Saturday, October 25, 2008

Extreme Dissonance

Hello darlings! Pretty Lady has been Nesting all week. She is now sitting in her beautiful new office, with a garden theme, overlooking Manhattan--and what is wonderful is that she didn't even have to find a new apartment! The Fabulous Office was here all along. It just needed a little tweaking.

Now, from this situation of power, she overlooks the national psychological landscape, and casually notes that a good percentage of us are in a state of Total Panic:

Thomas Sowell’s got a book I’m told is quite worth reading called Knowledge and Decisions. I’m afraid his latest remarks on Obama threaten to make both impossible — scrambling the first so badly that the second are twisted into crippling knots. Unless, of course, what we know is that the sky is falling and what we decide to do is freak out.

"There is such a thing as a point of no return," Sowell says. If Obama wins the White House and Democrats expand their majorities in the House and Senate, they will intervene in the economy and redistribute wealth. Yet their economic policies "will pale by comparison to what they will do in permitting countries to acquire nuclear weapons and turn them over to terrorists. Once that happens, we’re at the point of no return. The next generation will live under that threat as far out as the eye can see."

"The…vision [of Barack Obama] is really an elitist vision," Sowell explains. "This man [Obama] really does believe that he can change the world. And people like that are infinitely more dangerous than mere crooked politicians."

Please, folks, can we exercise the discipline necessary to criticize Barack Obama coherently?
Yes, please, can we? All over everywhere--at The Corner, in the comments sections of the New York Times, in allegedly 'conservative, right-wing' blogs, Pretty Lady is finding no coherent criticism whatsoever, simply an enraged, paranoid sputtering. She could bother to go through these sputterings at excrutiating length, addressing whatever minimal content she can discover within them, but she suspects that this process would only increase the panic.

Because what she suspects is that we are now witnessing an epidemic of cognitive dissonance on a national scale.

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. Ideas may include attitudes and beliefs, and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors...

Dissonance can be experienced as anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states. When people's ideas are consistent with each other, they are in a state of consonance. Under these circumstances, people are content and relaxed, and less likely to experience aversive emotions. When dissonance is present, one of the conflicting ideas may be a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as "I am a good person" or "I made the right decision." This can result in rationalization when a person is presented with evidence of a bad choice. It can also lead to confirmation bias, the denial of discomfirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms.

It seems to Pretty Lady that 'anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress' have all been bypassed, and that what she is witnessing can be more properly termed as 'sheer existential terror.' Persons in this state of terror are not amenable to reason; they need, primarily, a bucket of cold water in the face.

So Pretty Lady has something to say to you, and that is: STOP IT THIS INSTANT. CALM THE F*CK DOWN. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT.

The reasons things are going to be all right:

1) We are still living in a democracy. We ALL get to vote. We ALL get to write our Congressmen, publish our blogs, and criticize our government. The worldwide network of communication is so decentralized, at this point, that it is virtually impossible for any centralized, malignant entity (that is, a government run by Barack the Elitist, Terrorist Socialist) to shut it down completely. Thus, even if your worst fears are confirmed, it is Not The End Of The World.

2) Mistakes aren't the end of the world, whether they're yours or not. Pretty Lady didn't vote for Bush in 2000 or 2004, but she had to live with the consequences; SHE'S STILL HERE. No doubt you will still be here as well, four years from now.

3) You won't die if you try to consider things from another perspective. I.e., you could consider the perspective that Obama is not, in fact, either a terrorist, Stalin, or the Antichrist. This perspective could even prove to be a comfort to you; it could, moreover, prove to be true.

4) If we are in God's hands, we're in God's hands. Duh. So the only reason you could possibly be so terrified is if God is a malicious, vindictive force, bent upon destruction. Perhaps this is also a perspective you might want to reconsider.

5) If you voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, you are still a perfectly decent person, even though the Bush presidency brought us to a state of bankruptcy, panic, depression, and international disgrace. Please consider that persons voting for Obama are as decent as you are, and amenable to rational discussion.

Now, proceed, if you can, rationally.


Chris Rywalt said...

I appreciate your trying to reason with the troop of howling monkeys as they tear you to pieces. It's admirable if hopeless. Perhaps the hopelessness is what makes it all the more admirable.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Pretty Lady!

Just checking out your site here. I'm impressed. I don't think I share your political opinions but I do share your interest in psychology.

I hope you won't take this the wrong way, but I have to say it. It wasn't clear, but I got the idea that you are transsexual. Is that correct?

Anyway, like I say, I hope you won't take this the wrong way, but you're a knockout! Seriously. I just love women in every way and if chose to be one and weren't born one, then, good for you!

This is not any kind of irony or even "irony."

You were nice enough to respond to all the BS over at Culture11 (I just wrote a response and then decided to check out your web site). Then I thought, Wow! I'm glad I wrote such a measured and thoughtful response to you because if I hadn't, I'd be really ashamed of myself by now after seeing this.

Why not drop me an email?

I live maybe three thousand miles away from you, have no money for travel, I'm in a great relationship right now. I just think you're great, is all.

Pretty Lady said...

Thank you, Roque, for your graciousness.

I am not a transsexual lady, merely a lady with an ironic sense of humor. It amuses me to interpose flights of polysyllabic rhetoric with over-the-top, airheaded feminine exclamations; it is my own private joke. There are a few quirky people out there who enjoy this, and many others who find it horrendously annoying.

I am also in a very stable relationship, and five months pregnant. More proof that my gender is original and biological.


Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, admit it: The womb was transplanted during your sex change operation. You're as surprised as anyone it still works since it came from an 85-year-old itinerant painter named Molly.

George Pal said...

Pretty Lady

Ordinarily, the idiot angst exhibited by the electorate would be far more frightening than their fevered imaginings of the immanent utopias/dystopias that await the nation should their candidate win/lose.

Everyone seems to have morphed into either some perpetually swooning Southern Belle suffering the vapors at the least little suggestion, or, some rabid junkyard dog that’ll attack something, anything, everything.

Yet, I come across this… :
“New York City Council voted, 29 to 22, on Thursday afternoon to extend term limits, allowing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to seek re-election next year and UNDOING THE RESULT OF TWO VOTER REFERENDUMS that had imposed a limit of two four-year terms.”
(Caps are mine)

… and I think to myself, maybe they’re on to something. Maybe I’m the idiot!

Pretty Lady said...

Well, we can always refuse to re-elect him, can't we?

Chris Rywalt said...

The Mayor Bloomberg thing really has me confused. I'm not a New York resident any more so in a sense it doesn't matter to me; but I do live close to the city, so of course anything that goes on there affects me somewhat. And since I grew up in New York, I follow what happens there. And this thing has me bamboozled. On the one hand, I like Bloomberg in a lot of ways and I like a lot of what he's done for the city. (Although I admit to not being an expert or anything.) I disagree with the idea of term limits in this case; they were enacted after Ed Koch was mayor for, like, ever, and his opponents decided to make sure nothing like that ever happened again (kind of what happened with FDR). I thought Koch was okay (I was really young). I can see the arguments both for and against term limits.

So I'm happy that Bloomberg got around them in a way. But I have to admit this seems kind of like a naked power grab. Knowing Bloomberg, it's probably more like, he just wanted to keep on being mayor, and saw this was the way to do it. Because he's practical like that, and also not very political. But it still seems kind of the wrong way to go about it.

In a sense he's saying to the voters of New York, "I know what's best for you, so shut up and take your medicine." Knowing many voters in New York, I can't disagree -- a lot of New Yorkers are stupid as all hell. But letting stupid people vote is part of our democracy, as it should be.

So I'm all thrown off by this. I don't know what to think.

George Pal said...

PL and Chris

I know very little of what was behind the vote but it seems the reasoning was the "financial emergency" required a stable, uninterrupted leadership. If either of you know or suspect other reasons, enlighten me. If that was indeed the reason, then why bother with the coming election at all. Bloomberg is mayor for another four years or until the emergency ceases to be one, whichever comes first. There is always the problem of other emergencies emerging but then New Yorkers can all go about their daily lives with their fingers crossed and a prayer on their lips.

Chris, a lot of New Yorkers may be stupid as hell but I suspect the percentage of stupid is about the same in the NYC council.

This vote is far more ominous to me than, it seems, to most New Yorkers. Is there ANY uproar over this in NYC? Annoyance?

Referenda are ideal for something like term limits as politicians are not likely to vote a limit on themselves. NYC voters twice vote for limits and the effected, the politicians, overturn the results. I am dumbfounded!

Chris Rywalt said...

Certainly New Yorkers are no stupider than anyone else, and the Council members are about the same.

The financial emergency may have been the excuse. It may even sincerely be Bloomberg's reason. It's hard to tell.

Of course there's an uproar in the city over this. A lot of people are upset about it. They're saying it subverts the democratic process and so forth. The problem is you always see, on the news around here, someone standing up at a political meeting and yelling about something. So this is just more of the same, really.

The impression I often get from Bloomberg is that he's a very capable, very straightforward kind of guy, who's saying, "Screw this, let's just get it right." Unfortunately, sometimes what he's saying "screw this" about is democracy. I think he probably believes in the ideal of the benevolent philosopher-king. He seems to me as if he'd make a pretty good one. But, of course, there's a reason why the Founding Fathers threw out the idea of monarchy.

Pretty Lady said...

George, you've got to understand something. A certain amount of corruption is an unavoidable way of life in NYC. It is so pervasive that a squeaky-clean politician who follows all the rules cannot do his job at all; he will get pulverized by the multitude of diverse lizards who make a good living by refilling the same pot hole 8 times, raising train fares while failing to improve service, pretending to inspect cranes, etc., etc.

Thus any successful NYC mayor has to be a bit of a lizard himself. Witness Giuliani. You recall that I was adamant that Giuliani not get the Presidential nomination?

Furthermore, a NYC mayor has more chance of getting things done if he's around for awhile. I hated Bloomberg five years ago, when the firehouse down the block was closed, the garbage wasn't getting picked up, and we were told not to recycle our glass.

Then, suddenly, we had a new 311 line to call the city for help and information, and it actually worked. Suddenly the glass was being recycled--actually recycled, instead of collected for a fee and dumped into landfill anyway. New protected bike lanes are beginning to appear. The closed firehouse was down the block from my ex-boyfriend, and he's an a**hole who deserves to have his house burn down. ;-)

Bloomberg has proven himself to be a good manager and a decent guy. It's true that we are in the middle of a financial crisis, and that he understands finance. Given the severity of all the other issues facing us, I guess New Yorkers aren't all that bothered by the question of term limits. Perhaps that's horrifying, but life in NYC tends to grind you down, to the point where unadorned pragmatism starts looking really sane.

George Pal said...

I understand big city corruption. I live in Chicago. Here, corruption is synonymous with practicality and considered THE cardinal virtue (not the painting).

Chris Rywalt said...

I just saw a comedian say that Chicago was named by a guy who couldn't get his girlfriend to move out. He kept saying, "Chica, go! Chica, go already!"

Anonymous said...

More 'Conservatives' For Obama!!