My new Nation column is called "Focus on Israel" and it’s on Israeli cinema, here and it’s I wrote a short plug for Chip Taylor on the Beast, here

And here again is the most recent think again column, "How to Control Health Care Costs, Conservative Style," about what happened when Bush and the Republicans tried to "reform" Medicare.

Quote of the Day: Sean "Puffy" Combs, to Playboy:

If I’m not inspiring you at this point, you’re a lost hope. I’m one of the baddest motherfuckers to ever do this shit, and I’m not saying that in an arrogant way. That’s a fact, in black and white. I dare you to write down all my achievements. It will be overwhelming. Break it downand then say who’s number one in hip-hop. Who else has conquered television? Who else has conquered fashion? I don’t want to hear you have a fashion line. Do you have a Council of Fashion Designers of America award? I need to know. Have you run a marathon? If you all still want to fuck with me after I ran the marathon, I don’t know what else to do.

Here’s Charles.

CHARLES PIERCE
NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc: "Natum videte/Regem angelorum."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Jesus, Joy Of Man’s Desiring" (The Classical Jazz Quintet)–Because I love New Orleans, if I close my eyes, I can see the lights in Jackson Square.

Happy, merry and peace to all the extended Alter-family, especially the Landlord who, against all scriptural precedent, first offered room at the Inn.

Part The First: As always, the Christmas message comes from Scoorge’s nephew, Fred:

There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,Christmas among the rest. But I amsure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round–apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that–as a good time: a kind,forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

Part The Second: I don’t know if I can support President Ben Nelson in his bid for re-election.

Part The Third: For New Year’s, I think Nate Silver can resolve to be slightly less of a schmuck. There are legitimate reasons to call this bill out for the POS it actually is, many of them political and undreamed of in your calculations, big guy.

Part The Penultimate: I’ll take Worthless Nitwit Opinions I Can Safely Ignore for $500, Alex. New Media!

Part The Ultimate–Just as an addendum to last week’s episode, in which I expressed my disbelief that we will see any progressive "fixes" to the POS that is about to clear the Senate. Back a few years, I wrote this at Esquire and, you may recall, among its other merits, the piece got a plug in The Nation from a certain Springsteen fan in academia about to open a joint of his own along the docks of Blogistan. Anyway, I post it again to make the following point–just because an entitlement exists, and because it is largely doing what it is supposed to do, it is not immune from the uniquely lethal modern combination of idiot politics and bad journalism. The SSI program was largely destroyed because a Democratic president facing re-election willingly took a dive because a revived Republican congressional majority made him nervous. The frenzy was stoked by the misuse of a graduate school homework assignment by some of the biggest names in elite American journalism, including ABC News and Bob Woodward. One of the central figures was the office crank in a local Social Security office in Pennsylvania. Because of this heedless, reckless political overreaction, a lot of broken lives were made immeasurably more painful, including that of one little boy in Mississippi who had a malformed heart. At least he was born with his. The same cannot be said of the politicians who made his death more grievous. So tell me, again, all you folks out there in the liberal blogosphere who are hammering Jane Hamsher–a cancer survivor herself, and a dauntless voice for reform — how, once we pass the POS, we can work to make it better. Please do that. I’ll pass it along to the Stephens family. They should get a laugh out of it.

God bless us all, every one.