Sign in

Obesity’s Silent Role in Covid-19 Deaths

The untold story of the coronavirus pandemic is obesity’s impact on the death toll. The casket calamity would not have been nearly as bad had the United States not been victimized by obesity levels three times or more higher than other Western, developed nations…

Too Many Accolades, Too Few Accomplishments

The New York Times and Washington Post have lionized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while repeatedly describing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as President Trump’s Capitol Hill caddie. A New York Times story on January 3, 2021 reporting Pelosi’s re-election as speaker called her “a tested leader.” See:

A “tested leader” ought to be able to show a record of accomplishment. Pelosi cannot. Pelosi’s failure to shepherd bipartisan bills through the House in the last Congress and her demonization of Republicans threatens to limit Joe Biden’s success as the new president attempts to win GOP support for his pandemic relief and economic stimulus bills.

In her second term as House Speaker, she now faces a slimmer Democratic majority in 2021, in good part because of her failure to keep her caucus in rhetorical control during the 2020 congressional election campaign leading to surprising Republican gains in the House. The Democrats now have a 223–211 advantage with one open seat due to the death from COVID-19 of a Republican Congressman-elect in Louisiana. A GOPer will probably fill that seat eventually. The balance in the previous House when it adjourned in 2020 was 232–197 with five vacancies.

In the 116th Congress her partisan proclivities prevented Congress from passing significant legislation. A January 13, 2020 story in Roll Call reported that House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD) stated that the Democrats’ top legislative priorities for 2020 were health care, infrastructure and climate.

The House passed no climate change legislation in the 116th Congress between 2019–2020, despite all the Democratic lip service slathered on that issue. It produced no health care legislation, with the exception of something on surprise medical billing, which had bi-partisan support. Despite all the Democratic sputtering about pharmaceutical prices, nothing was done by the House on that. It produced no infrastructure legislation.

In fact, the House under Pelosi’s leadership was mostly talk and no action. For example, on an issue where infrastructure and the environment intersect, the House in July 2020 passed an appropriations bill which gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $8.5 billion in FY2021 for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). That would have been about five times the CWSRF’s budget in FY2020. States, cities and towns use those funds to improve sewer systems and treatment plants. When all was said and done in late December, when Congress passed all appropriation bills for FY2021, the appropriation for the CWSRF was $1.638 billion, about the same level as in FY2020.

Other examples of a “leaderless” House Democratic majority under Pelosi: a gas pipeline safety bill passed by Congress in the FY2021 appropriations bill which wholly adopted the Senate-passed bill. None of the controversial provisions supported and passed by House Democrats were included. The National Apprenticeship Act, and important jobs bill, did pass the House with 20 Republicans voting for it but omitted a key GOP “ask” which doomed the bill in the Senate.

Pelosi even floundered when Congress did pass important legislation. Prior to the 2020 election, with the country in the throes of economic collapse and pandemic, she refused to move off a $2.2 trillion second coronavirus relief bill the House passed on October 1, 2020 when it became clear the Senate with its Republican majority would only approve a $900 billion bill. The months ticked away…October, November, December… as more people lost their jobs and died from COVID-19. Still Pelosi stood firm. Then she suddenly ditched her objections and finally supported a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package on December 28, 2020, three months after she said she never would. Was that “tested leadership?”

I’m not arguing that Mitch McConnell is the real “leader” here. He is obviously not an avatar of bipartisan comity. That said, the aforementioned Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act contained a section with new regulations on local gas companies’ pipelines introduced and championed by one of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate, Massachusetts’ Ed Markey.

Whatever his faults, McConnell does not rip Republicans daily. But as Pelosi battered Republicans during the debate over Trump’s impeachment, and earlier for “subverting the Constitution” in the GOP’s silly and wrong efforts to swing the 2020 presidential election from Joe Biden to Trump, her acid rhetoric burnt away probably most of the GOP support she could expect and may surely need in the 2021–2022 House. And to what end? Simply to vilify Republicans for political gain? Is that leadership?

Meanwhile, McConnell has been dropping bread crumbs. He is facing one of the most difficult challenges of his career. If there is a vote in the Senate on Trump’s second impeachment and McConnell votes “yea” and brings 16 other Republicans along with, that would be leadership!

Joe Biden: A Racehorse not a Warhorse?

Life in the Fast Lane After Age 80?

Conventional wisdom about Joe Biden during his campaign for president was that at age 78 when inaugurated and already showing some signs, naturally, of aging the old warhorse would be lucky to leave the stable…

Affirmative Action Papers over Very Serious Problem

How to Improve Black K-12 Academic Performance

Recent federal court decisions vindicating Harvard’s affirmative action admissions policies avoid, necessarily, a much deeper issue that no one dares discuss. …

Shoe Leather Nowhere in Sight at New York Times

Hunter Story Aims for the Messenger, Ignores the Message

I am as skeptical as the next guy about ostensibly incriminating, last-minute presidential campaign stories, whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden is being the one indicted. But skepticism doesn’t alleviate the responsibility…

Trump Shoots for “Outside” Suburban Voters

As the 2020 presidential election nears the finish line, President Donald Trump is scratching for every last suburban voter — often a fertile group of independents — by calling Joe Biden a threat to their way of life. …

Glossing Over Nick Cannon’s Anti-Semitism

Kareem: “What we got was a shrug of meh-rage.”

Much of the comment on Nick Cannon’s anti-Semitic remarks and the piling on by two Black sports names soft pedaled the real shame of the incident by focusing on the ethnological distinction of who are the…

Israel to Congressional Democrats: Just Say “No”

With House and Senate Democrats threatening to condition military aid to Israel on its forswearing action in the West Bank, the Jewish State should take Nancy Reagan’s famous advice and “just say no.” Not that Israel should decline to extend its sovereignty to…

Murky Post Statistics on Police Shootings

The Washington Post has been promoting statistics on police shooting deaths the paper started assembling in 2015 from anecdotal sources — arguing FBI statistics are insufficient — and has used that data as a stepping stone to examine a number of racial inequality issues…

Post Story on Remdesivir Smells Fishy: Where’s the Beef?

The Washington Post continues to turn Trump administration alleged coronavirus abominations into front-page “hair on fire” stories which, upon inspection, turn out to be bald of facts and without a flicker of a flame.

That was the case with the May…


Steve Barlas has been a freelance Washington journalist since 1981.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store