Balance Sheet



Pig Hooey. Clintonomics gets mugged by the pop culture. Chicago Cubs announcer Steve Stone says he's cut back on cigars because "Bill Clinton's been reaching in my pocket for those new taxes." On The Simpsons, when Grandpa gets checks in the mail for work he didn't do, he says, "I thought it was because the Democrats were back in power." And David Letterman sums up Clinton's economic plan: "I am your king. Bring me your gold."

Cool Off. Articles published in two respected journals—Holocene and the National Geographic Society's Research & Exploration—reveal the new consensus on global warming: It's benign. One article reports that Northern Hemisphere temperatures have warmed by one degree Fahrenheit since the 1850s. And the warming has occurred exclusively in winter, spring, and fall. Even alarmist James Hansen revises his predictions of rising sea levels, noting that the polar ice caps don't melt in the winter.

Short-Term Solution. Attorney General Janet Reno orders a review of mandatory-minimum sentences for drug crimes. While nonviolent offenders "serve 10 to 15 years for being minor participants on a drug boat deal," she tells The Washington Post, "murderers, rapists, and robbers in state courts are serving drastically reduced sentences because there are not enough prison cells."

Empower Play. The shaky economy grabs Robert Reich's attention. The labor secretary pulls the plug on the Clinton administration's proposed 1.5-percent training tax. (See "Training Wreck," Dec.) And Reich's department will delay its plan to increase the minimum wage until next year.


Taxing Trophy. For the second consecutive year, a tax-happy governor wins the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. This year's victor: New Jersey Democrat James Florio, who (following James Carville's advice) hiked taxes early in his term then lost both houses of the legislature to Republicans. Another Carville client, W. J. Clinton, might take note.

Juvenile Offenders. A survey by the American Association of University Women claims that 85 percent of high-school girls and 76 percent of high-school boys have been sexually harassed. Included in the AAUW's definition of "harassment": getting mooned, hearing sexual comments or jokes, being called gay or lesbian, being pinched. May as well outlaw adolescence.

Mismanaged Trade. Clinton's bush-league trade advisers may blow both GATT and NAFTA. Chief economist Laura Tyson and U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor push retaliation against countries that run surpluses; the Clintonites target sales of cars and computer chips rather than urge lower trade barriers. In Fortune, former USTR Carla Hills compares Clinton's disjointed policy to "footnotes in search of a text."

Democratic Tyranny. In The Wall Street Journal, journalist Carlos Ball shows how elected officials in Latin America keep press critics on a short leash. In Peru, President Alberto Fujimori threatens to imprison foreign correspondents. Columbia's Constitutional Court orders editorial cartoonists to "eliminate abuses and exaggeration." And in Panama, President Guillermo Endara tries to renationalize the independent newspaper El Panama America. Democracy isn't enough.