The one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind. We all know this. What we don't know is who will lead in the Land of the Increasingly Weird, which increasingly describes the human endeavor, American branch. We'll have one answer in November, assuming they've learned to count in Florida. We'll have other answers through the year. Here are my fearless predictions for 2004.

•  After the election, our two political parties will agree to exchange names.   Somewhat sheepishly, the Republicans will agree that they've been acting (and spending) a lot more like Democrats than Republicans. George Bush will be recognized as the President who gave Voo Doo Economics a bad name. The Democrats, whose pantheon of candidates demonstrated the statesmanship and dignity of participants in the Jerry Springer show, will be eager for the name switch. A party name change may be their only hope for the future.

•  Congress will create a vast new agency, the PEA.   Otherwise known as the Pharmaceutical Enforcement Administration, the new agency will be charged with making America safe for Merck, Pfizer, Bristol Myers, and other major drug companies. Armed with the same powers as the better-known Drug Enforcement Administration, the new agency will confiscate pills, cash, cars, boats, planes, and houses owned by the newly criminalized people who buy prescription drugs in Canada or Mexico. Sadly, television shows based on the heroic exploits of the PEA will be canceled since the average Pfarma Runner will be well over 50. "Not the demographic we want," the networks will say.

•  Civil war will erupt as states secede. Governors in several states will vow to help citizens (and public employees) buy their prescription drugs from less expensive sources. They will threaten to secede from the union if the federal government enforces monopoly pricing. California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas will consider becoming part of Mexico. Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine will consider becoming part of Canada. The real test will come when the Air National Guard shoots down the first Lipitor-for-Iowa airlift flight.

•  Joe Bob Briggs will win a (belated) Pulitzer Prize. The one time drive-in movie critic (www.joebobbriggs.com), who lost his job nearly twenty years ago for writing a song titled "We Are The Weird"---a parody of Michael Jackson's "We Are The World," will be seen as a visionary who was tragically ahead of public consciousness. Mr. Briggs, whose innovative counts of murders, dismemberments, quarts of blood, and naked breasts in B movies allowed for quick scoring of the genre, will find a new future as a television political commentator, displacing Paul Begala.

•  There will be a major consolidation of Spam offers.   Finding that offers of instant weight loss, clean credit, quick mortgage refinancing, and sex starved dates are no longer bringing responses from Internet users, Spam broadcasters will form PUS, the Polymorphous Union of Spammers. By mid-year all Spam will offer massive combinations of instant weight loss, clean credit, quick mortgage refinancing, sex starved dates AND a longer you know what. Unfortunately, Spam will continue to clog your In-Box. Quill pen sales will soar.

•  Top corporate management will be seen as rich but dull witted. Historians will note that this was a long time in coming, with years of ignored evidence.   One positive upshot: struck by the futility of searching for smart (and ethical) management, good accounting, and an insightful board of directors, investors will see index investing as a better way to take their chances. Others will buy coffee in larger containers, the better to contain their savings.

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Earlier Fearless Forecasts:

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998