Reclaiming Democracy


It was, in the end, about a 21st century governor who joined a short, tragic list of 20th century governors. You know at least some of these names, probably: Wallace, Faubus, Barnett. They were men who fed our worst impulses, men who rallied citizens against citizens, instead of leading their states forward. —Charlotte Observer editorial board

North Carolina’s not-so-illustrious Governor Pat McCrory was evidently caught completely off guard by the backlash of outrage and condemnation from individuals, organizations, North Carolina city governments and national corporations that followed his signing of the anti-LGBT House Bill 2 (HB2), sometimes known as the Charlotte Bathroom Bill. The nAll-Gender-Restroom-Signew state law not only overturns Charlotte’s city ordinance barring discrimination and creating transgender accommodation for bathroom use. According to David A. Graham in The Atlantic, “… it also prevents any local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances, mandates that students in the state’s schools use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, and prevents cities from enacting minimum wages higher than the state’s.” Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch notes that “the legislation also eliminated the right of workers illegally fired because of their race or religion or gender from suing in state court.”

Of course when you live in a privileged, white, heterosexual, affluent male bubble, it’s easy to lose touch with reality and the fact that homophobia, transphobia and bigotry don’t play too well outside the rural conservative enclaves in North Carolina. Even the governor of Georgia saw the wisdom of declining to sign the bigoted bill that his state legislature recently passed, perhaps not wanting to have his name mentioned in the same breath as extremists George Wallace, Orval Faubus and Lester Maddox. (more…)

On the 13th anniversary of the Iraq War, a repost of an op-ed I wrote on October 12, 2002, several months before the invasion began.

* * *

After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad.
–President George W. Bush about Saddam Hussein

I can appreciate his obsessive need to prove his masculinity and defend his family name. But should Americans kill and die for that?
–Dr. Susan Block about George W. Bush

The first casualty when war comes is truth.
–Hiram Johnson

Thousands, perhaps millions of Americans are saying “Yes” to peace and “No” to a war on Iraq—via telephone calls, e-mail, the U.S. Postal Service and their feet. Here in Asheville letters to the editor in the Citizen-Times overwhelmingly oppose a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, and over 125 citizens from all walks of life gathered at Pack Square last Sunday, in solidarity with thousands of other demonstrators throughout the U.S., to declare “Not in my name.”

Yet the relentless march to war by the Bush administration and camp followers proceeds. Congress has folded like a cheap suit, giving the President the authority to bully another second-rate power into submission. Yeah, we’re number one … as long as we pick on nations we can easily defeat.U.S. Marine holds Iraqi child after crossfire ripped apart family in central Iraq

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is an aggressive tyrant who maintains power through brutality and armed force. Of course, he was one of our guys in the Middle East until he lurched into Kuwait, but no one has ever accused us of choosing allies for their adherence to democratic principles. Nonetheless the Bush administration’s justifications for the proposed crusade against our latest Public Enemy Number One (Does anybody remember Osama bin Laden?) are worthy of close scrutiny. (more…)

My recent letter to the editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times:

What is Buncombe County’s severe weather policy?

During the mid-February 2014 snowstorm, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, concerned for the safety of his seventeen staff members, allowed them to leave work early on February 12. At that time County Manager Wanda Greene took issue with Reisinger’s actions and stated:

Our policy is that we do not close, and no other offices have closed in the 20 years I have been with Buncombe County.

However, during the recent snowstorm of 2016, Greene evidently reversed her stance. In a January 22 email she wrote:

The weather is predicted to get much worse as they day goes on – with up to 15 inches of snow predicted. So, I want county facilities to close no later than 10 this morning. We need to make sure our employees get home safely.

So as a concerned Buncombe County citizen, I’m left wondering; what is the county’s severe weather policy?

Bruce Mulkey, Asheville

Below is my recent letter to the Asheville Citizen-Times backing Jasmine Beach-Ferrara for Buncombe County Commission.

BACKING BEACH-FERRARA FOR SEAT ON COMMISSION

When Amendment One passed in North Carolina in 2012, many pundits and politicians said it would take decades to change the discriminatory law and give LGBT people marriage equality in our state. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, however, did not accept this disheartening prediction. Jasmine and the organization she leads, the Campaign for Southern Equality, worked diligently with attorneys and plaintiffs to successfully strike down Amendment One in just two years.

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Jasmine had a powerful vision: equality for all our citizens. And she possessed the leadership, organizational skills and courage to make that vision a reality. Now Jasmine is running for public office—the Buncombe County Commission in District 1.

I had an opportunity to work with Jasmine for a few weeks when the lawsuit opposing Amendment One was being filed. I found her to be bright, resourceful, upbeat, attentive and determined. When elected Jasmine will bring these attributes forward as a true public servant, beholden to no political clique, equally representing all the people of our county regardless of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, wealth, religion or political persuasion. If you live in District 1, I strongly urge you to cast your vote for Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in the County Commission race in the March 15 Democratic Primary.

Bruce Mulkey, Asheville

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