazy, I am there. I am done trying to reason or cajole these people. I am past trying to ignore their tantrums. I am finished trying to convince them with facts or subtle argument. I know that nothing I say, not even the evidence of their own eyes and ears, will change their un-American behavior. These are Klingons. I am Kirk. I am ready to say to these people:
"I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!!!"
We must remember, these people are still our fellow citizens, but this simply must stop. Our stability as a nation depends on it. And so, with as much love and compassion as you can muster:
When Real Americans go into battle on Fox against a Malkin or a Hannity, look them in the eye and say, "I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!!!"
When Real Americans confront right-wingers at rallys, townhalls, and protests, we must loudly proclaim, "I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!!!"
When Real Americans see "Servants of God" use the pulpit to spread hate and lies, denounce their hypocrisy with, "I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!!!"
When Real Americans hear their elected leaders repeat talking points from hate-radio and Fox to spread fear and confusion, call them out with, "I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!!!"
When Real Americans are faced with their neighbors ranting in church, at work, at sporting events, at the grocery store, and in our schools, speak out, "I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!!!"
And perhaps hardest of all... when Real Americans sit down to eat with their families, or go out with their friends, and they begin spewing the lies, hypocrisies, and hate, we must screw up our courage and lovingly but firmly tell them, "I. HAVE. HAD. ENOUGH. OF. YOU!!!"
Are you there? Are you Kirk too? Are you ready to say ENOUGH!?!?!?
(revised and edited from original... thanks for the suggestions, WildRocket!)