Roy Moore is on the run



By Josh Moon

It was all just a show. I think that deep down most everyone knew this about Roy Moore — that his entire persona was nothing more than a contrived act. A ruse. A way to tweak his ego and bring easy money to his doorstep.

He’s not the tough Christian soldier. He’s not a cowboy. He’s not a pistol-toting, leather vest-wearing warrior.

In reality, Roy Moore is just another politician.

One desperately trying to weasel his way into an office that he doesn’t deserve and damn sure hasn’t earned.

Maybe you’ve noticed that Moore has been mysteriously absent from your TVs, radios and newspapers. That’s because he’s essentially gone into a conservative bunker, attending mostly closed, invite-only events at which the questions and crowd are vetted beforehand.

Because Moore knows the reality: His own words are killing him.

We are at the beginning of a shift in America — you could see evidence of this in Tuesday night’s election results — away from the hatred and bigotry that has so thoroughly embarrassed this country globally and towards a more rational, respectful government. The majority of voters have seen the effect of hate and bigotry on the country, and they don’t like it.

Even in Alabama, the reddest of the red states and the Trumpiest of the Trump states, you can sense this shift. When else would a Doug Jones have a prayer in a statewide election against a Roy Moore?

Don’t get me wrong, it is a prayer. There are still quite a few people in Alabama who will overlook anything a Republican says or does and vote against a Democrat. But the overwhelming majority of voters know it’s not OK for politicians to declare that Muslims are unfit to serve in Congress or to openly defy the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court and their oaths of office.

Moore has done and said all of that. He’s bragged about it. It’s what made that phony image believable to so many — here was a judge willing to risk his job to keep the Ten Commandments in the courthouse lobby. A real fighter.

In the recent past, moderate Republican voters have chosen to overlook such radical views, focusing instead on economic policy or other social issues to justify their vote.

But in the current climate, where it’s easy to see the damage that can result from the sort of hatred and bigotry that Moore spews, where close friends and family members are turning on each other over support for these views, it’s hard to justify voting for such a candidate.

And that’s why it’s going on two weeks since you’ve seen Moore — surely the longest stretch in his political life.

Because inside that campaign, they sense trouble.

Every time Moore steps in front of a camera and proclaims that homosexuality is a crime or that public school is indoctrination or that it’s OK to disobey laws if you disagree with them, one more GOP voter decides to do something else on Dec. 12.

Which is why the gun-toting, leather vest-wearing, horse-riding hero of the handmaids has turned into a plain ol’ political coward, refusing now to debate his challenger, Doug Jones. On any platform. No matter who approaches and asks.

And so, the gameplan here is easy to see: Moore is hoping that he can hide away for the next month and that you’ll forget who he is and what he’s said. Hoping you’ll send him and his hatefulness to D.C. to embarrass us all on a national stage.

Don’t do it.

This is all just a show for Roy Moore. It’s real life for the rest of us.


When did it become cool to own a bunch of guns?


By Josh Moon

This is the thing that has always escaped me in the never-ending gun debate: Just when in the hell did owning a gun make you the tough, macho, cool guy?
For most of my early life, growing up in the South, where pretty much everyone owned a shotgun and rifle for hunting, I didn’t know a soul who owned a bunch of handguns or assault rifles. Oh, our dads and granddads had dusty revolvers that were kept in underwear drawers, with bullets that were stored somewhere in the house … maybe.
My dad’s gun was kept on top of a tall hutch in the living room. It was wrapped in an oily rag. In my entire life, I never saw my dad hold it.
Late one night, when I was a pre-teen, I thought some guy was breaking into our back shed, so I did what any pre-teen would do — I yelled for dad. He hopped out of bed, went right by the hutch in the living room, didn’t glance at it and headed out the door.
I’m not trying to tell you that Dad is the bravest guy in the world or that he was going to take some thieves down with his bare hands. Maybe both are true. But it’s also true that grabbing a gun never crossed his mind.
Because it just wasn’t something people did. Oh, sure, some people would keep a shotgun in a closet to grab just in case, but they weren’t crazy about it.
They sure didn’t have guns all over the house, carry around pics of them, or even strap the gun on and walk around a Target store.
Because everyone would have thought that they’re nuts.
And if you bought bulletproof vests, a bunch of black clothing and face paint, they would’ve warned their kids to stay away from you.
Because that’s not normal behavior.
And it’s not OK.
This is the sort of nonsense that pro-gun control people want to stop — this romanticizing of the gun. This weird, dangerous affection that so many people now have for an instrument of death.
And let’s make no mistake, it is weird. And it is very dangerous.
It’s not OK that average citizens are walking around with semi-automatic rifles that can kill 30 people without changing the magazine. The average person should not be allowed to weaponry that makes it possible to kill 26 people in a small-town church in seconds or kill 58 and wound 500-plus at a concert in just 11 minutes.
There is no argument that makes this OK, including the one that starts with a partial quote of a constitutional amendment. Because there’s an amendment just before that one that ensures both free speech and freedom of the press, yet I can rattle off a number of reasonable limitations on both.
That’s how laws and legal review work — they strike a necessary balance between rights and safety.
We could use some balance on guns. And deep down, even most gun owners know this is true. Because most gun owners are normal, sane people who just want to hunt or feel more comfortable with a pistol — that they’re trained to use — in the nightstand. They’re not strapping on an AR-15 and walking around the mall.
And they don’t need 30 bullets. They don’t need to fire 15 rounds in under 10 seconds. They don’t need a rifle that soldiers in war zones use.
Because simply having a big gun doesn’t make you safe. It doesn’t make you macho. It doesn’t make anyone respect you.
All it does it make it easier for someone to snap and kill people in a church or kindergartners in a classroom.
It’s long past time that we stopped treating guns as magical instruments that will instantly provide safety and respect. They won’t, particularly without proper training, practice and care.
It’s also time to implement some common-sense laws: expanded background checks, a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines, a training requirement for all gun owners, a gun and ammunition registry and stiffer penalties for gun owners whose weapons are used in accidental shootings and crimes.
I have no faith that any of these will occur, not in our current climate of NRA-dominated lawmakers. Until they are — until the proper respect and responsibility is placed on gun ownership in this country, and until the irrational reverence and childlike adoration of guns are checked — you can continue to expect more scenes like Sunday’s.

Documents reveal truth about bingo casino complaints



By Josh Moon

On August 25, at a little after 8 p.m., Jeff Chandler, Jake Frith and John Daly walked into the River City Entertainment gaming center in Lacey’s Springs and started to play a computer-assisted version of bingo.
The trio played several games, and after 30 minutes or so, they left.
What makes any of the above noteworthy is that Chandler, Frith and Daly are law enforcement officers. Chandler and Frith work for the Alabama Attorney General’s Office as investigators, and Daly works for Huntsville PD.
So, let me explain this another way: In August, two AG’s office investigators spent the better part of their day driving to Huntsville from Montgomery, playing various bingo games, driving three-plus hours back to Montgomery and filing reports on their trip.
Then, attorneys in the AG’s office spent hours reviewing those reports and writing nuisance complaints against River City Entertainment. Those complaints were then filed, along with complaints against four other casinos around the state.
In each of those five cases, multiple investigators were required to spend hours traveling to casinos and playing bingo games and writing reports.
In each of those cases, multiple attorneys were required to spend hours reviewing reports and writing complaints to be filed with the various county circuit courts.
This is the absurdity of AG Steve Marshall’s renewed bingo wars.
In a state where funding is a consistent issue, that such manpower and resources are being used on victimless, gray-area crime is a horrendous mismanagement of the office.
Because right now, possibly more than ever before in this state’s history, our criminal justice system is woefully behind. Murder cases in some counties sit for nearly three years before landing in front of a jury. Rape and assault cases are just as bad.
But instead of devoting the – apparently – available resources of the AG’s office to aid counties with those shortfalls, Marshall has chosen instead to chase electronic bingo casinos.
Not because the state is overrun with illegal gaming, or because there have been outcries from the public.
It’s not, and there haven’t been.
Because electronic bingo is no more prevalent in Alabama than ticket scalping – an illegal activity that occurs thousands of times every fall Saturday, often times with a cop or two watching the transaction. Yet, there’s no AG’s task force and no plans to crack down.
Because this isn’t about enforcing laws that are being violated or stopping an out-of-control problem or best serving the public.
It’s about PR. And about shutting down sources of campaign contributions that flow to the wrong party.
Because if the AG of this state truly cared about utilizing his office’s resources in a manner that best served the people of Alabama, instead of sending agents out to play bingo, he would use them to aid county district attorneys.
It’s not like he doesn’t know they could use the help.
As part of Marshall’s filings against the five casinos earlier this month, he included a letter from Macon County DA E. Paul Jones to AG office attorney, John Kachelman.
Kachelman had written to Jones to request that Jones’ office investigate illegal gaming at VictoryLand in Shorter. Jones responded by saying he’d be glad to do so, just as soon as his office got finished working on real stuff.
“I have 10 weeks of criminal jury trials in five separate jurisdictions and far more cases scheduled in each of these courts than can possibly be tried,” Jones wrote. “These cases range from capital murder to rape, robbery, child molestation to any other crime you can name. Our resources are paper thin, as I am down to one actual investigator, and we have subpoenas which have to be served personally on witnesses all across this state.
“I point this out to say, if you have time on your hands, you are welcome to come to the Fifth Circuit and help us try some of these cases.”
There was no reply to Jones’ offer. And there was no help sent to the Fifth Circuit.
Because helping convict murderers or getting child molesters off the streets apparently doesn’t grab enough headlines.