Chris Powell: Trump's illegal attack on Syria; city supervision

Among Connecticut's members of Congress, only U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy seems to have a firm position on President Trump's attacking Syria without a declaration of war or other authorization from Congress. Murphy says the attack was not only unconstitutional but also unlikely to help end Syria’s civil war.

The other members of the delegation are straddling the issue, applauding Trump's attack while acknowledging the lack of authorization. That seems likely to be the end of the issue for them.

For not even Murphy is doing what any responsible member of Congress should do -- introduce legislation to forbid unauthorized attacks and filibustering everything else until the rule of law is restored.

Syria is no threat to the United States, and the Middle East, with its ethnic and religious hatreds and gangster politics, will always be barbarous. But if the chief executive of the United States is to be free to lob missiles at whoever offends him, this country will be no better. "Collusion" with Russia, trysts with porn stars, and treachery and corruption in government, the issues lately consuming Washington, are nothing compared to unilateral warmaking.

A few weeks ago Trump was musing about becoming president for life, a leader like Communist China's. Now he claims the power to wage war on his own. Thus he would overthrow the Constitution. Yet some people who purport to be appalled by him are clamoring to outlaw civilian possession of guns.


: Gov. Dannel Malloy is dismissing complaints about his plan to have state government assume Hartford city government's $550 million debt while leaving other distressed cities, such as Bridgeport and New Haven, without any special financial assistance. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, is making a campaign issue of this favoritism.

Rebuking Ganim, the governor notes that the assumption of Hartford's debt is conditioned on the city's submission to a state financial control board. But Bridgeport and New Haven also might be glad to submit to the board if state government would assume their debts too.

That isn't likely, since state government can't afford even Malloy's commitment to Hartford. Indeed, the governor's rationalization for the Hartford bailout is ridiculous because state government is even more insolvent than the city is and can't balance its own budget. With its tens of billions of dollars in long-term unfunded liabilities, state government needs a financial control board more than the cities do.

Financial control is the job of the governor and General Assembly. They have failed spectacularly. Their replacement is urgent.


HOW ETHICAL OF McDONALD: Interviewed by the Connecticut Law Tribune after the state Senate's rejection of his nomination for chief justice of the state Supreme Court, Associate Justice Andrew J. McDonald impugned as potentially bigoted every state legislator who voted against him.

“I do believe that my sexual orientation was a factor for some of those who opposed me," McDonald said. But he declined this writer's request to identify any such legislators, asserting through a spokeswoman that his position imposes "constraints on public commentary.”

That is, judicial ethics allow McDonald to smear his critics wholesale but exempt him from having to support the smear. Nice work if you can get it. Keeping it should be in question.

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