Taylor Swift Is Doing More to Provide Covid-19 Relief Than the Federal Government

Illustration for article titled Taylor Swift Is Doing More to Provide Covid-19 Relief Than the Federal Government
Image: Neilson Barnard (Getty Images)
Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.

Welcome to America in the covid-19 era, where celebrities are offering more comprehensive relief for struggling families than the federal government. On Wednesday, NBC reported that singer Taylor Swift made $13,000 donations to two struggling mothers on the brink of eviction.

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After reading a Washington Post article that highlighted the plight of two moms, Nikki Cornwell and Shelbie Selewski, who were scheduled for eviction hearings in January, Swift donated to each of the women’s GoFundMe fundraisers.

To Cornwell, Swift wrote: “Nikki, I read about you in the Washington Post and thought it was really brave of you to share your story. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve had to go through this year and wanted to send you this gift, from one Nashville girl to another. Love, Taylor.

To Selewski, she wrote: “Shelbie, I’m sending you this gift after reading about you in the Washington Post. No one should have to feel the kind of stress that’s been put on you. I hope you and your beautiful family have a great holiday season. Love, Taylor.”

Cornwell was behind on her rent and an ill-timed covid-19 diagnosis has left her out of work for over six months. Selewski’s newborn was born with a collapsed lung mere months before the pandemic hit the U.S., forcing Selewski to leave her medical receptionist job due to her daughter’s high-risk status. Both of these women were drowning, and it was Taylor fucking Swift—not people in Congress, not Senators—who acted as their lifesaver.

There are millions of Americans, especially women, who are in the same boat right now, who won’t have their rent costs alleviated by a pop star and won’t receive the relief they deserve in whatever stimulus bill lawmakers continue to hum and haw over.

Want an update on the damn bill? Here’s the update, courtesy of Politico:

After a flurry of momentum over the last week, the stimulus talks are back to where they’ve been for months: nowhere. Congressional leaders have retreated to their corners, blaming each other for inaction as the economy stumbles and the U.S. nears 300,000 dead from the virus. Time is running short in the lame duck, with as few as nine days for Congress to deliver much-needed relief.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is loath to divide Republicans as he confronts two years with, at best, a slim majority. And the bipartisan $908 billion framework includes $160 billion in aid to states and localities that is attracting pronounced GOP opposition — just as a liability shield is being shunned by Democrats

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It only gets worse from there. Republicans continue to be stingy, while Democrats feel as if they’ve hit a brick wall. Just another day that ends in Y. Meanwhile, Cornwell and Selewski are going to make Swift’s donation last as long as they can. But in this economy, with mouths to feed and bills to pay... it’s anyone’s guess when or if help will arrive again.

At least they’ll always have the moment they saw “Taylor Swift” pop up on their GoFundMe page.

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On Wednesday, forty-six states and the federal government have filed two anti-trust lawsuits against Facebook, alleging that the tech giant abused its power in the marketplace and now acts as a monopoly. Facebook’s overwhelming dominance is a big fat “duh” to anyone who has ever noticed “by Facebook” lobbed onto half of their apps, but still... this is massive.

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From CNN (emphasis ours):

The Federal Trade Commission, in particular, is seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that could, among other things, require the company to divest assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp, effectively breaking up Facebook as we know it. The states are also calling for the company to be broken up, if necessary.

“Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, in a statement. “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”

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All this comes a little more than a year after New York Attorney General Leticia James announced that her office plans to investigate Facebook for “anti-competitive practices.” Who knows how this will pan out, but Instagram without Facebook sounds good to me.

Somewhere, Facebook CEO and sunscreen abuser Mark Zuckerburg is probably trying to frown, but his increasingly robotic facial features won’t let him.

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  • Here’s Donald Trump Jr in a goofy, fearmongering ad urging Georgians to vote for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the upcoming Senate runoff races. In it, he describes Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as a “radical leftist.” I mean, I wish!
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  • Rich western nations are buying up all the covid-19 vaccines, leaving poor nations in the cold. [Guardian]
  • In not-so-great GoFundMe news, the folks who own President Trump’s childhood Queens home want to offer it to the president as a gift... if they can raise $3 million on GoFundMe first. [New York Times]
  • Bernie Sanders ride-or-die Nina Turner is maybe running for Congress, and Rep. Ilhan Omar is here for it:
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  • The NAACP wants President-elect Biden to appoint a racial equity adviser to the White House. [CBS]
  • Argentina might legalize abortion soon! [Guardian]

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

DISCUSSION

theghostofjimmadison
The Ghost of James Madison's Rage Boner

So, nothing of actual substance occurred in the election lawsuits today, despite both Trump and a group of 17 states filing briefs in support of Texas’s request to file a complaint with the Supreme Court. While they appear to be things, they’re actually just performance art, and performance art that undermines the Texas case.

Let’s start with the state brief. It goes on at length wringing its hands about why the Court should be concerned about election fraud and that state legislatures should be in charge of election laws . . . but then just stops. It doesn’t actually argue that any of the allegations are true or endorse any of the requested remedies. So, it appears to be nothing but an attempt to avoid being primaried by angry Trump voters when these AGs are up for re-election.

Then we get to Trump’s attempt at filing an amicus brief in support of Texas, which is chock full of the excellent brief writing we’ve come to expect from the president’s lawyers:

Citations to reliable authorities:

As well as arguments that don’t say what they think they do:

(If those EVs are tossed out, Biden still wins because he has the most votes. 270 no longer applies.)

Also, there’s a fundamental problem with Trump wanting to intervene in the first place. The Court’s original jurisdiction here is reserved for disputes between states that have no other means of adjudication. So if Trump’s claims as an individual candidate can be adjudicated by his participation here . . . you see the problem.

Opposing briefs are due tomorrow, and the Court’s next scheduled conference is on Friday, so you should expect to see this case get tossed Friday afternoon or over the weekend at the latest if Roberts feels like saying anything about all this nonsense. With the Electoral College meeting on Monday, there’s no way they let this drag out any longer.