- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

Guitar Johnny

The high bidder is banking on Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts becoming the next president of the United States — either that or they dig his bass picking.

Back in 1961, when Mr. Kerry was enrolled at the exclusive New Hampshire prep school St. Paul’s, he and some fellow classmates formed a rock band dubbed the Electras. They even cut an album, although fewer than 500 copies were produced.

One of those albums, featuring Mr. Kerry on bass electric guitar, has been on the EBay auction block, where bidding started at $500.

Highest bid as of yesterday afternoon: $2,410.

The album’s enterprising peddler lives on Capitol Hill.

Rare caucus

Stop the presses: The city of Washington tomorrow will hold its first-ever Republican Presidential Preference Caucus.

All registered D.C. Republicans, what few exist in this left-leaning federal city, are being urged to participate in the caucus, which will take place at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building just across the street from Lafayette Square and the White House.

Besides pulling the lever for President Bush, caucusgoers will vote on D.C.’s slate of delegates to the Republican National Convention, choose D.C. national committeeman and committeewoman to the Republican National Committee, and select members for the D.C. Republican Committee.

Voting takes place between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign Chairman Marc Racicot, the former governor of Montana, will be on hand to deliver a keynote speech to caucusgoers, and B.J. Douglass, wife of Frederick Douglass IV — great-great-grandson of abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass — will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Disguising Osama

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kay Bailey Hutchison will host a special screening Thursday evening of “Osama,” the Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language film, at the Motion Picture Association of America office near the White House.

Premiered at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, it is the first entirely Afghan film shot since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban regime, which banned all movies as contrary to Islam. Inspired by a true story, the film features a 12-year-old girl and her mother who lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work.

Her husband and brother dead, and unable to leave their house without a “legal companion,” the mother disguises her daughter as a boy whom she calls Osama.

Buying Osama

Osama bin Laden’s days may be numbered if Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, gets the loot he’s after.

Mr. Hyde, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Tom Lantos of California, have introduced a bill that would give the secretary of state the option to offer a $50 million reward — double the current $25 million bounty — if it facilitates the terrorist’s capture.

“Bin Laden deserves such a high price on his head,” says Mr. Hyde, “and we would welcome the chance to pay this amount for the capture of this global terrorist.”

The Counter-Terrorist and Narco-Terrorist Rewards Program Act would make other major changes to the long-established State Department Rewards Program, particularly as it relates to capturing the al Qaeda leader. The secretary of state, for instance, could grant rewards other than money, such as vehicles, appliances, commodities and other goods and services.

“In places like Afghanistan, a motorcycle or transport vehicle may be just as valuable as cash in gaining cooperation in the fight against terrorists,” Mr. Hyde says.

Victims memorial

President Bush is the new honorary chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization authorized by Congress to erect a memorial in Washington to the 100 million people killed by communist regimes.

Mr. Bush is expected to attend the groundbreaking for the memorial this spring.

Word wake

Saluting a woman who has just completed a “stellar” tour as the U.S. ambassador to Finland, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina Republican, said of CEO Bonnie McElveen-Hutne of Pace Communications, one of the top female-owned businesses in the country:

“When she was 9 years old, her mother had her write the word ‘can’t’ on a piece of paper and bury it in a shoe box in the back yard of the home. She has not used the word since.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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