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Mendocino County Today: January 3, 2012


By Bruce Anderson

Most AVA readers are probably aware, however dimly, that a woman named Judi Bari was nearly killed in Oakland by a car bomb in May of 1990. The device detonated directly beneath the driver's seat of the car Bari was driving. The person with her, Darryl Cherney, her close friend and fellow Earth First! organizer, was only slightly injured. Both Bari and Cherney would have been killed if the bomb had exploded as designed. A resident of Mendocino County and self-identified Earth First!er, Bari had been foremost in organizing Redwood Summer, a mass protest against corporate timber's cash-in of the Northcoast's redwood forests.

The spectacular attempt on Bari's life was soon eclipsed by the first Iraq war, and Bari, grievously injured in the explosion, died in 1997.

The FBI and the Oakland Police had prematurely arrested Bari and Cherney on the presumption they had knowingly transported the device that almost killed them. In the few years left to her, Bari, and a handful of acolytes, including Cherney, raised large amounts of money for a winning federal libel lawsuit against the FBI and the Oakland Police Department in 2002. Bari's daughters, Cherney and several left attorneys walked away with several million dollars, having worked closely with the feds to draft the suit to exclude all mention of whose bomb set the suit in motion.

Within days of the blast, Mike Geniella, a reporter with the New York Times-owned Santa Rosa Press Democrat, had received a letter from a person signing himself The Lord's Avenger. Written in thunderous, faux Old Testament prose, the Avenger described the bomb in detail only the bomber could know. The bombing suspect now became a deranged fundamentalist, and the FBI, always a dependable villain among the left, became the Avenger's enabler if not co-conspirator.

Bari, Cherney, and their allies well-placed in the Pacifica Network, including Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, have always managed to ignore inconvenient questions about the bombing, especially those raised in a fine but mostly unseen documentary on the case by Steve Talbot, who went on to anchor PBS's Frontline series. Talbot's film was called “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” Talbot answered that question on information supplied by Bari herself — Judi Bari was probably bombed by her ex-husband. Talbot, without directly identifying Bari's ex in the film, pointed straight at him. But after Bari's death, Talbot appeared on a San Francisco-based television program called “This Week In Northern California” to say that Bari had told him she was certain her ex-husband had bombed her, that the great assassins of the corporate-FBI nexus so beloved by the Pacifica Network had to be moved aside for what was really a fancy case of domestic violence.

Bari's ex-husband, Mike Sweeney, magically kept off stage all these years as the likeliest suspect, is not the usual estranged husband. He comes with special qualifications. He belonged to Professor H. Bruce Franklin's Maoist posse at Stanford in the late 1960s, and he and Bari met at a labor organizing event, married and moved to Santa Rosa where a hangar on the mostly abandoned airfield next door mysteriously blew up one night prior to their relocation to Redwood Valley in Mendocino County. The airfield was home to weekend pilots who annoyed the Sweeney-Bari household with their overflights, and Sweeney and Bari had successfully sued Hewlett-Packard to halt development of the tract the airfield rested on. Police suspected Sweeney and Bari — they had no other suspects — but were unable to make the case against them. By the time they arrived in Mendocino County where their marriage soon disintegrated, the two radicals had enjoyed, you might say, a uniquely explosive relationship.

In the 22 years since Judi Bari was blown up in Oakland, out there in what's left of the American left, it's an article of faith that she was a martyr to the usual malign forces that do the dirty work for our ruling circles. Tune in Democracy Now or KPFA out of Berkeley and you will hear someone saying that the author of the attack on Judi Bari remains a mystery but we, wink-wink, we in the know, we know the corporations and the FBI got her.

What you won't hear, because alternative explanations of the case are deliberately excluded from Pacifica's preciously PC airwaves, is that the mystery of who bombed Judi Bari isn't a mystery at all, that it can be solved via the known DNA lifted from the Lord's Avenger Letter. No one seems interested, but that DNA exists and has been found to be primarily female, placed there in 1990, just before DNA became the slam-dunk investigative tool it has since become.

Judi Bari is still being bombed by persons deliberately obstructing resolution of the case, this time in the form of an hagiographic epic assembled by Cherney that mostly features himself. It is also called, “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”, a nice piece of cynicism that might make it appear that the honest film of the same title by Steve Talbot didn't pre-date Cherney's film by twenty-one years. Predictably, Cherney's version of “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” has gotten big play from Amy Goodman and the cringing speakers-of-truth-to-power at places like KPFA.

The even larger mystery of Who Bombed Judi Bari is this: why isn't what passes for a left media in this country demanding that the Bari case be solved? Why did Susan Faludi suddenly abandon her book on Bari after getting a large publisher's advance to write it? Why has Judi Bari's famous sister, Gina Kolata of the New York Times, never written about her sister's sad fate?

And why has Bari's family never publicly demanded the case be solved?


OUR NEW CONGRESSMAN, Jared Huffman, says he's going to join a couple of Republicans to agitate for a states-rights approach to marijuana regulation, which Californians thought we already had back in 1996 when a majority of us voted for the medical use of marijuana as a sudden epidemic of 18-year-olds with bad backs and “stress disorders” materialized. Colorado and Washington have now legalized the recreational zombification, and a total of 18 states permit the medical consumption of weed. The feds, however, and as we know, remain zero tolerance despite the toker installed in the White House and, as we also know, have subpoenaed records pertaining to Mendocino County's commonsense program to bring some order (and revenue) to local pot production.

SEEMS TO US here in Fogeyville that the present state of marijuana regulation is simply more evidence that government, at all levels, has achieved a perfect pitch of irresolvable entropy, that no matter how sensible it would be to regulate, police and tax the substance much as alcohol is regulated, policy contradictions grind on. We think the major reason for the entropy on this one area of government gridlock is the huge number of jobs involved, especially at the federal level with its lavishly funded and staffed Drug Enforcement Agency. Legalize pot and a whole lot of people would be out of their cush government jobs.

IT IS DEPRESSING, though, to walk through the stoned shoals of thanatoids clustered with their pitbulls at Stanyan and Haight in San Francisco, and it's even more depressing that so many high school kids, even in the outback of the Anderson Valley, regularly smoke. The envelope please: Millions of cases of self-induced brain damage, most of it temporary, lots of it permanent.

HANK SIMS reports: “The Lost Coast Outpost has learned from multiple sources that Security National Servicing Corp., the Eureka-based financial services company owned by the Arkley family, laid off a significant percentage of its workforce on Friday. One person affected by the layoffs estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of the company’s workforce was let go. The layoffs affected both the company’s Eureka and Baton Rouge offices, the person said. Another person estimates that around 30 people were laid off, though it was unclear whether that figure referred to the company as a whole or the Eureka office alone. Security National owner Rob Arkley blanket-refused to comment to the Outpost last year, a prohibition we assume is still in effect.”

SHERIFF’S OFFICE PRESS RELEASE (September 29, 2012) At approximately 8:10am Mendocino County Sheriffs Deputies and California Highway Officers were dispatched to the listed location to assist Potter Valley and Cal Fire in regards to a fully engulfed residential fire. On arrival deputies learned that family members had vacated the residence during the fire, but possibly two victims remained inside and were unaccounted for. Deputies then contacted detectives who responded to the location. During the fire investigation, two victims were located inside the burnt structure. Mendocino County Detectives along with Cal Fire Investigators are continuing the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire along with identifying the two deceased victims. Further information will be released in the coming week.

UPDATE #1 (October 2, 2012) At 10am hours the two deceased victims were identified as being Earle McDaniel, 87, and Wesley McDaniel, 55, both of Potter Valley, who investigators identified as being father and son. Sheriff's Detectives are continuing their investigation into the cause of the fire. Anyone with information that they believe would be useful for Detectives is asked to call the Sheriff's Office Tip Line at 707-234-2100.

UPDATE #2 (December 13, 2012) The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office concluded the investigation in to the deaths of Earle McDaniel and Wesley McDaniel. At that time an approximately 200 page investigative report was provided to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for an official review of the information collected during the investigation. Sheriff's Detectives believed the information collected did not substantiate an allegation of arson made by Dawn McDaniel, a surviving occupant of the residence. Statements obtained from two children who were also surviving occupants of the residence suggested the fire had accidentally started as the result of an unattended burning candle. The location of the candle was consistent with the origin of the fire as witnessed by Cal Fire Chief Chris Rowney and Potter Valley Fire Chief Bill Pauli upon their arrival at the residence. On December 18, 2012 the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office concluded their official review of the Sheriff's Office investigative report and determined there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate the fire was anything but accidental. On January 2, 2013 the Mendocino County Chief Deputy Coroner classified the deaths of Earle McDaniel and Wesley McDaniel as accidental. (Approved By: Lt. Greg Van Patten)


NEW YEAR, NEW ERA for Progressives and Obama

By Norman Solomon

As 2013 gets underway, progressives need to be here now. We’re in a new era of national politics -- with different circumstances that call for a major shift in approach.

Last year, the vast majority of progressives supported the Obama campaign to keep a Republican out of the White House. We helped deliver that vital blow to right-wing forces.

But now, President Obama is no longer the alternative to prevent a GOP takeover of the presidency. He goes into his last term as the leader exerting immense leverage that continues to move the Democratic Party -- and the frame of political debate -- in a rightward and corporate direction.

That’s a predictable result when Democratic leadership makes cutting Social Security doable, puts a bull’s-eye on Medicare, protects the military from major cuts, takes a dive on climate change, reinforces perpetual war in sync with “kill lists” for routine drone attacks across continents, throws habeas corpus and other civil liberties under the bus and promotes far-reaching austerity measures.

With the threat of a President Romney gone and the continuing scarcity of a progressive moral core in the Oval Office, millions of progressives who understood the tactical wisdom of supporting Obama’s re-election should now recognize that the time has come to renounce his leadership.

That leadership has become so corrosive that the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, last month declared a cut in Social Security’s cost-of-living allowance would “strengthen” Social Security. This is typical of the doublespeak that continues to accompany a downward spiral -- underscoring the great need for progressive insurgencies against what the Obama administration has become.

To build progressive strength, as a practical matter, sooner is much better than later. With the president in his final term, why wait years to challenge the rightward momentum coming from the top of the Democratic Party? There is no better time to proceed with that challenge than right now.

As part of the process, we’ll need to build genuine progressive leadership from the grassroots. An astute motto notes: when the people lead, the leaders will follow.

For those who contend that grassroots action cannot dramatically shift the national discourse, one word of refutation should suffice: Occupy. Such insurgencies are possible -- and can scale up with remarkable rapidity, as the Occupy movement showed in late 2011.

But denunciations and protests, while vital, are insufficient. We need stronger progressive institutions imbued with clarity and greater capacity to organize from the base to make the most of this new era -- without illusions or counterproductive fixations on Obama as an individual.

Vilifying or lionizing Obama often personalizes politics as “pro” or “anti” Obama. But the useful point is not to personalize our opposition -- quite the opposite. We need to politicize it, clearly based on a moral view of what politics should be and what so many administration policies are not. We’re fighting to overcome an entire corporatist system.

Ironically, on the left, Obama’s demonizers and apologists often fall into opposing sides of the same trap: fixating on Obama the person instead of concentrating on a sober political assessment of his presidential actions and inaction.

That governance is not compatible with a progressive agenda. Obama’s political dance steps with Republicans continue to move the country’s frame-of-reference further rightward. As the New York Times reports, the tax deal that President Obama pushed through Congress on Tuesday “would have been a Republican fiscal fantasy” just a few years ago -- “a sweeping bill that locks in virtually all of the Bush-era tax cuts, exempts almost all estates from taxation, and enshrines the former president’s credo that dividends and capital gains should be taxed equally and gently.”

Obama has his hands firmly on the levers of national party power. That’s why so few Democrats -- just three in the Senate and 16 in the House -- dared to vote against the fiscal deal on New Year’s Day. But now there are real opportunities for insurgencies and challenges from the party base as well as other progressive constituencies, inside and outside the electoral arena.

Will we grasp those opportunities? If the answer is yes, it won’t come from the top echelons of the largest unions, environmental groups or liberal PACs. Whatever their virtues, such organizations have become too enmeshed as enablers of the Obama White House to contemplate helping to launch from-the-base challenges to the administration.

With the danger of a Republican replacing Obama in the White House now behind us, progressives must proceed to systematically confront the administration in the process of reframing the national discourse on economic fairness, Wall Street, civil liberties, war and climate change. The next generations are depending on us.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.


What’s this so-called Fiscal Cliff?

Not real but they say it’s bad

If Pols refuse to split the diff

Between the cuts and choice to add

To our Nation’s Debt to hurt

Future Generations who

Will find their Dicks stuck in the dirt

Because most of all their Taxes due

Will go to pay off those who own

The Bond, the Note or Treasury Bill

Which take the shape of a Private Loan

To our Country, with Interest till

A Revolution wipes out the Debt--

And that’s as good as it will get.

-- John Wester


  1. Tracy January 7, 2013

    Thank you for this article. When the bombing happened, all the
    evidence was there. My then-boyfriend and I said to each
    other…”ex-husband did it”… and our far left friends screamed “NNOOO!
    Its the MAN trying to keep the truth from the people…” etc. The
    problem with the entire thing is that these were small time jerks
    wanting to get on the ‘A’ list of domestic trouble makers. ie: weather
    underground, PLO, type wanna-be’s. As for Cherney, he has nothing to
    offer the world, his “cause”, his community, but weird paranoia and
    BS. I couldn’t read more than a sentence or two of his response,
    simply because, ‘I think he doth protest too much’. The more he
    prattles on, the more I think he was a part of the plan,
    Murder-suicide for the cause, man. Hmmmmm?

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