My New Favorite Baseball Player

When I was a nine-year-old Little Leaguer, the picture day photographers made the players our own baseball cards.  On mine was my picture and some facts about me, including my favorite player.  I was on the Yankees and my dad had probably shown me the Gary Cooper classic, The Pride of the Yankees, so when they asked me who was my favorite player, I said Lou Gehrig.  I was definitely a strange kid to pick someone who had died nearly 50 years earlier, but The Iron Horse is still a pretty solid choice. 

Now, many years later, I have a new favorite player who is even more unexpected.  Jack Wilson spent most of his 12-year Major League career as a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While Gehrig is an all-time great who hit .340 lifetime with 493 home runs and six world championships, Wilson hit .265 with 61 career homers and never appeared in the postseason.  You probably think I’m crazy to put them in the same sentence, but let me explain. 

As many of you know, I am a baseball player.  I pitched for a few seasons in Mexico and I still play in some pretty competitive leagues and tournaments, including spending most of October each year playing in Arizona.  Many of the better teams are full of very good ballplayers who played minor league or college baseball but fell short of their Major League dreams for one reason or another.  There are even some guys who got a cup of coffee in the big leagues.  Last year when we showed up at the first game, Jack Wilson was in our starting lineup.  Apparently, he was in Arizona because his son was starting college out there, and decided to sign up for the tournament.  Our manager was happy to snap him up onto our team because, although he is no Lou Gehrig, he is also not one of us “almost made it” guys or even a flash in the pan September call up who played a few games in the Majors.  He had a successful big league career, including a Silver Slugger Award and making an All-Star team in 2004.

Let me be clear, I am not easily star-struck and have played with quite a few other Major Leaguers.  As I told Jack, he is not even the most accomplished athlete I’ve spent time with in the last two months.  That honor would go to former “world’s greatest athlete” Caitlyn Jenner.  Jack is not my favorite player because he is good, although that certainly helps.  He is my favorite because he shows what baseball is supposed to be:  fun. 

Today, far too many players forget that baseball is ultimately a kid’s game.  On one side of the coin, some guys seem to be going through the motions and thinking more about their next contract than winning.  On the other side of the coin, some guys talk about being businesslike and “respecting the game.”  Those are the people who complain when a hitter bat flips, admires a home run, or swings at a 3-0 pitch when batting against a position player.  My favorite players are the ones who look like they are having fun and love being on the field.  I was at game 1 of the 1988 World Series as a kid and the other moment that stood out to me besides the Kirk Gibson home run was Mickey Hatcher hitting a home run in the first inning and flying around the bases with his arms in the air like an excited little kid.  That is the joy that players should have on a ballfield.

Jack’s love of the game is obvious and his energy is infectious.  He was a shortstop during his professional career but he wanted to play in the outfield for us.  We put him out there.  Then, when I showed up for the game I was pitching, the manager told me, “Jack wants to catch.”  I was thrilled and figured I certainly would not have to shake off my catcher that game.  He was really into catching and talked to me between each inning about how we should adjust and set up hitters.  I ended up striking out 14 in the game.  Jack enjoyed catching so much and was so good behind the plate that we had him catch in the championship game of the tournament, which ended up being an 18-inning marathon win.

When our manager sent out the roster for this year’s tournament, one of the first things I looked for was Jack’s name.  Sure enough, it was on there.  (I heard someone congratulate our manager on getting him back, to which he replied that Jack had been the one excitedly asking him about it.)  At the first game, Jack was smiling and ready to go like a kid on Christmas.  Then, early in the tournament he hit a ground ball and pulled a hamstring running to first base.  He limped back into the dugout looking dejected and said it was pretty bad and he couldn’t play.  Nobody would have blamed him if that was true.  He has nothing to prove to us and was obviously hurting.  However, about 5 minutes later Jack got up, went out to the bullpen, and started testing his leg.  He came back in and said, “I can’t swing the bat, but I think I can catch.  It doesn’t hurt when I crouch or throw.”  We thought he was crazy, but we loved that he wanted to play so badly.  It gets better, though.  The next day when we showed up to the game, Jack told us he thought he could hit left-handed because it’s easier on his hamstring.  He was not a switch hitter during his career, but he barreled up everything and was by far our best hitter for the rest of the tournament.  It was impressive.

On top of having talent and a great attitude on the field, Jack is a really good guy.  He never acts superior to us and enjoys talking baseball and answering our questions when we ask.  I heard guys ask him things that he’s probably been asked 100 times before and he graciously answered, sometimes eagerly telling stories along with it.  When I asked him about his All-Star Game appearance, he told me about the All-Star weekend and his two at-bats; a lineout to left against Ted Lilly and a pop out to second against Mariano Rivera. 

Now, Jack is the head coach at Thousand Oaks High School, which had the highest-ranked baseball team in California last year. The way to get better at anything is to emulate people who are successful at it, so his players have a great advantage.  His enthusiasm is an example that I want to follow in everything that I do.  As a coach, when I do lessons for kids, the biggest predictor of success is enthusiasm.  If a player is thrilled to be on the field, enjoys watching baseball at home, and loves competing, he is more likely to become a good player than a kid with more natural ability who is not passionate about the game.    

Seeing Jack’s childlike excitement and zeal to play helped me gain wisdom that can be applied not only to baseball, but to other areas in life as well.  Off the ballfield, enthusiasm should help tell us a lot about people.  If you are dating someone who acts ambivalent about you, why keep wasting your time?  I want somebody who is enthusiastic about me, wants to spend time with me, and is eager to talk to me.  If I have to struggle for their attention, they probably are not really into me and the relationship will fail.  If you are starting a business, choose a business partner who is enthusiastic about your product.  Otherwise, expect to do most of the work yourself.  In general, if you surround yourself with ambitious, happy people, your life will be better.

As far as baseball goes, Hall of Famer Roy Campanella summed it up best when he said, “You have to have a lot of little boy in you to play baseball for a living.”  Jack certainly has that, and when you really think about it, my picks for my favorite player are actually more consistent than the statistics would indicate.  Jack Wilson plays baseball like he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. 

The World Series of Poker and the New Jim Crow

Every year the best poker players in the world gather in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, the largest and most prestigious tournament series there is.  I look forward to playing at least one WSOP event each June, and have three cash finishes to my credit.  This year the series was moved back from June until October, so I was planning to head out to Vegas for a few tournaments, and had already won a $1,500 seat into the “Monster Stack” event.  Then the discrimination began. 

On August 27 the WSOP announced that they would be requiring all entrants into this year’s tournaments to show proof of vaccinationReactions from the poker world were divided.  2003 WSOP main event champion Chris Moneymaker, who gave hope to millions and started the poker boom by winning without being a very good player, previously had planned to sit out the series because he doesn’t understand odds and was afraid to play, but now is thanking the WSOP for their intrusive decision.  On the other side of the coin, 2009 WSOP main event champ and four-time bracelet winner Joe Cada says he will now be staying home this year because of the rule.  Can you guess which one the media portrays more positively?

Remember that the left uses a playbook to make it seem like their position is the norm and any people who disagree with them are on the fringe.  They want you to feel like you are crazy if you don’t think the way they tell you to.  Because of this, I am going to predict the narrative that the media will push about the WSOP this year.  There will undoubtedly be smaller fields in the tournaments than normal and the media is going to lie to us about the reason.  My prediction is that we will soon see stories about how there are fewer entrants this year because people are worried about playing poker due to coronavirus fears and restrictions on international travel.  While there will surely be some players who do not play because they overestimate the odds of dying from Covid (the odds are nearly 100 times less likely than randomly drawing the 4 of clubs from a deck of cards), this will not be the main reason for the lower participation.  The real reason is actually the exact opposite.  People will not play because they are not living in fear like the left wants them to be.  A large number of would-be participants will not attend because they think that people should have the freedom to assess their own risks and make decisions without being bullied.

If it was just the World Series of Poker doing this, it would be a major problem, but this vaccine mandate situation is a lot bigger than that.  Somebody who I respect told me that she does not see vaccine mandates as a hill to die on.  She has been vaccinated so the mandates do not really affect her.  Here is the problem with that thinking.  This is not about the vaccine.  It is about government power and overreach.  Do you think that a tax on tea would be a hill to die on?  I’ll go out on a limb and guess that at least one of those people who threw tea into Boston Harbor didn’t even like tea.  This has as much to do with our opinions on the vaccine as the Boston Tea Party had to do with their opinions on tea.

There are only two directions this can possibly go.  We can choose liberty and allow people to decide for themselves whether or not to get vaccinated, or we can relegate anybody who will not do exactly as they are told by the bullies on the left into a permanent, Jim Crow style underclass.  These tyrants do not want unvaccinated people to be allowed to work, shop, enjoy entertainment, eat, or socialize.  They claim to care about people but are perfectly fine with firing millions of Americans who are willing and able to work.  These good, hardworking citizens will be pushed into poverty or into a growing black-market economy.  Is it strange that the left says they are doing all of this to save lives but seem to have no problem if you die of starvation because they forced your job to fire you?

You may be wondering what I plan to do about the WSOP.  Honestly, I considered pretty much every possible option, but ultimately decided that I do not want the WSOP to profit from me until they stand up for freedom and change this policy.  Not only is it invasive, but it is illogical.  If the vaccine works, then nobody in the building should be worried.  The people who would be scared are vaccinated, and the people who are not vaccinated would not be there if they were scared.  Neither the unvaccinated nor the vaccinated should play if they believe in liberty. 

Instead, I plan to take my $1,500 over to a tournament series at The Wynn and play an $1,100 buy-in event on the same day that the WSOP Monster Stack event is taking place, then go over to The Golden Nugget the next two days for $200 events.  I encourage any other poker players to join me.  Organizations or businesses that discriminate based on vaccine status should be treated the same way as you would treat places discriminating based on race.  In other words, they should not receive a penny from any of us.

What Is Liberty?

The week before California’s recall election I had the privilege of meeting the world’s greatest athlete from 1976.  That title was traditionally bestowed on the winner of the decathlon, and at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal Bruce Jenner won the gold medal for the United States while setting a new world record.  In 2015 Bruce Jenner shocked the world in an interview with Diane Sawyer in which he told Sawyer that he was now a she.  (Disclaimer:  So as not to be a science denier I am using the scientifically correct gender pronouns in this article.  That is not the focus of the article.)  Jenner, who now goes by the name Caitlyn, ran in the California recall election as a Republican to replace the inept Governor Gavin Newsom.  The Friday before election day Caitlyn Jenner was the guest speaker at a discussion group that I have been attending for the last couple of months.

Caitlyn’s talk was impressive.  He was personable, friendly, and funny.  Jenner said that after the Sawyer interview there was more criticism for coming out as a Republican than there was for coming out as transgender.  Jenner also told a funny story about being in the weight room at the Olympics when a female East German athlete came in and started lifting heavier weights than him, ironically causing him to leave because he felt emasculated.  Jenner genuinely cares about California and wants it returned to the greatness it once had.  I did not expect much talk about actual policy positions, but Jenner has a pretty solid grasp of many of the problems Gavin Newsom and years of Democrat control have caused, including sky-high tax rates and backbreaking regulations.  A lot of ideas that Jenner had to fix some of these problems were good, including a sunset provision which would require regulations to be reevaluated by the legislature every ten years or else they would fall off the books. 

There was, however, one major point that Jenner made that stood out to me because it was based on a flawed premise.  Jenner said that he decided to run because of his belief that California needs a moderate Republican to fix the state.  Specifically, he said that people should vote for him because he is conservative on economic issues and more liberal on social issues.  Jenner also said that the candidate that I endorsed, Larry Elder, is “far-right.”  The premise of that argument ignores the fact that conservatism comes with a built-in solution to people disagreeing on social issues:  liberty.

Jenner’s reasoning assumes that the choice you have is between voting for a left-wing government controlling your life or a right-wing government controlling your life.  In actuality, the choice is between a left-wing government controlling your life or you controlling your life. 

For example, as a conservative Republican, I believe that the country would be much better off if every single American attended church weekly.  I would agree with Jenner if a governor who is “far-right” was going to mandate church attendance.  As much as I think we would all be better off if everyone went to church, I only believe that to be true if it was done voluntarily instead of under coercion.  If the Right operated like Democrats this might be something to worry about.  Imagine, the government forcing all businesses with over 100 employees to require proof of church attendance to be employed there.  Jenner’s argument only works if the Right did that kind of thing.  Instead, the Right wants people to be free to choose, even if we disagree.  That is what liberty is. 

Conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, are often accused of telling people what to do on moral issues.  The truth is, we do care about your moral decisions and we want you to choose what God wants for you.  Notice, however, that I said: “choose.”  Except on the issue of abortion, where the choice directly harms another person, we do not want to take the decision away from you.  The difference is huge.  Conservatives may try to persuade you to do certain things, but that is not the same as using tyrannical power to force those things.  This is what Caitlyn Jenner was missing.  The further to the left a politician gets, the more parts of your life they want to control.  Being a moderate Republican still means they want to have more control over you than a “far right” candidate does.  That is not a good selling point. 

Jenner was asked if he would run for office again if he lost this election and answered that he wasn’t sure about running again, but he would definitely work with the Republican Party to become more of a big tent party that is more inclusive.  I hope that he does, but it needs to be done by explaining clearly that the way to do it is to push for a return to limited government and personal liberty.  We can agree to disagree.  You are welcome in the Republican Party even if you want to use your God-given liberty to do things we may not agree with.  I certainly do not agree with many of Caitlyn Jenner’s lifestyle choices, but I also do not want the government to force him to do what I would prefer.  The Right has no interest in taking away your liberty.

My Endorsement for the California Recall Election

October is my favorite month of the year.  I spend most of the month playing baseball tournaments in Arizona and watching postseason baseball on television.  Last October was even better because I got to escape the tyrannical lockdown orders in my home state of California that destroyed businesses, ended friendliness by covering up smiles with mask rules that do not even work, turned record employment numbers into record unemployment, crushed the dreams of young athletes, and kept people from enjoying meals together by forcing the closure of restaurants.  That is, unless you were the worst governor in the nation, Gavin Newsom, who proved that he did not believe in his own dictatorial mandates by eating with a group of lobbyists at a swanky restaurant, The French Laundry, where they ran up a $12,000 bar tab. 

It is obvious that California is a mess.  People and businesses are fleeing the state in droves.  As you all know, we are now less than a month out from a special election to recall Governor Newsom.  There are two questions on the ballot.  Question one asks whether Governor Newsom should be removed from office.  VOTE YES!  His failures are so clear that the vote should be unanimous.  Question two asks who should become governor if Newsom is removed.  Over 40 candidates are running, and that is what brings me back to Arizona last October.

During one of my stints in the Phoenix area, I noticed that radio host Larry Elder would be doing a screening of his movie, Uncle Tom, at a local theater.  As a big fan who had listened to Larry Elder for years, I bought a ticket and headed downtown for the night.  The film is excellent and I highly recommend you take the time to watch it.  It explores how black conservatives are marginalized and disparaged by Democrats and the media in America.  Larry Elder produced, co-wrote, and starred in the film.  Before each showing of the film, he did about a half-hour talk, introduced the film, and answered some questions from the audience.  He knows his stuff! 

His focus then was on ending racial division, strengthening families, and because it was a week before the election, President Trump and Joe Biden.  Larry Elder is now one of the candidates running for governor of California.  He is running on a platform that includes giving Californians back our freedom, improving the homelessness crisis that was exacerbated by the current governor’s policies, giving parents the choice of where to send their children to school, reducing wasteful government spending and regulations that harm our economy, and lowering California’s skyrocketing crime rate.

Wait, there’s more.  I know that many people are less worried about policy than they are about personality.  I don’t understand that myself, but I have good news for you.  The best part of my evening at the theater last October was when I met Larry Elder after the movie.  I have been to events with other celebrities and radio personalities, and they will usually shake hands and sign a copy of their book or DVD for the guests in attendance, but Larry Elder did more than that.  He stood there in the lobby of the theater and had a real conversation with every person who lined up to meet him.  He wasn’t running for anything at that point.  He didn’t have to stand there all night.  He genuinely took an interest in two theaters full of strangers.  When I got to the front of the line, he spoke with me for literally a few minutes.  I was wearing a Dodgers jacket, so he talked baseball with me, and actually knew what he was talking about.  I gave him a copy of my book, The God Bet, and he asked me about it.  He kept asking me questions about myself long after most people would have moved on to the next person in line.  I was very impressed.  He has the personality and character to go along with the solid policy positions that I want in a leader.

California would be lucky to have Larry Elder as the next governor.  This is why I am proudly and enthusiastically endorsing him in the September 14 special election.  If you live in the state, vote YES on question one, and vote for Larry Elder on question two.  If you don’t live in the state, you might as well come vote anyways.  We don’t check ID here!  (To be clear, that was a joke.  I do not condone cheating.  What do you think I am, a Democrat?)

Let’s Make a Deal to Save Lives

America is divided and we all know it.  Many people talk about us coming together and finding common ground, but in general, I don’t think that is possible because we no longer share the same values.  There is, however, something that both the left and the right claim to want right now that makes for a great compromise.  Both sides say that they want to save lives. 

Now, a fair compromise gives both sides something that they want.  We should all agree that saving lives is a worthy cause, even if we do not agree on how to do it.  If both sides are sincere about their desire to save lives, they will agree that this is a compromise worth agreeing to.  If not, they never really cared about saving lives and just wanted power and control.

So, how does the left say we can save lives?  They want everybody to get vaccinated from Covid.  For full disclosure, let me explain my position on the vaccinations.  I am not vaccinated.  I am not an anti-vaxxer.  I believe that each individual should have the freedom to choose whether they get vaccinated without having to disclose their vaccination status to anybody.  Some people on my side might not agree with this, but I do not think the vaccine is likely to kill you.  We have to be honest about that.  It likely kills some people, but the odds of that are pretty slim.  If we say that the media should stop exaggerating the dangers of Covid, we should not turn around and exaggerate the dangers of the vaccine. 

That being said, there are two main reasons why I have not partaken.  First, it is a solution in search of a problem.  There is literally a 0.0% chance that Covid will kill me.  You have to go another decimal point for it to even register as a cause of death, and that is using the inflated numbers from the government.  The risk of me dying in a car accident on the way to get the shot is likely higher than the odds of me dying of Covid.  I do not want to take an experimental vaccine if I am fine without it.  Second, it is far too much fun listening to angry leftists flip out because there are people who won’t fall in line and do what they command us to do. 

My thoughts aside, the left says that they want everybody vaccinated because it will save countless lives.  Whether it will or not, they are pulling out all the stops.  They are trying to guilt-trip people into compliance. They are vilifying and shaming people who choose not to get vaccinated.  They are bribing people to get the shot with cash and contest entries.  They want vaccine passports so that they can shun and banish unvaccinated people from society.  They would like vaccinations to be mandated for all Americans.

Here is where my compromise comes in.  Conservatives also claim that they want to save lives.  While the net number of people saved or lost by the Covid vaccines is debatable, conservatives can document how many lives their tradeoff would save.  The number is approximately 62 million lives in the past 48 years.  In fact, since the left supposedly cares about black lives, this compromise would end the leading cause of death among blacks in America.  My proposal is this:  I would gladly volunteer to get the vaccine, and even support mandatory Covid vaccines in exchange for the immediate and irreversible ban of abortions in the United States. 

When you think about it, it’s the perfect compromise.  Both sides claim that the problem they would be solving is a major, existential crisis.  Both sides are even giving up what they perceive to be the same thing; choice in a healthcare decision.  If they truly believe that what they are fighting for will save myriad lives, this would be an easy and heroic deal to make.  If they will not make this tradeoff, they must not really believe that their respective cause will actually save many lives. 

We are not likely to agree on which action actually works, but whether you are on the left or the right, you can be sure that this deal will save lives one way or another.  My sleeve is rolled up and ready.  If you honestly believe that lives will be saved, agree to the compromise.  Otherwise, you know it’s not that important to you.

The Bachelorette Term of the Year is Not Positive

I have a confession to make.  Every Monday night, I sit down, open a bottle of wine, and watch The Bachelor.  My sister used to text me to ask what I was up to, and I would send her a picture of some food, wine, and The Bachelor on television in the background.  In fact, the picture of pizza on top of the Steve Connally’s Brain Facebook page is one of them.  She would laugh at me back then, but eventually she started joining me to watch.  Now we get together every week for the spectacle.

Obviously, you should not look to The Bachelor franchise for your morals and values.  Between drunken arguments, fantasy suites, and dramatic rose ceremonies where grown adults cry over a person they have spent less time with than their dentist, the show is the definition of a guilty pleasure.  This year, however, The Bachelorette has annoyed me with a recurring theme.  No, I’m not talking about the super woke firing of host Chris Harrison for having the gall to think that a 24-year-old girl should not be labeled a racist and cancelled from society for wearing a pretty dress to a party, although that is very annoying.  What I am talking about is a term that they have used over and over again to describe the current Bachelorette, Katie Thurston, throughout this season of The Bachelorette.  The term is “sex-positive.” 

Both my sister and I noticed “sex-positive” being used multiple times in the first few episodes, to which I observed, “I think sex-positive is just the politically correct term for slutty.”  She said, “No.  I think you can be sex-positive and still have moral standards.”  I agreed that sex is definitely a positive thing within a certain framework, namely between a married husband and wife, but I doubt that is what they meant considering the progressive, secular slant of mainstream entertainment, and the fact that none of the people on the show are married.  So, I looked it up, and as usual, I was right. 

The current definition of “sex-positive” not only lacks any moral standards other than consent, but it forbids them.  An article on healthline.com explains that sex-positivity “involves being nonjudgmental and respectful regarding the diversity of sexuality and gender expressions, as long as there is consent.”  It goes on to say that any morality attached to sex is “sex-negative,” including abstinence-only education, purity pacts, slut-shaming, and the “good girl” versus “bad girl” trope.  Another article on Yahoo even quotes Dr. Jess O’Reilly worrying that Bachelorette Katie’s definition of sex-positivity might not be inclusive enough.  She opines that, “some people claim to be sex-positive, but their definition of sex is narrow — they may not support and show reverence to sex workers, who provide essential services, for example.”  So, if you don’t think that prostitution is awesome, or if you think that a girl who wants to save herself for marriage is a good girl, you are considered sex-negative. 

If you think as I do that there should be moral standards attached to sex, and for example, it is not a good idea to try to have sex with a bunch of people you just met on a television show, you will probably be accused of “slut-shaming.”  Don’t worry about it.  Shame is not a bad thing.  The Oxford Dictionary definition of “shame” is, “the feelings of sadness, embarrassment, and guilt that you have when you know that something you have done is wrong or stupid.”  What is the alternative?  Should we prefer that people feel happy and proud when they do something wrong or stupid?  No!  I feel shame for bad things I have done.  That is good.  The shame should make me want to correct those behaviors.   The definition of “shaming” as a verb is, “to make someone feel ashamed.”  I don’t see that as a bad thing.  Would it be wrong to shame someone for beating their girlfriend?  For stealing?  For rape?  Of course not.  They should feel ashamed. 

Here’s the funny thing.  The people who say it is bad to shame someone constantly try to shame people they disagree with, including shaming people for shaming people.  Even worse, they shame people for doing what is right.  For example, while researching I came across an article ripping on The Bachelor for portraying Madison Prewitt, a contestant from last year, in a positive light.  Let’s see if you can guess why they did not like Madison with a multiple choice quiz.

A) She got super drunk and threw a pizza from a hotel balcony

B) She supports rocket attacks against Israel

C) She is a Christian and a virgin

Although it seems like A or B should draw more criticism, if you guessed C, you are correct.  Madison actually was disparaged for having good character and doing things the way God intended, because that is sex-negative.  (If Madi happens to be reading this, I’m single!)

On the other side of the coin, when season 11 Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe had sex with Nick Viall on their first one-on-one date, “Bachelor Nation” went out of their way to show their approval.  Anybody who dared to question the wisdom or morality of the decision was denounced as a slut-shamer and a meanie.  Now, I actually liked Kaitlyn (not so much Nick), and nobody should bully her for doing what she did, but it was certainly wrong.  Saying so is not mean.  It’s just a fact.  God created sex for marriage.

People tend to think that God is cruel for giving us rules, but they are looking at it wrong.  God tells us how to do things to help us, not to be mean.  He is not saying, “I made some arbitrary rules to keep you from doing what you want.”  He is saying, “This is how I designed creation.  If you do things outside of that design it will lead to more harm than good.  I love you, so I’m telling you this to protect you from doing things that will hurt you.” 

Katie seems like a sweet, fun, and likeable girl.  When we first saw her get out of the limo with a big, pink vibrator, I thought it was funny.  What is not funny is trying to eliminate morality and implying that doing what is right is a negative thing.  Let’s get back to the shouting matches, drama, and finding out who is there for the right reasons, and stop with the politically correct buzzwords.  I’ll bring the wine.

The Ultimate Sin?

As a boy growing up in the ‘80s, you had to watch certain things on Saturday television to stay in the loop.  I distinctly remember going down to the playground in my apartment complex armed with the secret word from Pee Wee’s Playhouse so that I knew when to scream real loud.  Those boyhood gatherings would soon turn into a discussion of a far more serious Saturday television event: WWF wrestling.

“Dude!  Did you see Brutus ‘the Barber’ Beefcake cut that guy’s hair?”  

“Oh man, the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage is mad!”

“Did you see what happened on Piper’s Pit?  Hulk Hogan is gonna fight Andre the Giant!”

Recently, I have been nerding out on some WWF nostalgia.  I ran across an A&E Biography episode about “Rowdy” Roddy Piper a few weeks ago and I loved it.  It turns out that A&E is airing a bunch of WWF (now WWE) themed documentaries.  I made sure to catch the one about Andre the Giant when it came on because he is a legend.  I even watched one about Mick Foley, who was a little after my time but still very intriguing because he would let them beat him nearly to death for his craft.  A few days ago, I saw one about another legendary wrestler from my childhood, The Ultimate Warrior. 

It followed the usual formula for a biographical documentary.  It talked about the Warrior’s youth, his meteoric rise to the top of the wrestling world, his struggles and fall from grace, and his untimely death.  Something stood out about this one, though.  In the section about his fall from grace, they first explained the real reason, which was the same as with almost every wrestler.  He started arguing with his boss, Vince McMahon.  However, they then spent a long segment on what they really saw as his ultimate sin.  The Ultimate Warrior came out as a conservative.

The Warrior (he legally had his name changed to Warrior in 1993) actually became a conservative blogger and speaker after his wrestling career.  The guests who were interviewed in the Biography episode wondered aloud if they could still admire the Warrior after learning about his unforgivable opinions.  At first, this made me roll my eyes in annoyance at the blatant double standard.  After all, had Warrior become a progressive pundit, would A&E have criticized him for it and painted him as a horrible person?  We all know the answer to that. 

After a bit of thinking, though, I am glad that corporations, the media, and the entertainment industry continue to reveal their hatred for anybody who dares to disagree with them.  It chips away more and more at their credibility when people open their eyes to how intolerant those institutions are of anyone who doesn’t fall into line with their views.  Their obvious bias against conservatives alienates many who may not even be conservatives themselves, but don’t think people should be vilified for holding conservative values.  It certainly should make clear to conservatives that the mainstream culture has nothing but contempt for you and you have to stand up to them.

This contempt is not reserved only for celebrity conservatives like Warrior.  Remember, the left sees conservatives as “a basket of deplorables.”  You may not have the status to get as much attention as a famous person, but they still want to marginalize and silence you for taking conservative positions.  Just try questioning the security of our elections and see how long it takes social media sites to censor your posts.  If you have the audacity to say that homosexuality is not the ideal, which is one of the things they went after the Warrior for in the documentary, those on the left would attack you with a folding chair if they could get away with it. 

Criminals who sneak across our borders illegally are A-okay with the left.  If protesters block traffic and throw bricks through the windows of businesses, the left will make excuses for them.  Publicly announce that you are no longer the gender that you really are and they will laud you for your courage.  Murder a baby in the womb and the left will praise your “choice.”  Those are all fine, but if you are found out to be a conservative, they think you should lose your livelihood, your reputation, and become an outcast from society.

The Ultimate Warrior was a flawed man.  He was apparently egotistical and did not get along with many of his fellow wrestlers.  Was Warrior the most articulate or tactful conservative speaker?  Of course not!  Would you expect him to be?  He’s the Ultimate Warrior, not William F. Buckley.  Was he perfect?  No, but he did defeat Mr. Perfect in the ring.  Was this article an excuse for me to take a trip down memory lane and watch old wrestling matches?  Absolutely, but we do need to call out double standards in our culture when we see them.  Do not let them silence you.  In this fight, we all need to be warriors.

Why Romans 13 Is Inapplicable to What Is Happening Now

In the Best Picture winning film from 1965, The Sound of Music, the von Trapp family lives in Austria when it is annexed by Germany during World War II.  The main conflict arises when the father, Captain von Trapp, is ordered to accept a commission in the German Navy.  Did he quietly comply because the powers that be gave him a command?  Should he have?  No!  He concocted a plan to disobey the rulers and flee the country.  What a different film it would have been if he had done what so many of our churches have done and obeyed his orders.

Ever since the California government terminated our liberty last year, I have been disappointed that so many churches quietly complied.  This past week I received an email from a local church, once again saying that they were going to keep their doors shut until we are endowed by our government with some liberty.  (That sounds wrong, doesn’t it?)  The reason given has been inappropriately used since the beginning of the lockdowns to justify compliance with tyrannical edicts… Romans 13: 1-7.  It says this:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Let me be clear.  I believe the Bible completely, from Genesis to Revelation, including Romans 13.  In fact, I talk about the importance of Romans 13 multiple times in my book, The God Bet.  There is, however, a big problem with hiding behind these verses to justify weakly complying during this fight between good and evil.  While we are not supposed to “resist the authority,” our government DOES NOT HAVE the authority to do what it is doing.  There are two main reasons for this.  The first is found in our founding documents.  The Declaration of Independence acknowledges that liberty is endowed not by the government, but by our Creator, and is unalienable.  That means that the government does not have the authority to take away our freedom on a whim. 

I know.  Some of you are saying, “Wait a minute.  The government does have the authority to take away our liberty in certain situations, like when they put a thief in prison.”  You are absolutely correct.  There are instances where the government can take away our freedom.  That leads us to the second reason this is not one of those instances.  Romans 13 not only tells us that we are subject to the governing authorities, but it also tells us what those authorities are authorized to do.  Verse 3 specifically tells us that “rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.”  Verse 4 explains that “he (the ruler) is God’s minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”  As you can clearly see, the rulers have the authority to punish you or take away your liberty if you do evil, but NOT for doing good works.  Stealing is evil; thus, the government is authorized to execute wrath on that thief.  Opening the doors of your church, on the other hand, is a good work.  If a church quietly closes its doors and cites the government as the reason, they are implying that a father who wants to take his family to church and sit inside is doing evil.  Any thinking person can see that the rulers who are putting these crazy dictates on churches are being a terror to good works and Romans 13 does not authorize them to do that. 

Why does it matter since California Governor Gavin Newsom is going to allow churches to open on the magical date of June 15?  It matters because these lockdowns and regulations were just the first major battle in the fight to remain a free country.  It was a test to see how many of us would stand up for each other’s liberty.  Unfortunately, the answer was, “not enough.” 

To those of you who are on the side of good, you may be tempted to write off the churches and Christians who sat on the sidelines during this battle and say, “you’re dead to us.”  I urge you not to do that.  We must be forgiving of churches or individuals who were complicit in our loss of rights when they realize what their complacency is leading to.  It is better that they are late to the party than miss it altogether.  Things will get worse and we need more churches to see the light and speak up before it is too late.  We need to pray for these churches to come around, and when they do, we need to welcome them to the fight with open arms.  They need to loudly declare that they will never again remain silent when the government acts as a terror against good works, which is against what Romans 13 says.  Never again will they close the doors of our churches, or limit who or how people can attend.  Our founding documents do not allow it, and the Bible does not allow it.  

An Open Letter to Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred

Commissioner Manfred,

I love baseball.  Between playing, coaching, and watching baseball I have probably spent more time at a ballfield than anywhere else in the world.  Unfortunately, today I am distraught.  I love my country, too, but it is in danger. 

Our founding fathers understood that people are better off when they are free to decide how to live their lives without government interference.  Therefore, they had the brilliant idea of setting up a system where the power comes from the people up to the government, not the other way around.  We do that by voting for people to represent us.  As you know, we just had a contentious, disputed election where many states accepted ballots without knowing who or where they came from.  This is not a baseless claim.  Most states did not verify who cast the ballots that were counted.  This is a fact.  Whether you agree or disagree with the results, there is now a large portion of Americans who distrust our election results, and for good reason.  Check out this funny video I made that shows why we need safeguards to secure our voting.

The state of Georgia is trying to restore faith in our elections by simply asking that we verify who is casting the ballots.  Your decision to take away the All-Star Game that was supposed to be held this summer in Atlanta is punishing the state of Georgia for trying to protect our ability to choose our government officials at the ballot box and trust the results.  Not only is it unfair, but you justified your decision by falsely claiming that the new law was meant to suppress voting.  The people who make this claim say that requiring voters to show identification somehow prevents black people from voting.  I don’t lightly throw around the term “racist” like many now do, but to say that black people are too dumb to show ID is definitely racist.  If you truly want to honor the memory of “Home Run King” Hank Aaron, you need to turn away from the idea that blacks are inferior to whites, not embrace it like you are by furthering this lie about ID. 

To be perfectly honest, when I hear that somebody is against voters showing ID to cast their ballot, I assume that the person just wants their side to be able to cheat and assure a political victory.  It really makes me question your judgment when the best excuse you can come up with is in essence that no, you don’t want to cheat.  You just think that only white people are smart enough to get an ID.

The part that really has me upset is that I don’t know what to do.  Baseball is the greatest game ever invented.  Many of the landmark moments in my life can be connected to what was going on in baseball at the time.  Since you, the Commissioner of Baseball, have decided that cheating in elections is not something to prevent, many people are boycotting the game.  Either you are for cheating, which is certainly possible considering the slap on the wrist that the Astros got, or you are a racist who thinks blacks are inferior. 

Whichever it is, I have to decide what to do, and here is how I am going to rationalize watching baseball this season.  The game on the field is still great.  The people around it may not be, but it has been that way before.  You may think that black people are not intelligent enough to show identification to vote, but until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, blacks were not even allowed to play in the majors, so you are not the first racist to be involved with baseball.  If the game survived them, it can survive you.

Now, I want to give you the opportunity to defend yourself against charges of racism, but the only other possibility is just as bad.  If you do think blacks are fully capable of getting an ID and are still against requiring ID to vote, then you just don’t want us to know where ballots are coming from in our elections so that cheating is easier.  There is, fortunately, an easy way to tell which you actually believe.  If you really think asking for ID discriminates against blacks, you will tell all of the ballparks in Major League Baseball that they are no longer allowed to ask for ID at beer stands.  After all, if it’s racist to require ID to vote, it is racist to require ID to buy beer. 

This tells me that you likely are just using race as an excuse for looking the other way when cheating happens.  The Democrats and the Astros thank you.

Sincerely,

Steven Connally

In Defense of Naps, Golf, and Cancun

I am going to defend Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz from some undeserved criticism.  As you can see, I am very consistent on this stance whether the person involved is someone I generally agree with or someone I almost never do.  Both the right and the left are guilty of this attack and should both stop it. 

Let’s start with the latest example.  Recently, Texas Senator Ted Cruz was predictably blasted by the left for going with his wife and two daughters to Cancun during a terrible ice storm in his home state.  My first thought was, “That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.  If I had a choice between sitting in an ice storm with no electricity and sitting on the beach with a margarita, I know which one I would choose.”  My next thought was, “Is that my reaction just because I like Senator Cruz?  Would I have a different reaction if it was Bernie Sanders?”  This is a normal question for me because we as conservatives should not have double standards like the left does.  You know, like how Democrats cheered on rioting thugs for a year and then started denouncing rioting thugs on January 6 when they thought they could win political points.  My conclusion:  No.  I would not feel differently if it was a political opponent. 

I reached this conclusion by looking at times when Democrats have been criticized for wasting time on leisure activities instead of “doing the work of the people.”  The example that came to mind was something that Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and many other presidents have been criticized for:  golf.  I specifically remember those three presidents being attacked for spending too much time on the golf course during their term in office.  In every case I defended them, whether they were Republicans or Democrats, for this simple reason:  the less politicians do, the better it is for us.  As another golfer president once said, “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Both the left and the right need to stop with this criticism.  Ideally, politicians would spend more time, not less, golfing or on vacations.  Pondering this reminded me of one of our very best presidents.  Calvin Coolidge was known for sleeping 10 to 11 hours a night and then taking a long nap in the afternoon.  How much better off would our country be if politicians spent more time sleeping and less time interfering with our lives?

This gave me an idea.  As you know, I almost always oppose government regulations, but I actually want to propose a rule for anyone elected to public office.  Upon election, each office holder must take up a new hobby that occupies at least 5 hours per day.  It’s a brilliant law because nothing would help the American people more than to keep politicians busy and out of our lives.

To help get them started I even have some ideas for current politicians. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren – Gardening:  Senator Warren famously claimed to be an American Indian, earning her nickname, “Pocahontas.”  Since American Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, gardening would be the perfect hobby for her to reconnect with her roots.

Representative Adam Schiff – Writing:  I don’t mean writing political op-eds for the Washington Post.  I mean writing fiction books.  Mr. Schiff is known mostly for pushing imaginary claims that President Trump colluded with foreign countries to interfere with the U.S. election in 2016.  I think his wild imagination could come up with some crazy international political thrillers.  He could be the next Tom Clancy!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer – Poker:  One of the skills that makes a good poker player is bluffing.  Bluffing is simply the ability to look right at people and lie with a straight face.  Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer have been perfecting this skill for years.  They wouldn’t have any trouble setting up games either.  We could fill the Amazon Room at The Rio with lying politicians!

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – Yodeling:  Honestly, I just want to see this.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – Calling bingo at senior living communities

Senator Mitt Romney – LARPing:  LARPing stands for Live Action Role Playing.  Basically, a group of guys get together and pretend to be people that they’re not, like knights, elves, and wizards.  Senator Romney should be good at that since he has pretended to be a Republican for years.

Senator Bernie Sanders – Stand-up comedy:  I hear he looks a lot like Larry David.

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, aka “The Squad” – Start a band: “Performing next on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, singing their hit single, “Israel Has Hypnotized the World,”… The Squad!” 

Joe Biden – Massage therapy:  We all know that Joe Biden has already been known to massage women who cross his path.  He may as well take some classes and get a little side gig going. 

Ultimately, whatever they decide to do it will be better for the country than anything they are doing now.