Drew's views

Drew's views

April 5th, 2013 in Opinion Free Press

HEADLINE: Tennessee bill on Senate primaries likely dead for session

THE RECAP: A bill putting the selection of U.S. Senate primary nominees into the hands of the 132 members of the Tennessee General Assembly appears dead for the year. Under the legislation, the current partisan primary elections for U.S. Senate candidates would be replaced by a candidate selection meeting held by the legislature's Republican and Democratic caucuses. The Democrat and Republican candidate chosen by the legislators would face off in the general election.

DREW'S VIEW: The bill, which seems ludicrous at first blush, was advancing through the legislature at a surprising clip. That is until U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., gave House Speaker Beth Harwell a call, according to WATE-TV in Knoxville.

After speaking with Corker, who was perhaps fearful that he might lose his otherwise safe Senate seat as a result of the proposal, Harwell asked/pleaded/begged/demanded that the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, kill the bill. And he did.

Sure, the bill is undemocratic and puts the selection of candidates for senate in the hands of 132 nincompoops. But for conservatives, Constitutionalists, "small-r" republicans and people who believe we should say "the United States are," rather than "the United States is," the bill was curiously beautiful. It harkens back to a time in which senators were supposed to represent the will of the states, rather than the will of the people; a time when senators fought to keep the federal government out of state functions, instead of facilitating federal takeover of state powers.

That notion was the whole reason why each state has an equal number of U.S. senators in the first place, and why, until corruption lead to the passage of the 17th Amendment and the direct election of senators in 1913, state lawmakers selected our senators. Today, as the federal government ignores the 10th Amendment and runs roughshod over states' rights, any attempt by the state legislature to limit federal power and inject the will of states into Congress should be applauded -- even ones as dopey as this.

The bill might not have been a good idea, but it sure was a grand one.

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HEADLINE: Rutgers, Pernetti fire Rice after video release

THE RECAP: Rutgers fired basketball coach Mike Rice on Wednesday after a videotape aired showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and using gay slurs during practice.

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was given a copy of the video in November. After hiring independent investigators to analyze the tape, he suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000.

DREW'S VIEW: Nothing quite like a video of a basketball coach at a major university hurling basketballs -- and slurs -- at 19 and 20-year-olds like an irate maniac to dampen the excitement over the marquee event in all of college sports, tomorrow night's men's basketball Final Four.

The video, which has gone viral and has been featured on most every major national news show in America over the last 120 hours, shows Rice whacking players with padded shields and launching basketballs at their bodies. After seeing the clip, almost no one would argue that Rice should keep his gig. No one except Pernetti who, when he saw the video six months ago, gave Rice nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Pernetti should've also been fired last November for his unwillingness to stand up for the safety of the young men in his athletic department by getting rid of Rice. Why didn't university's president Robert L. Barchi do just that? As the New York Times noted on Wednesday, "the video of Mr. Rice first surfaced just as Rutgers was engaged in sensitive negotiations [to join] the Big Ten, when the university would have been especially wary of attracting negative attention of any kind." As a result, Rutgers had a huge incentive to cover up the scandal since joining the Big Ten conference netted the school tens of millions dollars.

It seems that at Rutgers, money is more important than integrity.

There's a bigger issue at play -- literally and figuratively.

Rutgers is the flagship state university of New Jersey. The Garden State's popular straight-talking governor, Republican Chris Christie, has his sights on being the next president. Having the highest profile coach of the highest profile sport in the highest profile state institution in New Jersey physically assaulting and verbally abusing players doesn't look good for Christie.

Expect both Pernetti and Barchi to receive their walking papers, courtesy of Christie. This is a perfect opportunity for Christie to prove that he's the sort of no-nonsense leader than many Americans want, while doing the right thing by getting rid of two knuckleheads that turned a blind eye when students in their care were put in an abusive situation.

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HEADLINE: Jay Leno leaving 'Tonight Show' next year, being replaced by Jimmy Fallon

THE RECAP: Jay Leno says he will wrap up his 22-year run as host NBC's 'Tonight Show' next spring, to be replaced by "Late Night" host and former "Saturday Night Live" star Jimmy Fallon.

DREW'S VIEW: Much like same-sex marriage, butterscotch candy and rap music, the public's support of, and appreciate for, Jay Leno is split along a generational divide.

Leno's median viewer age is 58 years-old. It's hard to find anyone under 40 who would spend a perfectly good hour of their lives watching his show. That's because younger Americans don't remember when Leno was one of the biggest and funniest stand-up comics in America, respected by other comedians the way Louis CK and Dave Attell are today. In fact, David Letterman recently told Oprah that Leno is "the funniest guy I've ever known."

Folks under 40 mostly know the Jay Leno in Bill Carter's books "The War for Late Night" and "The Late Shift" -- an egomaniac workaholic car nut who hid in closets and back-stabbed his buddies while working to push Johnny Carson into retirement, shaft David Letterman out of "The Tonight Show" and, years later, connive and pout until Conan O'Brien was jettisoned as the "The Tonight Show" host.

As a result, plenty of Gen X and Gen Y-aged Americans danced a jig when they heard Leno was essentially being sacked -- even though most are too busy watching Letterman or Jimmy Kimmel, or more likely Conan, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, or Chelsea Handler, to know Leno was still on TV.

Still, America is a meritocracy, and no place more so than in entertainment. While it's easy to criticize Leno's personality and stale, Vegas-style shtick, it's hard to argue against the numbers and the money he makes for NBC. To this day, Leno is No. 1 in late night ratings. As a result, baby boomers who still stick with Leno won't be without him for long.

Leno will be at Fox -- or any other network who appreciates getting lots of viewers and making loads of money -- before Jimmy Fallon has settled in to his old chair.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared recently in the Times Free Press. Follow Drew Johnson on Twitter: @Drews_Views.