Tag: referendum

California secessionist leader lives in Russia

The president of the pro-California secession group Yes California lives in…wait for it, Russia:

Louis J. Marinelli is a man on a quixotic mission: to help California secede from the United States and become an independent country.

Surprisingly, this quest has been going relatively well of late. Marinelli’s group, Yes California, is attempting to collect 585,000 signatures necessary to place a secessionist question on the 2018 ballot. Buoyed by California’s already tense relationship with President Donald Trump, the campaign has received a large amount of press coverage and support over the past few months.

But for the 30-year-old Yes California president, there remains one annoying problem: People keep asking him why he lives in Russia.

There’s a lot more to Marinelli’s ties to Russia than the fact that he lives there. He’s appeared on Russian state media outlets, which are notorious for their pro-Vladimir Putin media bias. Furthermore, he attended a conference, partially funded by the Kremlin (i.e., the Russian government), for leaders of U.S. state secessionist movements:

Marinelli’s ties to Alexander Ionov are perhaps bigger conspiracy fodder. Ionov is the founder of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, a group that supports various secessionist movements around the world. Last September, he put on a Kremlin-sponsored event in Moscow for Western secessionists that Martinelli and other representatives of Yes California attended.

Furthermore, there is a political movement within Russia to make California part of Russia:

Mikhail Degtyarev, a (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) Duma deputy, has asked the Russian foreign ministry to clarify the status of land that had belonged to Russia in what is now the US state of California because he believes that Washington did not pay for it as required by a nineteenth century bilateral agreement.

As a result, Degtaryev is quoted by (the Russian newspaper) Izvestiya September 26 as saying, “Russia as before has the basis to consider the territory of Fort Ross its own” and to seek either compensation via international courts or the return of that land to Russian control. In that event, he says, Moscow should install Russian missiles there.

(context added by me)

The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is a far-right Russian political party that supports an ultra-imperialist Russian policy.

It isn’t a stretch for one to observe the California secessionist movement as an apparent Russian plot to take California from the United States and put it under the control of Russia, and a shocking number of left-wing voters are being duped into supporting the secessionist movement, largely because Donald Trump, a Putin ally, is in the White House.

 

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My endorsements for the 2016 general election

With a few Democrat vs. Democrat contests on the ballot in the states of California and Washington, as well as numerous referenda on the ballot at the state, federal district, and local levels in many states and the District of Columbia, I hereby announce a slate of endorsements in various elections and referenda that are on the ballot in the November 8, 2016 general election.

U.S. Senate in California – Kamala Harris

California has an unusual U.S. Senate election this year, in that, instead of a Democrat, a Republican, and one or more minor party and/or independent candidates on the ballot, there are two Democrats on the ballot and no other candidates on the ballot. I endorse Kamala Harris in the California U.S. Senate race. Harris will fight to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons, end mass incarceration, ensure that women get equal pay for equal work, and protect California’s environment. Kamala’s opponent is Loretta Sanchez, who has a pattern of making offensive remarks that one would expect from someone like Donald Trump.

7th Congressional District of Washington – Pramila Jayapal

I endorsed Pramila Jayapal in the Seattle, Washington-based 7th Congressional District of Washington via Twitter a while back, so I’ll reiterate my endorsement of Pramilia here. Pramila is a Bernie Sanders-backed progressive who has fought for immigrant rights and common-sense ideas to strengthen America’s economy. Pramila’s opponent is a fellow Democrat, Brady Walkinshaw. Walkinshaw, who is heavily backed by the Democratic establishment, is a centrist Democrat who has openly attacked Pramilia for being a genuine progressive.

State of New Columbia Advisory Referendum – YES

You may be wondering what the State of New Columbia is, it’s not a current U.S. state, but it is a proposed U.S. state consisting of the current District of Columbia, which is our nation’s capital. While residents of our nation’s capital are patriotic U.S. citizens who pay federal taxes and vote on which presidential and vice-presidential ticket should receive the federal district’s three electoral votes, they don’t have any voting representation in Congress. The only remotely feasible way for the residents of our nation’s capital to get real representation in both houses of Congress would be for our nation’s capital to become a new state, since independence from the United States is completely illogical, retrocession of the federal district to Maryland is something that Maryland politicians won’t support, and the status quo is simply unacceptable. While a YES vote on the statehood referendum would not automatically make our nation’s capital the 51st state to join the Union because of the fact that the referendum is non-binding, it would send a powerful message to Congress, which has the power to make our nation’s capital a state, that the citizens of our nation’s capital want statehood.

California Proposition 61 – YES

A large number of propositions are on the California ballot, one of which is Proposition 61, which, contrary to right-wing attacks from Big Pharma, Republicans, and corporate Democrats, would lower drug prices for many Californians. Specifically, the measure would prohibit drug makers from charging those who have been prescribed medications more than what veterans who get their health care from the VA system pay for their prescriptions. I endorse a YES vote on California Proposition 61.

Maine Question 5 – YES

In Maine, it is not unheard of for statewide candidates to win election with only a plurality of the popular vote, owing to Maine being considerably less politically polarized than the country as a whole. Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, would allow voters to mark first, second, third, etc. preferences on their ballots, and, if one candidate has a majority of first preferences, he or she is the winner, but, if no candidate has a majority of first preferences, the second, third, etc. preferences of voters who voted for candidates that received few first preferences can be used to determine a majority winner. If Question 5 were to receive a majority of YES votes, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, gubernatorial, state senate, and state house elections in Maine would use ranked-choice voting instead of the current plurality voting system. I endorse a YES vote on Maine Question 5.

Nebraska Referendum 426 – RETAIN

Unlike most referendums in the United States, in which voters are asked to vote YES or NO on a ballot measure of some kind, Nebraska’s Referendum 426 asks voters to choose between REPEAL and RETAIN, specifically, regarding a Nebraska state law that repealed the death penalty in Nebraska. I encourage Nebraskans to RETAIN the ban on the death penalty in the Nebraska state jurisdiction, and, thus, I endorse a RETAIN vote on Nebraska Referendum 426. If someone is wrongly convicted of a capital crime, sentenced to death, executed, and it is found out after the execution that the person was wrongly convicted, there is no legal recourse in that situation. If someone is wrongly convicted of a major crime, sentenced to life imprisonment, and then found out that the person was wrongly convicted, the person can have his/her conviction overturned and be released from prison. That’s just one reason why I oppose the death penalty.

42nd Legislative District of North Dakota (State House) – Kylie Oversen

Normally, when I endorse a Democratic candidate for public office, it’s in a contested Democratic primary or a Democratic primary that may be contested. I will make one exception to that rule every two years by endorsing a Democratic candidate that I believe is a truly special person for the general election. For 2016, I endorse Kylie Oversen in her re-election bid for her North Dakota House of Representative seat in the 42nd Legislative District of North Dakota. When it comes to reproductive rights, Kylie has gone above and beyond what is typically expected of a pro-choice elected official by helping women who wish to seek an abortion by serving as an abortion clinic escort:

(Oversen is the person on the right-hand side of the picture)

In addition to her support for women’s rights, Kylie has consistently supported progressive ideas and values on many political issues facing North Dakota.

ENDORSEMENT: “Leave” for United Kingdom European Union referendum

I proudly endorse the Brexit campaign in the upcoming European Union referendum in the United Kingdom, in which British voters will be asked whether the UK should remain part of the EU or leave the EU altogether. Therefore, I am asking British voters to vote “Leave” in the June 23 EU referendum in the UK.

The EU has played a significant role in destroying the Greek economy by imposing austerity demands on Greece. If the UK were to vote to remain in the EU, the EU will, at some point in time, impose the same austerity demands on the UK that they placed on Greece. If the UK were to remain a part of the EU, the UK will, at some point, be forced to replace the Pound sterling with the Euro, meaning higher prices on goods and services for Britons.

Furthermore, the entire concept of the EU is rooted in a German imperialist mindset straight out of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The only differences is that Britain isn’t being bombed and a full-blown fascist isn’t Germany’s leader. People should learn from history, not repeat it.

Last, but not least, remaining in the EU would further threaten the sovereignty of the UK, which is vested in the British monarchy. Britain’s national anthem isn’t “God Save Europe”, it’s “God Save The Queen”!

Corporate Democrat Chris Abele would represent Scott Walker’s third term in office if he were to run for and be elected Wisconsin Governor

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Executive Chris Abele has been making public appearances outside of Milwaukee County in recent days. Recently, and to my knowledge, he’s appeared on a talk radio program in Madison, Wisconsin, and he’s also appeared at a Democratic Party picnic in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Both of these locations are 60-90 miles or so away from Milwaukee, if I’m not mistaken. This seems to be unusual for Abele to make appearances at events outside of Milwaukee County.

While there was some speculation that Abele may run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin next year, Russ Feingold is already running in that race, and, for someone who is not known as a big-time fundraiser, Feingold has raised a ton of money for his campaign, so I’m guessing that Abele thinks that he doesn’t have a realistic path to victory in that race, although I could be wrong about that. I’m speculating that Abele may want to run for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018, and, outside of a few social issues, Abele would pretty much represent Scott Walker’s third term in the Wisconsin governor’s mansion if he were to run for and be elected governor.

Before being elected the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county, Abele once threw fireworks at a neighbor’s house. Since being elected Milwaukee County Executive, Abele has:

  • Enacted Scott Walker-style austerity measures in Milwaukee County, which have hurt Milwaukee County’s economy
  • Has openly antagonized Democrats, progressives, and labor union members
  • Tried to get the Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature to prohibit counties from passing living wage ordinances designed to boost local economies
  • Actively supported corporate welfare for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks
  • Actively opposed efforts to allow Milwaukee County voters to vote in a non-binding referendum on whether or not they want to get rid of Walker/Abele-style big-money politics
  • Allied himself with Deanna Alexander, a far-right Milwaukee County Supervisor who has made overtly racist and sexist remarks about Democrats, women, and ethnic minorities
  • Spent large amounts of Milwaukee County taxpayers’ money on items like a large SUV for himself
  • Has repeatedly had his vetoes of progressive ideals overridden by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, a Milwaukee County employee and progressive patriot, has documented Chris Abele’s horrible track record as Milwaukee County Executive at his blog over the past few years.

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chris Abele’s right-wing record as the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county. When I say that Abele wouldn’t be significantly better as Wisconsin Governor than Scott Walker, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the truth. Hopefully, one or more actual progressives, or at least someone who believes that the government should serve the people and not big-money special interests, runs in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin Governor a little more than three years from now.

Bhuaigh Comhionannas!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The title of this diary is in the Irish language; the English translation of the title is “Equality wins!”. I am providing an American English language version and an Irish language translation of my article. The translations are courtesy of Google Translate, because I have no actual working knowledge of the Irish language.

NÓTA AN ÚDAIR: Is é an teideal an dialann i nGaeilge; Is é an leagan Béarla-theanga an teideal “Equality Wins!” Tá mé ag soláthar leagan Meiriceánach Béarla agus aistriúchán Gaeilge de mo earra. Is iad na haistriúcháin caoinchead Google Translate, toisc go bhfuil mé aon eolas ag obair iarbhír ar an nGaeilge.


A strong majority of voters in the Republic of Ireland have voted to ratify an amendment to the Irish Constitution that will allow gay and lesbian couples to enjoy the same right to marry that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. With all 43 Dáil (lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish national legislature) constituencies having counted votes, there were a total of 1,935,907 valid votes cast in the marriage equality referendum. Of those valid votes, 1,201,607 votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 734,300 votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. Rounded to the nearest hundredths of a percent, 62.07% votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 37.93% of votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. As only a simple majority is required to ratify an amendment, marriage equality is officially law of the land in the Republic of Ireland.

This is an historic victory for supporters of equality for two major reasons. First, the Republic of Ireland will now and forever be known as the first sovereign country to approve marriage equality in a public referendum. Second, the Republic of Ireland is an historic stronghold of the Catholic Church, which has aggressively defended discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and has strongly opposed all efforts around the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Irish voters have bravely stood up to the Catholic Church and other supporters of discrimination by voting to ratify the marriage equality amendment. Love has won in Ireland!


Tromlach láidir na vótálaithe i bPoblacht na hÉireann tar éis vótáil leasú ar Bhunreacht na hÉireann a chuirfidh ar chumas lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun taitneamh a bhaint as an ceart céanna chun pósadh go taitneamh a bhaint as lánúineacha heitrighnéasacha láthair a dhaingniú. Le gach 43 Dála (teach íochtarach an Oireachtais, na hÉireann náisiúnta reachtas) dáilcheantair a bhfuil vótaí a chomhaireamh, bhí iomlán de 1,935,907 vótaí bailí a caitheadh sa reifreann chomhionannais pósadh. As na vótaí bailí, bhí a caitheadh 1,201,607 vóta i bhfabhar comhionannas pósadh, agus cuireadh chaith 734,300 vóta ina gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Slánaithe go dtí na chéadú gaire de faoin gcéad, bhí chaith 62.07% vóta i bhfabhar an chomhionannais pósadh, agus bhí 37.93% de na vótaí arna gcaitheamh i gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Toisc go bhfuil ach tromlach simplí de dhíth leasú a dhaingniú, tá comhionannas pósadh hoifigiúil dlí ar an talamh i bPoblacht na hÉireann.

Is é seo an bua stairiúil do lucht tacaíochta an chomhionannais ar dhá chúis mhóra. Gcéad dul síos, beidh an Phoblacht na hÉireann anois agus go deo ar a dtabharfar an chéad tír ceannasach chun comhionannas pósadh cheadú i reifreann poiblí. Dara, is é an Phoblacht na hÉireann ina dhaingean stairiúil an Eaglais Chaitliceach, a bhfuil a chosaint aggressively idirdhealú in aghaidh lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha agus tá láidir i gcoinne gach iarracht ar fud an domhain chun ligean lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun pósadh.

Vótálaithe na hÉireann a sheas cróga suas go dtí an Eaglais Chaitliceach agus lucht tacaíochta eile idirdhealaithe ag vótáil an leasú chomhionannais pósadh a dhaingniú. Grá bhuaigh in Éirinn!

Boston 2024 Olympic organizers are in full damage control mode

As a result of a brilliant anti-Olympic campaign by No Boston Olympics and a large number of issues that have been publicly raised with the Boston 2024 Summer Olympic bid, a recent opinion poll found that only 36% of Boston-area voters support the bid.

The growing opposition to the Boston Olympic bid has brought the bid’s future into doubt and has left bid organizers in full damage control mode.

First, the Boston 2024 Olympic organizers have publicly called for a statewide referendum to be held in Massachusetts in November of 2016, at the same time as the 2016 general election for president. However, only the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature of Massachusetts, can legally refer an up-or-down vote on the Boston Olympic bid to voters. This is because the initiative process at the state level in Massachusetts is limited to instructing the legislature to enact or repeal laws, although the bid organizers may use this option to get a referendum on the ballot. Additionally, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has publicly stated that he’d like to see a referendum on the Boston Olympic bid to be held in March of 2016.

Second, the Boston city government is currently in the midst of a series of nine “community hearings”, and that city officials expect the bid organizers to make some changes to the plans for the Boston Olympic bid once the final “community hearing” is held later this year. However, no specific changes to the bid plans have been officially made at this time. Additionally, some have publicly criticized the “community hearings” for being more about promoting the Boston Olympic bid than actually listening to the concerns of Boston residents.

Third, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is trying to deny reports by The Wall Street Journal that the USOC may withdraw the Boston 2024 bid altogether if public support for the bid remains low. Although anything published by The Wall Street Journal should be taken with a grain of salt, this appears to be damage control by the USOC.

Bostonians have more important concerns, such as improving the local mass transit system, than hosting an international multi-sport event. That’s why the Boston 2024 Olympic bid is failing, and organizers are in full damage control mode.

ENDORSEMENT: NO on Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Amendment

On the April ballot in Wisconsin, there will, more than likely, be a proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to give justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court the power to elect one of their own to be the chief justice to the court (currently, the most senior justice is automatically chief justice).

I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to vote NO on this proposed amendment.

This amendment, if ratified, would make an already polarized and politicized Wisconsin Supreme Court, whose conservative majority is more concerned about implementing a right-wing agenda by judicial fiat than actually interpreting the law, even more polarized and politicized. However, unlike the corporate media, I’m not about to give up and concede that this amendment is going to be ratified with voters without a fight, and I hope Wisconsin Democrats and progressives don’t concede to the right-wingers without a fight.

Wisconsinites should send a strong message against Scott Walker’s court packing scheme, which also includes a proposed mandatory retirement bill, designed to force the lone moderate justice and the current chief justice off of the bench of Wisconsin’s highest court entirely, that will not be on the ballot, by voting against allowing the Wisconsin Supreme Court justices to select their own chief justice.

Despite strong opposition from the community, Boston selected as U.S. bid for 2024 Summer Olympics

Despite strong, organized opposition from Bostonians, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has officially nominated the Boston 2024 Olympic bid as the U.S. bid for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, more commonly known as the 2024 Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select the host city sometime in 2017 at an IOC meeting in Lima, Peru; this vote is currently scheduled for September 15, 2017. The Boston bid will compete against bids by Rome, Italy, either Berlin, Germany or Hamburg, Germany, and possibly several bids by other cities in other countries for the IOC’s selection.

Make no mistake about it, the only way I would support a Boston Olympic bid is if it went to a statewide referendum in Massachusetts, preferably one held at the same time as the 2016 presidential election, and won.

Past Olympics, most notably the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, and the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics, have become notorious for large amounts of money, including the taxpayer money of the host country’s citizens, being spent on venues that were built specifically for one or more Olympic sports and are/were of little or no post-Olympic use. Especially in the case of Athens 2004, many venues were left vacant, but still standing, after the games, becoming public eyesores and a symbol of the collapse of the Greek economy that was triggered by the Great Recession. It’s also worth noting that the last city of comparable size to Boston that hosted a Summer Olympics was Athens in 2004, in fact, Boston is a slightly smaller city than Athens (Boston has a population of 617,594 per the 2010 U.S. Census, Athens has a population of 664,606 per the 2011 Greek Census).

I am calling for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts General Assembly to put a statewide referendum on the ballot, preferably scheduled for the same time as the November 2016 presidential election, on whether or not Boston should be allowed to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Additionally, I am calling for the Boston 2024 Olympic organizers to use as little federal, state, and local taxpayer money as possible, utilize as many pre-existing sports venues as possible, and to have a plan in place for post-Olympic use for every single permanent venue that will be utilized and/or built for the 2024 Olympics if Boston were to be selected by the IOC to host the Games.

Illinois House Democrats fail to pass minimum wage increase

How I feel about Illinois House Democrats failing to pass a minimum wage increase (image credit to National Football League, CBS Sports, and C.J. Fogler; views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not those of Tom Brady, C.J. Fogler, the New England Patriots, the National Football League, CBS Sports, or any other person or entity)

On November 4, an overwhelming majority of Illinois voters voiced their support for increasing our state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour.

However, despite the fact that the Illinois Senate passed a minimum wage bill, the Illinois House of Representatives adjourned without passing legislation to raise our state’s minimum wage, presumably because one or more Raunercrats in the state house oppose raising the minimum wage. This is a major failure by State House Speaker Mike Madigan and the rest of the Democrats who have a supermajority in the state house because they completely ignored the will of the people of this great state.

Raising the minimum wage would boost our state’s economy by putting more money into the pockets of the working poor, enabling them to spend more money on goods and services. Furthermore, raising the minimum wage would make Illinoisans less reliant on social safety net programs like foodstamps and heating assistance, saving taxpayers money while keeping our social safety net intact for people who need it.

The fact that Democrats in this state can’t pass a minimum wage increase proves how gutless the Democratic Party of Illinois is.

ENDORSEMENT: YES for Scottish independence

I’m an American who lives in a small town in the east central part of the U.S. state of Illinois, so I have no vested interest whatsoever in the politics of the United Kingdom, but I’ve been inspired by the social media-driven Yes campaign for Scottish independence, and my endorsement of Scottish independence is more of a way of expressing my admiration of Scottish independence supporters than anything else.

In order to circumvent the British press, the Yes campaign in Scotland has developed an extensive social media network, and I’ve seen it in action. Recently, rock musician Sir Bob Geldof, who was born in the Republic of Ireland (which fought a war against the UK for independence and won), gave a speech opposing Scottish independence from London, which is the single worst place one could pick to give a speech opposing Scottish independence. Because of the Twitter presence of Scottish independence supporters, several topics related to Geldof’s speech, such as “Bob Geldof” and “Trafalgar Square”, are trending on Twitter as I type this blog post. The pro-Scottish independence campaign’s network of supporters on social media reminds me a lot of the social media presence that progressive activists in the U.S. state of Wisconsin built up during the 2011 protests against the busting of labor unions there.

Besides, what does Scotland get with its 307-year-old union with England and Wales? Nothing but a ton of bloviating Westminster politicians and the British press fawning over the Duchess of Cambridge at every opportunity. Worst of all, the No campaign against Scottish independence has resorted to the kind of right-wing fearmongering that is normally seen from Republican politicians here in the United States.

I encourage Scottish voters to vote Yes on the Scottish independence referendum on Thursday.