Can This Governor Teach Democrats How to Win in the South? – Jack Shafer September 02, 2017

John Bel Edwards might be pro-life and pro-gun, but he’s also notched some real progressive wins.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Half of Louisiana is under indictment,” the old saw goes, “and the other half is under water.” Louisiana politicians haven’t been keeping up with their end of the bargain lately. No major political figures are under indictment or in prison today. The devastating storms haven’t abated one bit, however, and that’s why Gov. John Bel Edwards in early August was in the suburban town of Youngsville, where two days of non-stop rains a year earlier had flooded 300 homes.

One of them belongs to Paul Hebert, a 29-year-old operations director at an equipment manufacturer. With federal and state aid, he and his pregnant wife have settled back into their refurbished home on Flanders Ridge Drive. “Wow!” the governor exclaimed while Hebert showed him photos of 14 inches of water covering the floor. “We had to replace everything but the washer and dryer,” Hebert explained.

As Edwards headed out to his next event, a man in a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops buttonholed him on the street. Ryan Fontenot, a neighbor of the Heberts, badgered the governor about his inability to qualify for more federal recovery funds.(Louisiana has received $1.6 billion so far to assist homeowners and is seeking another $2 billion for them and to fix damaged infrastructure.) “The Republicans in Washington don’t want to help you because you’re a Democratic governor in the South,” Fontenot, a high school civics teacher, told him.

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Week 12: Putting the Squeeze on Paul Manafort – JACK SHAFER August 12, 2017

The FBI tightens the screws in the Russia investigation.

Donald Trump and Paul Manafort are pictured. | Getty Images.
Brooks Kraft/Getty Images

At the rate Robert S. Mueller is going, he will soon have enough material to write an eight-volume biography of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with enough material left over to construct a Manafort Broadway musical, a Manafort video game and a Manafort theme park. According to news reports this week, the special counsel has hoovered up practically every document, receipt, international bank transaction, tax record and perhaps grocery list connected to Manafort that pertains to the Russia investigation. The Mueller stash includes the tax and financial documents seized in a July 26 FBI raid of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, condominium, news of which surfaced in the Washington Post this week.

Given this prosecutorial quickening, the scandal that still has no name should have commanded greater attention this week. Instead, interest in the Manafort story fell by the wayside as the vacationing president commenced jabbering the United States into 1) a possible nuclear war with North Korea and 2) a possible conventional one with Venezuela. How can one concentrate on a political scandal when a misplaced word at a New Jersey golf club might culminate in many of us choking to death on radwaste?

If you did steady your mind against visions of the apocalypse, the week’s development gave you a new understanding of where the Mueller investigation might be going. Prosecutors love to start low and work up the investigative ladder, flipping smaller suspects like Manafort to provide evidence and testimony that will convict the biggest perpetrators. Squeezing Manafort by scrutinizing his paper trail to nail President Donald Trump fits that model perfectly.

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