Q: Last December, readers predicted that 2003 would bring, among other things, the capture of Osama bin Laden, the resignation of Vice President Dick Cheney, gas prices of more than $2 a gallon, a global ban on SUVs, approval of slots in Maryland and the biggest snowstorm the state has seen in many years.
Although only the last of those predictions has proved true, we ask you now to return to your cracked crystal balls and give us your top three predictions for 2004. Will the new year be better or worse than 2003?
My three predictions for the coming year:
The Republicans will sense the need to balance the ticket in the presidential election and reach out for the feminist vote by dumping Vice President Dick Cheney in favor of Ann Coulter. The Democrats will run Howard Dean and retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark.
Adopting the slogan "A Military Presence in Every Oil-Producing Terrorist Nation and an SUV in Every Garage," the Bush-Coulter ticket will sweep the country, except for Massachusetts, the District of Columbia and the township of East Rahway, New Jersey.
In its zeal to produce more "reality" shows, Fox TV will offer Stop That Wedding, a show in which the prospective bride and groom will be confronted during the wedding ceremony by relatives, creditors and former lovers who offer reasons the wedding should not take place.
After the presentation of evidence - lurid photographs, videotapes and testimonials - viewers will decide if the couple should marry. In case of a tie, Judge Judy and Dr. Phil will determine the outcome.
Just when the passage of a slot machine bill seems all but lost, the descendants of the Piscataway-Conoy Indians of Southern Maryland will up the ante and petition the General Assembly and the National Indian Gaming Commission to grant them the right to build a casino under the rationale that the revenue generated will help them combat poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and juvenile delinquency.
They will be supported by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Hotels and Resorts and William J. Bennett.
The casino and spa will open in a strip shopping center outside of La Plata in late 2004.
My top three predictions for 2004:
Weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq before the next presidential election. This must happen to justify Operation Iraqi Freedom and future military engagements with Iran and Syria.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will play a major role in the Democratic convention and might accept the vice presidential nomination.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will resign. He can claim it is for health reasons and not mention America's questionable "road map" to peace in the Middle East.
The new year will be worse and more costly to American taxpayers.
Rosalind Nester Ellis
Like it or not, bet that we have slots in 2004.
State Comptroller William Donald Schaffer will stand behind Mayor Martin O'Malley.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Mr. O'Malley will patch up their differences.
The following unlikely things will happen in 2004, if we only have faith:
The Sun will publish an editorial sympathetic to President Bush, pointing out that "after all, he's only a country boy from West Texas, and he needs our help and sympathy."
The developers, zoners and politicians will decide that "Smart Growth" really means putting an end to destroying trees to accommodate large "McMansions" and commercial sprawl.
Global warming will result in Chesapeake Bay tides rising, and the salty influx from the ocean will cause new breeds of oyster and crab that are impervious to all predators to flourish and proliferate so much that even the "over-fishermen" can't keep up.
Franklin W. Littleton
This year has been awful for justice and peace, and the Bush administration will make sure 2004 will not be better.
It will take from the middle class, the poor and veterans and give to those who contribute to the president's re-election campaign.
It will ignore the elephant in the room, poverty, and cynically mouth "no child left behind" while blaming the poor for society's ills.
It will promote a permanent war economy, which will ensure that more soldiers and civilians will die in an ungovernable Afghanistan as well as in the Iraqi quagmire.
The year 2004 will be a better year than 2003.
Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark will be our new president-elect.
Our combat troops will return home from Iraq as a new Iraqi government begins an elected, democratic regime.
Our economy will continue a slow climb that will lead to an improvement in job statistics.
President Bush will be re-elected because most people don't seem to care that he lied to Congress, and they must feel that the ends justified the means in Iraq.
The Chesapeake Bay will become more degraded because most people tolerate pollution.