WatchSonoma Watch

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Conan O’Brien highlight secretive Bohemian Grove gathering


Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and comedian Conan O’Brien, the former “Tonight Show” host, will be among the featured speakers at the Bohemian Grove encampment of rich and powerful men under the redwoods in Monte Rio.

Up to 2,500 Bohemian Club members and their guests will attend the all-male encampment that opened Thursday and runs through July 28, all in complete secrecy behind the gates of the San Francisco-based club’s 2,700-acre enclave along the Russian River.

About 15 private jets, the conveyance for some of the plutocrats and powerbrokers, were parked Thursday at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, and more are expected to arrive today, airport manager Jon Stout said.

The entrance to the Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio in 2009. (PD File)

The entrance to the Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio in 2009. (PD File)

McChrystal, the former commander of American forces in Afghanistan, will discuss “On Leadership” in one of the daily talks presented beside a small lake ringed by towering redwoods.

O’Brien’s topic — “Success, Failure in Surviving the Media Revolution” — sounds a bit more serious than his patter on the NBC show or his current show, “Conan” on TBS.

Also in the lineup for the Lakeside Talks are Paul Otellini, who retired in May as CEO of Intel, speaking on “What My Life in Tech Taught Me”; Stanford University President John Hennessey (“The Coming Tsunami of Online Education”); and Jorge Quiroga, president of Bolivia (“South America After Chavez,” referring to Hugo Chavez, the socialist president of Venezuela who died in March).

David Gergen, political commentator and former presidential adviser; Chris Matthews, political talk show host; and William Reilly, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, also will address the Bohemians.

The Lakeside Talks — which in the past have featured the likes of Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush, who in 1995 introduced his son George to the august crowd — were the object of protests launched by the Bohemian Grove Action Network in 1980.

Critics say they resent the midsummer frolics by the titans of the military-industrial complex, and fringe elements allege the Bohemians engage in satanic worship.

Club officials say its more like a group of guys “out in the woods having a good time.”

The Bohemians inhabit 119 camps among the redwoods, each with a clubhouse, campfire area, a cluster of cabins and tents for sleeping, and a bar, typically featuring a speciality drink made with the finest alcohol.

Activist Mary Moore of Occidental, who founded the protest group, had scaled back her involvement in 2001 but re-engaged last summer to stage a protest in conjunction with the Occupy movement.

Moore, 77, is now fuming over what she considers another group’s infringement on her organizations’s name.

“I feel really pissed off,” Moore said, referring to plans by a group called Bohemian Grove Action and Resistance for a daylong protest at the grove gates on Saturday.

Sean Ackley of Brentwood posted notices online saying, “Let us descend of (sic) Bohemian Grove and keep up the pressure so they know we have not forgot.”

Moore said she’s getting calls from people who think she’s involved, and she’s further annoyed by Ackley’s posting that says “the original BGAN group” will show up at the grove on July 20.

Not so, Moore said, noting that Ackley, a computer systems professional, helped set up the Bohemian Grove Action Network’s Facebook page, which went up May 25.

“I feel like we got snookered,” she said.

Ackley, a Republican with conservative tea party sentiments, expressed surprise over Moore’s pique.

Bohemian Grove Action and Resistance is the name of his Facebook page, and Ackley said he felt he was cooperating with Moore’s group.

Told that Moore has no plans for a July 20 action, Ackley said, “Yeah, OK. That’s true.”

Ackley said his group will hand out fliers and use bullhorns to talk to people arriving at the grove on Saturday. The protesters have no plans to engage in civil disobedience or get arrested, he said.

Sam Singer, spokesman for the Bohemian Club, said the club “supports people’s right to protest and they hope the protesters respect the rights of the members of the club to peacefully assemble at the grove.”

The club remains “exceptionally popular and relevant” and has a 20-year waiting list for prospective new members, Singer said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

15 Responses to “Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Conan O’Brien highlight secretive Bohemian Grove gathering”

  1. Phil Maher says:

    So what’s the difference between private discussions and the decision to pursue political, social and philosophical courses for the future of this country taking place in the Grove or in Bill Ayers’ living room? Is it that one group has money, or is it that one is potentially less detrimental and insidious than the other?

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  2. Greg Karraker says:


    You’re absolutely right. Every organization should embrace diversity. I plan to spend the rest of today filling out applications to the Black Panthers, the Muslim Brotherhood, and NOW.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  3. GAJ says:

    If Chris Matthews is there this is hardly the kind of nefarious meeting those on the left would have you believe.

    I bunch of rich guys, of all stripes, pretending they are cool.


    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  4. Bill Dyer says:

    General McChyrstal speaking on leadership? It was under his leadership that the Army attempted to hide the fact that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire…

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  5. Follower says:

    Whip up that class warfare!
    Manipulate the useful idiots using their own greed & envy.

    Divide and concur.

    Lets play the “watch the birdie” game.

    While the rent-a-mob gathers at the gates of BoHo with their protest signs in tow, we’ll be busy robbing them of any “hope” of ever becoming one of the 1%.

    Just herding the sheeple! …and you suckers fall for it every time.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  6. Reality Check says:

    Oh my! No women in attendance! Dreadful, unthinkable, maybe we need a law preventing social gatherings of a single gender.

    Deep within the veins of some people runs a streak of strong authoritarianism. It is scary to read such complaints about this gathering.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  7. Bill Dyer says:

    That this General is paid big bucks to speak on “Leadership” to the Power Elite at the Grove is such a joke. This is the same guy who allowed the cover up of the death of Pat Tillman by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Tillman was a moral hero. This General is immoral.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  8. bear says:

    OK, anybody can do ANYTHING they want on their private property?

    Just think about it for a minute.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  9. Zack Debarco says:

    It is private property and what they do there is NOBODY’s business just like what
    you do on your private property. YES, criminal acts are a different story, but
    attempting to claim that any discussion
    there should be open to public is ludicrous. Funny the same people who are all upset by supposed NSA spying are
    willing to endorse a denial of free-speech and privacy.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 8

  10. mm says:

    Anyone ever heard of Evo Morales, president of Bolivia????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Reality Check-tolerance and diversity isn’t at the Bohemian Grove-just the opposite. Where are the minorities? Where are the women?

    That’s the complaint.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 19

  12. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    No women. NO WOMEN. I think we should elect all women into positions of power or at least exactly half.

    Afterall, we outnumber the men in this country and we deserve representation. Look what’s happening in Texas right now. Confiscating women’s tampons and maxipads. CRAZY REPUBLICAN MEN IN ACTION!

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 20

  13. bats says:

    Ive said this once and I’ll say it again. Looks like the super rich will meet again, probably trying to figure out new ways of sucking money from the rest of us. Bernie Sanders (US Senator from Vermont) knows the score, here is an excerpt from his website:
    “In the United States today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income since the 1920s. Today, the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of America – 150 million people.

    Today, the six heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune own more wealth than the bottom 30 percent.

    Today, the top one percent own 40 percent of all wealth, while the bottom sixty percent owns less than 2 percent. Incredibly, the bottom 40 percent of all Americans own just 3/10ths of one percent of the wealth of the country.

    According to a new study from the Federal Reserve, median net worth for middle class families dropped by nearly 40 percent from 2007-2010. That’s the equivalent of wiping out 18 years of savings for the average middle class family.

    The distribution of income is even worse. If you can believe it, the last study on this subject showed that in 2010, 93 percent of all new income created from the previous year went to the top one percent, while the bottom 99 percent of people had the privilege of enjoying the remaining 7 percent. In other words, the rich are getting much richer while almost everyone else is falling behind.

    Not only is this inequality of wealth and income morally grotesque, it is bad economic policy. If working families are deeply in debt, and have little or no income to spend on goods and services, how can we expand the economy and create the millions of jobs we desperately need? There is a limit as to how many yachts, mansions, limos and fancy jewelry the super-rich can buy. We need to put income into the hands of working families.”

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 9

  14. Skippy says:

    Successful men, many of whom are white. That’s all the OWS loser mob needs to start whining.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

  15. Reality Check says:

    Ah, another year and another camp out in Monte Rio. And just as reliably it’s we get yet another recycled and faux serious report on the happenings from the Press Democrat, our newspaper of record. Who cares, one wants to scream, if some geezers with money want to pretend they’re camping for a week.

    Too many people in this reliably liberal enclave can’t seem to practice the tolerance and diversity they so often love to proclaim.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 8

Leave a Reply