Number 541 November 7, 2013

THIS WEEK: The 2013 Nygaard Notes PLEDGE DRIVE!

OCTOBER is the time for the ANNUAL NYGAARD NOTES PLEDGE DRIVE. I know it's November, but it's been busy here at Nygaard Notes World Headquarters. So...


(I know I did a brief Pledge Drive in May, but that was so short it didn't count as the official 2013 NYGAARD NOTES PLEDGE DRIVE.)

For those of you who are new to the Pledge Drive, it's very simple: The Pledge Drive is the time when I ask people who read, use, and enjoy Nygaard Notes to make a financial contribution to support the Nygaard Notes Project. It's similar to the Pledge Drives that you might hear on Public Radio, Community Radio, or Public Television. Like those electronic outlets, I put out my work for free to anyone who can use it. And yet, I do need financial support in order to keep doing what I do. What do I do, exactly? you may wonder. See below—"What Does Your Pledge Make Possible?"—to answer that. In the meantime...


You can make out a check to "Nygaard Notes," and mail it to:

Nygaard Notes
P.O. Box 6103
Minneapolis, MN 55406


You can use your credit card and pay via the PayPal system. All you need to do is:

1. Go to the Nygaard Notes website at
2. Look for "Donate to Nygaard Notes," and follow the instructions to donate online using the PayPal system.

That's all there is to it. Really.


What Does Your Pledge Make Possible?

What began as a simple newsletter is now only one part of what I have come to call The Nygaard Notes Project. In addition to Nygaard Notes itself, which goes out to roughly 1,200 people and the who-knows-how-many people they pass it along to, I also appear on local cable television every month to talk about media, and I appear semi-regularly on KFAI radio here in Minneapolis/St. Paul to talk about politics, ideology, media, or whatever the host asks me to talk about. I also receive the occasional invitation to address local groups. Feel free to invite me to address your group if you think it might be interesting.

While the specific topics about which I speak may vary, I'm really always talking about the same thing: How to deepen and broaden our understanding of the human condition, and how to overcome the barriers to understanding that get in our way. In other words, I try to make visible the intellectual culture in which we live, and to help people more effectively deal with—and change—that culture. I've come to call myself a Working-class Intellectual. I explained what I mean by that term back in Nygaard Notes #465 ("All of Us Are Intellectuals: Toward a Democratic Dynamic"). That piece, which was part of an earlier Pledge Drive, might be worth re-reading:

That's a very brief summary of the "extra" things that a Pledge to Nygaard Notes supports. But, of course, the heart of it is the newsletter that you are reading right now. And what do people say about Nygaard Notes?

"Unique," they say
"In-depth," I hear.
"one of the most thought-provoking and time-taking things to read."
"always so insightful"
"his newsletter is a gem and deserves to be more widely read, especially in these times."

Please help to make the continued high-quality, independent newsletter even better by making a Pledge today. Thanks.

Have you already made a Pledge, but are not sure if you are due for renewal? The next article is for you.


Have You Already Made a Pledge? Read This

A new Pledge Drive tradition is to list the names of all of you whose Pledges are now due (first names only), which enables you to see if you might be due for renewal of your pledge. Included in the list is anyone who made a Pledge in 2012 and has not yet renewed their Pledge for 2013. I know some of you have decided not to renew, and that's fine. BUT... if you have NOT decided to leave the fold, but instead have simply been procrastinating, or have forgotten, or for some inexplicable reason have just not gotten around to it, maybe seeing your name in the list below will get the process moving.

If you do see your name here, please send in your Pledge NOW, and that way I'll be saved the time and expense of sending a renewal notice AND you won't have to get another piece of fundraising mail in your mailbox.

If you made a Pledge and know you do NOT want to renew, let me know that and I'll refrain from reminding you.

So, what follows is a list with the names of all of you who have made Pledges, but who have yet to renew for 2013. Out of the hundreds who have made a Pledge recently, this list includes only 21 names. Remarkable. Do you see yourself?

★ Cali
★ Suzy
★ Bill
★ Kevin
★ Betty
★ Gloria
★ Judy
★ Joe
★ Victor
★ Ed
★ Tom
★ Anne
★ Gib
★ Jocelyn
★ Gail
★ Richard
★ Joe and Elaine
★ Ashley
★ Adrienne
★ Jan
★ Nikki and Jenny

If you see your name but are not sure it's YOU, get in touch. My record-keeping is clumsy, and often slow, but it's mostly accurate. If it's not accurate, then your email will straighten me out.

As always, if you would prefer to receive your Pledge renewal notice via email, rather than in paper form, then you should send me an email, and ask to receive your renewal via return email. I'll send you the same letter, with the same information, but without the paper or the stamps. Then you can either send in your Pledge online, or use your own envelope to mail in your check.


The Past Year In Nygaard Notes

In case you don't remember all the unique and noteworthy issues and ideas expressed in these pages since the last Pledge Drive (October 23, 2012), here is a brief summary of the past 12 months in Nygaard Notes. This is intended to help you remember how interesting and important Nygaard Notes has been to you, and how much you want to make a Pledge of support to keep it going! OK, then, here we go:

One year ago I talked about Just World Theory, which I referred to as "the psychological dynamic that forms a part of the foundation of the Propaganda system in this culture." This theory says that humans are psychologically inclined to think that the world is fair, and that people deserve their happiness and their suffering. From this "fundamental delusion" flow all kinds of problems. I explained how this dynamic affects a mass media as it confronts—and theoretically reports on—a world that is at times decidedly unjust. I offered a few examples from the reporting on U.S. drone attacks on civilians to illustrate the point.

My "Quote" of the Week for the first issue after the 2012 Pledge Drive had to do with "Sweeping Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security." I'll be returning to that very shortly, as this is still, pathetically, a big issue.

Last December I looked at anti-Iran propaganda, and the human cost of sanctions against that country. This issue is all over the news still, and just this week a U.S. Senator called for even harsher sanctions, threatening to destroy any chance of a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear "crisis."

Remember the "Fiscal Cliff?" I talked about that in December also, noting that the issue is as phony as a three-dollar bill, but adding that, nonetheless, "The results of these hysterical negotiations could have far-reaching effects on your life and mine." Little did I know that this hysteria would pale against the just-completed "debt-crisis" lunacy.

At the beginning of the new year I talked about the tension between profits and jobs in the U.S. economy, and how the media deals with that tension.

I discussed the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, using it as an entry point to begin a series on "How The Structure of Media Distorts Reality." I mentioned four aspects of the corporate media do the distorting, introducing what I called The Gawker Syndrome; The Grabbing Eyeballs Mandate; The Story-Telling Format, and; The Chicken Little Tendency.

I followed that with a piece called "Why the Media Misses the Big Stories," which is a bit complicated, but has to do with an Individualistic thought process that is embedded in the media system. That way of thinking tells us that problems—any problems—are basically due either to "bad" people, or to "good" people making bad decisions, who can and must be stopped. That conviction prevents us from analyzing the system. And thus are many big stories—stories that might help us understand and change systems and institutions—rendered invisible.

On March 5, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died, which led the U.S. media to engage in a veritable orgy of disinformation and historic revisionism that was quite revealing. So I devoted Nygaard Notes #527 and #528 entirely to that issue and all the lessons it offered about how the Propaganda system works in this country.

In April I returned to the subject of voting rights, which were then and continue to be under attack in this country. Last spring President Obama appointed a "Presidential Commission on Election Administration," which was set up in such a way that it was virtually guaranteed to do nothing. So far that seems to be pretty much what it is doing, although it has held a hearing or two. Not that anyone has heard about any of this, since the media has lost interest. More on this in Nygaard Notes in the future, I'm sure.

I actually had a one-issue, ultra-brief Pledge Drive in May, which was quite successful, and hopefully sets the stage for the REAL Pledge Drive, which for some reason happens in the fall. Right now, in fact.

In April three people were killed and 264 were injured when a man set off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. On April 17th, a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas caught fire and exploded, killing 14 people and injuring 200. I'm guessing that most people remember the first incident, and do not remember the second. I explained in Nygaard Notes #531 the dynamics that help to explain such remembering and forgetting.

As the summer got underway I offered a multi-part series called "How We Make Meaning: Anchors and Categories." That series concluded with me reminding activists that "unconscious processes which are carried out by powerful institutions usually seem more powerful than they are." The hopeful note I sounded then was that the seemingly-invulnerable ideological fortress that we see all around us is "like a Propaganda Ponzi scheme, and delegitimization via consciousness-raising is what can bring it down." And there you have a big part of the reason why I keep publishing Nygaard Notes.

Later in the summer I explained some of the reasons that I'm so obsessed with media. In the process I tried to make the case that this thing we call "The Media" would better be called "The Mainstream Corporate For-Profit Bound Agenda-Setting Media." (See Nygaard Notes #535 if you forgot how that argument went.)

It was in August that the U.S. came perilously close to another criminal intervention in the Middle East, this time in Syria. So I published "A Primer on the U.S. and Syria" in September, after which I stepped back to look at the bigger picture of which Syria is just a part, offering an analysis of the role of Propaganda in the drive to war, and how popular resistance to war has given birth to "The New American Way of War." I concluded by exposing the Deep Propaganda upon which the call to war is based, noting that, "Until we succeed in delegitimizing these deep, deep ideas, the lies will keep coming, too many people will find them believable, and we will remain in a state of endless war."

Last month I revisited the ongoing battle over voting rights, highlighting some very positive responses to the ongoing attempts to disfranchise poor people, young people, and people of color.
And that brings us up to the most recent issue of Nygaard Notes, which was all about how the Austerity Agenda has become the basis for public policy in the 21st-Century United States. A number of people wrote in to tell me how depressing that issue was. I didn't think it was, but I hear ya! So I plan to put out a Good-News Nygaard Notes before long. And there IS a lot of good news, despite much of it remaining unreported and thus mostly invisible to anyone who isn't directly involved in it. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

While you're waiting for the good news, may I suggest that you create some good news yourself by sending in a Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes RIGHT NOW? If you've been meaning to do it, and if the preceding list reminds you of how much this FREE newsletter offers you, month-in and month-out, then it seems like a really, really, really good idea to send in your contribution to keep it going. Thank you!


Did I Mention That There Are Two Ways to Make a Pledge?

You can make out a check to "Nygaard Notes," and mail it to:

Nygaard Notes
P.O. Box 6103
Minneapolis, MN 55406

OR, if you prefer online transactions, you can

Go to the Nygaard Notes website at , look for "Donate to Nygaard Notes," and look for the button that says "Donate Online."