All the news that fits

Via the Times this morning, we learn that President Spend-Like-a-Drunken-Sailor not only wants to fight two wars, engage in long-term nation-building, and get all Space: 1999 on our asses — he also wants to spend $1.5 billion promoting marriage.

Yes, you read that right.

I keep thinking I can’t be surprised anymore. And yet, this administration’s capacity to surprise is apparently infinite. We wake up each morning and really, genuinely don’t know what they’re going to do next. This never-ending astonishment we experience, it is their gift to us.

Tomorrow, it will turn out that Halliburton is somehow involved in the marriage-promotion business, and we will once again put down the newspaper and turn to our significant others with and say, with voices tinged with amazement, “You’re really not going to believe this.

(We speak of heterosexual marriage, of course. Christian advocacy groups are still pressing the President to use the State of the Union address to promote a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. That soft thud you just heard was Andrew Sullivan’s head exploding from the pressure of cognitive dissonance.)

And speaking of our friends at Halliburton.

I see (via Billmon) that they are angling for some piece of the Mars program. And speaking, as we were yesterday, of what passes for thought in some quarters, I also see our friends on the right are dismissing that one as more oil-conspiracy-mongering — even though it is a matter of public record that Halliburton is, in fact, in line for what Billmon aptly summarizes as:

…a drilling project on Mars — roughly 300 million miles away from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Using proprietary technology so secret the customer can’t be told what it is or how it works. Under the harshest and most difficult conditions imaginable. And with a $1 trillion budget to hide it in.

Get it? Huge government contract? More money than Scrooge McDuck ever dreamed of splashing around in? Oil’s not even mentioned here — they’re talking about drilling for water for chrissakes. (Oh, and by the way: spelling “oil” with each letter repeated multiple times does not constitute an actual argument. Just saying.)

Yes, those wacky Bush-haters and their crazy theories! Next thing you know they’ll be telling us that Saddam and Osama weren’t best buddies!

Oh, wait.

Saddam Hussein warned his Iraqi supporters to be wary of joining forces with foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to battle American troops, according to a document found with the former Iraqi leader when he was captured, Bush administration officials said Tuesday.

The document appears to be a directive, written after he lost power, from Mr. Hussein to leaders of the Iraqi resistance, counseling caution against getting too close to Islamic jihadists and other foreign Arabs coming into occupied Iraq, according to American officials.

It provides a second piece of evidence challenging the Bush administration contention of close cooperation between Mr. Hussein’s government and terrorists from Al Qaeda. C.I.A. interrogators have already elicited from the top Qaeda officials in custody that, before the American-led invasion, Osama bin Laden had rejected entreaties from some of his lieutenants to work jointly with Mr. Hussein.

Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad. As a result, he wanted his supporters to be careful about becoming close allies with the jihadists, officials familiar with the document said.

Final thought, and this is the one that’s probably going to get me more email than anything else in this post: I think it’s finally time to acknowledge that “24” has jumped the shark. I keep watching, but really, they lost me a couple weeks back with that “it was all a dream” moment, in which Jack Bauer explains that all the events up to that point were part of an elaborate, carefully planned ruse. Anybody who believes the writers had that one plotted out from the start needs to contact me, because, you know, bridge, for sale.