November 4, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 10:17 PM


Hysterical mobs are crudely judging history. One book offers a better way. : a review of Grant by Ron Chernow  (George F. Will, November 3, 2017, Washington Post)

He was hopelessly naive regarding the rascality unleashed by the sudden postwar arrival of industrialism entangled with government. But the corruptions during his administration showed only his negligence, not his cupidity. More importantly, Grant, says Chernow, "showed a deep reservoir of courage in directing the fight against the Ku Klux Klan and crushing the largest wave of domestic terrorism in American history." He ranks behind only Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson as a presidential advancer of African American aspirations.

After the presidency, he was financially ruined by his characteristic misjudgment of the sort of miscreants who abused his trust when he was president. His rescuer from the wreckage inflicted by a 19th-century Madoff was Mark Twain, who got Grant launched on his memoirs. This taciturn, phlegmatic military man of few words, writing at a punishing pace during the agony of terminal cancer, produced the greatest military memoir in the English language, and the finest book published by any U.S. president.

Chernow is clear-eyed in examining and evenhanded in assessing Grant's defects. He had an episodic drinking problem but was not a problem drinker: He was rarely incapacitated, and never during military exigencies or when with Julia, his wife. Far from being an unimaginative military plodder profligate with soldiers' lives, he was by far the war's greatest soldier, tactically and strategically, and the percentage of casualties in his armies was, Chernow says, "often lower than those of many Confederate generals."

Sentimentality about Robert E. Lee has driven much disdain for Grant. Chernow's judgment about Lee is appropriately icy: Even after failing to dismember the nation, he "remained a southern partisan" who "never retreated from his retrograde views on slavery."

Geoffrey Perret makes the point, in his fine Grant bio, that his reputation as president suffers because he was the first to oversee the massively enlarged government that the Civil War left behind.  So the scandals of his administration, which seemed unique at the time, became routine in ensuing decades.

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 PM


Justice was served in the Bergdahl case (Peter Bergen, 11/04/17, CNN)

Col. Nance had to weigh a number of mitigating factors as he determined Bergdahl's sentence. (Note: I have met with members of Bergdahl's family.)

The first factor, of course, is the five years Bergdahl spent as a prisoner of the Taliban.

Bergdahl mounted a number of escape attempts after which he spent years confined in a cage suitable for an animal.

He was also tortured, beaten with thick rubber hoses and copper wire.

The second, is Bergdahl's diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "People with schizotypal personality disorder are often described as odd or eccentric... the person with schizotypal personality disorder responds inappropriately to social cues and holds peculiar beliefs."
Given this diagnosis, it's not clear why Bergdahl was allowed into the military in the first place. Some evidence for Bergdahl's strange mindset is provided by his observation to the podcast "Serial" after he was released by the Taliban that when he had left his base in Afghanistan he believed he was embarking on some kind of "Jason Bourne" mission. Moving around alone in Taliban areas in Afghanistan, Bergdahl proved an easy target for Taliban foot soldiers, not some kind of action hero.

A third factor that the judge likely weighed in his decision was that Bergdahl provided useful information about the Taliban to US intelligence agencies when he was debriefed.

Finally, the judge said he would also weigh prejudicial statements made by President Trump about the case as a mitigating factor.

Posted by orrinj at 5:26 PM


Trump finally discovered he can't force the feds to prosecute Clinton -- and he's not happy (Dara Lind, Nov 3, 2017, Vox)

Trump opened up to talk-radio host and Mediaite contributor Larry O'Connor on Thursday, in an interview broadcast on Washington radio station WBAL. "The saddest thing," Trump told O'Connor, "is because I'm the president of the United States, I'm not supposed to be involved in the Justice Department."

The idea that the head of the government can't use his power to prosecute his enemies is literally at the core of the idea of the "rule of law" as it's understood in America. Outside legal experts and lawmakers from both parties have been making that argument for months.

But it seems that it came as a nasty surprise to President Donald Trump, and it's not clear when he found out that he couldn't manipulate the activity of the Justice Department -- of if he has, in fact, made a decision he won't try to soon reverse.

Remember that he certainly didn't seem to know that he wasn't "supposed to be involved" when he (allegedly) demanded the loyalty of FBI Director James Comey; fired Comey (ostensibly for being too harsh on Hillary Clinton), and later admitted that he'd fired Comey because he thought the FBI's investigation of ties between his campaign and the Russian government was "fake news."

And he certainly didn't know he wasn't "supposed to be involved" when for months he held a grudge against his own attorney general and close adviser Jeff Sessions, because Sessions felt that his entanglement in the Russia scandal was a reason to recuse himself from the federal investigation rather than trying to quash it. (That move led to the eventual appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort earlier this week.)

It is not ideal, to say the least, for a president to learn on the job about fundamental principles of American governance. But it appears that at some point, someone got through to him, and explained that Comey and Sessions weren't acting deliberately to spite the president but were trying to uphold the integrity of their offices. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:16 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:03 PM

THE 4%:

Territorial losses suffered by Islamic State in Syria, Iraq (SARAH EL DEEB and SUSANNAH GEORGE, 11/04/17,  Associated Press)

With new losses, the Islamic State group has been driven from more than 96 percent of the large parts of Iraq and Syria it once held, crushing its goal of establishing a "caliphate" in the region. [...]

The Syrian city of Boukamal is the last major urban center in the hands of IS.

The group also is spread along the Syria-Iraq border in villages in the provinces of Hassakeh and Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria.

There also are small IS cells in Iraq's Nineveh, Anbar and Salahudin provinces, where the central government has lacked strong control for years.

Along this thin line on the border of the two countries, the militants still have a presence in a region running west of the Euphrates River toward the Syrian desert, between Deir el-Zour and Homs provinces. There also is a small IS presence near Damascus.

Posted by orrinj at 4:07 PM


Memo Reveals Details of Hillary Clinton-DNC Deal (ALEX SEITZ-WALD, 11/04/17, NBC)

In exchange for Hillary for America's (HFA) helping the cash-strapped DNC raise money, the party committee agreed "that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research."

Specifically, the DNC agreed to hire a communications director from "one of two candidates previously identified as acceptable to HFA." And while the DNC maintained "the authority to make the final decision" on senior staff in the communications, technology and research departments, the party organization said it would choose "between candidates acceptable to HFA."

The memo stipulates the DNC had to hire a communications director by September 11, 2015, months before the first nominating contests in early 2016.

However, the memo also made clear that the arrangement pertained to only the general election, not the primary season, and it left open the possibility that it would sign similar agreements with other candidates.

Posted by orrinj at 9:26 AM


'The Coffee Boy' Spills It In Trump's Lap : George Papadopoulos was only trying to make the boss happy. Now he's working for Mueller. (JACK SHAFER November 04, 2017, Politico)

From a position of almost absolute powerlessness inside the Trump campaign, he made repeated attempts via his sketchy Russian and Russophile connections to consummate meetings between Trump and Putin or between Trump other Russian leaders in the months before the election. As a cooperating witness in the Mueller probe, the hapless and unaccomplished Papadopoulos may deliver doofus danger to the Trump: Depending on what he heard and saw inside the campaign, his testimony could spark a chain reaction capable of toppling the presidency.

You can't deny Papadopoulos' doofus bona fides. He lied to the FBI, doofus style, which easily caught him in his fibs. Before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016, he labored on the Ben Carson campaign, making him a doofus' doofus. When Trump met with the Washington Post editorial board on March 21, 2016, he presented Papadopoulos to the world, calling him "an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy." As we now know, being described in superlatives by Trump almost always marks the subject as an incompetent.

On March 31, 2016, Papadopoulos pitched the idea of a Trump-Putin meeting at a meeting of Trump's national security team, which including Papadopoulos and now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump was so proud of the event, he captured and tweeted it. Mueller immortalized it this way: "When defendant PAPADOPOULOS introduced himself to the group, he stated, in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin," the plea states. According to CNN, Trump didn't rule out such a meeting with the Russian leader, although Sessions is said to have batted the pitch down. He is reported to have said that such a meeting would look bad if it ever got out. 

Posted by orrinj at 9:21 AM

CITIES WERE A MISTAKE (self-reference alert):

Every person in London now breathes dangerous levels of toxic air (John McKenna, 10/06/17, WEF)

The population of London hit 8.8 million people this year and every one of them is breathing dangerous levels of polluted, toxic air.

Every district of the UK's capital city exceeds safe levels for the most dangerous type of air pollutants.

The Wife and I have been watching Escape to the Country on Netflix and growing increasingly bitter at the awesome country houses available super-cheap over there.  

Posted by orrinj at 9:16 AM


You Asked, We Answered: What's Up With That 'Chicken Farmer I Still Love You' Rock? (PAIGE SUTHERLAND, 11/03/17, NHPR)

If you've ever driven on Route 103 heading up to Sunapee for some swimming or skiing, you might have seen this piece of graffiti on the side of the road in Newbury.

It's on this giant rock right off the highway and it reads: "Chicken Farmer I Still Love You" in big white letters. And it's been there for decades.

As part of our series Only in NH, in which we answer questions from around the state about New Hampshire oddities, NHPR's Paige Sutherland tries to solve the mystery behind the chicken farmer love rock.

Posted by orrinj at 9:08 AM


The Education of Betsy DeVos : President Donald Trump's most controversial, ideological Cabinet pick is discovering the limits of her power. (TIM ALBERTA November/December 2017, Politico)

DeVos may have been Trump's most controversial Cabinet nominee--the first in American history to require a tiebreaking confirmation vote cast by the vice president. Yet she runs the administration's smallest and arguably least potent federal department; DeVos does not enforce America's laws like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or direct its international relations like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. And after nine months in office, it has become apparent to the education secretary that she has limited power to transform the nation's schools. When it comes to the most contentious debates surrounding America's K-12 system--vouchers, standards, incentives, tests--DeVos had more tangible influence as a private citizen in Michigan than she does now in Washington.

Public schools receive little of their funding from the feds--roughly 9.1 percent in the 2015-16 school year, according to the National Education Association--giving Washington minimal leverage over states and localities. The 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), seen as a bipartisan rebuke to the perceived overreach of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, further decentralized much of K-12 decision-making to an unprecedented degree. It's true that the secretary has more autonomy when it comes to higher education: Student loans and regulatory guidance, among other things, are within her purview. But this is not where DeVos has focused her decades of advocacy work--nor was it the focus of the entrenched resistance warning of her plans to decimate the nation's public schools.

"It's ironic that she emerged as the Cabinet nominee to draw the strongest and most visceral opposition, given the constraints on the ability of any secretary of education to effect dramatic change in American education," says Martin West, an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who served as Mitt Romney's top education adviser in 2012. "Those constraints are greater now than ever given the restrictions on the secretary's authority that were built into ESSA."

The bureaucracy is much more formidable and difficult than I had anticipated--and I expected it to be difficult."

This scaled-down role happens to square with DeVos' small-government worldview. "President Trump and I know our jobs," she told a Republican conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan, one week after visiting Kansas City Academy. "It's to get out of the way." But she clearly had more ambitious aims when taking the job--and has grown frustrated at her inability to achieve them. In several interviews this fall with Politico Magazine, DeVos repeatedly returns to the word "bureaucracy": how it smothers creativity, blocks innovation, slows change to a glacial pace. When I ask what has surprised her most about the job, DeVos does not hesitate. "The bureaucracy is much more formidable and difficult than I had anticipated--and I expected it to be difficult," she says. "It's even worse. And you know, in talking to a lot of the great career staff, it's like everybody nods their heads when you talk about this ... yet it seems like everyone is powerless to do anything about it."

Everyone except for her. DeVos is currently undertaking an administration-mandated review of the department, from the top down, hunting for inefficiency and excess. From what she has seen so far, DeVos tells me she will recommend a "significantly lighter footprint." 

Posted by orrinj at 8:45 AM


Sonny Rollins Spent A Mythical 'Night at the Village Vanguard' 60 Years Ago Today (Nat Chinen, 11/03/17, NPR)

One of the greatest jazz albums ever made was recorded 60 years ago today. It's A Night at the Village Vanguard, a live date by saxophonist Sonny Rollins, featuring a muscular backdrop of bass and drums. It's not a carefully plotted concept album, nor a manifesto, but a document with the slangy nonchalance of a conversation overheard on the street, extemporaneous and unburdened. It's a slice of musical vérité that captures a true master of the form on a good day, in a generous and jocular mood.

At 87, Rollins is an acknowledged eminence in American culture: Earlier this year his archives were acquired by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, and there's a serious effort afoot to rename the Williamsburg Bridge in his honor.

He's also legendarily self-effacing, the harshest critic and most reluctant listener of his own past work. By his estimation, he hasn't heard A Night at the Village Vanguard since shortly after it was released. But, when I asked him to talk about the album and the circumstances around its creation, he readily obliged.

Posted by orrinj at 8:42 AM


Your Sentencing Advice Isn't Helpful, Mr. President (Andrew C. McCarthy, November 4, 2017, National Review)

The twaddle President Trump tweeted (here and here) in urging the "DEATH PENALTY!" for Sayfullo Saipov, the West Side Highway jihadist, is maddening -- and not just on its face. Only days earlier, the commander-in-chief had been chastised for intemperate remarks affecting another case, the court-martial of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

As we recounted in a recent column, Trump's bull-in-a-china-shop routine rumbled through the sentencing proceedings of the deserter and former Taliban prisoner. Unwilling (or is it unable?) to utter the words "no comment" when asked about the case during a press conference, the president reaffirmed his campaign-trail incitements about the "dirty, rotten traitor" (for whom he'd pantomimed a firing-squad execution).

Trump, or at least someone at the White House, must have known that the defense had already moved to get the case thrown out on the theory that Trump had prejudiced Bergdahl's fair-trial rights. When he denied this motion, the military judge explained that candidate Trump had not been in command authority when he made his remarks. The clear message to the White House was that this would be a much tougher call if Trump spewed such demagoguery as president. Seemingly taking this as a dare rather than prudent advice, he proceeded to spew it as president. Naturally, the defense renewed the motion. After a few days of hand-wringing, the manifestly irritated judge denied it, on grounds that were far less defensible. Yesterday, undoubtedly concerned that the president's comments could result in a reversal on appeal if a stiff sentence were imposed, the judge sentenced Bergdahl to no jail time -- notwithstanding that desertion can carry a lengthy term of imprisonment, and Bergdahl's desertion resulted in soldiers' being severely wounded in the search for him.

Earlier, aware of the problems his off-the-cuff remarks had already caused in the court-martial, the president nevertheless butted into the West Side Highway jihadist's legal proceedings. He was moved to do so, he said, because the justice system "is a joke and it's a laughingstock." Well, it is if the president turns it into one.

Posted by orrinj at 8:39 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:18 AM


Two popular conservative Twitter personalities were just outed as Russian trolls (Rob Tornoe, 11/03/17,

Jenna Abrams was a popular figure in right-wing social media circles. Boasting nearly 70,000 followers, Abrams was featured in numerous news articles during the 2016 election, spotlighted by outlets as varied as USA Today, the Washington Post, the BBC, and Yahoo! Sports. Her tweet about CNN airing porn during Anthony Bourdain's show (it didn't) was reported by numerous outlets.

But Abrams never existed.

According to information released by House Democrats earlier this week, Abrams was one of more than 2,750 fake Twitter accounts created by employees at the Internet Research Agency, a "troll farm" funded by the Russian government based in St. Petersburg. In addition to the Abrams account, several other popular conservative social media personalities -- @LauraBaeley, SouthLoneStar, Ten_GOP -- were all revealed to be troll accounts. All have been deactivated on Twitter.

According to the Daily Beast, the agency developed a following around the Abrams account by offering humorous, seemingly non-political takes on pop culture figures like Kim Kardashian. The agency also furnished the fake account, which dates back to 2014, with a personal website, a Gmail account and even a GoFundMe page.

Once the Abrams account began to develop a following, the tone of its tweets shifted from pokes and prods at celebrities to divisive views on hot topics like immigration and segregation.

"To those people, who hate the Confederate flag. Did you know that the flag and the war wasn't about slavery, it was all about money," the Abrams account wrote in April of 2016. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:12 AM


Inside story: How Russians hacked the Democrats' emails (RAPHAEL SATTER, JEFF DONN and CHAD DAY,  11/04/17, AP)

It was just before noon in Moscow on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious messages hit the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The first 29 phishing emails were almost all misfires. Addressed to people who worked for Clinton during her first presidential run, the messages bounced back untouched.

Except one.

Within nine days, some of the campaign's most consequential secrets would be in the hackers' hands, part of a massive operation aimed at vacuuming up millions of messages from thousands of inboxes across the world.

An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party's nominee. It wasn't just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton's inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors.

While U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the email thefts, the AP drew on forensic data to report Thursday that the hackers known as Fancy Bear were closely aligned with the interests of the Russian government.

The AP's reconstruction-- based on a database of 19,000 malicious links recently shared by cybersecurity firm Secureworks -- shows how the hackers worked their way around the Clinton campaign's top-of-the-line digital security to steal chairman John Podesta's emails in March 2016.

It also helps explain how a Russian-linked intermediary could boast to a Trump policy adviser, a month later, that the Kremlin had "thousands of emails" worth of dirt on Clinton. [...]

By the second half of April, the DNC's senior leadership was beginning to realize something was amiss. One DNC consultant, Alexandra Chalupa, received an April 20 warning from Yahoo saying her account was under threat from state-sponsored hackers, according to a screengrab she circulated among colleagues.

The Trump campaign had gotten a whiff of Clinton email hacking, too. According to recently unsealed court documents, former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos said that it was at an April 26 meeting at a London hotel that he was told by a professor closely connected to the Russian government that the Kremlin had obtained compromising information about Clinton.

"They have dirt on her," Papadopoulos said he was told. "They have thousands of emails." [...]

The same afternoon, just as the American electorate was digesting a lewd audio tape of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women, WikiLeaks began publishing the emails stolen from Podesta.

The publications sparked a media stampede as they were doled out one batch at a time, with many news organizations tasking reporters with scrolling through the thousands of emails being released in tranches. At the AP alone, as many as 30 journalists were assigned, at various times, to go through the material.

Guccifer 2.0 told one reporter he was thrilled that WikiLeaks had finally followed through.

"Together with Assange we'll make america great again," he wrote.

Posted by orrinj at 8:03 AM


The Sleazy Case Against Mueller's Probe (Bret Stephens, NOV. 3, 2017, NY Times)

The truth about Fusion is that it is paid to dig up dirt by whoever is willing to pay for the dirt. Its business model relies on the Beatles' timeless insight that "everybody's got something to hide except me and my monkey."

But questions about Fusion's credibility, client list or aggressive tactics are irrelevant. Fusion brokered the dossier but Steele produced it. What's relevant is his credibility, the reliability of his sources and the truthfulness of their claims.

These check out. Bill Browder, the anti-Putin campaigner who is an outspoken critic of Fusion, calls Steele "a top-class person whose reputation is beyond reproach." At least one of Steele's possible Russian sources was found dead and three others were charged with treason, suggesting, as one Wall Street Journal news account noted, that the Kremlin was cleaning out the moles who had betrayed its hand in last year's election meddling.

As for the allegations themselves, former C.I.A. station chief John Sipher laid out the decisive case for their broad truthfulness in a lengthy article in September in Just Security.

"Well before any public knowledge of these events," Sipher notes, Steele's report "identified multiple elements of the Russian operation including a cyber campaign, leaked documents related to Hillary Clinton, and meetings with Paul Manafort and other Trump affiliates to discuss the receipt of stolen documents. Mr. Steele could not have known that the Russians stole information on Hillary Clinton, or that they were considering means to weaponize them in the U.S. election, all of which turned out to be stunningly accurate."

(After this column went to print, The Times reported that Trump foreign-policy adviser Carter Page met with Russian government officials in a July 2016 trip to Moscow, something he has long denied. This further confirms another claim made in the Steele dossier.)

There's more of this, but you get the point: The suggestion that the Steele dossier has been discredited is discreditable to the point of being dishonest.

Posted by orrinj at 7:45 AM


Relocated Hanover Bear Was Shot, Killed in Quebec (Jordan Cuddemi, 11/01/17, Valley News)

One of the three juvenile bears that raided trash cans and even entered a Hanover home under the watchful eye of their mother was shot and killed within weeks of being relocated to northern New Hampshire last spring, wildlife officials said.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Bear Project Leader Andrew Timmins said he received confirmation on Wednesday that the yearling was lawfully shot and killed on June 16 by a hunter in Quebec, 18 days after the bears were captured and brought to Pittsburg, N.H.

Posted by orrinj at 7:38 AM


Why MLB Is Hot, and the NFL Is Not (Thomas Boswell, 11/03/17, The Washington Post)

This World Series cast baseball in sharp relief against an NFL season that so far is drab, injury-filled, controversy-laden and so full of parity that almost nobody is worth watching. However, the difference between the directions of the two sports is deeper than that and follows long trend lines.

These days, baseball is smart, innovative, in love with change and so dynamic you can hardly keep up with it, while the NFL has been asleep for decades, collecting cash and becoming sclerotic.

MLB is broad-minded, inclusive, not just multicultural, but multi-continental and in touch with the best in traditional core American values. Yuli Gurriel didn't just get booed to the high heavens in Southern California for his racist gesture and remark toward the Dodgers' Yu Darvish in Game 5. The introduction of his name in the heart of Texas brought a strong undercurrent of boos and tepid cheers. And MLB's commissioner said any sort of racist gesture or remark had "no place" in his game and would be disciplined strongly.

These days, baseball is in sync with the lucrative digital world with its enormous marketable MLB data bank. MLB wishes for transformation and progress, while respecting its past.

The half-in-the-bag-before-kickoff NFL, in its often family-unfriendly venues, is cornball and square and doesn't know it has mustard on its forehead and beer spilled in its shoes. New ideas? Hey, congratulations on that zone blitz, 25 years ago. What, you stole the read option from college? That lasted 18 months.

Baseball evolves, sometimes so fast that your head swims. But it's change that is fun, controversial and infinitely debatable. Just five years ago, nobody thought that, by now, most teams would use radical defensive shifts leaving huge swaths of the field undefended, or that hitters would discover "launch angle," transform their value in one offseason and turn hitting theory on its head.

Back then, a blink ago, Stephen Strasburg's fastball was news. Now, in the age of "core strength" and study of biomechanics, most teams have relievers who touch 100 mph and maybe a starter or two as well. Oh, Lordy, what are hitters going to do? Maybe choke up three inches on the bat with two strikes like those bums Joey Votto and Anthony Rizzo. Or, disguised behind one stance, have multiple swing styles so that you can use the whole field like Daniel Murphy.

Who says you're a "starting pitcher" or a "reliever." Once you get to postseason, you're just "a pitcher." Be ready. Rich Hill got pounded on the back with congratulations after a pair of World Series starts in which he got just 12 and 14 outs. Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton, starters, got the final 11 and 12 outs in Houston's wins in Games 3 and 7.

"I'm not trying to bring back the three-inning save," said Astros Manager A.J. Hinch, a Stanford grad. But he was. Everybody from Firpo Marberry in the '20s to Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage would be proud. If the Dodgers had come back to win Game 7, one hero would have been that long reliever with 12 outs of shutout work: Clayton Kershaw.

We now have starters who, on occasion, are not even allowed to pitch long enough to qualify for a win, but we have "high-leverage" multi-inning relievers, such as Andrew Miller, who worked in the innings of most dire need in 2016 -- 19⅓ innings in 10 games -- and almost got Cleveland a World Series win.

Hello, NFL, are you around here anywhere? Speak up.

About what? The NFL hasn't had a new idea in 15 years, unless Bill Belichick had it. The NFL is just formulaic frat-house-on-the-lawn touch football with conservative five-yard passes that you could throw when you were 14 years old. Bubble screen, shallow pick route, draw, stretch sweep, quick hitch, punt. Yippee!

Unfortunately, popularity brings with it television and ads, prolonging games endlessly.  Soccer and rugby are the only sports you can watch a whole game of anymore.