Calexit choke: Leader likes living in Russia better

Louis Marinelli wrote that his Yes California secession movement was “about California taking its place in the world, standing as an equal among nations.” It seems that Marinelli has found his place in the world, and it’s not in California or the US. Marinelli now plans to live permanently in Yekaterinburg, Russia, from where he led the referendum drive to get California to declare its independence. Marinelli announced yesterday that he’s withdrawing the petition to get on the spring 2019 ballot:

In a lengthy statement Monday, Louis Marinelli, president of the separatist group Yes California, announced he was withdrawing his petition for a referendum on secession. Instead, he plans to apply to be a live permanently in Russia, where he currently resides.

“I have found in Russia a new happiness, a life without the albatross of frustration and resentment towards ones’ homeland, and a future detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life,” Marinelli wrote. “Consequently, if the people of Russia would be so kind as to welcome me here on a permanent basis, I intend to make Russia my new home.”

In the statement, Marinelli explained that he was “primarily motivated” to work toward California’s secession due to a “personal struggle” over his wife’s immigration status. But his wife now has a green card, and anyway he is disillusioned with the US and doesn’t “wish to live under the American flag.”

One reason Marinelli gives for throwing in the towel: harsh media coverage. Marinelli complains about the treatment he’s gotten since his location became known:

“Now the mainstream media, many of which are based in Washington and in New York, have called Calexit a fringe campaign with no chance of ever succeeding,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, they have simultaneously sensationalized, exaggerated, and dramatized information about our campaign and particularly about myself in an effort to delegitimize our effort and demoralize our supporters.”

Er … it is a fringe movement with no chance of ever succeeding. We settled the secession question in 1865. You can look it up, as Casey Stengel used to say when managing another team that had no chance of success. At best, Yes California was a temper tantrum from the Left over losing an election. At worst, it was an attempt to exploit and manipulate voters angry over alleged Russian interference in the election for the nefarious purposes of others …. which makes Marinelli’s status and decision all the more ironic.

Of course, the New York Times covered the real irony of Yes California in that context in February:

And back in California, he is on the defensive for accepting travel expenses and office space from a Kremlin-linked nationalist group. That acceptance has raised the prospect that Russia, after meddling in the election to try to tip the vote to Mr. Trump, as United States intelligence agencies have said, is now gleefully stoking divisions in America by backing a radical liberal movement. …

While no indications exist of a direct Russian government hand in Mr. Marinelli’s organization, a group that is nominally independent but nonetheless state financed, and supports only causes that dovetail with the Kremlin’s foreign policy, paid for a hotel room in Moscow during a congress of secessionist groups from around the world in September 2016. These included the Texas Nationalist Movement, backers of Puerto Rican independence and a group wanting to restore the Hawaiian monarchy. A Russian group, known as the Anti-Globalization Movement, which like Mr. Marinelli advocates the breakup of the United States, also offered him office space in Moscow to open an “embassy” of California in Russia, and Mr. Marinelli accepted.

It’s not difficult to understand why Russia would want to back secessionist movements in the US. Russian leaders still smarting from the collapse of the Soviet Union see the US as the force behind the loss of their empire in Asia and eastern Europe, and would like to return the favor. The difference is that those republics which formed the USSR hardly volunteered to join the Soviet empire, and were happy to leave it at the first opportunity with or without Western assistance.

Does that mean the end of the California secession movement? Buzzfeed’s Jim Dalrymple says no; Marinelli’s #2 at Yes California wants to join forces with the like-minded California Freedom Caucus, and perhaps the California National Party. The resulting organization would be almost like tying together several states into a unified entity, which …. also seems pretty ironic, and every bit as doomed as Yes California, no matter where it will be headquartered.