Friday, December 17, 2010


Approximately 75 people braved the freezing temperatures on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 16 to rally against the war in Afghanistan. They gathered on Military Island, the small traffic island housing the Times Square recruiting station (now laughably tagged the Army Career Center) as a sympathy rally for the one held in D.C. earlier that day at the White House, during which 135 people were arrested.

In Times Square, 11 stalwarts blocked a stretch of Broadway for about 10 minutes before they were handcuffed and hauled off by the New York City police to a nearby jail.

The Big Apple event was populated by many Veterans for Peace and lots of peace grannies from the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies and
Grandmothers Against the War. Two of the grandmothers were in their 90's but stood for more than an hour in the cold throughout the action. There was a contingent of Catholic Workers, War Resister Leaguers, the Green Party, and other anti-war groups, also.

After the Raging Grannies sang a few of their peace songs, names of New York State war dead in Afghanistan were read. Then, leaders in the peace movement spoke, including Bill Gilson, Vice President of local chapter 34 of Veterans for Peace; Carmen Trotta of the Catholic Workers; Barbara Harris, chair of the Counter Recruitment Committee of the Granny Peace Brigade; Tom Syracuse of the Green Party, and Alicia Godberg, Executive Director of Peace Action New York State.

And then came the civil resistance, at exactly 6 p.m. As the Times Square crowds swarmed around, the bright lights sparkled and flashed, 11 hardy souls fanned out across Broadway at the intersection with 44th St. and refused to move. The other rally participants shouted "Peace Now," "Stop the War," "Arrest Bush and Cheney, not these Patriots," as they observed their comrades loaded into the paddy wagons.

The event was organized by one of the arrestees, Bill Steyert, a Vietnam war vet with the Vets for Peace, who said: "I think it was a travesty that the war in Afghanistan wasn't even brought up as an issue during the recent mid-term elections. This tragic war jeopardizes not only the lives of American troops but directly affects our economy, which is in such dire shape because money spent on war is urgently needed to create jobs at home. This rally showed that those of us who were there have not forgotten what's going on in Afghanistan in our name."

It is hoped that the New York protest along with the big one in Washington served as a wake-up call to the American people about the tragedy of this hopeless and destructive war. Wake up, America!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


PRES. P: Good morning, everyone. Sorry I'm took me a little longer than usual to carve up the moose I slaughtered yesterday. May I hear from each of you as to what programs you've implemented? Let's begin with the Secretary of our new Department of Chastity, Christine O'Donnell.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Madame President. With the help of my Assistant Secretary of Chastity, Bristol Palin, I'm launching policies in my Department that I think will be of great benefit to our constituents. First, of course, I've closed all abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood offices. Instead, I've created a new program, which I call the No Sex Is Good Sex Project. There, we will counsel all young people and all single people that they may not engage in sex in any form. If we catch them in the act, they'll be fined and, if they commit repeated offenses, they'll be imprisoned. I've also had the Bureau of Printing print 50 million posters to be posted in all public schools, youth clubs, etc., that say "KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF YOUR SEX ORGANS -- MASTURBATION IS PUNISHABLE!" We're developing a tracking system so that we're able to keep tabs on people in their bedrooms and bathrooms in order to catch them in the act.

PRES. P: Excellent, Secretary O'Donnell. Those measures should go a long way toward keeping people on the moral path we decide they should follow. Now, let's move on to the Department of Defense. What have you got to report, Secretary McCain?

MCCAIN: We're implementing multiple surges, Madame President. Wherever we are engaged in battle, we will do a surge forthwith. Surge! Surge! Surge! That's the ticket. Let the anti-war yellow bellies scream their heads off, we're going to pour troops into all the hot spots in the world. That's how we'll spread cramming it down their throats.

PRES. P: Have you figured out where to get all those extra troops, Secretary McCain?

MCCAIN: Absolutely. We've re-instituted the draft, effective immediately. No deferments for anybody other than the blind, the deaf and amputees. Further, Ma'am, I've proposed an order for the military to invade Iraq again. I never bought that story that there were no weapons of mass destruction. We'll search every home in Iraq until we find them. As for Afghanistan, I've removed all time lines, and we're beefing up the drones and night raids. Our invasions of Iran and Pakistan are going well, and we're mobilizing for an invasion of Mexico. That ought to solve the immigration problem!

And, another thing. I've made sure the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy remains firmly in place. In fact, I've improved it. People can be discharged not only for being openly gay, but for being artists, musicians, and Liberals. We don't want any weepy oddballs in our armed forces.

PRES. P: Excellent work, John. Michele Bachmann, now that you're Secretary of Health and Welfare, please tell us what policies you're pursuing in your new assignment.

BACHMANN: That's easy, sir...I mean, Ma'am. We've ended Medicare and we're phasing out Social Security. Other improvements we've instituted are the reduction of welfare so that the only people who are eligible are unemployed single parents with diagnosed terminal diseases and at least six children.

PRES. P: Very good. You might also want to think about decreasing payments to orphans over the age of 8. And now, let's hear from the Secretary of State. Mr. Beck?

BECK: The most important thing is to get all the oil we can. That means that we've got to take control of all the oil-producing nations, including Russia. Therefore, we are beginning the process of reinstating the Cold War and rev-ing up the arms race so drastically that the Soviets will have to capitulate and give us their most valuable resource. We've eliminated most of our diplomatic corps, also, Madame President, realizing that negotiation gets us nowhere. Force is the tool we will always use to secure what we want. America will now not only dominate the world, we will enslave it to serve our needs. Oh, yes, we're also bailing out of the U.N. and demanding that they leave our shores by the end of the year. Real estate is an extremely precious commodity in New York City, and we can use their buildings and land.

PRES. P: I couldn't agree more. Mr. Boehner, will you give us your progress report for the Treasury Department?

BOEHNER: Certainly, Madame President. I'm happy to report that we've been instrumental in getting the House and Senate to pass a permanent tax cuts bill. Those earning over $250,000 annually will henceforth pay only one percent of their taxable income to the government. With all the jobs that will trickle down as a result of this policy, the middle and lower classes should be able easily to pay their 40% of gross income. But, that's not all. Now that deregulation is permanently installed, we are free to outsource most office and computer jobs to India and other countries, vastly lowering personnel costs and at the same time driving profits way up. We're not sure these new policies will balance out so that we can reduce the national debt, but, oh, well, we'll let future administrations worry about that.

PRES. P: Thank you, everybody. You're all doing a real bang-up job. I think that's enough for today. I have to go practice now at the rifle range. Got to keep my trigger finger in shape. Those of you who didn't get to make reports today, please send them to my Chief of Staff, my husband, Todd. Oh, one more note. I've asked Vice President Sharon Angell to be ready to take over the Presidency when I retire six months from now. I think I can serve America best out of office traveling around signing books, giving speeches, doing reality shows for big fees. I have to support my family in style, don't y'know.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


My group, New York City's Grandmothers Against the War, recently "adopted" the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, to provide moral and material support for their efforts to end our war in their homeland. The youngsters, who live in a mountain village 100 miles NW of Kabal, have accomplished miracles of peace-building in their community and around the world. They have just sent a letter to world leaders, which I am reproducing below, begging, "Stop your night raids," and inviting participation in a 24-hour Skype conference Dec. 18-19, to be called a Global Day of Listening, with as many people as can be inspired to participate. Among those who have already signed on are retired army Col. Ann Wright, Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative NonViolence, Cindy Sheehan, Mark Johnson of Fellowship for Reconciliation, a number of high school peace classes, a group of our grannies, tentatively called Grannies in Support of Afghan Peace Youths, and many others. Details about how to participate are at the end of their letter. Here is their plea:


Dear Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton, Gen. Petraeus, Mr. Rasmussen, and all our world leaders:

We are Afghans and we ask the world to listen. Like yourselves, we couldn’t live without the love of our family and friends. We were hurt by your criticism of Mr Karzai for voicing the people’s anguished pleas, “Stop your night raids.”

Please, stop your night raids.

If you could listen, you would have heard 29 NGOs in Afghanistan describe how we now have “Nowhere to Turn”.

If you could listen, you would also have heard Mr Karzai and the 29 NGOs express concern over your Afghan Local Police plan; the world will henceforth watch our militia killing the people, your people and our people, with your weapons and your money.

If you could listen, you would have heard the sound of your drones crystallizing the nights of hatred among the Afghan, Pakistani and global masses.

Instead, we hear your determination to ‘awe, shock and firepower’ us with Abrams tanks. We hear distant excitement over your new smart XM25 toy, a weapon you proudly proclaim will leave us with ‘nowhere to hide’.

Nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide.

Your actions have unfortunately dimmed our hopes that we the people could turn to you. Along with our Afghan war-makers, you are making the people cry. Yet, we understand. You are in the same trap we’re in, in a corrupt, militarized mania.

Love is how we’re asking for peace, a love that listens, and reconciles.

And so, we invite you to listen to the people of Afghanistan and to world public opinion on the Global Day of Listening to Afghans, to be internet-broadcast from Kabul this December.

It is time to listen broadly and deeply to both local and overseas Afghan civil groups and the numerous alternative solutions they have proposed for building a better socio-political, economic and religious/ideological future for Afghanistan.

We have shared the pain of our American friends who lost loved ones on September 11, by speaking with and listening to them. Though, if the world could listen like these American friends did, the world would know that few Afghans have even heard about September 11 and that no Afghans were among the 19 hijackers. The world would have heard our yearnings as we were punished over the past 9 years.

If the world could listen, they would know how much we detest the violence of the Taliban, our warlords, any warlord, or any bullet-digging finger-trophy troops.

And now, for at least another four more years, we will grieve over souls who you are unwilling to ‘count’ and we are unwilling to lose. It is extra painful to us and to your troops because clearly, there are non-violent and just alternatives.

We understand the pain of financial hardships but try telling an Afghan mother about to lose her child or a soldier about to take his life that the only way their illiterate and angry voices can ruffle the posh feathers of our world leaders is when it disturbs not their human or truth deficit, but their trillion dollar economic deficits. How do we explain that without denuding ourselves of human love and dignity?

What more can we say? How else can we and our loved ones survive? How can we survive with hearts panicking in disappointment while perpetually fleeing and facing a ’total’ global war, a war that wouldn’t be questioned even in the crude face of a thousand leaks?

We would survive in poverty, we may survive in hunger, but how can we survive without the hope that Man is capable of something better?

We sincerely wish you the best in your lives.

We are Afghans and we ask the world to listen.

سلامت باشین!

Salamat bAsheen!

Be at peace!

Meekly with respect,

The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Global Day of Listening to Afghans
19th December 2010

Why not listen? Why not love?

To share the pain of Afghans and people in conflict all over the world, please join us in Afghanistan by taking a few minutes on the 18th & 19th of December 2010 to Skype call us or call us directly, from wherever you are

Email youthpeacevolunteers@gmail

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Representatives of the National Gray Panthers went to Capitol Hill in November to present their position regarding Social Security. They spoke with members of the Deficit Commission and presented their counter proposals against anticipated recommendations by the Commission to cut Social Security benefits.

Susan Murany, Executive Director of the national Gray Panthers, told the Commission: "For 75 years, Social Security has remained a promise of economic protection and stability for the Americans who have paid into this program. As we now celebrate three-quarters of a century of accomplishments for this program, we must also do our part to ensure that Social Security is not weakened by those who wish to balance bailouts on the backs of Americans."


Social Security is America's most successful anti-poverty program and remains the most fiscally responsible part of our federal budget. In fact, recent polls from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare indicate that 85% of adult Americans are opposed to cuts to Social Security to decrease the deficit. However, while many Americans remain united on this issue, Social Security continues to face threats from increased polarization in Congress and those with anti-entitlement agendas.

The 2010 Social Security Trustees report shows that Social Security is not facing an immediate threat. The surplus within the Social Security trust fund is estimated to grow to $4.3 trillion by 2023 and remain able to pay benefits in full through 2037, and 76% of benefits thereafter. Yet, the opposition continues to project "doomsday" crisis reports and myths to the American public in their efforts to garner support for cuts to the Social Security program.

Proponents of these cuts, such as House Republican Leader Joe Boehner, would rather cut Social Security in order to pay for the war in Afghanistan. Outrageously, Boehner stated that, "Ensuring there's enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country's entitlement system." Boehner also calls for increasing the Social Security eligibility age. However, a raise in the Social Security eligibility age would result in about a 20% benefit cut for recipients, hurting lower income beneficiaries working in manual labor and those with shorter life expectancy the most.

While it is evident that our government must make tough decisions to revive our down-turned economy, it is important to remember that cuts to Social Security would not only hurt seniors, but will also detrimentally affect people with disabilities, people who are unemployed, and women and children of deceased spouses/parents. Cuts to this program stand to unfairly burden the most vulnerable populations of Americans. While Former Senator Alan Simpson, the Co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, declares that the “Gray Panthers [...] don’t care a whit about their grandchildren…", we adamantly refute his comment and we vow to continue working to ensure that Social Security remains there for them in their future.


Gray Panthers oppose any efforts to cut benefits! Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of Social Security recipients, especially those most dependent on its benefits, here are some of the proposals we support:

- Eliminate the annual cap on taxable income and raise that cap so that wealthier people are paying more to Social Security. Under current law, wages over a certain yearly total ($106,800 in 2010) are exempted from Social Security payroll taxes. This means that a worker earning $106,800 a year pays the same amount of FICA taxes as a CEO who makes millions of dollars a year.

- Let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. The revenues gained from these expirations are far more than enough to fill current state budget deficits for the next ten years while still leaving an additional $2.76 trillion dollars left over to promote further economic recovery. There is no place for tax cuts in a deficit reduction proposal as were suggested by the Chairmen of the Deficit committee last week!

- End the wars. Funds saved from Social Security should not be used to pay for wars; rather, we should cut funds for wars to finance Social Security. The Gray Panthers support the Chairmen’s proposed cuts to Defense spending, but more cuts can and should be made!

- Extend outreach and enrollment. Gray Panthers believes that not only should Social Security be kept intact, but that outreach should be increased and enrollment expanded to get a greater number of older adults in poverty into the program.

The retirement age increase proposed by the Commission is just a particularly cruel way of cutting benefits. The age at which the elderly can retire on full Social Security benefits is already increasing to 67 by 2027. The chairmen’s plan would “index” the retirement age to increase in longevity, meaning it would hit 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075.

New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman has pointed out,, that “the people who really depend on Social Security, those in the bottom half of the distribution, aren’t living much longer. So you’re going to tell janitors to work until they’re 70because lawyers are living longer than ever."

Is this how a humane society proposes to care for its less fortunate? Not if the Gray Panthers have anything to say about it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


A remarkable Skype conference was held Tuesday, Nov. 9, at which three New York City peace grannies and a California high school peace class spoke at length with seven members of the Afghan Youth Peace Conference (AYPC) in a mutual desire to end the war in Afghanistan. The conference meant so much to the Afghan kids that they came from distant valleys and stayed overnight in a mud-house in order to participate.

For over an hour, the grannies, the U.S. students and Afghan youthful peacemakers all exchanged ideas and expressions of solidarity and affection in what they hope will be a step toward ending the unjustified hostilities in that besieged country. The seven Afghan kids spoke over and over of their desire for Americans to recognize that they are human beings just like us; they spoke of the losses they have suffered because of the war and their fervent wish for it to end. "Tell your government to stop bombing and killing our people," pleaded one of the boys.

The grandmothers were extremely impressed with the intelligence and grasp of issues demonstrated by the youngsters. Two of the grannies, Miriam Poser and Barbara Walker, told the kids they would like to visit them in their small village in the Bamiyam province 100 miles NW of Kabul, and are now making plans to go in April of 2011 "with bags of healthy treats and all kinds of school supplies."

A member of New York City's Grandmothers Against the War conceived the idea of "adopting" the Afghan youths after reading a stirring article on an online blog written by members of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VFCN) who had spent a week with them.

She contacted as many peace associates as she could find and got an overwhelmingly positive response of support from people and groups as diverse as the Atlanta (GA) Grandmothers for Peace and the New York City chapter of the Gray Panthers, plus many individuals such as Gold Star Families activist Dede Miller and her sister, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan; Lorraine Krofchok, President of Grandmothers for Peace International; Barbara Harris of the Granny Peace Brigade, and so many more.

Dede Miller suggested organizing for a Peace Summit through Skype between the Afghan kids and U.S. high school peace groups and arranged for the peace club of Tracy High School in Cerritos, led by teacher and Military Families Speak Out member, Pat Alviso, to join in the dialogue.

One Afghan kid made the startling statement, "Please tell them (the U.S. government) to stop sending money to our country" in answer to a California student's question, "What should our governments do to bring about peace?" The Afghan boy explained that he had heard of widespread corruption and the result that money never reaches its target, the people in need, but instead is gobbled up by the powerful and rich.

He urged instead that we reach out with their message of peace. The children never asked for any material aid, partly because they are skeptical about their postal service, but mostly out of the purity and urgency of their desire to stop the conflict raging around them. The grandmothers promised to reach out in every way possible, and one of the California students said "We'll do our best to open the eyes of America."

Their admirable leader, Hakim, a young doctor from Singapore who has been mentoring the Afghan group for several years and acted as interpreter for the Skype meeting, stated that they don't believe either government is listening to the people's voices and we must change that. We grannies and our Tracy High School compatriots ardently hope that we can in some small measure be an effective part of that change.

As one boy said, quoting an Afghan proverb, "Mountains can't reach mountains, but man can reach man."

(If any of you reading this article are interested in lending your support to this project, even if only to endorse it, please contact me at

Monday, November 1, 2010


Glenn Beck recently attacked the National Gray Panthers in his Fox TV broadcast Sept. 28, implying they, along with other organizations supporting the One Nation Working Together March in Washington DC on Oct. 2, were "dangerous revolutionaries, communists, and socialists." The evidence he offered for this off-the-wall and completely false characterization of the Panthers was the their slogan, "People Over Profits." He sneeringly repeated it twice as if it were an evil phrase akin to someone saying, for instance, "Let's invade Canada."

Nasty as this was intended to be, the Panthers really are grateful to Mr. Beck for stressing (though contemptuously) a vision they are so proud of. Yes, they put people before profits. They fight for more affordable health care, which would cut into the obscene profits of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. They fight to end the catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would reduce the profits of the arms manufacturers and potential profits of the oil companies while keeping people alive. They fight to keep Social Security from being privatized, thereby slashing the profits Wall Street would hope to make at people's expense. These are just a few of the many battles the Panthers wage on behalf of citizens young and old.

Watching Beck's broadcast was a truly bizarre experience. To attempt to prove his contention that the slogan, "People Over Profits," was indicative of a Communist stance, he dragged out before the camera a tiny pamphlet dating back to 1981 which also stated the phrase, and which was printed by the U.S. Communist Party. One wonders how many thousands of times that phrase has been written and shouted over the years by thousands of people representing many different organizations -- middle-of-the-road groups, very likely, or even occasionally, dare it be said, conservative ones?

Beck's broadcast was crazy in other respects, too -- no surprise, of course. He followed his diatribe against the Gray Panthers by disdainfully emphasizing the word ALL in their mission statement, "Working for social and economic justice and peace for ALL people," implying that justice and peace should only be an option for some. Who would Glenn Beck leave out? This is indeed a dangerous man!

Despite poisonous right-wing fanatics like Glenn Beck, however, the Panthers are resolute in their dedication to the very principles he disparages, "working to create a society that puts the needs of people over profit, responsibility over power and democracy over institutions."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Miracle Operation That Enabled Me to Become an Anti-war Activist

When I was 72 years old, I felt like 100. Now that I am 79, I feel like 35 (well, most of the time). What caused this turnaround? The scuttling of an arthritic old left hip and its replacement with one made of cobalt chrome and polyethelene.

I had been suffering for more than a year with lots of pain which gradually immobilized me to the point where I couldn't walk more than a quarter of a block without having to sit down. A normally active person, this was, to put it conservatively, a decided nuisance. I visited the eminent New York orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Phillip Bauman, who informed me that I would ultimately require the replacement surgery, but that it was up to me to decide when. Being an inveterate coward, I kept postponing it even long after the miserable old bone had become intensely painful to keep in my body. Finally, the discomfort and inconvenience became great enough to overcome my bounteous lack of courage, and I scheduled the surgery.

Dr. Bauman is right out of Central Casting. He is slim and handsome with just enough gray hair peppered among its darker neighbors to add a big dose of distinction. He is soft-spoken, sympathetic and reassuring. His stellar reputation helped a great deal to give me the guts to undertake the cure. I knew he had operated successfully on many of our great ballet dancers, and I saw that he had been chosen for many years as one of New York Magazine's 100 Best Doctors in New York. How could I go wrong?

Well, I couldn't. The surgery was relatively untraumatic, and I recovered quickly with little pain. In five or six weeks I was walking without a cane and without discomfort. From a crippled old woman, I had materialized into an active young one again. I asked myself, as does practically every hip replacement veteran who postpones surgery beyond a reasonable time, "Why on earth didn't I do this sooner and spare myself all that agony?"

Within a year of my operation, on March 20, 2003, the United States conducted its immoral and unjustified Shock and Awe assault on Baghdad. Like so many other right-minded people, I marched in protests prior to the actual attack -- MARCHED, mind you, inconceivable without my new hip -- and then, once the war was an awful reality, became a full-time anti-war advocate.

A few months after we invaded Iraq, I saw a photograph in TIME Magazine of a 14-year-old boy, Ali, who had lost his arms, was hideously burned all over his torso, and, as if that weren't enough torment for a child to endure, lost his entire nuclear family -- his parents and many siblings. These tragedies were caused, to our eternal shame, by OUR bombs.

I thought, "I have to DO something." And, I did. I started a group, Grandmothers Against the War, and initiated a rally at the Eleanor Roosevelt Statue in Manhattan's Riverside Park. Next, I began a vigil on Fifth Avenue in front of Rockefeller Center on a freezing January day in 2004, which continues every Wednesday to this day. It began with just two of us and now has escalated to an average of 15-20 people. I could never have possibly even considered such an action prior to my surgery. There is just no way I could have stood on my feet for an hour and done the walking necessary to get to and from the vigil site.

Our next big event was the arrest of 18 of us grandmothers, our jailing and subsequent six-day trial in criminal court for attempting to enlist in the military at the Times Square recruiting center in order to replace the young people in harm's way so they'd have the opportunity to live long lives as we had. We were arrested because, denied entrance to the recruiting station, we all sat down on the concrete ground and refused to move, knowing we were within our Constitutional rights to peacefully dissent. Even with my artificial hip, getting down on the ground was a laborious effort. Getting up was even more problematic. I looked like an ungainly elephant as I untangled myself from the ground and clumsily pulled myself up. But, because of my faux new hip, I did it! Sitting in jail later for five hours on a hard wooden bench would have been unthinkable, also, with my old diseased hip. I tell you, that surgery really opened up new vistas in my life! After all, who wouldn't want the fascinating experience of being incarcerated in a prison cell? Incidentally, we were acquitted of all charges. The whole episode created quite a media stir.

I was able to participate in many activities of the group we now called the Granny Peace Brigade -- song-and-dance performances by us grannies in shows we created; a trip to Berlin to give speeches to peace groups; a ten-day trek from New York to Washington DC with stops along the way at various cities and towns; marches across the Brooklyn Bridge, and many other endeavors requiring LEGS and, therefore, HIPS. By the grace of the good Doctor Bauman, I was able to do all this.

I wasn't the only granny in my group to have a hip replacement. Three others had them, and one, Beverly Rice, had a double hip replacement in one surgery. All recovered well and have marched, protested, stood for long hours, and gone to jail without any physical limitation whatsoever.

There are now 500,000 hip replacement surgeries performed in a year, a huge increase since 1990, when there were 119,000. In Dr. Bauman's vast experience, for instance, he has performed well over 1,000 of such operations. Though it has been reported recently that certain implants have been found to be faulty and are being recalled, Dr. Bauman fortunately never used any of the deficient ones. The increase in such miracle surgeries is attributable, of course, to the fact that so many people are living longer. And, the Baby Boomers, now entering their 50's and 60's, are requiring this type of surgery in large numbers, perhaps because of the exercise and fitness craze indulged in by that generation which wears out joints more rapidly than previous generations with their less physically active life styles. And, even people of advanced ages can have their hips replaced. Dr. Bauman did so recently on an 85-year-old person.

Many complain about the failures of medicine, and its pitfalls. Yes, it is deplorable that there still is no cure for cancer, for Alzheimer's, for ALS, and a slew of other awful diseases. Yes, it is terrible that so many deaths occur in hospitals because of mistakes in medications, and rampant staph infections.

But, modern medicine has made stupendous strides forward, too. Were it not for this advance in orthopedic surgery, I would now be living in a wheelchair, loaded up with painkillers and anti-inflammatories, cranky from pain and restless inactivity. The fact is, Dr. Bauman gave me back my life. In fact, he enabled me to start a new life I had never contemplated. I am able to do what I consider my patriotic duty and go out on the streets to oppose the misguided foreign policies of my government. At this stage of my life, that feels damned good.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


President Obama often expressed during his campaign that if he became President he wanted we, the people, to let him know when we thought he needed a reality check. Accordingly, New York City's Granny Peace Brigade has been out on the City's streets lately conducting a survey of citizens as to how they want their tax dollars spent. I think their results would surprise him and would perhaps motivate Mr. Obama to make some serious adjustments to the federal budget.

The grannies have been conducting their survey with the aid of a unique gadget named Ms. Gizmo, consisting of eight tubes representing eight major budget items. They are marked Arts and Culture; Education; Environment and Clean Energy; Health Care; Housing; Jobs; Military; and Transportation. The women give each person participating twenty pennies which they are then invited to put into the tubes of their choice. At the end of each session, the grandmothers total up the numbers of pennies in each category.

In addition to getting a sense of where people want their tax money to go, the Ms. Gizmo actions provide an opportunity to educate and motivate the public. Those joining in the fun are very enthusiastic, and there is much dialogue between the grannies and the survey takers. It seems to be an excellent way to get people to think seriously about how the obscenely high military budget drastically reduces funding for domestic needs.

It's amazing how the priorities of our citizens differ markedly from the current budget. For instance, whereas today's federal budget spends 48% on current and past military expenses, the survey reveals that altogether the participants want to devote only 5% to the military. Interestingly, the ONLY group that put a good supply of pennies into the military tube were young adolescent boys in East Harlem. We speculate that this is a result of the relentless military recruitment conducted in minority schools and the lack of jobs for these young people forcing them to turn to the military for economic survival.

On the other hand, for example, the U.S. budget only earmarks 38% to ALL human resources, which includes health and human services; education; food/nutrition programs; housing and urban development; and other human resources. That seems woefully small, does it not, when compared to the enormous amounts of money allocated for the military? The Ms. Gizmo participants want to devote 19% to just health care alone, 21% for education alone and 19% solely for jobs.

Of course, it can't be claimed that this is a scientifically accurate poll. However, it does cover a variety of populations -- Brooklyn workers, the lower east side community heavily populated by university students and artists, the upper West Side professionals and yuppies, East Harlem Latinos, the opinionated denizens of Union Square, and the fun-seeking crowds from everywhere who flock to 42nd Street.

It is known that Mr. Obama is a very punctilious person when it comes to getting the facts right, so perhaps he would be interested in learning the full results for the budget which 538 people in six different locations wished for:

Arts & Culture -- 8%
Education -- 21%
Environment & Clean Energy - 9%
Health Care - 19%
Housing -- 12%
Jobs -- 19%
Military -- 5%
Transportation -- 6%

It is urgently hoped that President Obama "gets the message!"

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Just because one is 80, 90 or older, don't think for one moment one doesn't still retain the power to effectively protest the wrongs committed by our Government.

Many old people wished to go to Washington DC Saturday, October 2, to join the One Nation March to advocate an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but were too infirm or disabled to make the long, difficult trek. Did that stop them from participating in the day's protests? Not on your life.

In Manhattan, a group of very old residents of the Hallmark seniors apartment building in Battery Park City, average age 88, solved that dilemma by holding their own alternative demonstration. Approximately 75 people, many in wheelchairs and leaning on walkers and canes, circled a little park on North End Avenue for about an hour and a half carrying such signs as "How Is the War Economy Working for You?" and "Bring them Home from Afghanistan and Iraq," and occasionally breaking into chants of "Peace...NOW," and the like.

One of the main organizers of the event, 94-year-old Harold Hirschlag, a retired CPA, declared, "We at the Hallmark senior residence are shocked that our government has allowed and participated in the killing of thousands of human beings in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the thousands of U. S. soldiers. There is no end in sight. The troops and funds for that war are desperately needed for the very poor conditions here in the U.S."

The Hallmark is unique, it is believed, in having a very active political action committee, the Hallmark PAC. It was begun when the facility was first completed 10 years ago. The group has supported candidates for public office and arranges regular talks by politicians, administrators of government programs and experts in areas of interest to the residents.

Its current president, former New York City public school early education teacher Frances Berrick, almost 90, explains the motivation for their anti-war event: "In the 50's and 60's, our kids were involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement. It worries us that there isn't the same push against these unnecessary wars among the younger people. So, even though we can only walk around the park twice before we have to sit down, we felt it necessary to show our strong feeling that we have to stop this needless slaughter that is going on in the middle east."

The Battery Park City protesters were joined by members of Grandmothers Against the War, the Granny Peace Brigade, and the Raging Grannies, turning the event into far more than a local event but rather an anti-war rally of determined and dedicated Peacenik oldsters from all over the City. There was also a small contingent of Veterans for Peace. The great civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, who had defended the peace grannies when they were on trial for trying to enlist in the military at Times Square in October 2005, also marched in the rally (though he is far from being in the oldster category).

The numbers of marchers were small compared to those in DC, to be sure, but inasmuch as it was the first public protest by the Battery Park old folks, it can be perceived as a hopeful sign that more and more people are waking up to the reality that the U.S. must end these wars right away if we are to solve any of our problems of joblessness, inadequate health care and education, and all the other urgent dilemmas we are facing today.

Perhaps these elderly patriots don't have the energy of their younger days, but nevertheless they continue to struggle to end the wars and build a better society. Ms. Berrick, who is legally blind, sums it up when she says, "You don't give up. You just do what you're able to do."

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Panthers are dedicated to creating a humane society where the needs of people are put over profit.

As the tax-cut debate rages through the Senate, the House, and among the prospective candidates for public office, the Gray Panthers are firmly committed to their stance that tax cuts for the wealthy must end.

Bucking the Tea Party and Right Winger presidential wannabes Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and other advocates for the super rich at the expense of all the rest of us, the Panthers have issued a proclamation outlining their proposals regarding tax cuts. Among their many resolutions is one demanding that the progressive taxation system practiced in many other developed democratic countries be adopted here.

Progressive taxation, as I'm sure my well-informed readers know, is a tax system in which those who earn higher incomes pay a higher percentage of their income than those with lower incomes. A graduated tax is one example. Seems very logical, doesn't it? If such were the case, then the current system of granting tax cuts to those earning $250,000 or more annually would be obviated.

Susan Murany, Executive Director of the National Gray Panthers, wants to know, “We do have to ask ourselves - as Americans- Is it fair that the rich continue to benefit from our financial policies while the people who are poor, the working poor and the middle class continue to suffer? Because as most of us continue to experience the recession, the number of millionaires continues to increase. “

The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities." Murany says, “It’s no surprise that over 60 percent of all income growth since 1979 has gone to the top 10 percent.”

According to this information, it would certainly seem that eliminating their tax cuts would hurt the pocketbooks of the rich a lot less than eliminating cuts for ordinary folks, doesn't it?

In addition to recommending a progressive taxation policy, the Panthers offer a number of other suggestions to reform the tax system. Among them, they advise the elimination of tax loopholes which support consumption and accumulation of wealth by corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of ordinary wage earners. They also call for laws and policies which hold corporations accountable for delivering social benefits (living wage jobs, pollution controls, environmental protection, workplace safety and more) to states and localities which compete for corporate investments in their jurisdictions.

The Panthers further state that they oppose war, and believe it would be less likely if it were not funded with debt but with current taxes, and therefore counsel Congress to enact a separate, dedicated and progressive tax sufficient to cover the costs of war in Afghanistan and each and every future war.

The Gray Panthers are tired of such statements as that of, for example, Newt Gingrich, "I think to raise taxes on people who create jobs in the middle of a 9.5 percent unemployment rate is, frankly, crazy." Inasmuch as more and more corporations are transplanting jobs to low-wage workers in other countries, that comment seems a bit disingenuous. Our history has shown more than once that expanded wealth at the top does not trickle down into the pockets of the less fortunate. Such pronouncements are simply not true and it is sort of mind-boggling to imagine that ordinary people would swallow them.

The Gray Panthers have committed themselves to working for social and economic justice and as such, see the extension of tax cuts for the rich as a justice issue. The well-to-do have been getting richer for decades. They now have the responsibility like all of us to contribute their fair share for the benefit of all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Michael Moore just posted an article on various web sites, "NEVER FORGET: BAD WARS AREN'T POSSIBLE UNLESS GOOD PEOPLE BACK THEM," in which he argues that the leading liberals of the time and the liberal media were largely responsible for the Iraq war by supporting rather than opposing it. Moore also details the public abuse and threats he took as a result of his principled anti-war stance. I felt moved to write a response.

Dear Michael Moore:

I applaud you for opposing the war back then when most people, including liberal big leaguers, were so gullible and cowed that they actually supported the Bush crime syndicate's sinister plot. I know you were razzed and attacked for speaking out and I am certainly sympathetic for the hard times you endured, knowing as you did how correct you were. But today at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that the world knows you opposed the war when others didn't dare to, and that you were right and they were wrong. You are now, justifiably, a hero to millions.

As you state, you weren't the only one, though your anti-war stance had the advantage of being widely noted, thus having the possibility of persuading people to rally against this iniquity being jammed down our throats. For instance, a group of us old New York City grandmothers, calling ourselves the Granny Peace Brigade, knew the war was wrong, too. We also never believed for one moment that there was any reason to invade Iraq. We read the New York Times and we, too, didn't believe. We heard that Hillary Clinton agreed we should attack Iraq, and we, too, still didn't believe. Our hearts broke when Al Franken went along with the program, and John Kerry, and Chuck Schumer and all the other Limp Liberals, and we didn't believe them, either.

And, Colin Powell, a man supposedly of impeccable character. Huh! We didn't believe him for one minute, either, as he shuffled all those maps in front of the cameras claiming they were proof of the WMDs. We knew there would be terrible consequences and that thousands of innocent people and our own military kids would die and be horribly wounded, physically and mentally. We knew it was a complete crock.

We trembled with outrage as CNN whooped it up during the hideous, unprovoked "Shock and Awe" bombing of Iraq as if it were the latest action movie. For shame!

So we, too, went out on a limb and tried to stop it. Soon after the war began, eighteen of us elderly grandmothers ranging in age from 60 through 90 went down to the Times Square military recruiting station and tried to enlist. We figured we'd had the good fortune to live long lives and we hoped to replace the kids so they'd have the same opportunity.

They didn't want us, though. In fact, they locked the door on us. So, we laboriously lowered our sore old joints and bones to the ground and sat. The cops came and asked us to move, but we wouldn't budge. We knew we were within our rights to hold a peaceful demonstration. Strangely, the police weren't as well acquainted with the Constitution, and they arrested us and took us to jail where we old ladies languished the afternoon away.

After that, we had several court appearances, always pushed along to the next one until finally we were put on trial in criminal court for six days. Wow, isn't it a credit to the City of New York that they caught us dangerous criminals and tried to convict us so the city would be safe?

Well, we were acquitted. We got some notice in the media, too, although it was short-lived. We decided to take advantage of our fifteen minutes of fame by doing everything within our power to try and alert the public of the folly, the immorality of our occupation of Iraq. We girded our over-the-hill but still kicking selves into one action after another. We began a weekly vigil in front of Rockefeller Center, called the Grandmothers Against the War vigil, which has continued without missing a single one through today no matter what the elements throw at us -- pouring rain, debilitating heat, freezing cold. We didn't incur national wrath, as you and the Dixie Chicks did, but we had to deal with our share of hecklers passing by, especially in the first few years.

We did parades across Brooklyn Bridge, a 10-day trek to Washington DC stopping at cities and towns along the way to spread the word. We wrote and performed shows with skits, comedy monologues, songs, and dramatic readings. We traveled to Europe and Central America to speak at peace meetings. We organized a national action wherein 100 grannies descended on the Capitol to lobby 100 senators for peace. We did a song and dance in the middle of Times Square. And more and more.

But, it didn't really do what we hoped. The war went on and on, and then our new President, who most of us old broads supported eagerly, went and increased the troops in Afghanistan. Yes, he had indicated during the campaign that he was going to focus on Afghanistan, but either we were too dazzled by him to notice or we figured once he was in office he'd see the light and bring them home. So, now, we are struggling to end TWO wars. Don't think for a minute we are hoodwinked into believing the war in Iraq is over. Uh uh! Fifty thousand troops is not chopped liver, and they are dying, too, in smaller numbers, to be sure, but that's immaterial to a worried parent.

So we go on and on without much applause or acknowledgment, because we HATE what we have done to Iraq and Afghanistan. We DEPLORE threats to Iran and Pakistan. We DESPISE every goddamned criminal war act we commit, always trying to justify them with phony rhetoric about democracy and safeguarding the homeland and all that blarney.

President Obama may not know about us. Our senators and Congress people may not, either, nor much of the media. But, we will go on and on even if nobody but passersby on the street see us. We will go on and on as long as we can stand up. We have our grandchildren to consider, you see. We must try to leave them with the world a modicum more peaceful than it is now. If only we had a lot of years ahead of us so we could keep on keeping on until that is achieved.

But, unfortunately we don't. And, it looks, sadly, like this state of war and chaos is going to continue for a long, long time. We urgently hope there are patriots out there to replace us when we are unable to continue.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Please read this wonderfully articulate and insightful response to the blog I posted immediately before this (see below), as follows:

A Young Person
Posted September 8, 2010 at 10:58 PM
Dear Ms. Wile,

I think you are absolutely right to remark on the apathy of the young in modern times. You may find it revealing that despite the size and location of a campus like NYU, the students at large are vastly apathetic. The largest campus political club are the College Republicans (a tragedy) and even they are not especially well-populated.

I think most young people accept a state of war as a common feature of the political landscape. I was 13 during 9/11, so in the crucial years when one strikes out to form an independent view the default state of the world was one of war.

Perhaps more importantly, it is a state of great detachment from the realities of war. I am sure you are well aware of the US government's policies about keeping caskets and dead bodies off of the air waves. I believe this explains the shock that accompanied the release of Wikileaks' video "Collateral Murder," which was not especially graphic given the sort of imagery that war so often creates. I cried when I saw the video, not just because it was disturbing, but because I (and many, many more like me) routinely play video games that simulate this sort of activity with great accuracy. Our so-called "brave men in uniform" murder indiscriminately using an interface (and with the same sort of sanitized, black-and-white feedback) that I can experience at my desk at home. I've even read that Playstation controllers are being used inside APC's because the youthful machine gunner recruits are already acclimated to the control scheme and attuned to staring at screens hosing human forms with bullets.

Young people are also generally spoiled and materialistic. Many young people do not hold jobs and have never held a job; but instead of using this fortunate position to improve their thinking and thus the world, most seem content spending all of their time indulging their vanity by buying designer clothes and slouching around coffee shops talking about foreign films. This appears especially true for the "radical leftist' types that, perhaps in a past era, one would expect to be kicking over the traces to end the war. Instead they study social work or write dissertations on airy notions of "social justice' to get a perpetually secure union job working for the government -- the same institution that perpetrates the greatest injustices towards peaceful society the world over.Many smart students are also siphoned off into high-paying military jobs or into the massive network of private firms that support the military. Two young people that I knew as a child, both of high intelligence and associated with religious pacifism growing up, now work for the military doing high-level computer science.

Perhaps a draft would interfere enough with a young person's life that the opposition would become audible. Or maybe young people would simply look at it as another opportunity to be cared for from cradle to grave, with all of life's troubles taken care of by a mysterious paternal force. At least until the bullets started flying!

Young people also know almost nothing about the history of American imperialism, nor do they know about the rich (and bipartisan!) antimilitarist tradition in America. Years of government school has only served to leave Uncle Sam looking strapping in his camouflage. This is probably why inanities like "they hate us for our freedom" have such currency in America.

Finally, most young people are more interested in remaining in the good graces of those around them than learning about the world. Despite all the adages about youthful folly and boldness, many young people do not have any opinions whatsoever: not even bad, ill-thought out ones waiting for mature reflection. War and peace? That sounds like a topic that would require reading a book or talking intelligently to adults -- I might even form an unpopular view if I entertain these ideas! Pshaw! Pass the Heineken!

A Young Person.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Dear Grandson (a senior at New York University):

Those of us actively engaged in the anti-war movement have had a spectacular lack of success in bringing the current wars to an end. We can’t help feeling that if the youth of America were part of our movement, things would be vastly different. Unfortunately, we’ve seen little signs of student involvement or even, to be frank, concern. To us, it seems as if there is tremendous apathy among our youth as to caring about or even noticing that your peers (in age) are dying and suffering horrendous wounds every day in wars which we among the anti-war people deplore as unwise and unconscionable, as well as unproductive in terms of making the U.S. more secure.

During the Vietnam War, there was a massive student movement opposing that conflict. I don’t have the expertise to analyze how large a role that played in bringing the war to an end, but I suspect it may have been one of the key (if not THE key) factors in persuading President Nixon and his cabinet to withdraw from that trouble spot.

Of course, as we all know, there was a draft at that time, which probably fueled the huge numbers of students protesting the war. Or, were there other reasons, also, for student participation? Was there a difference in political consciousness or even character in a young person of the 60s and 70s … or what? Would a return of the draft now have a similar effect? Would it mobilize you and your ranks to revolt against the wars in numbers large enough to stop the occupations? Or would it simply add to the carnage of young people being slaughtered in Iraq and, now, particularly, in Afghanistan without effecting a change in policy?

Those are the questions I pose to you. I hope to provoke you to pay some attention to this matter, and, in so doing, stimulate discussion among you and your friends which will assist us in understanding your attitudes. Perhaps, then, we can figure out ways to engage you in our struggle.

It really is more YOUR struggle than ours — the trillions being spent to fund these wars decrease assets for education, housing, health care, and most pertinent to your needs, JOBS. And, I don’t want to alarm you, but in years to come, perhaps there will be a conscription and your lives will be on the line. Not a happy thought.

If you oppose the wars, as do I, then I should expect you to have some interest in trying to stop them. If you support them, I wonder if perhaps you are at all motivated to volunteer to fight in them. Tell me, I want to understand. Maybe you are so despairing about citizen action having any discernible effect that you just want to concentrate on the things at hand — your studies, your fraternity, your college-related activities. If that’s the case, I don’t blame you, certainly. I am very discouraged, too, and sometimes think, “What’s the use?” I also realize that you haven’t got the time, in all likelihood, to add protesting to your schedule. I remember college well — that feeling you’re always lugging a hundred-pound weight on your back as you try to do all the required reading, write the essays, and prepare for the tests. Ye gods, what pressure!

Manhattan Congressman Charles Rangel has introduced a bill every year since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq to bring back the draft. Part of his reasoning is that there would be such a giant student uprising that the wars would be over within a few months. What is your opinion about that?

I queried some of the people in my anti-war groups -- Grandmothers Against the War, Vets for Peace, Peace Action, the Granny Peace Brigade, et al -- regarding the draft. Some feel it would not achieve the same results today as it did in Vietnam and that creating jobs and a better economy are what is needed. Some feel it is the missing ingredient in our unsuccessful quest to bring the troops home. Others, like me, are uncertain.

I really want to know your thoughts and earnestly hope you and your fellow students will think a bit about the questions I’ve raised and let me know what your conclusions. We grandmothers and other older people amongst the war opposition groups will not be here much longer to fight this fight. At some point, you will have to take on the battle yourselves.

Or not?

Friday, August 20, 2010


Every day I receive an email
saying, "If you want to win a Venus
you must strive to be a he-male.
Increase the dimensions of your penis"

It says they will add an inch
or two or even three
It assures me it's a cinch
to have Superman's anatomy

It promises to enhance
It vows I'll have more girth
that girls'll swoon at a glance
at my member's huge rebirth

But that's not all that they assure
There's more within my powers
They claim my erections can endure
even at times to four long hours

They urge me, "try Cialis"
They insist I take Viagra
"Your ever-erect and giant phallus
will trump the wonders of Niagara!"

It does no good to say "No more --
please don't send another email"
Still they come, though I implore
that I happen to be a penisless FEmale!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Barry, things have run amok
Take the blinders off your eyes
Don't you see that we're stuck
in a lethal, tight'ning vise

You helped us hope once more
Got us wired and inspired
We expected there'd be no more war
Fear and despair were retired

But, things didn't change as expected
Where did the promises go?
Bad policies stayed uncorrected
Your "Yes" slowly transformed to "No"

Heading the list is Afghanistan
Yes, you mentioned that you would go there
But, being an intelligent man
we thought you would soon be aware

It's a useless, destructive dead end
A hopeless unsolvable quagmire
They will never give in, never bend
Please order our troops to cease fire

We're killing the innocent, killing our own
Much of the world thinks we're evil
Cancel the bomb, cancel the drone
Finally end this upheaval!

Put the billions to work here at home
for schools, for housing, for better health care
In Dallas, Chicago, San Diego and Nome
We need jobs, public transport, and far cleaner air

Be the President you promised you'd be
It's never too late to change course
Restore peace and recover prosperity
Don't cause us to file for divorce!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GRANNY! Peace Grandmothers Leave Rocking Chairs Behind and Take to the Streets

If granny hasn't been making cookies and knitting sweaters for you lately, it's because she might be one of the anti-war grandmothers on the streets protesting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In New York City, just about everywhere you look there's a gaggle of women of a certain age holding banners, shouting slogans, doing demonstrations and singing protest songs. We are, respectively, the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies, and Grandmothers Against the War. Sometimes we join forces and sometimes we act independently. But, we all have the same goal -- bring all our suffering troops home ....NOW!

You might like to know some of the things we are up to. The Granny Peace Brigade, which organized after 18 grandmothers were arrested and jailed when they tried to enlist at the Times Square recruiting center in 2005 has enough going on to make one's head swirl. For instance, they've repeatedly gone to schools on Parent's Night to do counter-recruitment, persuading parents and teachers to help the kids opt out of being harrassed by the avid recruiters who haunt their schools; they've had four teach-ins concerning the obscene prevalence of over 1,000 American military bases in foreign countries, and they regularly conduct "Phone-a-Thons," going to well-populated public places and offering cell phones gratis to passersby to call their elected representatives to complain about issues related to the wars. They've done parades across the Brooklyn Bridge; knit-ins to make "stump socks" for amputee vets; original play productions; a trek from New York to Washington DC with stops at about 10 cities along the way speechifying and performing; two trips to Germany to give speeches and join rallies and, once, the Endless War Memorial at the scene of their arrest in Times Square, at which for six days from dawn 'til dusk they organized 300 people to read non-stop the names of dead military personnel and civilians in Iraq. If you'd like to learn more about them and maybe participate in their activities, go to

The Raging Grannies have another kind of shtick. Founded in Canada in 1986-87, they mushroomed into other countries including the U.S. where they now have many chapters. They dress up like caricatures of what's thought of as traditional grandmas -- hats festooned with flowers, shawls and aprons. They sing the most outrageous songs, taking familiar ones and writing new lyrics expressing their Progressive views -- for instance, "There's No Business Like Show Business," which the RG's transformed into "There's No Bizness Like War Bizness." Here's a little sample of the revised lyrics:

"There's no bizness like war bizness
the best bizness we know
Never mind the homeless and the hungry
Never mind the people unemployed
Nowhere can you get that special feeling
Than seeing cities that we've destroyed"

Raging Grannies show up to perform all over the place -- at rallies, campaigns, festivals, you name it. The New York City chapter is very active. Check them out on YouTube.

Finally, Grandmothers Against the War (my group) holds what is very likely the biggest and most famous anti-war vigil in New York City. For six and a half years, we have stood on Fifth Avenue in front of Rockefeller Center every Wednesday for an hour. We began on a freezing January day with just two of us and now have morphed into a substantial presence of at least 15 people. We are joined by members of the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies, and Veterans for Peace. We are not in the least bit parochial, as not everyone joining us is actually a grandmother; some, obviously, are men and some are young. Heck, we'll take just about anybody as long as they are sincerely objecting to the occupations in question. In fact, if you're reading this and live in the Big Apple, please join us on a Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets.

The above description is only part of the story. The grannies do much more than I've enumerated, too much to detail here. Despite our hip replacements, our groaning knees, our gouts, our high blood pressure, and all the other ailments older people are subject to, we are a non-stop force to challenge in every way possible our government's truly misguided foreign policy.

Now, if we could only stir up the young people to become anti-war activists, maybe we could finally end these horrors. Come on, kids. You did it for the Vietnam war. You can do it again. We want you to join us to end the insanity and take on the struggle when we no longer can. We won't be here forever, you know!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


There will always be Independence Day parades, picnics, and fireworks, but there is only one Reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to be held in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, this coming July 4, starting at noon. For the fourth year in a row, famed civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, and his friends will read portions of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence aloud, interspersed with comments from Siegel and other Constitutional authorities on the status of certain amendments today. THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ATTEND!!

We've seen many of our Constitutional rights trampled upon in recent years, and it is Siegel's hope that a review and analysis of the Bill of Rights and some of the important Constitution amendments will encourage people to fight to defend those rights as guaranteed in the document underlying our democracy.

"The 4th of July is a special day for all Americans and New Yorkers. We look forward to reading out loud and discussing our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence to demonstrate that these unique principles and values should be remembered at this time," said Siegel.

Mr. Siegel will be accompanied, as in the three previous years of the Reading, by the granny contingent -- Grandmothers Against the War, the Raging Grannies, and the Granny Peace Brigade, which he defended in 2005 when they were on trial for attempting to enlist in the military at the Times Square recruiting center. It is no surprise that after a six-day trial in criminal court, they were all acquitted, helped by the expert defense of Mr. Siegel and his co-attorney, Earl Ward.

This unique commemoration began 42 years ago when Siegel started, alone, to read the Constitution to himself wherever he was. In 2007, the grannies promoted the idea to him of making it an annual public event in the beautiful and tranquil oasis, Strawberry Fields, donated to New York City by Yoko Ono in memory of her husband, John Lennon.

Many people turned out for the event all three years, and thus began a beautiful and inspiring tradition, which, it is hoped, will continue on indefinitely as a regular Only in New York feature. It is thought that it may be not only a one-of-a-kind July 4 celebration in New York, but perhaps in the entire United States.

Yoko Ono has always been enthusiastic about the Reading and wrote a statement and poem to be read aloud each year in honor of the occasion, as follows:

"When we stand up for Peace, we are being thanked by the earth underneath
us, the sky above us, and the billions and billions of people on this globe
who wish for the same. Our heart beats in unison with them, and with the
children of the World, who wish not to be maimed or be orphaned. It is
important that each one of us will stand up and be counted. It's time to do
so. I am glad that grannies are making their voices be heard. I want them
to know that I am with them. With my deepest love, in sisterhood."


Yoko Ono July '07

We're people with
Energy and wit
Let's give our best
For Peace
And put the war to rest

It's time for Action
There's no option.
Spread the word
To heal the world

Bring back the soldiers
Our sons and daughters
Spread the word
And heal the world

DATE: July 4, 2010
TIME: 12 o'clock noon
PLACE: Strawberry Fields, Central Park -- enter park at W. 72nd St.., follow the sign down
a short path


There will always be Independence Day parades, picnics, and fireworks, but there is only one Reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to be held in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, this coming July 4, starting at noon. For the fourth year in a row, famed civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, and his friends will read portions of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence aloud, interspersed with comments from Siegel and other Constitutional authorities on the status of certain amendments today. THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ATTEND!!

We've seen many of our Constitutional rights trampled upon in recent years, and it is Siegel's hope that a review and analysis of the Bill of Rights and some of the important Constitution amendments will encourage people to fight to defend those rights as guaranteed in the document underlying our democracy.

"The 4th of July is a special day for all Americans and New Yorkers. We look forward to reading out loud and discussing our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence to demonstrate that these unique principles and values should be remembered at this time," said Siegel.

Mr. Siegel will be accompanied, as in the three previous years of the Reading, by the granny contingent -- Grandmothers Against the War, the Raging Grannies, and the Granny Peace Brigade, which he defended in 2005 when they were on trial for attempting to enlist in the military at the Times Square recruiting center. It is no surprise that after a six-day trial in criminal court, they were all acquitted, helped by the expert defense of Mr. Siegel and his co-attorney, Earl Ward.

This unique commemoration began 42 years ago when Siegel started, alone, to read the Constitution to himself wherever he was. In 2007, the grannies promoted the idea to him of making it an annual public event in the beautiful and tranquil oasis, Strawberry Fields, donated to New York City by Yoko Ono in memory of her husband, John Lennon.

Many people turned out for the event all three years, and thus began a beautiful and inspiring tradition, which, it is hoped, will continue on indefinitely as a regular Only in New York feature. It is thought that it may be not only a one-of-a-kind July 4 celebration in New York, but perhaps in the entire United States.

Yoko Ono has always been enthusiastic about the Reading and wrote a statement and poem to be read aloud each year in honor of the occasion, as follows:

"When we stand up for Peace, we are being thanked by the earth underneath
us, the sky above us, and the billions and billions of people on this globe
who wish for the same. Our heart beats in unison with them, and with the
children of the World, who wish not to be maimed or be orphaned. It is
important that each one of us will stand up and be counted. It's time to do
so. I am glad that grannies are making their voices be heard. I want them
to know that I am with them. With my deepest love, in sisterhood."


Yoko Ono July '07

We're people with
Energy and wit
Let's give our best
For Peace
And put the war to rest

It's time for Action
There's no option.
Spread the word
To heal the world

Bring back the soldiers
Our sons and daughters
Spread the word
And heal the world

DATE: July 4, 2010
TIME: 12 o'clock noon
PLACE: Strawberry Fields, Central Park -- enter park at W. 72nd St.., follow the sign down
a short path

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I have no expertise about politics, military matters, diplomacy, and all the other things that go into making informed decisions about war and peace. But, it really doesn't take a nuclear physicist to see that we are committing a huge blunder by continuing to fight in Afghanistan.

I am quite disappointed in President Obama -- I was a very enthusiastic supporter of his campaign for the Presidency and continued to believe in him for a long time after he took office. It was a struggle, let me tell you, because he kept making decisions that I thought were not good ones. But, still I clung to my faith in him.

Today, a day after the McChrystal resignation, the thread of belief finally broke. I listened to him utter empty platitudes galore about "our brave fighting men and women" and his "deep distress when he must send them into battle," but "his conviction that their sacrifices are made for a just cause." Where have I heard this before?

I fault myself for swallowing his rhetoric in the beginning. He told us he wanted to end the war in Iraq so we could focus on Afghanistan in order to defeat Al Quaeda. In my enthusiastic desire to see him become President, I let those words slide by me without analyzing them.

But, that rationale, it's clear to me now, has no basis in fact at this juncture. We all know that Al Quaeda is no longer physically headquartered in Afghanistan but concentrated in Pakistan. In any case, Al Quaeda is an idea as much as an organization, and it takes roost wherever there are disaffected young people angry at the United States for what they perceive as unwarranted invasions of their lands and the killing of their people. How do you defeat an idea by killing people?

So, then, why the hell (yes, grannies swear, too) don't we get out of Afghanistan? Why are we allowing our young military men and women to increasingly die in that God forsaken country for misty, ambiguous reasons which can't be substantiated?

All this hoopla about the replacement of General McChrystal with General Petraeus doesn't impress me in the slightest. So what? My God, the Government-media combine is adept at painting over the real issues with fluff, isn't it? If ever there were a non-issue, this is it. We are asked to seriously weigh the appropriateness of one General over the other and to deliberate the wisdom of Obama's choice, thereby skillfully obliterating the REAL consideration -- should we stay or get out of Afghanistan?

We are asked to applaud Obama's decisiveness and commitment to maintaining his policy in Afghanistan. But, we are not asked to question his judgment in continuing to pursue that policy.

I know I speak for the growing legions of anti-war activist grandmothers I associate with --Grandmothers Against the War, Grandmothers for Peace, the Raging Grannies, and the Granny Peace Brigade -- when I say that here's one elderly, ordinary grandma who is decidedly questioning that policy and who is asking that President Obama firm up his guts, aim directly for his moral center, have the courage to admit he is wrong, and take our exhausted kids out of that Hell Hole and bring them home to us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


This is to notify my readers that the famed Gray Panthers has become very active again, not only for older people but for younger ones, as well.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Don't despair, folks. All our young people are not indifferent to the fact that the United States is still engaged in reprehensible occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. We anti-war grandmothers had heartening proof of this yesterday, April 27, when 20 African-American and Latino Brooklyn high school seniors joined our Grandmothers Against the War vigil at Rockefeller Center.

These teens from the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, every single one college-bound, were led on a field trip to our protest by their outstanding teacher, Stephen Simons, and his co-teacher, Jacques Hoffman. The class is entitled Social Economics -- they had been studying the economics of warfare, and came to us for a little enlightenment and, we hope, inspiration. To say we were knocked out by the fact that such a class is in a high school curriculum is an understatement, and the teachers are to be highly commended.

In our six and a half years conducting the vigil, we had often bemoaned the fact that American youths, unlike those during the Vietnam War, seemed oblivious to a crisis we believe is of the utmost urgency to them. After intermingling with these wonderful young people, however, we feel a little more hopeful.

We are well aware that the draft is largely what drew our youth to the anti-Vietnam war movement in the 60's and 70's. They felt threatened, of course, as well they should have. Without a draft in the current combustible circumstances, however, somehow young people feel immune to the dangers confronting them, not only the potential for their someday having to fight in the military, but the effects the wars have on their lives in very immediate terms. They are largely unaware of the relationship between the huge costs of war and the lack of funds for education, health care, and, so important for their eventual lives after school, jobs.

But, not these kids. Mr. Simons and Mr. Hoffman have educated them well in the economics of war. The underlying emphasis of the class is to consider the old dilemma -- guns or butter. To help them draw conclusions in that regard, they've been made aware of the enormous part of the budget delegated for the wars, and they know the impact of military spending on their own Brooklyn community. They've learned that according to the National Priorities Project, $88,000 of Brooklyn taxpayer money goes to the war in Afghanistan every hour.

One of the grannies, Carol Husten, a member of the Granny Peace Brigade, and Peace Action New York State (PANYS), welcomed the students with a review of the statistics of war and our consequent depleted economy. She explained that the United States military budget is almost as large as that of all other countries combined. It was impressive how much the kids already knew of the facts she presented to them. She then gave them a True Majority Scroll pen with its pull-down flag that illustrates with vertical bars the U.S. global military expenditures on one side and domestic spending priorities on the other.

Chaplain Hugh Bruce, a Vietnam War veteran and member of Veterans for Peace who is a regular attendee at the grandmothers' vigil, spoke eloquently about the futility of the wars we are engaged in. He explained that our war in Vietnam in which 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese died, accomplished nothing positive and ultimately we retreated in defeat. He discussed the fact that many other countries have non-diverse populations with non-varied mores and cultures not necessarily compatible with our multi-assorted ones and that we can't impose our values on them. "We're not anti-American, we love our country," said Chaplain Bruce, "but if you had a friend who was doing something wrong, you'd try to set him or her straight. That's what we're doing here. We're trying to steer our government onto a path of peace."

The students and the grandmothers and their supporters then fanned out along Fifth Avenue holding banners and signs, some made by the kids, while Mr. Hoffman sang "Guantanamera" and "This Land Is Your Land," accompanying himself on guitar. It was a beautiful sight to behold -- the shining, hopeful faces of these intelligent young people interspersed with our old granny ones.

We women feel so encouraged by yesterday's event. The wars seem to go on and on, and we won't be here forever. We desperately want to be assured that others will take up our quest for peace after we're gone.

The marvelous Brooklyn students who joined us gave us an exhilarating little boost, a feeling that we needn't worry. Perhaps America will be in safe hands.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


One had always thought of the Gray Panthers as an admirable organization advocating for the dignity and rights of older people, as so brilliantly represented by its founder, the magnetic Maggie Kuhn.

But, one would have been not fully informed. On Saturday, April 17, the Panthers celebrated their 40 years of existence, and held two actions in Washington DC which made it clear that they are a multi-issue group on behalf of persons of all ages. Their struggle against ageism is still a very important part of their agenda, but they vest other causes with as much weight.

The first of their actions on Saturday was a mixed-generation rally at the White House with unique features exemplifying the theme of environmental protection. They carried three faux open coffins with fabric effigies of a man, woman and child. Rally attendees wore white protective masks to symbolize the dangers of global warming on the air we breathe. Other colorful touches were the repeated throwing of many facsimiles of Earth globes made of cotton into the air, another symbol of how we are all affected by the dangers of global warming. Two people wore hazmat suits while pushing two participants in wheelchairs. A Hazmat suit is a garment worn as protection from hazardous materials or substances and is generally combined with a breathing apparatus. Further, the demonstrators chanted repeatedly such slogans as "Don't Bury the Earth," and sang parodies of three familiar old songs, "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain When She Comes," "On Top of Old Smokey" and "God Bless America" with revised lyrics reflecting their environmental theme written by the Raging Grannies. For instance:


Hundreds of spectators responded with delight as they watched the Panthers' spectacular presentation. "I think we really connected with the crowds and got our message across, which is that the Gray Panthers are going green to protect the environment for all people, young and old, rich and poor," said Brooke Hollister, 28, Vice-Chair of the Gray Panthers National Board and an Assistant Professor at the Univ. of California San Francisco.

On Saturday evening, the Panthers repaired to the International Trades Center where they held a festive awards dinner honoring three persons of stature for their extraordinary efforts in three major areas of concern to the group -- health care, peace and the environment.

The first to be honored was Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was posthumously awarded for his decades-long championship of health care reform, the details of which need no reiteration here.

The award for environmental protection and justice went to Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx. Ms. Carter is credited with many restoration projects in the area, such as, for instance, turning an illegal garbage dump into the Hunt's Point Riverside Park, and creating the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training program, one of the nation's first national urban green collar training and placement programs.

Colman McCarthy, long-time journalist, columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, and teacher, received the award for peace activism.
Among his many activities, he founded the Center for Teaching Peace, a nonprofit that helps schools begin or expand academic programs in Peace Studies.

And, reverting back to the issue it is most known for, Sally Brown, immediate past Chair of the Gray Panthers National Board, gave a speech about ageism, in which she stated, "We should be really proud of the ages we are and know that at any age we can contribute significantly to the world and lead productive, fulfilling lives."

The current chair of the National Board, Judy Lear, said that the two Washington events launched 40 actions planned to take place throughout the U.S. for the entire 40th birthday year. "We want to raise awareness of the Gray Panthers and highlight our three top priorities of the environment, health care and peace. We hope to raise our voices for everybody, all ages, about these urgent matters." she stated, "and we want to encourage people to be active -- everybody has a right and a responsibility to take some action in some way."

Friday, April 2, 2010


90 is the new 60 these days, it seems, as so impressively demonstrated by several nonegenarians of my acquaintance. In 2003, I founded a peace group in New York City, Grandmothers Against the War, and gradually grannies from all over the Big Apple started gravitating to the group, among them four astonishing women past 90.

I thought I was a real hot shot in that I was in my 70's and still out there protesting what I considered an unconscionable and unnecessary war in Iraq. But, I soon discovered I was nothing special, a mere baby compared to some of the hardy specimens in their 80's and 90's who joined up and often out-walked, out-thought, and out-braved me as they protested and sometimes went to jail for the cause.

I am particularly in awe of those four 90-plus women who are part of my group and amaze me with their energy, intelligence, and passionate commitment.

Allow me to introduce you to Lillian Pollak, teacher and marriage counselor, who will be 95 on April 12. There is absolutely nobody like her, I'm convinced. She hasn't one single symptom, if you will, of her age. Always meticulously made up, coiffured and dressed, she is in good health, goes all over the place to cultural events, and is always on the front lines of every anti-war protest within reach of a subway or bus. But, her youthfulness is not merely in her physical stamina. Her MIND is perhaps the most incredulous aspect of this unbelievable woman. Her brilliant analysis of plays, films, books, for one thing. Her memory of names, places, dates, movements, events from her long-ago past, for another. Her quick and sharp mind without the slightest trace of diminution. Her contemporaneousness -- she knows everything that is going on today. And, to top it all off, this brilliant woman recently published a 376-page novel, "The Sweetest Dream: Love, Lies & Assassination," based on her political life in the 30's. An excellent read, by the way, available on

Three weeks ahead of her is Marie Runyon, who was 95 on March 20. Marie, a former New York State Assemblywoman, housing advocate and founder of Harlem Restoration Project, among her many accomplishments, is not in as great physical shape as Lillian -- she is legally blind and partially deaf -- but her personality and mental acuity are incomparable. She is, quite simply, a firebrand. Marie has never hesitated to speak her mind whenever she sniffs injustice, in often very salty language. When she was 90, despite her hearing and sight impairments, she willingly got arrested when our spin-off granny group, the Granny Peace Brigade, tried on Oct. 17, 2005, to enlist in the military at the Times Square recruiting station to replace America's grandchildren in harm's way. Denied entrance, we sat down on the cement ground (not so easy for our arthritis-riddled old bodies) and refused to get up when the police came. We were then carted off to jail in a paddy wagon, Marie among its inhabitants. After a six-day trial in criminal court, I'm pleased to say we were acquitted of disorderly conduct and went on to be a powerful symbol of peace activism here and abroad with our lectures, rallies, performances, and workshops. Interviewed many times on television and radio after our legendary arrest, Marie, with her colorful and outspoken personality, served often as our spokesperson, to the delight of audiences.

And, let me tell you about another one of our Times Square arrestees, 91-year-old Molly Klopot, Co-Chair of the New York branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Molly lives way out in Coney Island in the farthest reaches of Brooklyn. It is an hour's subway trip into her office in Manhattan, but do you think that stops Molly? Not on your life. This, despite the fact that Molly is legally blind! She navigates alone, often late at night, the underground trains and the streets of the Lower East Side where her office is located. This is super courageous, given Molly's diminutive size and her almost non-existent eyesight. They just don't make them like her anymore.

In addition to her tremendous guts and commitment, Molly, a former college teacher and union organizer, is a living representation of labor history beginning when she was a shop leader as a young girl in the Ford Motor Company's plant in Detroit during the Second World War.

Another remarkable woman, who is active at the ripe young age of 90, is Lillian Lifflander. Lillian is a Jill of all trades who mainly worked for organizations she felt contributed to the various causes she was concerned about -- unions, education, the destructive use of Vieques for U.S. nuclear testing, and other crusades. She has put herself on the line many times, getting arrested for the issues she passionately supports. Most recently, she did some jail time with the Granny Peace Brigade in protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This indomitable lady has had a late-in-life career in movies beginning in her 80's -- she is often called upon to be an extra. Of late, she appeared in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," and, to prove that sex is not the province only of the young, she was cast in the film, "Sex and the City."

So, dear readers, you have nothing to fear about old age. Be heartened and inspired by the examples of these wonderful elders, who demonstrate that one can make a difference, contribute to society, and lead rich, productive lives well into one's 90's, and, I daresay, one's 100's as well. Be assured these four wonders will prove that thesis!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


If you know the Upper West Side of Manhattan, you know there are probably more progressives per square inch here than in all the 50 states. So, it's no surprise that a big bunch of people showed up this evening, March 27, at my small one-bedroom apartment in this highly liberal neighborhood to see Michael Moore's masterpiece, "Capitalism: A Love Story."

My event was one of MoveOn's 700 parties nationwide tonight to show the film in an effort to generate grass roots action against some of the evil excesses of capitalism rampant in the United States. These evils are powerfully exposed in Moore's movie -- the heartless foreclosures on people's homes; the cancellation of jobs in order to make way for profits; the practice of taking out insurance on employees unbeknownst to them and then collecting large payments when they die (of which not one cent is shared with the family survivors), and all manner of other immoral practices so harmful to decent working Americans.

My fifteen attendees were a typical group of Manhattan Upper West Siders -- among them three educators; two theatre directors; a chef; a photographer an obstetrician/gynecological surgeon, two free lance classical musicians, an administrator for Friends In Need, an organization which provides physical and spiritual support to seriously ill persons; a 95-year-old novelist, and me, a singer-songwriter and political activist (and a partridge in a pear tree).

Our evening began with a delightful treat. We got a call from the master himself, Mr. Moore. We were absolutely bowled over by the tone of his conversation. It felt as if we were talking to a good friend -- simple, no baloney, responsive, open. He asked where we were located, and when told it was 72nd and West End Avenue he informed us that he had lived in this area for a number of years before relocating to Michigan.

One of us asked him if there were any coordination between him and other leading Progressive leaders like Dennis Kucinich, Al Franken, etc. Moore replied that, sadly, there was not much. He said that it was important to form liaisons, that it was one effective thing about the Republicans -- no matter what their ideological differences, and there are many and deep ones, they hang together when it comes to acting against us. "I've been thinking about this for a long time," Moore said, "and I hope we can begin to start working together more."

We also asked him if he thought the health care reform legislation would do anything to resolve some of the terrible ills of capitalism. He stated that we all know there is much lacking in the legislation, but he feels it is a baby step forward and its main value may be to influence Obama to take more bold action in the future.

Michael Moore told us how he'd thought about this film for 20 years and how very important it is to him.

We then proceeded to watch it. It wasn't shown in ideal circumstances by any means. The volume wasn't loud enough, the screen wasn't big enough, and the space was crowded and without enough circulating air. Nevertheless, it received our rapt attention and we gave it a four-star rating.

Afterward, we had some discussion as to what we might do to resolve some of the crises caused by the banks, the insurance companies, and the financial institutions, which, as so convincingly illustrated in the film, don't give a damn for us and are ruining everything we believe in.

Our group was tired and anxious to go home, so we didn't have much time for an in-depth analysis. But, we did agree on one thing. We decided that a good place to begin with unified action was to oppose the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations unlimited contributions to political candidates.

Michael Moore tells the complete truth, and we must listen to him very carefully. In his first film, "Roger and Me," he warned that jobs would vanish on a huge scale and that we were facing horrendous times if we didn't do something to stop the damage. We didn't listen. We didn't listen when he exposed the out-of-control gun culture in "Bowling for Columbine," and pleaded for regulation. Nor did we listen when he urged us to reform the health care system in his recent film, "Sicko."

We listened tonight, Michael, and it's very clear that we must act on your warning to suppress the destruction caused by runaway capitalism.

Let's shake off our lethargy, people, and get started. Our democracy is at stake.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New York City's Seven Years Too Many Coalition Protests the Iraq War on Its 7th Anniversary

This article was co-written with Edith Cresmer of the Granny Peace Brigade

On March 20, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, a country that posed no threat and that had done us no wrong. The invasion was justified by then-President George W. Bush on the basis that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which it was ready to launch against us. These lies ultimately led to the deaths, maiming and displacement of millions of innocent Iraqi civilians, and the deaths, maiming and mental breakdowns of thousands upon thousands of U.S. and allied troops engaged in this great folly.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, a beautiful, unseasonably warm day, the eighth year of our occupation of Iraq began. Although we are told that officially we are no longer fighting there, that we have pulled back our forces, nevertheless our soldiers continue to die there. And, so do many more Iraqis.

And, the American people seem to be oblivious to the fact that our young American treasures are still dying and suffering horrendous injuries in these useless and destructive wars.

It is way past time for us to pull out, and yet we remain. Why?

To commemorate the end of our seven years of illegal and immoral attack and occupation of Iraq and to alert the public that the wars are still an urgent issue, a compendium of 10 New York City peace groups called the Seven Years Too Many Coalition gathered at the Times Square Recruiting Center to protest the continuation of the war and to call for the end of all wars.

Cheryl Wertz, Exec, Director of Peace Action New York State (PANYS) introduced the speakers -- Councilwoman Gale Brewer, and Vietnam vet Chaplain Hugh Bruce of Veterans for Peace. They discussed some of the terrible effects of war on people at home -- lost jobs, libraries, fire companies, and teachers -- and even worse effects on the people of Iraq and on our G.I.s.

Literature was handed out with facts about the terrible results and the absurdity of war.

Demonstrators chanted: How do you measure the cost of War? How Many? and How Much?

And answered Too Many, too Many . . . and Too Much, too Much.

Protesters wore signs with the answers: Killed to date: American soldiers - 4,382; Coalition Soldiers - 4,700; Iraqi civilians - 95,606-to 104,304; Journalists - 140.

Wounded to date: U. S. soldiers - 31,616; NYS soldiers - 1,669.

Displaced Iraqis: 4,900,000.

Spent in Iraq to date: $712 Billion. Spent by NYC: $25 Billion

But, this was a two-day demonstration. The day before, on March 19, we stood in front of the Chambers Street recruiting center, laughingly officially named the Army Career Center. Some career, isn't it, to be taught to kill and to look forward to being blown up in a foreign land we have no business being in?

We displayed banners and signs and passed out literature there to the many students from a nearby high school and college walking by, and then moved down the street to the Marine Corps Career Center where we continued our rally.

We ended our march at the site of the World Trade Center where the many visiting tourists, most from foreign countries, and nearby workers enthusiastically greeted us and received our fliers. We couldn't help but think how ironic it was that the tragic explosion of the WTC was used falsely as rationalization for attacking two countries which were not responsible for it.

We earnestly hope that we will not have to demonstrate for an Eighth Year Anniversary of our continued occupation of Iraq.

President Obama, are you listening?

(Participating groups in the Seven Years Too Many Coalition:
CODE PINK NYC; Grandmothers Against the War; Granny Peace Brigade; Greenwich Village Coalition for Peaceful Priorities; North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace & Justice; NYC United for Peace & Justice ; NYC War Resisters League; Peace Action New York State; Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 NYC; West Side Peace Action)