The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Ralph Northam: I Completely Support that Sanctuary City Ban that I Voted Against!

Hey, remember earlier this week, when running an ad about MS-13 crimes in northern Virginia and denouncing sanctuary cities as constituting horrible xenophobia? Never mind!

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam said Wednesday that he would sign a bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities if a Virginia locality tries to become one in the future.

Republican nominee Ed Gillespie has pushed the issue of sanctuary cities to the forefront of the governor’s race. The term is loosely defined but generally understood as a locality that will not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. No Virginia city or county has tried to adopt policies to impede such cooperation.

Northam, Virginia’s sitting lieutenant governor, has insisted he opposes sanctuary cities while also accusing Gillespie of fabricating the issue for political advantage.

But in an interview Wednesday with the Norfolk TV station WAVY, Northam said for the first time that, under certain circumstances, he would sign a bill similar to the one he voted against this year, a vote that spawned a wave of ominous ads from the Gillespie campaign linking Northam to the Latino gang MS-13.

“If that bill comes to by desk . . . I sure will. I’ve always been opposed to sanctuary cities. He knows that,” Northam said of Gillespie, whose MS-13-themed ads have been blasted by critics as racially tinged.

For reference, the legislation was one sentence long: “No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” Not exactly difficult to interpret!

Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, orchestrated the move by initially voting with Democrats to create the 20-20 tie requiring Northam’s vote. Norment then changed his vote so the bill could pass. The Gillespie campaign sent out a news release almost immediately, an early sign of the immigration-themed campaign ads to come.

Bash Virginia Republicans for legislative maneuvering if you wish, but legislative leaders push votes to get members on the record all the time. If Northam really believes that every Virginia locality should cooperate with federal immigration authorities, what was the harm in that one-sentence bill?

If Northam is so willing to sign this legislation, why did he vote against it? His claim at the time was that it was unnecessary, because no Virginia locality had a law like that. But why would you oppose preventing a bad idea from becoming law? By any chance did it have anything to do with the fact that he was fighting in a Democratic primary, and was attempting to court the Left, including endorsing the state providing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants?

Brazile: Actually, the DNC Really Was in the Tank for Hillary From the Beginning

The odds are good that you don’t think highly of former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile. There are plenty of reasons, perhaps most notably that she passed CNN debate questions to Hillary Clinton’s camp while she was a paid contributor to the network. But her new book, Hacks, is a tell-all that serves up a pretty glaring headline: confirmation that the DNC agreed to become a wing of the Clinton campaign long before the primaries began:

I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

The agreement — signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias — specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

 . . . When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party comes under the candidate’s control only after the nominee is certain. When I was manager of Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.

In other words, five months before anyone had cast a vote in the Democratic presidential primary, the Democratic National Committee had signed over all major decision-making to the Clinton campaign. This morning, every Bernie Sanders supporter should be livid with their worst suspicions confirmed.

Better Ingredients, Better Pizza; Lower Television Ratings, Lower Pizza Sales

Within hours of Papa John’s pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter claiming that declining NFL ratings were to blame for the company’s poor quarter, the company became the latest . . . well, political football. Deadspin labeled him a “crybaby loser,” and Slate declares the contention is “not really an idea anyone should ever express out loud.”

Can we all at least agree that Papa John’s would not make this claim if they didn’t genuinely believe that the league’s handling of the kneeling protest controversy was hurting their bottom line?

“The NFL has hurt us,” company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.”

Executives said the company has pulled much of its NFL television advertising and that the NFL has responded by giving the company additional future spots.

“Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said, noting he thought the issue had been “nipped in the bud” a year and a half ago.

In revising sales estimates for the next quarter, Papa John’s president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie said on the call that the NFL deal was the primary suspect behind the decline and that “we expect it to persist unless a solution is put in place.”

Ritchie said that research has found that Papa John’s has been the most recognized sponsor associated with the NFL for two years running, which he said means the company’s performance can track with that of the league.

Deadspin’s rant about Schnatter includes a lengthy denunciation of the quality of Papa John’s pizza. You can argue that the chain’s pizza stinks, but it’s the same pizza they were serving a few years back when NFL ratings and pizza sales are better, and the company’s stock hit an all-time high in December 2016. It’s not plausible that the existing customer base suddenly decided they didn’t like the pizza they had been eating all this while.

I’d argue that Schnatter’s criticism of the NFL can be construed as an argument against interest; he’s got no real incentive to take shots at the NFL, as his company paid good money to be “the official pizza of the NFL” and presumably would like to continue a lucrative relationship with the league.

It is rather striking that Commissioner Roger Goodell, despite several meetings and conversations with players, hasn’t figured out some way to get all NFL players standing for the anthem and then participating in some focused protest or demonstration at some other time and place.

The league’s television ratings are down for several reasons, not just the protests, and Fox chief executive officer James Murdoch’s theory is worth serious consideration: The average fan just isn’t going to be that interested in watching a Thursday night game, three games on Sunday, and a Monday night name. A lot of football fan families probably watch or participate in high school football on Friday nights and/or college football games on Saturdays. At some point, the average football fan has to rake the leaves or clean out the gutters.

The players have openly complained about the Thursday night games, contending that four days isn’t enough time to physically recuperate from the last game and prepare for the next one. The Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman is blunt: “You’re still sore from Sunday’s game. You’re going to go out there and compete and give everything you have, because that’s what you do. But your body just won’t have as much to give as it would have had on a full week’s rest. That’s why the quality of play has been so poor on Thursday nights this season. We’ve seen blowouts, sloppy play and games that have been almost unwatchable — and it’s not the players’ faults. Their bodies just aren’t ready to play.”

At the very least, if the NFL wants to continue Thursday night games, they should arrange the schedule so that teams play their Thursday night game the week following their bye week.

ADDENDA: Congratulations, Houston; after an awful year with the hurricane and floods, your great city deserves the joy of a championship. Dodgers fans, don’t despair; you’ve got a young and talented team that is likely to compete for championships for many years to come.

How many men have had a better month in their lives than Jason Verlander? He was named American League Division Series MVP, wins the World Series, and later this month he marries supermodel Kate Upton.


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