Thursday, November 3, 2016

Weighing My Choices Between Trump and Hillary

On Trump

There is no conservative or libertarian case for voting for Trump. There's no Republican case for it either. He's never been conservative and he represents a screw-you to the Republicans. A President Trump would represent the end of the Republican Party as we know it and he'll probably spend the next 4 years running against Republican Congressmen and Senators. He would not be comfortable with the party until it were re-branded as a channel for his twitters.

But... although it might be bad for conservatives and Republicans, a President Trump might be good for America. You see, Trump will never have the full support of his party and will always have full opposition of the Democrats. He will always be one major scandal away from impeachment. This is good. A democracy is not well served by high-trust in the government or leaders. It is very possible that starting in February 2017 or earlier, the Republicans and Democrats will unify to lock away the considerable tools of the imperial presidency forged over the last 15 years. That will simply not happen under President Hillary Clinton.

Consider why the US Constitution was so singularly successful among other republics formed near the same time. As it was constructed, Americans were greatly concerned that some leader in another state would attempt to become a dictator. Consequently, they nailed down all the rules of power in a true legal document with lots of trip-wires against the unidirectional implementation of power. They created a constitution that did not require angels for it to work as intended.

On the other hand, compare the constitutions of the new French Republic or the one in Haiti or Columbia. Those republics did not have to unify various state powers with a significant degree of mistrust. The designers of those constitutions trusted each other and did not need to win over the trust of anyone else. Consequently, their constitutions were not so much legal documents as grand statements of high principles and general rules of procedure. But there was no actual delineation of what the government could and could not do -- no clarification on where public supervision ends and where private organization is sacrosanct.

America could benefit by having a president that a majority of our political class believes to be intemperate, of limited intelligence, morally and intellectually weak. It could motivate them to redesign the presidency so that it would not require a genius-saint to reliably perform the job for the best of the American people.

True, Trump has made a lot of nonsense promises, but they are promises he will never be able to do even if he had the discipline to see them through. On the up-side, they will almost certainly never happen. On the down-side, this fact can only deepen the Americans cynicism regarding its political class.

On Hillary

Just like Trump, Hillary will rot away the Democratic Party with her touch. They'll have two years during which Hillary will certainly devote most her time paying back Goldman-Sachs for their investments. After that, President Hillary will have done more to patch up and rejuvenate the Republican Party in the eyes of voters than any wise inspiring leader could. While the Republicans will have an opportunity to reform in the face of the quickly changing political alignments, the Democrats will spend the next four years shorting up a 30 year old ideology and litigating the last 16 years of Clinton Foundation shenanigans.

Unlike Trump, there nothing about President Clinton that would be palliative for the country or beneficial for her party. If you are looking forward to Hillary picking Scalia's and Ginsberg's replacement or harassing firearm manufacturers (just as 3-D printing is on the verge of rendering them obsolete), then she could rightly be seen as kamazi flying the country and her party into the Republican obstructionists.

If Trump is cytokine storm in reaction to a chronic wasting disease in our democracy, Hillary is the personification of that disease. Self-dealing and entitled, she shares the human weaknesses typical of our political class but, by far, Clinton Inc has been the most virulently successful in those anti-virtues. The Clinton's are a super-virus against which, apparently, our democracy has no natural immunity. And as with Trump, Hillary will be bone cancer to the Democratic Party. The Republicans will have an opportunity to reform in the face of the (self-evidently) changing political demographics. The Democrats will spend the next four years implementing 90s ideology and litigating the last 16 years of Clinton Foundation shenanigans.

However, Hillary does have certain weaknesses that can prevent her doing serious harm. First, she is an unpleasant person. Her party will never mythologize her. They will always find her embarrassing. Also, she's corrupt and shady and contrived, but without any glossy veneer. If a Bond villain strokes a beautiful white cat in his lap, Hillary would have a scaly kobold. In the 90s, prosecutors sought for years certain records from Hillary's Rose Law Firm work. On the day, after statute of limitations expired, the records were mysterious discovered in the to public room adjoining the First Lady's offices. As the magician Raymond Teller, of Penn & Teller, said to NPR of the event,
In magic, we usually employ some kind of distraction so that it will appear to the audience that something is happening besides what is actually happening. That doesn't seem to have been done in this case. [paraphrase]
Hillary is the brutalist architecture of retail politics and public corruption. She will always be scrutinized. At the same time, she will have new powers of the Executive to hide her misdeeds and gain increased immunity from prosecution for it. It would be nice if -- as with Trump -- President Hillary's naked venality would result in the Democrats and Republicans unifying to reform the presidency so that a corrupt president would have limited capability to do mischief in the job. Unfortunately, I don't think that is in the cards.

But as Kevin Williamson said in National Review, there is still an upside to be gained from Hillary's temperament and character.
there is one thing about you [Hillary] that gives me a little hope: You are a coward. You are so risk-averse politically and personally that you have a natural tendency toward what might be described as a kind of conservatism — not conservatism of the Buckley–Goldwater–Reagan variety, but a certain conservatism of disposition
This is the same up-side with Trump's worthless promises: Many of her promises will likely never happen. Unfortunately, it would have the same downsides: It will deepen our general cynicism. But, given the effect of a President who would have been indicted were she not in office, that effect would hardly be noticed.


Hillary has no upsides and lots of downside. Trump does have upsides - at least temporarily. At this point, I suppose it is only what is left of my pity for the Republicans and my personal disdain at hearing him say anything that keeps me from going for Trump. I don't think I'm patriotic enough to do it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A List for Watching Westerns for People Who Haven't Watched Westerns

If you aren't fairly familiar with the Bible (Torah, Writings, New Testament) you will be face-blind to the whole of Western history, philosophy, and literature before about 100 years ago. By the same token, if you aren't handy with the peaks and feel of Westerns, you will not understand cinema before the 1980s or cinema by people who came to love film during that time. 

Westerns pre-80s were just a vehicle for all the other genres of the time. There were kitchen table dramas, romances, cultural-political examinations/commentaries, detective stories, revenge stories, bright lights big city stories. It would be more reasonable to lump Star Wars and Gattaca together as "two common examples of SciFi" than to willy-nilly lump any movies with a horse in them as a "Western".

All Westerns share a similar stereotypical setting: They are set at a time before the pre-eminence of the automobile (City Slickers isn't a "Western") and in a place west of the Mississippi. That said, there are, very broadly, two kinds of the Western: First, there's the Mythos Western, the default. It has heroes not far divorced from those of the serials of the 20s and 30s. There are standard heroes with a close relationship to law and order, as well as anti-heroes who nevertheless land on the right side of morality. Such law that exists is embodied in a few men (and fewer women) who stand up to enforce it - either with or without a badge. So, Revenge Stories are pretty common. But so is the story of the hero who stands up for the Right even though no one thanks him for it. 

But, at least as early as the 40s, a new kind of Western began to appear that was created for people who grew up on Mythos Westerns. The Anti-Mythos. They were complex people, often on the wrong side of the argument. These movies turned a mirror on the Mythos heroes to consider their problematic facets. They often considered what a true hero is. But to appreciate this second kind of Western, you need understand the feel of the Mythos kind. There's no hard recipe for the latter. You have to stew in them for a while. So my list starts with the Mythos stories and then moves on to the ones calling out and riffing on the Mythos stories.

1. True Grit (Coen Bros) - Since this is a getting-started list, the Coen's will ease you into it gently.

2. Tombstone - In many ways, this is an unremarkable Mythos Western but Val Kilmer's performance is stand-out.

3. True Grit (John Wayne) - Now your ready to take on John Wayne's performance in this movie. It's a revenge story. Robert Duvall, is Lucky Ned Pepper, the boss villain, and this is one of the two movies where Dennis Hopper dies in John Wayne's arms. Also, Glenn Campbell and Kim Darby.

4. Gunsmoke (TV show) - Just start with "Bloody Hands", "Seven Hours to Dawn", and "The Jailor" (with Betty Davis). What people forget is that Gunsmoke was launched as an "adult" drama series in a Western setting.

5. Maverick (TV show) - The "Gun Shy" episode with James Garner's Maverick (there were four Mavericks in the series including James Bond's Roger Moore as "Cousin Beau"). The episode makes fun of the motif's of the Gunsmoke series, such as why everything in town seems to gravitate around the four major characters, the long-view street shoot-outs, etc. This is Anti-Mythos but we'll put it here since this episode is so enjoyable to watch after a fresh watching of Gunsmoke. Essentially, the entire Bret Maverick character uses the Mythos Western hero as a foil. Think of your classic Western Hero from the serials, such as Tom Mix, or think of Gary Cooper. Or better yet think of Errol Flynn's hero in Captain Blood: smooth, earnest, noble. Now imagine the Captain Blood comedy sidekick character, Honesty Nutall, got his own show. That's Maverick in a way. Bret Maverick is lazy, cynical, conniving, and not the sharpest tool in the shed. He's competent if he has to shoot it out and he's smarter than most of his marks when he plays cards. But he's not a tough cookie per se. If he wins a physical encounter, it is by employing some tactical advantage. Garner's trailer-residing detective character, James Rockford, is a modern continuation of Bret Maverick. 

6. Stagecoach (John Wayne) - All I'll say is that it probably is not what you expected.

7. High Noon - Gary Cooper is a town sheriff. Some time ago, he busted an outlaw that terrorized the town. Now the outlaw is out of jail and he and his gang are coming back for revenge. The town collectively decides they don't want to help him. As I said, This is a common example hero in Mythos Western. The one man standing for the Law when no one else can or will, and no one cares if he does or not. This was remade as a snoozy SciFi movie, Outlands, starring Sean Connery.

8. 3:10 To Yuma (1957) -  Same heroic theme as High Noon. A guy is offered the chance give up his life to protect money that isn't his. A Western The Narrow Margin.

9. Hombre - Same heroic theme as High Noon. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, Paul Newman is a white man raised on an Apache reservation on a stage coach with really awful people. He finds himself constantly in the position of having to protect these people and the whole thing evolves into a kidnapping/ransom caper.

10. High Plains Drifter - In this movie, Clint Eastwood puts a twist on the theme from High Noon3:10 to Yuma, and Hombre. I won't give any details since they would be spoilers, but it deserves its R-rating and would probably never, ever be made in America today.

11. The Quick and the Dead - Sam Rami's straight Mythos Western. Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Sharon Stone (as a dead-eye gunslinger out for revenge). It's comic-booky but very watchable. 

12. The Man from Laramie - Jimmy Stewart revenge story. If almost anyone else had done this movie it would be pure Mythos Western. But Stewart can never portray that sort of character. It has hints of Lee Marvin's Point Blank.

13. Nevada Smith - Steve McQueen searches the West for the outlaws who murdered his parents. However, this story considers the cost of exacting that revenge. The Red Dead Revolver video games owe almost as much to this movie as they do Clint Eastwood movies.

14, 15, 16. Fist Full of Dollars Trilolgy - FFoD, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. These are Mythos Westerns but the first one is a remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo which was a retelling of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest. which was also adapted as the unremarkable Bruce Willis film, Last Man Standing. Maybe the Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing owes a little to Hammet.

17. Magnificent Seven - Mythos Western remake of Kurosawa's The Seven Samarai.

Now you've got a solid grounding in the Mythos Western, so you're ready to see the Anti-Mythos movies that play against your established expectations.

18. Red River - Directed by Howard Hawks, John Wayne's character is subversive to the stereotypical Mythos Western hero and the movie turns the Revenge story on its ear. This is also considered a touchstone of gay Hollywood.

19. Shane - An honoring, deconstruction, and rejection of the heroes of the Western serials. Joey Starett is a stand-in for the kids in the theater seats when those movies played. The film considers "Who is a real hero? The icon of Saturday afternoon fantasy who descends on trouble at dawn and leaves at sunset? Or is it  the guy who slugs it out everyday for a woman, his children, and his community?" One of the landmark fight scenes of cinema.

20. The Searchers - Directed by John Ford. This is John Ford's Unforgiven. He had directed dozens of movies where settlers killed Indians who flung themselves carelessly into bullets. This movie examines the racial bigotry that underlied those movies. It is interesting that John Wayne - who is considered the standard for the Mythos Western hero - has so often been involved in landmark movies that directly unfavorably comment on and subvert the Mythos.

20. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - John Ford reinterpreting the West again. Here John Wayne is the Old West gunslinger who takes Jimmy Stewart under his wing: an attorney devoted to bringing civilization and law to West. Again, "Who is the hero?" The guy who kills every bad guy he meets or the guy changes the whole game that allows bad guys to operate without limitation?"

21. Unforgiven - Directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. It deconstructs the Western  (and perhaps the Dirty Harry movies) where all disputes are settled with guns and murder with little consequence, and revenge is mercilessly exacted despite the fact that in real life the details would be much more muddy. Tarantino and DiCaprio's recent Westerns and the Deadwood series have taken no education from Unforgiven. They are good in their way but they display no more comprehensive knowledge of the so-called "genre" than Jonah Hex comics.

Extra Credit

The Lone Ranger (2013, Disney) - Armie Hammer as the man with the silver bullet. Johnny Depp at his Indian friend Tonto. This movie faces an uphill battle because it can make some people of a certain worldview feel uncomfortable. Depp is an Anglo actor playing an Indian. Whether Tonto had the role of subservient side-kick or magical enabler, it was going to be a bit offensive. Depp sidesteps this by making his character insane, an object of contempt in his tribe, and maybe not even a human being at all but a sideshow manikin animated by the Great Myth of the West. 

Zorro (TV Show) - I never got a chance to try watching this series with my kids when they were young enough to enjoy it. No streaming yet. But it might be worth it to try now. Find a grade-schooler and see if these stories have aged as well as I think they have. It stars Guy Williams, "Professor John Robinson" from Lost In Space.

Zorro, the Gay Blade - The benefit of a mild familiarity with the Zorro TV show is that it will add to the pleasure of watching this wonderful, wonderful film that is to Western serials what Young Frankenstein was to Horror.

5 Card Stud - A murder mystery starring Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, Roddy McDowell, and - really worth seeing - Yaphet Kotto.

Monday, August 29, 2016

On Sally Hemmings

Sally Hemmings of course, was the slave and (candidly) baby-mama of six children by Thomas Jefferson, four of whom survived until adulthood. The two oldest, simply left Monticello when they became adults and moved to Washington DC where they disappeared from the historical record. The oldest, Harriet, passed as a white woman. The two youngest, who were not 21 when Jefferson died, were freed in his will. But since Jefferson's estate was heavily in debt, it took an actual act of the Virginia congress to ultimately pull it off. It turns out that being Jefferson's child wasn't all bad. (That's sarcasm.)

That issue of  Harriet "passing as a white woman" is quite ironic and reveals how pernicious and corrupting was the system of racial slavery in the US. Harriet was legally a slave and "negro" because her great-grandmother was an African slave who had had at least one child (Harriet's grandmother) with a white sea captain. The captain allegedly tried to purchase her great-grandmother and his daughter, but the owner wouldn't sell for whatever reason (maybe the owner had children by her as well). All Harriet's grandfathers in her maternal line were white men and, of course, all her paternal grandmothers and grandfathers were white.

But it goes beyond that: Harriet's mother Sally Hemmings, Jefferson's life partner since the death of his wife, was Jefferson's sister-in-law. She was the half-sister of his wife by their father, John Wayless. Wayles was the ultimate owner of Harriet's grandmother, Betty, and her great-grandmother - his wife received Betty, as a wedding present from her father. Since it was legally stipulated in the transfer that Betty was always to be the legal property of Wayles's wife or her children, it seems that Betty was considered family. After his wife's death, Wayles and Betty, Harriet's grandmother remember, had six surviving children (including Sally who was inherited by her half-sister, Jefferson's wife).

All this demonstrates that slavery in US, and then in the South where it persisted, involved generations-long bondage of people by their intimate relatives.

Since the importation of slaves was banned by Federal Law in 1808 (the US Constitution prohibited the government from banning it any earlier), all slaves born after were born in America. Had state laws not been imposed to prevent estates from freeing their slaves if they were not entirely debt free and other hurdles, it is hard to imagine that slavery could have survived beyond the 19th century.

There could have been good motivations for these laws as well as bad ones. Imagine an unscrupulous owner who opted to make his farm more efficient by "benevolently" freeing slaves who were too old or infirm to work. A law ostensibly intended to protect such people, however, harmed young, hale, family-aged slaves, who coincidentally were those that Southern established institutions feared most. This was referred to at the time as The Problem of Slavery: How to free all the slaves without any socio-economic-political disruption of current norms - which of course was not possible.

In the early 1830s, chronicler Alexis de Toqueville, encountered an owner who had spent his waning years trying fruitlessly to free his children before his death.
I happened to meet an old man, in the South of the Union, who had lived in illicit intercourse with one of his Negresses and had had several children by her, who were born the slaves of their father. He had, indeed, frequently thought of bequeathing to them at least their liberty; but years had elapsed before he could surmount the legal obstacles to their emancipation, and meanwhile his old age had come and he was about to die. He pictured to himself his sons dragged from market to market and passing from the authority of a parent to the rod of the stranger, until these horrid anticipations worked his expiring imagination into frenzy. When I saw him, he was a prey to all the anguish of despair; and I then understood how awful is the retribution of Nature upon those who have broken her laws.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

At Fighting In the War Room, They Make a Mean Casserole

A message to the Fighting in the War Room podcast. Maybe my last. It's a trilogy.

Hmm #1 Why would your conservative listeners prefer you didn't inject politics into your discussions? Possibly because, at best, you end up talking about them like they belong in a zoo (you guys know that half the country voted for Romney, right?). I mean you've run across a conservative or two and it was nice, but not the *crazy* ones! (Given your attitude, do you think they'd tell you what they really think?)

Because you laugh at how conservatives are blacklisted in Hollywood and Journalism because progressives are so intolerant - especially toward social conservatives. Ha ha! Lighten up, everyone!

Have you considered that your conservatives listeners kinda like you and would prefer you didn't portray yourselves in that light?

#2 Why is it painful for conservatives to listen to you guys mix politics and pop culture since Joanna has a token conservative friend with whom she enjoys discussing the political angle of movies? Because when the 4 or 5 of you talk politics, there is no discussion. You all essentially agree. You're just nodding at each other. It makes you sound smug. Apparently, David E. couldn't even HAVE a civil conversation of any sort with a social conservative. Joanna said it would break her heart to learn that an artist she likes doesn't agree with her about Hillary. Free your minds.

#3 How do your conservative and libertarian audience engage with pop culture? They appreciate music as music, literature as literature, film as film. They regard artists as artists. They don't reduce people (no, not even the black ones or gay ones) to a political cypher. They take their arguments -- even ones they disagree with -- at face value rather than reducing them to "Democrat B.S". I recall Bob Dylan answering critics (haters) who objected to him playing songs on his radio show from time to time with religious content. He told them , "Try just appreciating it as music." When I listen to Spoon's "Don't Make Me a Target," I know it's about George W. Bush and his foreign policy. So what? Doesn't he deserve his point of view? I enjoy it as a song. When I listen to Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," I know more than most people that he intended it as a Marxist argument against private property. But when Obama shut down the national parks (and the ocean, and roadway views of Mt Rushmore and Mall monuments that didn't even have government minders) to win a political argument with the Republican Senate by holding America's heritage hostage, that song resonated WITH ME.  Good art outlives contemporary politics. Guthrie's music transcends any politics, even his own.

Your conservative listeners don't discount the work of an actor or director (or put an asterisk by their praise) based on her political opinions. They certainly don't see it as the righteous choice. I know some conservatives do that. If they're listening to your podcasts, they don't.

For a movie like "In the Valley of Elah" with an overt, tired political agenda? Yeah, that's tougher. But progressives don't line up to see that kind of movie either. When conservatives in your audience are aware that a movie is oh-so-not-so-cleverly injecting a progressive social message like the "X2" movie (not as a discussion but as a sermon), it's tiresome but conservatives deal with it the way most of them deal with YOU GUYS when you can't resist a political aside during your podcasts: How's that? Well...

Pretend you're black (I know this is a stretch) and you go with a white friend to a party of all white people. You hear them talking about the recent shootings of police and they are (reasonably) horrified. But it never occurs to any of them to discuss it in a wider context. Because they don't recognize that there IS a wider context. Not a legitimate one. But these are nice people. They welcomed you to their party. So you make excuses for them. "Well, I'm not going to stir things up because they just don't get it. They can't get it right now. They make a mean casserole though."

Conservatives FORGIVE you guys for being limited in your perspective and occasionally even small-minded. Even though your world is so small that you assume only ignorant people think Hillary Clinton ought to be in jail and that she ran around shutting down women after Bill harassed and raped them and she's been incompetent-to-a-non-entity in every job she's had and that all that disqualifies her from leadership.

I have a lot of very conservative friends (and progressives ones too! Crazy, I know) but I'd be appalled to have any of them say they couldn't be friends with someone who disagreed with them about abortion. I've never met one. I'm stunned to discover that David E. is so crabbed and narrow-minded. That's not sarcasm. I'm really surprised. Give that guy power and he'd be Robespierre. He makes a mean casserole though.


I can understand anyone down-voting "The Passion of the Christ" on it's merits. Slow. Relentless. But then don't tell me what a master Werner Herzog is.

Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" is an amazing song. That violin makes you feel like you really are in a horrifying storm of injustice. The pacing of the story-telling is unsurpassed. Of course, the details of the story are completely unrelated to the facts of the actual murders and the case against Rubin Carter. It smears the bleeding-heart Liberal judge in the case. "The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd" also makes no attempt at being historically accurate. Who cares? I don't have to actually buy in to the belief that C.A. Floyd was a great guy to enjoy hearing the Byrds sing it.

David, check out the articles by the progressive Kristin Powers in the Daily Beast regarding Wendy Davis and Kermit Gosnell. You'll learn that not only is the circle of good people wider and more varied than you supposed, *progressivism* is too.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Traveller has come! What did you do, Joanna?!

Fighting In The War Room, a podcast I like, has done it again. Previously, I used them as a foil to rant against an irrational obsession with Girl Power when critiquing pop culture. Their consensus, at that time, was that we should cheer the work of female directors even when their work is not so great. Why? Because there aren’t enough female directors (by some weighted model) so any movie directed by someone identifying as female is a definitive Good based on that criteria alone. Ugh.

This time, the topic was the Ghostbusters all-female cast and the offender was the onliest Joanna Robinson of Vanity FairJoanna -- who didn't seem to like the movie at all -- expressed concern that the failure of this property would undermine support for genre movies with an all female cast. So, even though she says it’s not a good movie, she advised  audiences to “Go see it!”

Now, before I say anything else, I haven’t seen the movie. For all I know, I’ll love it when I rent it on Redbox. At the least, I’ve liked the work – to varying degrees -- of most of the core cast. The actual merits of the movie are not relevant to me at this point. This issue here is that the inestimable Ms Robinson thinks it’s a bad movie but never-the-less is recommending the poor and down-trodden common people support (with their inequitably distributed time and money) a product of a wealthy, powerful, cold-hearted movie corporation ONLY because they cynically remixed an old successful property with an all-female cast. That’s crazy. And it devalues the overall recommendations of this prominent female pop-culture columnist. That can’t be good. I suspect such writers slant heavily male. Can we really afford to sacrifice Joanna Robinson for the sake of the profitability of a major patriarchal media empire?

Secondly, her premise is dubious. Is it really believable that a production company would pass on a vehicle with an ensemble cast of proven bankable female stars because Ghostbusters didn’t do well? No. However, it might be a valid warning regarding lazily rebooting a franchise thus:
“Lets revive a thirty-year-old property with an all-new cast. Now how do we make it fresh? Let’s reverse the genders of the cast. Done.”
Arguably, Ghostbusters is contemptuous of female-core casting. The Female Ghostbusters compels proven funny women to slavishly service in a novelty homage to a story written for male actors decades ago -- a time (the 80s) when male-female roles were far more backward than they are today. Why couldn’t these women have been employed in a NEW genre movie that isn’t tied to a property invented, designed, and well-worn by MEN? We wouldn’t have watched these four female actresses in that?

And in joylessly converting Ghostbusters to an all-woman cast, the writers have locked every other aspect of the thirty-year old movie in place. We need one –and only one—black ghostbuster because that’s what the original had. A Polynesian-looking ghostbuster? An Indian ghostbuster? No! That would be nuts! We can change genders but there needs to be four ghostbusters and three of them must be white! 

Assuming Joanna is right about the quality of this movie, the fanboys who reflexively denounced this movie’s concept on social media were right…100% right. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Blogger Reimagines His Family as Disney Princesses

Snow White and Aurora

These orphan girls (Aurora thought she was an orphan) were forced to take their naps by baddie old ladies. Not dirt naps, but nice comfortable feather bed naps that came with handsome man alarm clocks.

They would be a gruff but lovable Middle School teacher and a scarlet haired hipster. And check out those beards. Watch out for chaffing, princes

Belle, Jasmine, and Pocahontas

These strong-minded young women were put in perplexing situations by their family meddling in their romantic choices.

They would have left a trail of thousands of bodies behind them on Xbox. Disney offers lots of opportunities for kids to interact with princesses online. But if these princesses were my daughters, you would never want to meet them online. Online, they would be serial-murdering psychopaths.


This coiffured lass was locked in a tower by an evil witch and had to turn her own hair into a stairwell.


She would live in a fourth floor walk-up in West Harlem which, it turns out, is a good deal harder to get in and out of. And if Rapunzel ever did without hot water for half a year while her witch landlord secured the proper permits to fix it it and then trudged through small claims court for the rest of the year to work out the rent, that part ended up on the cutting room floor.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Corporations Are People

You say corporations aren’t people. If corporations aren’t people then they don’t have Constitutional rights. Only people have Constitutional rights.

In that case, the New York Times corporation doesn’t have First Amendment rights. The NAACP doesn’t have standing to file law suits for civil rights violations. In that case, the government doesn’t need a warrant to enter the property of the Sierra Club and peruse their membership files or bug their phones. If corporations are not people then they can’t own property. They can’t enter into contracts.

English Common Law has always treated corporations as people for the purposes of the law. Boston and other colonies were founded by corporations. If corporations are not people, where did all the people in the Massachusetts Bay Colony come from?

Typically, no one claims corporations don’t have *those* rights. They usually argue that they merely don’t have the rights (especially free speech rights) that they don’t want them to have. It’s very picky-choosey.

And it is no use saying "Well, the New York Times is mentioned in the Constitution." It's not. Neither is CNN. Neither is a guy with a printing press in the basement or a blogger who has bought his own domain. When the 1st Amendment references "abridging freedom of speech or the press" it means that we have the freedom to speak and to WRITE AND DISTRIBUTE. "The press" in this case are the actual physical 18th century printing presses (regardless of who owns them) which the government does not have the authority to regulate. Calling the New Times or CNN "the Press" is a metaphor - an appropriate one, but they are no more "the press" than I am as I type this.

But what is a “corporation?” Where do they come from? Do they condense from the morning fog or spontaneously generate from rotten meat? Answer: Corporations are PEOPLE who have combined their after-tax labor, resources, and stored labor (money) in order to accomplish some endeavor, such as making a profit, performing some public good (as they see it), or effecting political change.

Corporations are legal fictions representing actual, distinct people. They inherit their constitutional rights and the right to act in the political sphere (as when the New York Times endorses a candidate) from the people they stand for.

If we revoke our own ability to cooperate together in the political sphere, we hand control of our government to whoever has taken its reins at any time. Because those people certainly act in concert with privileges and powers not available to any other human association. And those people are not disembodied parties or departments, nor esoteric goals, nor angels descended from Heaven. They are politicians and bureaucrats who have very particular ideas of what is best for the rest of us formed from their own PERSONAL interests (it’s THEY the People; not WE the People).

As De Tocqueville said in “Democracy in America”:
“Among democratic nations it is ONLY by private associations that the resistance of the people to government can ever display itself; so [governments] always look with ill-favor on those associations that are not under its power. And it is remarkable that among democratic nations, the people themselves often entertain a secret feeling of fear and jealousy against these very associations which prevents the citizens from defending the very institutions that they so greatly need.”

The “Citizens United” Decision

“Citizens United” was a small media company that wanted distribute a film that would influence political debate just as Paramount and Miramax do and have done; just as national newspapers do. Unfortunately for them, they were not powerful, wealthy, connected big-shots like those corporations. They were a small media company. So when they tried to distribute a film about the politician Senator Hillary Clinton, the FEC prevented them from doing so.  The FEC ruled that advertisements for the film constituted a violation of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited broadcast, cable, or satellite communications that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary (essentially everything any network or cable news organization does). Senator Clinton had not yet officially declared that she was a candidate in the primary, but the FEC ruled that the law applied because they *assumed* she would be.

To understand the degree to which the Supreme Court’s final decision protected American civil rights it is important to note that the Obama administration’s Solicitor General argued that the FEC could ban print books published or distributed by a corporation or union that had a single sentence expressly endorsing or calling for the defeat of a candidate. Further, he said that the government could ban the digital distribution of political books over the Amazon Kindle or prevent a union from hiring a writer to author a political book.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Crucifixion of the Executive

Subtitle: Time Is a Quagmire

This is post was initiated upon reading Donald Trump's interview in Time where he said he couldn't say for sure whether he would have done what President FDR did and interned American citizens of Japanese-decent during World War II.

The legal argument is easy: There is no Constitutional authority for the US government to imprison Americans when they have done nothing wrong.

But, of course, FDR didn't really give a hoot about the Constitution and that's how we got the New Deal. And if I read Mr Trump right, he's probably the same. He'll come up with argle-bargle to justify whatever he decides wants to or has to do. It is a contemporary political quirk that the interment of Japanese in WWII is a such a dangerous third rail, but President Obama does not suffer for assassinating/executing an American and his 16 year old son in Yemen because that American was speaking his mind in ways that was punching holes in the current administration's foreign and domestic security policy. So... so much for the the Constitution.

The easiest attack on any executive decision is to wait for something bad to happen that can be tied to that decision. The context of the decision will be mostly lost. The bad events will be viewed within the narrow perspective what what historically happened. Not with the uncertain future that was faced when the decision was made. The best defense in that case of any person given the responsibility of Decision-Making is the one that is so hard it is almost pointless: What would have happened if we had not done it? This is especially vexing for the executive when there was no vigorous resistance against the decision at the time (or even general, positive approval ala The Iraq War).

So, that's a question I want to ask here, What was the possible downside to not interning Japanese? What might have happened?

Nobody at the time knew of the event that probably had the greatest single impetus for the decision to intern all Japanese: The Battle of Ni'ihau. In summary, a Japanese pilot was shot down during the Pearl Harbor Attack. He landed on the tiny remote, rural Hawaiian island of Ni'ihau. The residents had no direct contact with the mainland and didn't know initially about the attack. On this island there were exactly three people of Japanese descent, the only people who could directly converse with the pilot and knew immediately about Pearl Harbor. Two Americans and one immigrant. All three quite quickly began to conspire for the pilot -- eventually, violently -- against their neighbors.

Why did the Federal government keep the details of the event secret until 1956? Likely, because revealing that 100% of Japanese on the island of Ni'iahu quickly turned against the US it would have led to a panic that would have then led to an effective genocide of  all people of Japanese heritage in the US -- maybe of all Chinese and anyone who looked like they might have been Japanese.

What if the Defense Department had considered the Constitutional rights of Japanese Americans and opted to not treat Japanese Americans as an active security threat? And then suppose (as was almost inevitable) a Japanese American was caught conspiring with the enemy to do something that cost American lives? What would have been the public reaction then? Would you have wanted to be one of the tiny minority of Japanese-descended people in America in that case? This happened with German Americans in both WWI and WWII, but if you were an American of German descent, you could just change your last name and move. Japanese couldn't just Americanize their names and manners and move on. There were other reasons I think for why German Americans proved to be view as less of a risk than Japanese immigrants and citizens.

But the question remains, Did FDR's decision prevent an event that would have led to an irreparable stigma on all Japanese within the United States?

The problem is that the answer is unknowable. FDR's illegal act might have had a better practical result than following the Constitution. Or it might not. It is more that merely arguable that the Japanese on a remote island (technically American soil but it probably didn't feel that way) were not a good proxy population for the Japanese living in San Francisco. The reason we have a Constitution that is not supposed to be malleable to contemporary events is that it will constrain the government from acting (without the difficult process of obtaining an Amendment) when certain authoritarian courses of action seem like such a good idea.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

False Dichotomies v Real Dichotomies

I listened to the You Are Not So Smart podcast today. It was episode 69: The White and Black Fallacy. I'm subscribed to it so I guess it is obvious I enjoy the show. But it was hard to listen to this one and I knew immediately it would be hard because of the first example they used: the quote from George W Bush's Nov. 9, 2001 speech:
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.  
I knew, when this quote led off the discussion that the analysis of this fallacy would be at least a little bit muddled. Unfortunately, the episode confirmed...well not the worst of my potential expectations, but definitely my more pessimistic ones.

On the good side, the panel gave an accurate definition of the fallacy: "Presenting an argument as if it offered only a specific limited number of choices when in fact there are more." They also pointed out the limited number need not be only two. And they gave the other terms for the fallacy: The False Dichotomy and The False Choice. After that, the episode was a woeful mess.

1. An argument does not fall into the False Choice fallacy simply because it only offers two or some other limited number of choices.

This point must come first. If a woman tells you that in order for her to marry you, you must join the Methodist Church, that might not be a fallacy. Those might well be your only choices: Join a Methodist Church and marry her or not marry her.

Consequently of all the potential titles for this episode, the one they chose was the worst.  The term False Dichotomy is a bad term for the fallacy because, as the panel pointed out, it need not be limited to two choices. The arguer could offer 3 or 4 choices when in fact there are 5 or 20.  But the term White and Black Fallacy doubles-down. It carries an implication that an argument is fallacious because it only offers two choices: "You are saying we only have two choices, therefore you are making a White and Black error. Life is not only white or black."

This is the fraternal twin of the False Choice: The False Equivalency. A statement offering two choices is not in error if only two choices exist. This is an important caveat that the panel failed to point out.

2. George W. Bush's statement was not a False Choice error because he was not making an argument. 

Fallacies only apply to logical statements -- not declarations of intent. The panelists made a Category Error. Pres. GWB was not making a persuasive argument. He was announcing a policy. He was not engaging in moral philosophy. He was a president with an actual military that dwarfed every military on the planet by many fold. He was not at that point attempting to convince anyone that what he was saying was metaphysically true. He was saying that his administration would act as if it were true going forward and nations who harbored international terrorist organizations should set their expectations accordingly. The following  is the quote in context:
"Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes.  Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.  It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.  We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.  And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.  Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.  From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
Remember that the United States was, at the time, toppling the Afghanistan government known as the Taliban that had refused the demands from the United States to turn over the Al-Qaida leadership based in their country -- who were effectively operating as the head of the Taliban's army. The Taliban's response was essentially "Very sorry hear about your problems in New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. But stay out of Afghanistan. And, no, we're not going to do anything about the AQ organization operating more than freely within our domain." Previously, the foreign policy of the US government was to openly treat this as, to some degree, an impediment. GWB was declaring that he was eliminating that wall as even a public policy.

But even for less morally supportable contexts, this has nothing to do with the False Choice error. When Captain Hook offered the Lost Boys the choice of joining his crew or walking the plank, that was not a false choice. It was a real one. Many child soldiers were offered a similar choice by the pirate African armies. In this case, they are offered practical choices, not classically logical ones. Yes, there might be a world of other choices, but those are the only ones available to them at that moment.

A forced choice is not necessarily a False Choice problem. There comes a time in almost everyone's life when they are offered a chance to commit to some course or action or to ally with a particular side or employer -- a situation where if they opt to reject the offer, a middle-option is not available. That is not a submission to irrationality.

3. Even if George W. Bush's statement was intended as a logical statement, it would not have been an error simply due to its construction.

a. Again, see False Equivalency. "You are with me or against me" is not the same thing as "You are with us or you are with the terrorists." There might have been a practical equivalency (as opposed to a logical one) or there might not. But if the panel was aware of this, they didn't say so. The podcast even said that GWB's statement was a mere reformulation of  that well-known choice, and presented Annikan Skywalker's quote from Star Wars Episode 3 as an example:
Darth Vader: "If you're not with me, then you're my enemy."
-- a quote which Lucas wrote with the intention for it to be an unsubtle reference to GWB's speech.

To which Obi-Wan responds, paradoxically, with an absolute of his own: 
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes."
And lets not forget that Yoda said "Do or do not. There is no try." The lesson here is that if you are going to George Lucas's screenplays for positive examples of classical logic, you have truly gone over to the Dark Side.

b. And again, the statement "You are with me or against me" or some superficially similar statement is not necessarily an error. The panel made a very strong implication that it was. Disproving this sort of statement might not be as easy as the panel implied. This is especially true if the statement is "You are with me or you are effectively against me."

For an example, I'll offer George Orwell's argument that the British pacifists in World War II were effectively supporting the causes and gains of the Axis Powers:
'Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me’. The idea that you can somehow remain aloof from and superior to the struggle, while living on food which British sailors have to risk their lives to bring you, is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security. Mr Savage remarks that ‘according to this type of reasoning, a German or Japanese pacifist would be “objectively pro-British”.’ But of course he would be! That is why pacifist activities are not permitted in those countries (in both of them the penalty is, or can be, beheading) while both the Germans and the Japanese do all they can to encourage the spread of pacifism in British and American territories. The Germans even run a spurious ‘freedom’ station which serves out pacifist propaganda indistinguishable from that of the P.P.U. They would stimulate pacifism in Russia as well if they could, but in that case they have tougher babies to deal with. In so far as it takes effect at all, pacifist propaganda can only be effective against those countries where a certain amount of freedom of speech is still permitted; in other words it is helpful to totalitarianism.'
Do better, You Are Not So Smart podcast. Or do not. There is no try.

David McRaney, the host of YANSS podcast, responded over email very nicely regarding my problems with the podcast and thanked me for my feedback. The following was part of my re-response to his email:
...I don’t think ["You are with me or against me] is a good example for a White and Black fallacy. And White/Black is tricky. Although a False Choice can be easy to counter (as the panel explained), whether or not the final solutions to a question are effectively white and black is not so easy. Even though the real world is full of gray, it is also persistently binary as well – in aggregate and in the particulars – as those logicians, The Lovin’ Spoonful, taught us. Even natural selection, with all its potentially diverse results, has a binary solution for traits that are eliminated. Much of the process of producing well-formed arguments (or coming to a rational decision) boils down to drilling far enough into a question until the positive-negative elements reveal themselves. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Systemic Ideological Segregation vs Systemic Racial Segregation

In an earlier post, I explained that while a white-looking person is less likely to be discriminated against for their skin-color, that doesn't prevent her from from being discriminated against for every other possible reason in the world.

In Megan McArdle's recent Bloomberg column, she demonstrated how impacting this can be by presenting a woman likely rejected for a doctorate program, at least in part, because she was home-schooled and went to a Christian college which the reviewers derided as an institution of “right-wing religious fundamentalists” that was “supported by the Koch brothers.” She opened this by telling the story as if the woman grew up in a high poverty neighborhood and went to a small, historically Black college. She framed the issue the way "white privilege" is typically outlined (remember she is actually talking about a white ideological minority in academia):
No, no one said “we don’t want blacks in this program”; they don’t have to. They just have to decide that traits common to black candidates, like growing up in a high-poverty neighborhood, or attending a historically black college, disqualify you from being “one of us.”
But the paragraph the that resonated strongest with me was her assessment of stereotypes:
[T]he problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue. (Lee Jussim has done a lot of work showing that stereotypes are often quite accurate.) The problem with stereotypes is that people use them instead of other, better information. Women are, on average, less likely to be interested in science, technology, engineering and math. That wouldn’t make it a good policy for a STEM program to discard the applications of all women, on the grounds that most women don’t want to be engineers.
 As I said in the earlier post:
[The bigot's] error is that ancestry is a useless proxy for weighing the human soul or guessing the path of a human life.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

On how price gouging benefits you

I often offer this video as an explanation for why "price gouging" should be allowed, especially after a natural disaster. One reason I like it is that it sets up the question under the most dire circumstances:
There's a natural disaster and a mother goes out to find a generator to run the refrigerator that keeps her daughter's insulin. She finds that the only generators available are now 3x the price.
The best argument the video makes for allowing prices to rise freely as scarcity increases is that it allows people who need the item the most to stake their claim for it over people who need it the least. When a limited resource is under-priced (relative to its scarcity), it is only natural that consumers will use up every little bit of it so it will not be available at all to more people who need it the most. As the video points out, settting a low price ceiling on resource when it is limited means that people don't have to be stingy in using the resource. Before that woman who needed a generator could find the seller, the odds are that he has sold his supply to other people who might have only thought a generator was "a good idea". Maybe one guy bought three generators "just in case".  More of this in a minute.

This question is related to a previous post I wrote, Price is No Obstacle. There I tried to demonstrate that price is not a problem to be overcome. Scarcity is the problem and price is only the quantification of the current scarcity. A law that outlaws selling items above a price ceiling cannot eliminate the scarcity that has caused the market price to be increased. A government policy has the ability to create scarcity, but it has no ability to legislate abundance. Only if there is a policy that is causing artificial scarcity (as I analogized before, artificially building a mountain between its citizens and the services they want) and that policy is removed can a government action be described as increasing abundance. In that case, the government action is Get Out Of The Way.

This is why centrally planned economies are subject to scarcities that do not exist in freer economies. Ironically, scarcity (such as the cost of the highest speed Internet) is typically the justification for more government involvement.

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."
~ Milton Friedman

Libertarian consumer reporter, John Stossel had a famous argument against price gouging laws on ABC News. Here he took on a real world example of exactly the situation in the first video above. There was a hurricane in the Gulf. The citizens of the town sent out an appeal for more generators.
John Shepperson was one of the "gougers" authorities arrested. Shepperson and his family live in Kentucky. They watched news reports about Katrina and learned that people desperately needed things. 

Shepperson thought he could help and make some money, too, so he bought 19 generators. He and his family then rented a U-Haul and drove 600 miles to an area of Mississippi that was left without power in the wake of the hurricane. 

He offered to sell his generators for twice what he had paid for them, and people were eager to buy. Police confiscated his generators, though, and Shepperson was jailed for four days for price-gouging. His generators are still in police custody. So did the public benefit?
 John Lott offered a argument he hardly invented against price gouging laws directed at hotels:
Stamping out "price-gouging" by hotels merely means that more of those fleeing the storm will be homeless. No one wants people to pay more for a hotel, but we all also want people to have some place to stay. As the price of hotel rooms rises, some may decide that they will share a room with others. Instead of a family getting one room for the kids and another for the parents, some will make do with having everyone in the same room. At high enough prices, friends or neighbors who can stay with each other will do so.

The Insidious Beauty of Capitalism

Capitalism is a loaded word. It means a lot of things to a lot of different people. In a practical sense, Capitalism is the freedom to do what you want with your own property, your own labor, your own intelligence. In it's purest form, you can do this without anyone (church, mayor, social justice warrior) looking over your shoulder to see if what you are doing is "fair".  In a free trade system, the only people deciding whether the deal is fair is the buyer and the seller. I'm going to leave aside the question of whether oversight is necessary in practice. I'm going only talk about a benefit that free trade produces in a society.

How many, for the sake of charity, would serve refreshing beverages to strangers -- not just for a weekend, but for scores of hours every week for years. Yet Starbucks has enticed people to do just that for the sake of ...what shall we call it? Greed? Ambition? A desire to thrive and to take part in the luxuries of modern life? Also for a flexible work schedule that allowed the freedom to go to auditions. An 18th century economist used the Biblical term "concupiscence" which is a term I like. Whatever it is, the physically and mentally hale panhandlers I encounter everyday are apparently immune to it. 

Free enterprise entices us to serve the needs and desires of our fellowman, including the majority of us who would never do it otherwise. To extend Don Henley's observation, there's just not enough love in the world to dependably have access, by charity alone, to the basic needs of survival.

As I said, I'm not going to address whether free enterprise needs oversight. But we should recognize that it does provide a public good -- it does, in its way, cause us to be better people. And it is inevitable that every control policy designed to soften its edges undercuts its effectiveness in making us better in that way.

To whatever degree we lessen the NEED to have a job and cow-tow to a boss or customer, we will lessen the greatest natural compulsion available to us to serve each other. If we had "free" housing, "free" cable, "free" Internet, and a budget for food, we would then be able to have our needs delivered and never interact with other people at all. It is Utopian to believe that an unsustainably large segment of us, if not most of us, would not end up taking that offer. If the government provided a minimum salary that was anything but miserably insufficient, a significant number of us would learn to live with that. The recent growth of Social Security Disability applications demonstrates that people will accept a very low standard of living if it can be had without a work schedule. This is the compelling power of "free" on the human psyche.

Yes, Capitalism has sharp edges. So does a saw. That is how they are effective.

Monday, January 11, 2016

What does the saying mean "The exception that proves the rule"?

How can an exception to a rule prove it?

The meaning of this saying is rooted in an important principle of Information Theory which says that "Knowledge only progresses when an experiment fails." Or inversely, "We don't learn anything from our successes." Here is an example:
Teacher: I'm going to give you a series of four numbers based on a pattern. You can give me three test series and I'll tell you if they match the pattern. Then you must tell me what the pattern is. Ready? "12, 14, 16, 18". Okay give me some test series, and I will tell you if they follow the actual pattern or not.

Student: 20, 22, 24, 26

Teacher: Correct.

Student: 32, 34, 36, 38.

Teacher: Correct.

Student 2, 4, 6, 8.

Teacher: Correct. What is the pattern?

Student: Consecutive even numbers.

Teacher: Incorrect. The pattern is this: "Each number must be larger than the previous one." 31, 45, 122, 123" would have also followed the pattern. Or even "1, 2, 3, 4."
This is a well-known example to demonstrate the seductiveness of Confirmation Bias. The student presupposed she knew the pattern and only tested to see if her presupposition was correct. Since all her tests pointed in one direction -- the direction she expected them to point -- she assumed her presumptions were right. Consequently, she learned nothing about the actual pattern. If she had inputted random numbers or if she had inputted numbers she was certain would fail the test, she would have learned at least something. She could have offered the original pattern in reverse order ("18, 16, 14, 12") and learned that the numbers needed to be in ascending order. There was actually very little value to her in offering number patterns that she fully expected to test positive.

And so you see that it was only by discovering patterns that DIDN'T follow the presumed rule (exceptions) that she could PROVE the rule to be correct.

This is a very important wider principle. In life, we only progress by failure. Naturally, it is our desire for our choices to always come up aces. But if they do, we will be the same person in 10 or 20 years that we are today. Why shouldn't we be when the status quo is so successful? We want our children to always succeed, but unless we believe they are fully realized, mature, ideal persons at birth, we should not attempt to ensure that outcome. It can be scary and even risky. But, generally speaking, it is a necessary risk.

In economics it is the same. People deride "Market Failures". But in fact, the value of an undirected, private market over centrally planned economies is not that it never fails. It is the opposite. The value is that it fails over and over, thousands of times simultaneously and often in very big, demonstrative ways. Government planned initiatives almost never fail even if they do not produce positive results. Or, at best they fail in slow motion, over a generation or two, and no one is ever held accountable for it. And that is why they are inefficient. Even if a government planned solution is PERFECT at the time it is designed and implemented, it will not be so in the near future and since it cannot fail, it cannot progress or adapt to change.
“Economic progress, in capitalist society, means turmoil.”
~ Joseph Schumpeter

Friday, January 8, 2016

"societally we can't seem to grasp the idea that even if a woman's body attracts attention, it's NOT an open invitation"

Tattooed women's experiences of nonconsensual touching, grabbing and commentary demonstrate how societally we can't seem...
Posted by Stuff Mom Never Told You on Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Woman posts on problems women with tattoos face with inappropriate attention, comments, and touching. Of course, women without tattoos face the same problems. But what drew my attention to her video was her claim that this has to do with a problem WE have SOCIETALLY.  I don't have a problem like that even though I consider myself part of society.

The term my daughters use for people that do have problems like that is "creepers". I like that term better than "creeps" because it identifies them by what they do in a specific situation rather than assuming to know what they "are". If a guy who "generally means well" is creeping, then he's a creeper. You don't need to know his backstory. I don't think any creepers will be turned around by this video. Some people might get new ideas for creeping from this video, though.

But back to the question of "we as a society". I think some people use the word "society" when they are actually referring to "the real world". Because if Society is bad in some way, it's on them (somebody) to fix it. But if it is the Real World that is discomfiting us then WE are the ones who need to adjust (either our behavior or our attitudes about what follows after we make our choices). We don't like to adjust.

Society is supposed to be nurturing and accommodating. The Real World is harsh, unforgiving, and doesn't care about our preferences, nor do we expect it to.