Sunday, July 10, 2005

Swinging thru trees with the Rich & Famous: Jane plays Tarzan at the Bohemian Grove

(Author's note: For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Bohemian Grove, located in northern California, is where fantastically rich men from all over the world gather together each July -- with one apparent goal in mind: To search for newer and better ways to screw those of us who make less than five million dollars a year.

Originally the Bohemian Grove was started in the 19th century by local San Francisco tycoons but, since then, many U.S presidents have attended it including Hoover, Eisenhower and Reagan. Richard M. Nixon described The Grove thusly: "The Bohemian Grove -- which I attend from time to time -- it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can't shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.")

I had so much fun sneaking into the Bohemian Grove last year that this year I think I'm going to try it again. However, because no women are allowed at this stag-party-in-the-woods for rich guys, last year I had to go disguised as a man. Do you know what that means? In order to keep me out this year, they are going to have to strip-search everyone who attends -- and check to see if they have any balls.

I guess that will leave out the Bush Republicans.

Karl Rove, however, might be attending this year anyway. The Grove would be just the place for him. With its no-ladies-allowed policy, he can safely hide out from Judith Miller.

Bush and Cheney won't be there. The Grove is too primitive for them. They prefer urban settings, places with towers, airplanes and subways -- like New York, London, Baghdad and Madrid.

Tony Blaire will be there however. You gotta understand that the Bohemian Grove is where billionaires go to network. And Blaire will be needing to network his heart out -- seeing that, having deceitfully entangled Britian in the Iraq fiasco that caused 7/7, he will soon be out of a job.

Alberto Gonzales, the man who gave us Abu Ghraib, will also be trying to tap into the Old Boy network; lobbying like crazy to be head of the Supreme Court. You think us citizens have any influence on who gets elected or appointed to our government? Think again. The fat cats at The Grove run our government -- but the likes of you and me will never be allowed to attend.

Speaking of elections, the makers of automatic voting machines will be there also. "We are worried because Bev Harris is starting a shoddy-product-recall move against us." Like the old Ford Pinto, Diebold and ES&S voting machines can be hazardous to our health.

Will Osama bin Ladin be at The Grove again this year? It's doubtful. He's not on the A-list any more. No one in Washington is looking for him any longer. If they ever were.

Who else will be there? Not Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice or even Ann Coulter -- unless they join the local group of "professional" ladies who get free backstage passes each year.

Anyway, I guess I should go there again this year. Maybe I could go cleverly disguised as Tarzan? So I can swing through the trees with Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Delay and Bill Frist? They too need to network. Badly. Their jobs are also in danger. If the 2005 Republican Congress was graded by efficiency experts on how well they served United States citizens, those three would all get an F.

And Arnold Schwarzenegger will be there as usual, once again trying to sell off California chunk by chunk. Pssst. Wanna buy Los Angeles? Arnie is your man.

One can always count on The Grove for entertainment and hot gossip. Here is my account of last year's gathering. Enjoy:

My weird weekend at the Bohemian Grove, by Jane Stillwater, July 27, 2004

"Wanna go to the Bohemian Grove with me this weekend?" asked my friend. I can't! Why? Because I'm not a billionaire, I'm not a man and I'm not a Republican! And besides, I have nothing to wear.

"We can fix that," said my friend. "From now on, you are going to be Fred Armitage, GOP super-tycoon billionaire!" Fred?

Then my friend started handing me stuff. "Identification?" Check. "Hong Kong-tailored sweatpants?" Check. "Chest binder, voice deepener, toupee?" Check. "Limo driver?" Check. I felt like James Bond.

The Bohemian Grove is where fantastically rich men from all over the world go each year -- with one goal in mind: To learn new and better answers to that age-old question, "What can we do to screw America?"

Once up in the Russian River area, we turned off the highway, drove three miles into The Grove and passed through a bunch of checkpoints. Security was tight here. They stopped just short of giving me a retinal scan. I had been expecting a castle. There were redwood trees everywhere.

"This is it? This is where the power brokers of the world wheel and deal? The fat cats' Mecca, Xanadu and Nirvana? These little...cottages?" They all looked like the Swiss Family Robinson tree house at Disneyland. Hide the Armanis, guys. We were clearly roughing it. "Hey! Look! There's Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor's husband and Clarence Thomas!"

Chris Matthews from Hardball strolled by. There's Henry Kissinger. There's Clint Eastwood. "Nice knee socks, Chris!"

Just then George Bush Senior ambled over, wearing a...sarong? And there were a couple of white-robed Saudi princes too. "I didn't realize that everyone here would be wearing table linen," I said. "I thought they were all going to just run around nude." Sorry, Jane. That only happens when they can't find their sheets.

After a quickie tour of the encampment, I schlepped off to my very own non-electrified chalet/hunting lodge/wet bar. On my right were a bunch of newly-elected Republican governors -- all of whom have already failed their campaign promises miserably. Special interests? Absolutely! On my left were a whole bunch of cottages occupied by the matching billionaires of Carlyle.

About 2,400 men come to the Grove each summer. "The Grove is divided into over one hundred camps. Each camp has a theme." Just like the Boy Scouts! I sat in on some of the "focus groups". One seminar was on how to get Americans to buy more junk food. If I sit all the way through it, will I get a free Big Mac?

Over near the steam baths, I thought I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping iron with Kenny-Boy Lay. That would certainly explain the Grove's lack of electricity!

At one camp often frequented by Rumsfeld, Baker, Powell, Cheney and even Dubya himself before he was elected, Henry Kissinger was holding forth. "I support George Bush 100%" Why not? You have so much in common. Killing, outrageous profits and fake Texas accents. I think that I heard him say, "Fear is good for Americans. It makes them vote Republican." But maybe I just misunderstood.

Speaking of Georgie, the one small glitch in the generally self-congratulatory mood at the Grove was the latest Capitol Blue report that GWB was on anti-depressants, screaming the F-word at his employees and manically crashing around Crawford [and the G-8 conference] on his mountain bike.

Who else did I see? Bob Weir and Mickey Hart? What in the world where they doing here? Maybe they took a wrong turn on their way to Burning Man?

At a "'Lakeside Talk" on the Federal Reserve, it was clearly obvious that no one had read "The Civilizing of the United States" by John Machado, who has stated that, "when your government borrows money, it removes from the kitty the dollars that would have been available to businesses for start-up, growth, research, testing, innovation and invention." No, at the rate they were "creating" money and borrowing it from various Asian nations, the Federal Reserve was not overly concerned about preserving the American economy.

Then Colin Powell dropped a bombshell. "Seven out of twelve of our naval carrier strike groups have just been deployed off the coast of China." What! Bush is at war with half the Middle East and our naval backup is over ruining diplomatic relations with China? What's with invading China? Doesn't the Bush Gang know that China has already won the war with us? Their workers went up against our workers. We lost. But this economic disaster for America had no effect on the Grove boys. In fact they are doing quite well as they help collect interest on our six hundred billion dollar debt to the Chinese.

The main theme of the Bohemian Grove was money and power. Lots of money. Lots of power. How to get it. How to keep it. I thought about my measly little nest egg of $200. I thought about being continually out-maneuvered by the two-year-old next door. I had no power. I had no money. What was I thinking? "I want money! I want power!" I screamed.

Sorry, Jane. No money for you. And definitely no power. You will never get them if you keep thinking that life's winners are the pure of heart. Forget that. It's all about who you know. "One guy came up here last year. His business was failing. So what did he do? He networked! This year he is a millionaire. They told him what to invest in and when." There's a lot of insider trading going on here.

What else did I learn? Toupees and chest binders suck? That America is ripe for the picking? How to slit my country's throat and sell the corpse while it is still warm? Like Sherman when he marched through Georgia, the Grovies are taking America by storm.

Did you know that within 20 years, 1% of America will hold 90% of America's wealth? At the Grove, these guys are getting a big head start.

But enough of talk. I was getting bored. But there's no problem with boredom at the Grove. "Bring on the Bacchanalia! Bring on the whores!" So they DO allow women in here.

What did a weekend at the Grove teach me? That what the wealthy men of America have in mind for us commoners is NOT some simplistic, level-playing-field, up-by-your-bootstraps, no-child-left-behind bull dookie. No, sir. I learned that the world is run by secret men in secret clubs behind closed doors. I learned that the rich dudes of the world are NOT willing to pay taxes here -- even as the price for doing business in our great country -- when it is so easy to avoid it. (Is it easy for US to avoid paying taxes? Ha!)

I learned that these men of great wealth and power have no desire at all to share this wealth with the likes of you and me or even to do what they must to not kill America, the goose that is laying their golden eggs.

And I learned that fabulous chefs from all over the world are flown in to the Grove to cook for these fat cats while they are divvying up the spoils. Which brings up the moral question of temptation. Exactly how far would I be willing to go in order to be fed by the best chefs of the world? Would I be willing to join these so-called Bohemians and to sell my soul? Well, the creme brulee really was good....

As the limo dropped me back at my housing project in south Berkeley this Sunday, I was really, really glad to get home. How much power is enough power? How much money is enough? There's never enough. Yet for all their money and power, the Bohemian Grovies could never buy the happiness I felt when I took off my Armanis and hugged my son and daughter. "Honey! I'm home!"