I’ve got a new "Think Again" column called "A Climate of Conspiracy," which deals with the tendency of contemporary conservatives to treat everything they don’t like as a conspiracy and it’s here.

My Nation column is called "Saving Journalism (It’s NotAcademic)," and it’s about the various conflicts I’ve noticed over my career in journalism and academia, and the reasons this will make it difficult for academics to step in where journalism disappears, and it’s here.

Now here’s Charles:       CHARLES PIERCE

      NEWTON, MA.

      "Come down to the manger/See the little stranger."

      Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Computer Crimes" (Garage A Trois)– Hark! The Herald Angels are singing how about how much I love New Orleans. (And they all sound like Aaron Neville).

      Short Takes:

      Part The First: My tour of the various joints on the progressive end of the Blogistan docks leads me to believe that many people are willing to accept bad policy as long as it comes with verbs, dependent clauses, and what seems like a measure of reflection deeper than that which you’d find in the ball-pit at Chuck E. Cheese. I hope that I am very, very wrong about this.

      Part The Second: I have nothing to say about l’affaire Tigre than I’ve alreadySAID here and in the past. Except to point out that his quarter-assed apology was solely aimed at theAmEx/Nike/Buick/ESPN/CBS/NBC/Royal Family Of Dubai Inc. complex.

      Part The Third: Chris Matthews should have every chance to explain himself and then he should be made to take a week off, without pay, to go and find his marbles.

      Part The Fourth: "And gentlemen in the Green Room now abed/will think themselves accurs’d  they were not here/and hold their manhoods cheap, whilst any speaks, that fought with us, on a set with Chris Wallace."  This Week’s Holiday Fun Quiz — How many of the carping little twerps herein would have been anywhere near the frontline at Agincourt? Discuss.

      Part The Penultimate: Ladies and gentlemen, the single most EMBARRASSING () Excalamation Point — "Exclusive!" — in the history of the English language. I didn’t think it waspossible for MTP to get more dedicated to the wisdom of various helium-based Beltway lifeforms than was the case when Russert was alive. Jeebus, was I wrong.

      Part The Ultimate: I have been fortunate enough to spend most of my career writing for magazines. I like to think I’ve got a pretty good bead on what the various critters who edit them are going for at any one time. But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what Parson Meacham is trying to put together at Newsweek. (Once again, as always, Dahlia Lithwick can leave the room while I discuss this.). Is it some kind of print version of Arianna’s joint? Is it pure link-whoring of the most ungainly kind? Is Baby Jesus screwing with the Parson’s mind? Newsweek used to be the kind of quasi-hip little brother to Mr. Luce’s Time, which I believe was once written with pens dipped in Metamucil. Now, it has all the essential coherence and identity of one of those lamp-posts near Harvard Square on which the Spartacists, the Earth Firsters, the YAF, and various dyspeptic punk bands all staple their flyers. He has been rightly roasted for this piece of piffle. (I’m willing to"adjudicate" the Bush administration, too. I’d just like to do it at The Hague.) But the whole magazine is like that now. We have Niall Ferguson warning us not to social-contract away our "empire" lest the Ostrogoths turn up at the gates, demanding universal health-care and the regulation of the derivatives market.

      But my favorite recent one is thks little curiosity. Now, Ms.Rand is risible enough, as is the contention that the country will collapse if a bunch of bond traders go off to a valley and kill ferrets with their teeth — which comes dangerously close to the dictionary definition of cannibalism, now that I think about it. My interest was piqued more sharply by the By-line. Mark Sanford is — and, as a right, ought to be — a national joke, far beyond, say, Tiger Woods, whose "transgressions" are somewhat similar to Sanford’s. It is impossible to read this C+, sophomore-year book report and not think, well, Governor Sanford thinks government ought to be just big enough to cover for him while he’s off banging his Argentinian mistress, and then start laughing again. But how does the decision get made to hand this assignment tohim? Is he a Randian scholar? (Not if his analysis is any indication.) Is he particularly good at crafting a memorable sentence that does not function as an alibi? ("Hiking The Appalachian Trail" is pretty much immortal by now.) Pretty obviously not. The only possible motives left are that the Parson is allowing his magazine to be used to help rehabilitate a disgraced pol, or that the Parson thinks that the only thing that matters is having a "celebrity" write for his magazine, so asto create buzz. Either one is pretty damned pathetic.