Spring 2015

Spring has finally arrived here in the northeast, or at least in New York, where a week of hot weather is upon us. We are in the 80s F for the first time this year, and though that is unseasonably warm for this time of year, no one is complaining.

The winter was just too brutal to look this gift horse in the mouth.

So the deck furniture has been dusted and set out. The garden clean up -- particularly messy this year in the wake of broken boughs and reformed landscapes given the near glacial ice pack that covered us for long stretches -- completed. The frost-heaved sidewalks and driveways repaired.

The baseball season began in earnest almost a month ago. But here, at least, lots of us were not paying attention. Night games in early April -- especially this early April -- come with players in the dugouts wearing parkas and wool hats. By last weekend, however, all was as it should be. I went to Citi Field to see the resurgent Mets and basked in sun-splashed warmth along the third base line.

Which is as it should be.

There is inherent danger in playing baseball in very cold weather. It's unnatural.

That's why chilly Aprils are bad for the sport.

And why the World Series should not be played in November.

May, we are hoping, will languish. Though the season's title -- spring -- implies sprightliness, this one needs to slow down. No need to rush our way to the summer solstice. That season doesn't officially begin until June 21, and this year all of us should dispense with the notion that Memorial Day constitutes its "unofficial" beginning. Especially since Memorial Day is early this year. Here in the northeast, we need to enjoy the temperate present before we settle into our humid future.

In honor of spring, I am also taking a seasonal vow to avoid any focus on the Republican presidential campaign. That party is stuck in a permanent winter. It longs for the cold war (or a half dozen hot ones) as it works mightily to disguise its cold heart. In the wake of the failure of austerity worldwide, and especially in Europe where unemployment in many areas remains at near Depression levels, the GOP still worships at the altar of tight money and spending cuts more or less targeted at the poor and middle class. This, of course, is precisely what ought not be happening right now. The economists who know (mainly today's Keynesian led by Krugman, Stiglitz, DeLong, Summers and a few others) have over the past seven years consistently refuted the notion that inflation is a problem, or the bond market upset, or the deficit unmanageable. They have advocated the resurrection of fiscal policy.

Only the GOP -- and in Europe, the Germans and Britain's Conservatives -- refuse to read the memo.

The riots in Baltimore last week obviously can not be explained without the backdrop of Freddie Gray. But the neighborhood that blew up is also one where 45 percent of the people are unemployed. Destruction is not a cost when that is the case. It's a state of being. And without a latter day LBJ, it will not be resolved. The west end of Baltimore needs police accountability, and justice for Gray and his family. But it also jobs and money.

Not tax cuts and spending freezes.

On ISIS and Iran, Republicans have found new targets for their resurgent militarism, pretending that Obama's measured (and coalition-based) armed response in the first instance, and diplomacy in the second, is somehow a failure before the verdict is even in. If you challenge their baker's dozen of a candidate class to explain precisely how the new militarism will eliminate or contain either foe, they go mute.

Or talk about how much they love Israel.

In truth, of course, they really love only a part of Israel -- the Netanyahu-led right and far right. They are not loved in secular Tel Aviv or among the more nuanced leaders of Israel's Zionist Union. That's why Netanyahu was able to use them as mere backdrop to his electioneering . . .

Back in the winter.

Where they are permanently stuck.