Protesters outside Senator Chuck Schumer’s Syracuse, New York, office. Todd Sadler is J.P. Morgan and Jack Gilroy is behind the Schumer poster. [Source: Photo courtesy of John Amidon]

The United Nations reports that we now have the highest number of violent conflicts since World War II. Against that backdrop, we have little anti-war action world-wide.

Professor Joan Roelofs’ eye-opening book The Trillion Dollar Silencer makes clear the reasons why there is so little pushback from people in the United States, the leading nation of arms-making and war-making. She makes a clear case that people are afraid to speak out because the merchants of death have become ubiquitous—every element of our society is beholden to the arms makers. 


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An Earth Day Weekend celebration to mock the clever fools of the war machine produced a lot of grim fun in Syracuse, New York, on Friday, April 21st. A coalition of peace groups, including Upstate Drone Action, Veterans for Peace, Peace Action, UpState PaxChristi and Ithaca Catholic Worker, had already issued subpoenas to six merchants of death and their enablers in the Syracuse community to testify at the November 2023 Merchants of Death Tribunal.  

Now it was time to hear from the Syracuse area war-enablers themselves.

Speaking outside the federal building offices of Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a stand-in for Schumer, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, said: “Just imagine if we followed JFK’s call for disarmament and friendly relations with the Russians 60 years ago this June? We wouldn’t be the leaders we are now in weapons production and be able to try to kick ass around the world. Sure, we usually get our own asses kicked but, hey, a lot of people get rich in the process—it’s a capitalist country, no?

I love all of you and I have you in my thoughts and prayers when I vote for every weapons system and every war that keeps you safe.

Under my watch as leader of the U.S. Senate, only 11 senators voted against this year’s trillion-dollar budget. That’s leadership, right folks? I know how pleased you are with my annual vote to give more money to the merchants of death, the arms-makers who keep us free.”

Jack Gilroy, a stand-in for Chuck Schumer gives mock speech. [Source: Photo courtesy of John Amidon]

Behind Schumer was a sign: “Chuck Schumer Takes More $$ from the Merchants of Death Than Any Other U.S. Politician.” 

[Source: Photo courtesy of John Amidon]

Fat Cats came forward to put money in Senator Schumer’s deep pockets.

[Source: Photo Courtesy of Vera Scroggins]
[Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

“Thank you boys, keep it coming,” says Chuck.

“Don’t worry about how much we piss away on the military, it’s a measly 54% of our annual discretionary budget. Some of my aides tell me that people are having trouble getting food stamps—I say let those welfare queens eat cake.

Our national needs are not food stamps and nutrition. We need Hellfire missiles and Paveway bombs. Forget about high rents and housing, we need to upgrade our nuclear weapons in case we need to blow the world up into smithereens to save us from enemies. 

We will spend a trillion dollars to upgrade our nuclear weapons. Should we instead spend this money for human needs like physical and mental health care for all Americans and poor petiole of the world? 

Are you crazy? 

All those stats about us being on the lowest rung among industrial nations for child care in the world and dead last for health care—you know the usual left-wing guano that never admits to how my support for the arms industry is our best health care insurance for staying alive. 

As the leader of the most powerful club in the world, the U.S. Senate, I say we must allow NATO to continue to provoke the Russians as we have done for decades. Screw negotiations, we can fight to the last Ukrainian.”

Then, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (stand-in), in a glamorous looking dress, brushed aside her blond hair and said, “I vote with my senior Senator from New York for every annual military budget. Chuck is my alter ego and has helped me decide what to vote for—frivolous human needs aren’t as sexy as real macho needs. I admire macho men and Chuck is my guy. My other macho man is Jonnie, my Brit husband whose family damn near owned British Aeronautical Engineering BAE—one of the top ten arms producers in the world. What a guy, my Johnnie, and oh gosh—the generosity of his BAE family is amazing. They gave me a half million dollars to become senator of New York. I think of them every year when I vote for more merchant-of-death needs. Jonnie and his family made a killing in BAE stock; the least I can do is to have a little payback.

I’m so thrilled that we are standing up to those Chinese. I studied in China and know how untrustworthy they are versus our openness, our little concern for secrets and our honesty and refusal to resort to trickery or terror. We need those additional bases near China since we only have about 800 bases around the world. The Chinese like to say it is American hegemony but I feel we need to get into a good war with China. We haven’t kicked their butts since the Boxer Rebellion. It’s about time to teach them  a lesson about the real dominant leader in the world. It’s put up or shut up. We’re not stopping our advances toward the Asian continent—how about our new drone bases in the Pacific? Cool! And our proud Marines are preparing for ground fighting in mainland China. What a great and powerful nation we are!”

Stand-in for Kirsten Gillibrand gives mock speech. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Fat Cats in the audience—wearing black suits, top hats, with one hand waving cigars and the other hand with a fist full of money—agreed and rushed to stuff cash into Senator Schumer’s deep pockets.

Colonel Glorious Guano (stand-in), Commander of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard told the audience: “We sit on our asses as we decide who lives and dies in faraway places like our former target Afghanistan. We’re the United States Chair Force.

We miss finding targets in Afghanistan but, thankfully, we have a President who has given us new opportunities to hone our killing skills with his after-Afghanistan policy, called ‘Beyond the Horizon,’ keeping us busy right here in Syracuse doing assassinations without worrying about church leaders or other ‘moralists’ interfering with our ability to keep our boys and girls boots’ off the ground.

As a woman, I’m proud to be able to do as men do—find the enemy, the ‘suspected’ (holds fingers up in air quotes) terrorists on camera, and get to know them well. Sometimes even seeing their wives hanging clothes on outdoor lines and children playing in the garden.

It’s our job to decide when to pull the trigger. We do what we can to find our target and take him out. Do we sometimes make mistakes and have too many ‘collateral killings’? DUH! Is anybody perfect? Shit happens!  You gotta break an egg to make an omelet. We develop tough skins. 

My crew is all RHINOS. 

They’re tough.” 

Colonel Glorious Guano (stand-in), Commander of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Colonel Glorious Guano continued:

“To my women crew, I just remind them: You’ve come a long way Baby, enjoy the ride on the seat of your pants. 

I hear you civilian wusses saying ‘Moral Injury.’ Moral Injury my skinny ass— it’s all about being tough enough to withstand any criticism and crocodile tears from wimps like all of you here today. We’re not responsible for an AI’s mistake. Not our fault, dude.

Upstate New York is the home of the U.S. National Women’s Rights Museum. It’s just a short drive over to Seneca Falls. Someday, our killer drone women pilots will be recognized there with our U.S. Air Force Motto: Aim High-Fly-Fight—WIN.

No thanks necessary for inviting me today—you go low [thumbs down], the U.S. Chair Force aims high [points up with middle finger to the cameras and crowd—giving them the finger]. Here’s my half peace sign to y’all [middle finger up].”

Diane Sare gave a brilliant speech focused on the U.S. intelligence agencies and the political ramifications of draconian laws being promoted to silence all dissent in the United States. 

Diane Sare speaking at event. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Medea Benjamin, introduced as the “Rock Star of the Peace Movement in the United States,” had fun funneling a huge fist full of cash taken from the U.S. military budget and distributed to the two Senators with orders to put the cash where needed—health care, child care, education, environment, infrastructure and other basic human needs.

A group of people holding signs

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Medea Benjamin with the mike. The rock star of the antiwar movement. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Diane Sare began playing “We’re in the Money” on her trombone, as people walked two-by-two to a JP Morgan Chase Bank branch two blocks away. JP Morgan (Todd Sadler) a six-foot, two-inch slim JP with top hat, was issued a subpoena to testify at the November 10-13 Merchants of Death Tribunal. He brushed it off as the business of his CEO, Jamie Dimon. The subpoena was delivered to the bank manager.

Diane Sare playing her trombone as anti-war activists march into town. [Source: Photo courtesy of Michelle Erin]

As the parade moved on to the Diocese of Syracuse headquarters about five blocks away, Diane Sare let everyone in the streets know our presence as she loudly proclaimed “When the Saints Go Marching In” on her trombone. Walking behind her was Pope Francis and the Bishop of Syracuse (stand-ins). 

On the steps of the chancery, the Pope congratulated Bishop Lucia of Syracuse for his persistence in petitioning the Vatican to apologize for the Doctrine of Discovery, the so-called legal claim of the Roman Catholic Church to lands “discovered” over 500 years ago. Pope Francis praised Bishop Lucia for leading the charge to have the Roman Catholic Church apologize for its crimes against aboriginal people everywhere.

Pope Francis and the Bishop of Syracuse. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Then, Pope Francis wagged a finger at the Bishop for his refusal to speak out in opposition to the 174th Attack Wing assassination base just hiking distance from where they were standing. The Bishop (Fr. Bernard Survil) responded, “but your holiness, you must know that we need to keep our young boots off the ground in foreign places and, besides, a lot of Catholics work up at Hancock Air Base.”

Pope Francis admonished Bishop Lucia for his silence, quoting the American Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent over things that really matter”) and asked if the Bishop encouraged his priests and deacons to teach love and compassion. “How many of your priests teach what Jesus taught—do not do violence but to love all people even those you consider enemies?” 

Pope Francis did not get clear responses from Bishop Lucia on Laudato Si, his encyclical on caring for our common home, Mother Earth. The Bishop said he has been doing energy audits since 2015. The Pope urged the Bishop to not waste time. “What specifically should we do?” asked the Bishop.

Pope Francis urged Bishop Lucia to have each parish do solar and wind energy, insulate his hundreds of churches and other buildings and install heat pumps to find alternatives to fossil fuels.

The session ended with a trombone rendition of “Dona Nobis Pacem”—Give Us Peace.

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