Chris Powell: Pursuing war and trivia

For a few days, President Trump  seemed to threaten to go to war against Syria and its ally, Russia, on his own, without congressional approval. If  the president had bothered to ask for authorization, Congress might have been too busy. 

For half the Senate was interrogating Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, about the "social media" company's compromising of the privacy of its users, as if people shouldn't know that putting personal information on the Internet is how not to have any privacy at all. 

Meanwhile, the rest of Congress seemed obsessed with perpetuating the special prosecutor's investigation of the president over his campaign's supposed "collusion" with Russia, an investigation that now has extended to a tryst Trump supposedly had with a pornography actress before he became president. 

The Trump investigation is becoming reminiscent of the perpetual investigations of Bill Clinton when he was president. Does anyone remember the Whitewater "scandal" and Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern with whom Clinton had a tryst? His lying about it prompted his impeachment, though it too was much ado about nothing. 

Like the Clinton investigations, the Trump investigation also is starting to evoke the assurance given to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin by the chief of his secret police, Lavrenti Beria: "Show me the man and I'll find you the crime." Will the special prosecutor find a crime committed by Trump before his unconstitutional bravado reduces the world to ash in a nuclear exchange? Will Congress look up in time to know what hit it? 


AVOIDING FACEBOOK IS LIFE INSURANCE: At least Facebook has been a blessing to news organizations. Before Facebook, when news organizations needed to report an untimely death, they had to solicit a photograph from the decedent's family, an unpleasant and sometimes intrusive task. 

But now news organizations need only to look up the decedent on Facebook, where they usually will find not only his photograph but also a full biography, often intimate. These days it seems that no one dies horribly without having neatly laid everything out for news organizations on Facebook. 

Conversely, it seems that if you stay off Facebook and other "social media," the worst that will happen to you is that you'll die of old age in bed at home. 


ESTY HAD TO KNOW BETTER:  Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty,  who is ending her political career because she mishandled violence, threatening, and sexual harassment by her former chief of staff, Tony Baker, explains that she wrote a letter of recommendation for the creep to get him out of Washington and away from his former girlfriend. But of course that only risked inflicting him on new victims in his next job. 

This doesn't mean that perpetrators of sexual harassment and worse should never be able to find work again. It means that they should not be able to get jobs by deception and omission -- not be able to get jobs until their misconduct is acknowledged and atoned for. 

Esty isn't the only employer who concealed and passed along misconduct this way. The practice long has been common with sexual predators in business, government, education, and even churches. But no one should have known better about this than a member of Congress who often posed as a foe of sexual harassment. 

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.