Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

And the band didn’t play on . . .

The sequester seems to be taking its toll.

As we noted Monday, the Air Force has announced that it’s halting flyovers at football games and air shows, at least through the end of the fiscal year in September. The Thunderbirds, the aerial demonstration team known for its dizzying tricks, will be grounded, too.

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.

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Now we find that the country’s great military bands are taking a hit.

The famed U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” canceled its anniversary concert last weekend at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda and is preparing to cancel other concerts as a result of federal budget uncertainties.

Strathmore, with 2,000 seats, “was going to cost $35,000 in rental and related costs,” said Col. Thomas Palmatier, the band’s leader and commander. So the band canceled, citing “limitations on government funds” on its Web site, and instead scheduled four concerts at the 350-seat hall at Fort Myer. (All the band’s concerts are free to the public.)

Most other performances, either outdoors at the Capitol or on the Mall or wherever the venue is free, will continue, Palmatier said, and additional concerts — at places such as the World War II Memorial — will be added.

All the military bands in the country and around the world are “in the same boat,” Palmatier said. “We are all looking at reality” and “trying to make lemonade out of lemons,” cutting travel costs and such, he said. “They are all doing the same thing.”

“We’re doing everything we can to find every possible way to continue to provide service to Americans,” he added, including webcasting concerts. Cutting hall rentals, some travel and other expenses would yield about $100,000 in savings, he said.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, along with many National Guard units, maintain 148 bands, with an estimated total cost of about $388 million a year.

Cowboy diplomacy

Secretary of State John Kerry looks to be scoring early points for diplomatic gift-giving with what we hear was a hit of a present to his counterpart, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, during a stop in London last week.

Kerry presented Hague with a pair of fine tan Western-style leather boots purchased from Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum, Idaho. (Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have a home nearby in Sun Valley, and the SecState has been known to sport a few pairs of his own from the purveyor).

The kicks were handmade in Texas (natch) by the famed Lucchese Boot Co., and they had Hague’s initials hand-tooled into the shins by an Idaho saddle maker.

We’re told they went over big, with Hague promising they would be “well worn.”

Kerry’s fashion flourish may have inspired a bit of an across-the-pond trend: Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne apparently expressed interest to U.S. officials about getting their own pairs.

No doubt Kerry owes a tip of the 10-gallon hat to ambassador and chief of protocol Capricia Marshall, who helps select such diplomatic gifts.

They appear to be getting off on the right foot.

Over-ize-ization

The Loop award for the most horrible new word from Capitol Hill for 2013 — yes, the year’s young, but we’re pretty confident — goes to Austan Goolsbee, who was President Obama’s first Council of Economic Advisers chairman and is now an economics professor at the University of Chicago.

Goolsbee, along with Bush I council chairman Michael Boskin, testified last week at a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee about the state of the economy.

Goolsbee, responding to a question from Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) about the effect of foreign competition on the workforce, said the country needed “to make adjustments in how to train workers.”

Given changes in technology, he said, “we will have to and we should make quality investments in training.”

Technology has changed training needs, he said, but “let’s not overly dreadfulize it, if that’s a word.”

Well, Austan, that’s a big “if.” The verbing of nouns and other non-verbs (“accessorize,” for example, or “cannibalize”) is common these days and often serves a real purpose.

But making, say, a dreadful situation worse by dreadfulizing it, or overly dreadfulizing it, is getting too far out there. Even for an economist.

When apprised of the award for his new word, Goolsbee said, “I said that?”

Yes, indeed — there’s video evidence.

“Why have I been singled out for shamefication?” he lamented in an e-mail.

The protector in chief

Retired Secret Service official David O’Connor will be the White House’s pick to head the agency.

O’Connor retired last year after more than 25 years with the Secret Service, most recently as its assistant director of investigations.

The director’s post has been vacant since the retirement last month of Mark Sullivan, who was head of the Secret Service during the scandal last year in which agents hired prostitutes during a visit to Colombia.

O’Connor, whose appointment was first reported by Reuters, is expected to be a steady hand at the agency: His Secret Service career has included heading investigations, managing field agents, and overseeing dignitary protection.

The post does not require Senate confirmation.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

 
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