With the Benghazi pseudo-scandal momentarily on hold as John Boehner’s Republican-dominated kangaroo court – uh, I mean select committee, is assembled, the Secret Service has set tongues wagging with the revelation by the agency’s former director, Mark Sullivan, that agents were routinely pulled from White House perimeter duty to protect Sullivan’s assistant at her Maryland home. Expect calls this week for House and Senate investigations. And don’t be surprised if Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann or one of their GOP colleagues gets the bright idea to have Sullivan reappointed to his old position so that they can then demand his resignation again. Hell, one or more conservative pundits clamoring for the President’s impeachment on the grounds that he failed to micromanage his own security detail wouldn’t shock me either.
In other Secret Service news, Thomas Lemuel “Lem” Johns, who was assistant to the special agent in charge of LBJ’s security detail in Dallas on November 22, 1963, died Saturday, aged 88. The Alabama native was present at Johnson’s ad hoc inaugural aboard Air Force One, and would later head the agency’s Birmingham field office. His son and grandson also went on to serve on presidential security details. Lem Johns will be interred at Birmingham’s Elmwood Cemetery on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, Senator Patty Murray of Washington will introduce the Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act of 2014, which would “amend the Social Security Act to grant survivor benefits to any individual legally married anywhere in the United States, regardless of whether he or she lives in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.” The bill is co-sponsored by another Democrat, Colorado’s Mark Udall. Yep. Not a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. Yep.
With a ton of testosterone-tinged rancor left over from his aggression in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin could be poised to invade the Eurovision Song Contest following Friday’s victory in Copenhagen by Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst’s impassioned “Rise Like a Phoenix.” Russia was unsuccessful in its efforts to strong-arm the contest into banning Wurst’s performance. Following the result, Russian Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin noisily tweeted about Europe’s future being “a bearded girl,” while numbskull MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky described the win as “the end of Europe.” Wurst’s performance is a marvel, no question, and certainly anything that ticks off Pootie is a good thing, but to a codger like me it’ll never top Eurovision winner “Waterloo,” which poured non-stop out of every transistor radio in Europe during my summer there in 1974. Yes, it was a simpler, more innocent era: the Paris Peace Accord had crumbled, resulting in renewed hostilities in Vietnam, civil war raged and Haile Selassie was dethroned in Ethiopia, Turkey invaded Cyprus (twice), the Red Brigades were bombing seemingly every passenger train I wanted to take, and Richard Milhous Nixon resigned in disgrace.
Tuesday, Vice President Biden heads to St. Louis with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to call for renewed Congressional spending to supplement the shrinking Highway Trust Fund. Wednesday, he’ll repeat the message in Cleveland. The President will reinforce the call to action with a Wednesday speech at New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, currently undergoing costly but long overdue refurbishment, and a Friday brainstorming session in Washington devoted to infrastructure renewal.