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In the Loop

State Pays Price for Hassling Appropriator

By Al Kamen
Monday, December 6, 2004; Page A19

A curious "Sensitive But Unclassified" e-mail showed up the other day from William A. Eaton, the assistant secretary of state for administration, recounting highlights of a senior staff meeting chaired by Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage.

The Nov. 18 meeting, according to Eaton's notes, began with Armitage announcing that "transition team members will be arriving shortly. They will include John Bellinger, Matt Kirk and another one whose name I didn't catch. Armitage said we should give them all the help they need. However, requests should be funneled through S/ES [executive secretary] Karl Hofmann.

_____In the Loop_____
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"Armitage expressed irritation that one regional bureau threw up lots of bureaucratic hassles for the chairman of our appropriations committee when he wanted to travel to their region. Armitage was stunned that the bureau would do this."

Can't blame Armitage for being stunned. Any fool in this town knows better than to do anything but go into full frontal obsequiousness when an appropriator shows up.

"As a result of the treatment of the chair, the region's budget was cut $150 million," Eaton's e-mail quoted Armitage as saying.

Though it might shock people to discover this is how decisions involving taxpayers' dollars and America's foreign policy priorities are set, Loop Fans who understand the budget process doubtless only wonder why so little was cut.

It's unclear who the lawmaker was. The State Department, as it turns out, has a number of appropriations committee chairmen's feet to kiss, and Armitage wasn't specific. Still checking.

Still in Search of the Lost Chord

Last chance to enter the In the Loop Name That Tune Contest! This is to help the hapless Democrats -- still wandering in search of a winning campaign strategy -- come up with a catchy theme song -- pop, folk, hip-hop, whatever -- to give at least musical coherence to the effort.

Send your entry -- and rationale -- via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com -- too late now for the mailbox. Deadline is midnight today. Top 10 winners get a still-rare, highly coveted In the Loop T-shirt. Entries on background are welcome, but everyone must include telephone contact numbers to be eligible.

Snow Season Looks Short at Treasury

There was plenty of buzz last week about the return of former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), the colorful former head of the Senate Banking Committee, to a government job as Treasury secretary.

The buzz most likely began the afternoon of Nov. 16, when he was spotted going into the basement entrance of the West Wing of the White House. He was smiling. Honest.

The decibel level grew stronger when the ever-helpful senior administration official, in a phrase destined to join quintessential Washington sayings such as "forgotten but not gone," told our colleague Mike Allen that Treasury Secretary John W. Snow could stay as long as he wants -- provided it is not very long.

By week's end, the clock had begun ticking.

Can't-Miss Holiday Fun for All Ages

The holiday season is, of course, time for family. Schools are out; college kids are home. For many parents, the quest is to find something for them to do. Organizations often arrange for kid-friendly parties or events so employees can bring them to work for a few hours.

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