BALTIMORE – We spent yesterday down at the farm getting ready for Christmas – hooking up an old wood stove… setting up the Christmas tree… cleaning up the house.

The children are arriving. One from California. One from France. One from Switzerland has been here since Thanksgiving. And two from Florida, bringing a fiancée and two grandchildren with them.

Granddad has to get ready for them!

Last night, we went out to a toy store. The place was packed. We waited nearly a half hour to reach the cashier.

But one Barbie… one plastic truck… and one strategy game later, we were ready for dinner at a trendy restaurant. In an old industrial space, the restaurant is named Parts & Labor. Practically all the waiters and waitresses had tattoos or piercings.

“We don’t believe in sustainable agriculture,” explained a young man. “I mean… nobody knows what that means. Instead, we buy locally sourced food, in season. And we only buy from responsible farmers.”

“What’s a responsible farmer?” Scrooge wanted to know.

“Oh… It’s a farmer who takes care of the land in a responsible way.”

“Oh…”

After the obligatory B.S., we settled down to an appealing dinner…

Compound Fantasies

This will be the last time you hear from us this year (except for “classics” republished from previous Diary entries). We will use this last contact to strike at an elusive target: fake news.

It is difficult to get a clean shot at fake news. Like a flock of birds, they all take flight at once. Besides, all news has a little bit of the counterfeit about it. There are two reasons for that.

First, fake news is what people want.

News is a form of entertainment. People pay for it. Naturally, they want entertainment that makes them feel smart, heroic, and honorable. That is, they want lies!

They don’t want to feel uncomfortable, inadequate, or stupid. So the last thing they want is any serious thought or real insight. The truth is too difficult to get ahold of and too bitter to swallow. They want news that goes down smooth… and makes them feel taller and slimmer.

Second, the farther you get from the hard facts – experienced firsthand – the fakier the news becomes.

The news you read in the paper concerns things done by people you’ve never met, that usually take place far away, acting on motives you can’t understand, based on compound fantasies, myths, and delusions. You can see this clearly by looking at the economic news.

Statistical Lies

The feds tell us that the inflation rate is 1.7%. They say the unemployment rate is 4.6%. They give us those numbers with decimal points and a straight face, as if they were facts.

But they are not facts at all, but merely confections – sugarcoated… hollow… and fattening.

The real numbers, meanwhile, are locked up in the basement, where they are beaten, bloodied, and intimidated by the statistical goons who work them over.

Fake news? All news is fake… at least to some degree. It almost all depends on ideas and theories that can’t be tested and can never be shown to be real facts.

You tell me the Dow almost hit 20,000 today or a Russian ambassador was shot dead. This is news. This is information. But it has absolutely no value without context.

A “Russian ambassador”?

Andrey Karlov was said to represent his country. But most people in Russia had never met him. Few had ever even heard of him. How could he – or any ambassador, for that matter – truly represent them?

Obviously, he could not. He was representing something else: “the state.” But what is that? Few people you ask could tell you.

This same state, whatever it is, is accused – by the CIA – of having “rigged” the U.S. presidential election.

How? By revealing what the Democratic candidate and her handlers were saying to one another privately.

The mainstream press, commentators, and kibitzers are up in arms. One member of Congress described it as a “war crime.”

Nuance and Nonsense

The CIA knows a fake story when it sees one. According to Tim Weiner’s history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, the organization has spread so much fake news for so long, it wouldn’t know the truth if it got hit in the face with it.

It has missed almost all the important trends and events of the last half-century and has been wrong about practically everything.

It used propaganda and fake news to influence elections. When that didn’t get it the results it was after, it shifted to fomenting revolution, assassination, and regime change.

The whole story has so many levels of nuance and nonsense, you scarcely know where to begin to pry them apart.

The CIA, too, was at least partly responsible for the biggest, fakiest news story of the 21st century.

Thanks to its “weapons of mass destruction” fib, the U.S. spent nearly $5 trillion… and caused the premature deaths of as many as a million people (nobody knows for sure).

Merry Christmas!

Regards,

Bill Bonner