By Thomas DiLorenzo
December 3, 2020 - I was deeply saddened and depressed to learn that my old friend Professor Walter E. Williams passed away yesterday morning at the age of 84. For the past forty years Walter was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University; one of the greatest libertarian columnists in the world; a fabulously inspiring teacher; one of the best public speakers you would ever encounter on the subjects of economics and libertarianism; and the most popular guest host of the Rush Limbaugh radio show.
Walter was already at George Mason University when I arrived there as a young assistant professor of economics in 1981, preceding me by a year. He and I were the two faculty members who taught the large 300+ student sections of principles of economics. I quickly realized that it would be many years before I could approach Walter’s masterful classroom performances. (You do need to be a bit of a performer before such a large audience that can easily be bored to death with such a large crowd and so many distractions).
Walter never pulled his punches, in the classroom or anywhere else. When he got to the section of the course on labor economics and the economics of discrimination, he shocked his audiences of mostly freshman econ 101 students by reminding them that “discrimination” is not always a bad or negative thing. For example, he would say, when he was looking for a wife he discriminated against fat women, ugly women, and white women. That was long before Amerika’s youth were conditioned since kindergarten to swoon over such language, instigate riots, or set fire to campus buildings.
In the early ‘80s the George Mason administration announced that every academic department was to have an “affirmative action officer.” Naturally, we chose Walter. His job was to report to the administration once a year on how good a job the department had done in recruiting women and minority faculty. In his first year with that assignment Walter informed the administration that (paraphrasing) “We tried to hire a tall, statuesque blond from UCLA [true story] but the administration was too cheap to give us enough salary money to compete for her services.” Boy, did the sanctimonious campus Leftists hate Walter for such talk - a huge badge of honor on his chest.
Back in those days Walter’s office was adorned with a framed picture of his daughter, over whom he doted, and a Confederate flag. When a visitor asked why a black man like himself had a Confederate flag in his office, he said it was to give him the opportunity to explain the virtues of secession to whoever asked about it.
Walter was not only a fabulous classroom teacher, public speaker and columnist; he produced a lot of great scholarship as well. He was a product of the old UCLA School of Economics, a sort of offshoot of the old Milton Friedman/George Stigler/Gary Becker Chicago School at that time. Armed with a great UCLA economic education (after being drafted and then kicked out of the U.S. Army - not dishonorably discharged - for being too much of a smartass and independent thinker, another badge of honor!), Walter authored many important journal articles on labor economics and other topics as well as such books as The State Against Blacks; South Africa’s War against Capitalism [aka Apartheid]; More Liberty Means Less Government; Race and Economics; Liberty versus the Tyranny of Socialism; and American Contempt for Liberty. His autobiography is entitled Up from the Projects.
Walter’s two favorite hobbies were cigarette smoking and long-distance biking, one of which probably shortened his life. He also liked to boast about his basketball prowess. He never left his beloved family home in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, commuting to Fairfax, Virginia all those years. He would battle suburban Philadelphia traffic at daybreak on his bike rides, even in the colder Pennsylvania weather.
The last time I saw Walter was when I sponsored a lecture by him at Loyola University Maryland on “The Legitimate Role of Government in a Free Society.” It was vintage Walter Williams, a combination of deep learning about the Amerikan founding, political philosophy and economics, and the philosophy of freedom, all explained in a way that anyone could understand and appreciate. Students were stopping me on campus days later to thank me for bringing him to campus. Most of them told me that, after 13-15 years of “education,” his lecture was the first time they had ever encountered the philosophical arguments for limited constitutional government. Like most Amerikan college students today, they had been taught since pre-school that the more unlimited the government, the better.
After picking Walter up at his hotel and driving to the campus I pointed out buildings housing Maryland death row. In typical Walter Williams fashion, he gazed out the window at the buildings and said, “they’re not big enough.”
One of the things that got me interested in economics in the first place as a college freshman was that in my first economics class the professor used a standard textbook and a reader entitled An Economist’s Protest by Milton Friedman. It was a collection of Friedman’s Newsweek magazine articles. Back in the late ‘60s and ‘70s Friedman and Paul Samuelson authored popular economic articles in the magazine on alternative weeks. I’d like to think that Walter’s thousands of syndicated columns have had a similar effect on many young people, a giant “multiplier effect” for the cause of a free society. In that sense Walter was the Frederic Bastiat of our day. Rest in peace my friend.
By Thomas DiLorenzo
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NASSAU, Bahamas (PNN) - October 31, 2020 - Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90.
The Scottish actor was best known for his portrayal of James Bond, being the first to bring the role to the big screen and appearing in seven of the spy thrillers.
Sir Sean died peacefully in his sleep in the Bahamas, having been “unwell for some time”, his son said.
His acting career spanned seven decades and he won an Oscar in 1988 for his role in The Untouchables.
Sir Sean's other films included The Hunt for Red October, Highlander, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Rock.
Jason Connery said his father “had many of his family who could be in the Bahamas around him” when he died overnight in Nassau. Much of the Bond film Thunderball had been filmed there.
He said, “We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time. A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.”
His publicist, Nancy Seltzer, said, “There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended.”
He leaves his wife Micheline and sons Jason and Stephane.
Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, said Sir Sean was “one of the true greats of cinema. Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more,” he said. “He defined an era and a style. The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in megawatts; he helped create the modern blockbuster. He will continue to influence actors and film-makers alike for years to come. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
In reference to Sir Sean’s love of golf, he added, “Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course.”
Dame Shirley Bassey, who sang the themes to three Bond films including Goldfinger, paid tribute, saying, “I'm incredibly saddened to hear of Sean’s passing. My thoughts are with his family. He was a wonderful person, a true gentleman, and we will be forever connected by Bond.”
Sir Sean, from Fountainbridge in Edinburgh, had his first major film appearance in 1957 British gangster film No Road Back.
He first played James Bond in Dr. No in 1962, and went on to appear in five other official films - and the unofficial Never Say Never Again in 1983.
He was largely regarded as being the best actor to have played 007 in the long-running franchise, often being named as such in polls.
Connery made the character of James Bond his own, blending ruthlessness with sardonic wit. Many critics didn't like it and some of the reviews were scathing. But the public did not agree.
The action scenes, sex and exotic locations were a winning formula.
Thankfully, its been a while since 007 slapped a woman on the backside and forced a kiss. But Connery's performance was of its time, enjoyed by millions of both sexes, and gave the silver screen a 20th Century icon.
He was knighted by the Queen at Holyrood Palace in 2000. In August he celebrated his 90th birthday.
Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said they were “devastated by the news” of his death.
They said, “He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words, ‘the name’s Bond... James Bond’. He revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.”
Star Wars director George Lucas, who also created the Indiana Jones character, said Sir Sean “left an indelible mark in cinematic history. He will always hold a special place in my heart as Indy’s dad. With an air of intelligent authority and sly sense of comedic mischief, only someone like Sean Connery could render Indiana Jones immediately into boyish regret or relief through a stern fatherly chiding or rejoiceful hug. I’m thankful for having had the good fortune to have known and worked with him. My thoughts are with his family.”
Sir Sean was a long-time supporter of Scottish independence, saying in interviews in the run-up to the 2014 referendum that he might return from his Bahamas home to live in Scotland if it voted to break away from the rest of the Fascist United Kingdom.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons. Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family, and through talent and sheer hard work became an international film icon and one of the world’s most accomplished actors. Sean will be remembered best as James Bond - the classic 007 - but his roles were many and varied. He was a global legend but, first and foremost, a patriotic and proud Scot - his towering presence at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 showed his love for the country of his birth. Sean was a lifelong advocate of an independent Scotland, and those of us who share that belief owe him a great debt of gratitude.”
Alex Salmond, former first minister of Scotland, who was close friends with Sir Sean, described him as “the world’s greatest Scot, the last of the real Hollywood stars, the definitive Bond”.
He said, “Sean Connery was all of these things but much more. He was also a staunch patriot, a deep thinker, and outstanding human being.”
He added, “’Scotland Forever’ wasn’t just tattooed on his forearm but was imprinted on his soul.”
By Brent Johnson
In Plato’s Republic, the author-philosopher put forth the proposition that the character demonstrated by the rulers of a society would trickle down and become inherent in the general population of a society. In other words, a social system based on good principles and values would generate serenity and happiness among the people.
Unfortunately for us all, the entire world has lost sight of this simple concept: that your society is defined by those things you value most.
In most if not all societies around the world, people value money, position and power over values like truth, justice, honor and freedom. That is why there is so much injustice and greed around the world. Most people are more concerned about what they can get for themselves than what they can do to support others. In any given interaction, people are more prone to ask, “What do I get out of it?” than to consider, “How can I support you?”
We have cultivated among us cultures that promote the concept of “winning” over everything else. “What do I have to do to get that promotion?” “How can I come out on top in this upcoming deal?” “How do I come out of this situation with more than I had entering it?” In other words, “What’s in it for me?” This attitude permeates and worse, motivates people in their daily actions; and it is a highly destructive value system in which to live.
The reason this attitude is so destructive is because winning is made more important than doing what’s right, seeking justice, speaking truth, etc. In other words, people are encouraged to do anything to get what they want; lie, cheat, steal, murder, and so forth.
Perhaps this is because most of you tend to value yourself based on how much property you own, what kind of job you have, how high up on the totem pole you are, and all other kinds of temporal things, instead of valuing yourself based on the kind of person you are.
This attitude of winning at all costs attracts and encourages greed, manipulation, horrible injustices, and overall depravity; and it may be found at the highest levels of governments wherever it exists. Remember, the general population takes its cues from the rulers or leaders of its society. If a government is staffed with thugs and unprincipled sadists, then the population will be filled with thugs and unprincipled sadists.
Conversely, if a government is filled with people who value truth, justice, liberty, and consideration for your neighbors, then the general public in that society will reflect those values.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with winning. There is nothing wrong with having a good job, making a lot of money, having nice things, living comfortably, and enjoying the best that life has to offer. The question is how did you come by those things? What price did you pay for them?
If you acquire your money, position or power by violating the fundamental principles of truth, honor and integrity, then I believe you have paid far too high a price for them. If you taint your very soul in order to acquire the things that you have then you have paid far too much.
So how do we change our world from one that pursues winning at any cost to one that respects the rights of everyone and opposes those who would seek to make themselves bigger by making other people smaller?
The answer is actually pretty simple. We need to change our value systems to reflect the kind of world in which people can be happy and feel secure. We need to disallow actions taken out of greed, power-hunger, and a desire to achieve things by diminishing others.
This starts on the local level. It begins in your own house. You - like Plato’s philosopher king - need to set the example by acting out of altruistic motives. You need to consider others in your family in your daily life. When one of your children acts improperly you need to correct him or her, and explain that it is best to respect others even if you disagree with them. You need to punish those who steal, cheat or lie. Meanwhile, you need to set the example by not stealing, cheating or lying.
Once you get your own house in order you need to take your message to your local community. Speak up when a neighbor or fellow citizen says or does something wrong. Don’t be afraid to express disapproval with harmful acts. Don’t worry about whether you are popular for taking a stand; just take a stand for good values. Believe me, when you do this the message will spread rapidly throughout your local community. Others will pick up on your behavior and start to reflect it. The effects will be exponential and amazing.
However, do not diminish what others have to offer. Do not speak at people; speak to them. Listen and understand others’ positions even when you think those positions are harmful or destructive. Respect their individual situations even if you don’t agree with their conclusions. It is from that standpoint that you become powerful and effective in manifesting the kind of changes that are needed in this world.
You might even run for local public office so that you can inject your core values into your local community. Whether you win or lose, you run your campaign by communicating your character beliefs to the local population. Use media to accomplish this. Regardless of whether or not you win, you will have made your mark on society.
As you proceed in changing your small part of the world, growing numbers of people will join you, thereby creating a gestalt that will serve to effect change on a larger level.
When the time is right, expand your efforts to a larger social group. Infect others with your views, first throughout the city, then the state, then the nation, and then the world.
Do not be discouraged by telling yourself, “I am only one person. What can I do?” That thinking is false thinking. One person who refuses to accept the status quo has always changed the world. Consider Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Yashua Christos (Jesus Christ). It is always the individual who will not accept that the way things are is how they must be who manifests changes in society.
Of course, those changes could be for the worse and not for the better. Adolf Hitler and Mao Tse Tung are prime examples of individuals who by their charisma changed the world to their ends; but their objectives were destructive and harmful. You need to exercise the same charisma they did, but toward the goals of truth, justice, liberty, enlightenment, and peace.
If you set as your personal goal to bring about a world in which honor, integrity and justice abound, then you are perfectly capable of making it happen. Don’t accept the messages of those who say you are insignificant and cannot change things. Don’t listen to those who say, “You can’t fight City Hall!” Do what you know to be right, regardless of how many people stand against you. I promise you that if you stay true to your vision, others will join you, your ranks will grow, and inevitably, you will succeed in bringing about a world in which we can all live in peace, prosperity and honor.
Brent Johnson is Director of Freedom Bound International, a common law service center dedicated to the preservation of personal freedom, privacy rights and the Declaration of Independence. He may be reached at 1-888-385-FREE or on-line at www.freedomradio.us.
BEVERLY HILLS, Kalifornia (PNN) - June 30, 2020 - Carl Reiner, the ingenious and versatile writer, actor and director who broke through as a “second banana” to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy’s front ranks as creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show and straight man to Mel Brooks’ 2000 Year Old Man, has died. He was 98.
Reiner’s assistant Judy Nagy said he died Monday night of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, Kalifornia.
He was one of show business’ best-liked men. The tall, bald Reiner was a welcome face on the small and silver screens: In Caesar’s 1950s troupe, as the snarling, toupee-wearing Alan Brady of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and in such films as The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
In recent years, he was part of the roguish gang in the Ocean’s Eleven movies starring George Clooney, and appeared in documentaries including Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age and If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.
Tributes poured in online, including from Steve Martin, who said, “Goodbye to my greatest mentor in movies and in life. Thank you, dear Carl.”
Actor Josh Gad called Reiner “one of the greatest comedic minds of all time”, and Sarah Silverman said,”his humanity was beyond compare.”
Actor Alan Alda tweeted, “His talent will live on for a long time, but the loss of his kindness and decency leaves a hole in our hearts.”
Billy Crystal added, “all of us in comedy have lost a giant.”
Reiner directed such films as Oh, God! starring George Burns and John Denver; All of Me, with Martin and Lily Tomlin; and the 1970 comedy Where’s Poppa? His books include Enter Laughing” an autobiographical novel later adapted into a film and Broadway show; and My Anecdotal Life, a memoir published in 2003. He recounted his childhood and creative journey in the 2013 book, I Remember Me.
But many remember Reiner for The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the most popular TV series of all time and a model of ensemble playing, physical comedy, and timeless, good-natured wit. It starred Van Dyke as a television comedy writer working for a demanding, eccentric boss (Reiner) and living with his wife (Mary Tyler Moore in her first major TV role) and son.
“The Van Dyke show is probably the most thrilling of my accomplishments because that was very, very personal,” Reiner once said. “It was about me and my wife, living in New Rochelle and working on the Sid Caesar show.”
The pilot, written by Reiner, starred himself as Rob Petrie, and aired in July 1960. When the show was reworked (CBS executives worried Reiner would make the lead character seem too Jewish), Van Dyke was cast and the program ran from 1961 to 1966. One famous fan, Orson Welles, was known for rushing to his bedroom in the afternoon so he could be near a TV when the show was on.
“Although it was a collaborative effort,″ Van Dyke later wrote, ”everything about the show stemmed from his (Reiner’s) endlessly and enviably fascinating, funny, and fertile brain and trickled down to the rest of us.”
The story line had Petrie as the head writer for “The Alan Brady Show,” a comedy-variety series not unlike Your Show of Shows, in which Reiner, as Brady, was the egocentric star. Petrie’s fellow writers were character actors Morey Amsterdam as Buddy Sorrell and Rose Marie as Sally Rogers.
It was an early parody of the Caesar show, which would later be dramatized in the film My Favorite Year and Neil Simon’s play Laughter on the 23rd Floor.
Besides acting in and producing the Van Dyke series, Reiner wrote or co-wrote dozens of episodes. Although the show was the best of good clean fun, it wasn’t clean enough for network censors. Reiner often battled network officials over the sleeping arrangements of Rob and his wife; the Petries slept in twin beds. He wanted them to sleep in a double bed.
Reiner joined the classic comedy revue Your Show of Shows in 1950 after performing in Broadway plays. Much of Reiner’s early work came as a “second banana” - although, as Caesar once put it, “Such bananas don’t grow on trees.” He performed in sketches - satirizing everything from foreign films to rock ‘n’ roll - and added his talents to a writing team that included Brooks, Simon, Woody Allen, and Larry Gelbart.
“As second banana,” he told TV Guide, “I had a chance to do just about everything a performer can ever get to do. If it came off well, I got all the applause. If it didn’t, the show was blamed.”
It was during the Show of Shows years that Reiner and Brooks started improvising skits that became the basis for The 2000 Year Old Man. Reiner was the interviewer, Brooks the old man and witness to history.
Reiner: “Did you know Jesus?”
Brooks: “I knew Christ, Christ was a thin lad, always wore sandals. Hung around with 12 other guys. They came in the store, no one ever bought anything. Once they asked for water.”
After the pair performed the routine at a party, Reiner said Steve Allen insisted they turn their banter into a record. The album, 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, appeared in 1960 and was the start of a million-selling franchise.
The duo won a Grammy in 1998 for their The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 and Reiner won multiple Emmys for his television work. In 2000, he received the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor. When the sound system failed at the start of the ceremonies, Reiner called from the balcony, “Does anybody have four double-A batteries?”
Besides All of Me, Reiner directed Martin in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Man With Two Brains and The Jerk.
Reiner was the father of actor-director Rob Reiner, who starred as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law on All in the Family and directed When Harry Met Sally. Rob Reiner said in a tweet Tuesday that his “heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”
Carl Reiner was born in 1922 in New York City’s Bronx borough, one of two sons of Jewish immigrants. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood where he learned to mimic voices and tell jokes. After high school, Reiner attended drama school, then joined a small theater group.
During World War II, Reiner joined the Army and toured in GI variety shows for a year and a half. Back out of uniform, he landed several stage roles, breaking through on Broadway in Call Me Mister.
He married his wife, Estelle, in 1943. Besides son Rob, the couple had another son, Lucas, a film director, and a daughter, Sylvia, a psychoanalyst and author. Estelle Reiner, who died in 2008, had a small role in Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally - as the woman who overhears Meg Ryan play-acting in a restaurant and says, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Carl Reiner’s greatest disappointment was Bert Rigby, You’re a Fool, a 1989 musical he wrote and directed that starred Robert Lindsay, a British actor Reiner believed could be a new Dick Van Dyke. The film flopped, and Reiner’s career as a director faded.
Reiner, inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame, remained involved in other entertainment projects. In the 1990s, he reprised the Alan Brady character for an episode of Mad About You.
His death was first reported Tuesday by the celebrity website TMZ.