John McCaslin

Highbrow Hungarian

Given her immense exposure and responsibility of late, we made a point to grab the interview that best-selling author Ronald Kessler conducted with White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino.

First, we were impressed to learn that as a youngster she would awaken before the crack of dawn, saddle up a horse and help herd cattle on her grandfather's 12,000-acre ranch in Wyoming.

And, we find it refreshing in a capital city choked with Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs that Mrs. Perino drives a black Jeep to the White House every morning.

Still, our favorite portion of the interview (read it in its entirety on deals with Mrs. Perino arriving home each night, kicking off her heels and commanding -- in most unusual political fashion -- her well-trained Hungarian hunting dog, "Henry," to retrieve her flip-flops.

"When Perino says to the dog, 'Tell us what you think of John Kerry,' the dog runs off and fetches flip-flops," Mr. Kessler reveals.

Wine, not war

A small yet vocal group of visiting Italian women are making the rounds on Capitol Hill, trying to drum up support to halt construction of a proposed U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy, about 25 miles west of Venice.

"We welcome Americans in Vicenza to visit our beautiful treasures, learn about our rich history and enjoy our food and wine," Thea Valentina Gardellin says. "But what we don't want are more soldiers, planes and military hardware."

Adds Cinzia Bottene: "We are convinced that what Italy, indeed the world, needs is not another military base."

The women argue that their city is already home to other U.S. military installations, including Camp Ederle, built in 1955. A new base would unite the 173rd Airborne Brigade, currently based in both Italy and Germany.

But a new base, the women complain, would be located in a residential area surrounded by historic sites. In fact, the Camp Ederle Web site touts Vicenza as home to Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio's wonders, including the Rotunda and Teatro Olimpico.

"The thriving downtown area contains dozens of historical places, churches and villas. The Basilica, another Palladio creation, anchors the main downtown market area," the U.S. military notes.

Civil war

As quickly as President Bush vetoed the congressional bill that would have set a deadline to return troops home from Iraq, several retired generals, in conjunction with the "progressive" National Security Network, began a coordinated attack on the White House -- and in no uncertain terms:

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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