Ben Dreyfuss

Ben Dreyfuss

Engagement Editor

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones. He's done some other stuff, too. You can email him at bdreyfuss@motherjones.com. But you don't have to. But you can. But you really don't have to. 

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It Is Not Twitter's Birthday

Hello.

How are you? Feeling good? Feeling spry? You look good. You look spry!

I've got some bad news for you, my spry, good-looking friend. You have been making a fool of yourself today.

"Twitter is 10 years old today," you tweeted.

"Happy birthday, Twitter," you tweeted.

"Happy 10th anniversary, Twitter," you tweeted.

Blah blah blah.

YOU TWEETED LIES.

It is not Twitter's birthday.

Today is March 21. Twitter's birthday is July 15.

Today is just the anniversary of the first tweet, which Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out on March 21, 2006. But Twitter itself was not released to the public until July 15, 2006. That is its birthday. That is how birthdays work.

The Wire explained this a few years ago:

Today we are not celebrating Twitter's birth, but rather founder Jack Dorsey's first tweet:

Sure, this is cause for celebration. But only in the same way as a baby's first kicks in the womb are exciting. At the moment of that tweet (or twt?), Twitter was just a fetus of a site. Its parents, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, were thinking about what Twitter might look and act like when it made its public debut. They hadn't even settled on the name yet.

Twitter didn't pop out of the womb, or "become born" until July 15, 2006, with the public launch of the site. Stone made the announcement on his personal site. And Twitter, "a new mobile service that helps groups of friends bounce random thoughts around with SMS" entered the world.

Please stop saying that it is Twitter's birthday. That is all.

Have a great day.

Hello. Here is a clip from Fox News that is going to make you want to vomit.

"Amirite?" Jesus Christ, lady.

UPDATE, Friday, March 11, 4:30 p.m. ET: Secretary Hillary Clinton just issued the following apology: "While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS. For that, I am sorry."

Here is a video of Hillary Clinton talking about the Reagan administration's handling of the HIV crisis.

It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980's and because of both President and Mrs Reagan—in particular Mrs Reagan—we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it. And, you know, that too is something that I really appreciate was her very effective but low-key advocacy, but it penetrated the public conscience, and people began to say "hey we have to do something about this too."

So! Nancy Reagan passed away a few days ago and that is genuinely sad, and she seemed like a very nice lady, but Clinton's version of history is arguably nonsense. The Reagan administration's record on HIV and AIDS was, by many accounts, simply abysmal.

"Shameful is not even strong enough a word for the record of the Reagan administration on this," Kevin Cathcart the executive director of Lambda Legal, told the Associated Press.

"On a personal level, she was someone who was not against gay people," said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay issues. "But when the country needed leadership, President Reagan was not there, and his wife—who was able to do more—was not willing to step up. It reflects rather harshly on both of them."

This jibes only too well with Chris Geidner's report in BuzzFeed last year that Nancy Reagan refused her friend Rock Hudson's dying request for help:

"Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness," Dale Olson [Rock Hudson's publicist] wrote. Although the commanding officer had denied Hudson admission to the French military hospital initially, Olson wrote that they believed "a request from the White House…would change his mind."

She said no.

Giving the Reagan administration credit for its handling of the AIDS crisis is all the more galling when you look at how the people in the administration actually responded in the moment.

The first time a reporter asked Reagan Press Secretary Larry Speakes about HIV, he was met with laughter:

October 15, 1982:

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement—the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
MR. SPEAKES: What's AIDS?
Q: Over a third of them have died. It's known as "gay plague." (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it's a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't have it. Do you? (Laughter.)
Q: No, I don't.
MR. SPEAKES: You didn't answer my question.
Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President—
MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)
Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I don't know anything about it, Lester.
Q: Does the President, does anybody in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't think so. I don't think there's been any—
Q: Nobody knows?
MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping—
MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he's had no—(laughter)—no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
Q: The President doesn't have gay plague, is that what you're saying or what?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn't say that.
Q: Didn't say that?
MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn't you stay there? (Laughter.)
Q: Because I love you, Larry, that's why. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKES: Oh, I see. Just don't put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)
Q: Oh, I retract that.
MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.
Q: It's too late.

They still thought it was pretty funny a year later: June 13, 1983:

Q: Larry, does the President think that it might help if he suggested that the gays cut down on their "cruising"? (Laughter.) What? I didn't hear your answer, Larry.
MR. SPEAKES: I just was acknowledging your interest—
Q: You were acknowledging but—
MR. SPEAKES: —interest in this subject.
Q: —you don't think that it would help if the gays cut down on their cruising—it would help AIDS?
MR. SPEAKES: We are researching it. If we come up with any research that sheds some light on whether gays should cruise or not cruise, we'll make it available to you. (Laughter.)
Q: Back to fairy tales.

The laughs just kept on coming: December 11, 1984:

MR. SPEAKES: Lester's beginning to circle now. He's moving in front. (Laughter.) Go ahead.
Q: Since the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta—(laughter)—reports—
MR. SPEAKES: This is going to be an AIDS question.
Q: —that an estimated—
MR. SPEAKES: You were close.
Q: Well, look, could I ask the question, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: You were close.
Q: An estimated 300,000 people have been exposed to AIDS, which can be transmitted through saliva. Will the President, as Commander-in-Chief, take steps to protect Armed Forces food and medical services from AIDS patients or those who run the risk of spreading AIDS in the same manner that they forbid typhoid fever people from being involved in the health or food services?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't know.
Q: Could you—Is the President concerned about this subject, Larry—
MR. SPEAKES: I haven't heard him express—
Q: —that seems to have evoked so much jocular—
MR. SPEAKES:—concern.
Q: —reaction here? I—you know—
Q: It isn't only the jocks, Lester.
Q: Has he sworn off water faucets—
Q: No, but, I mean, is he going to do anything, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: Lester, I have not heard him express anything on it. Sorry.
Q: You mean he has no—expressed no opinion about this epidemic?
MR. SPEAKES: No, but I must confess I haven't asked him about it. (Laughter.)
Q: Would you ask him Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: Have you been checked? (Laughter.)

Go read this heartbreaking story about the first AIDS hospice. It's what they all found so funny.

You can watch the whole segment below:

In 2005, Barack Obama had only been in the Senate for a few months, but he was already a rising star in the Democratic Party. Four years later, he would be in the White House, and seven years after that Donald Trump would be the Republican front-runner to replace him as president. He couldn't have known that then, of course, when he mentioned The Apprentice star in a commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

(Hat tip Michael Scherer)

Here's the relevant bit:

In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it - Social Darwinism, every man and woman for him or herself. It's a tempting idea, because it doesn't require much thought or ingenuity. It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford - tough luck. It allows us to say to the Maytag workers who have lost their job - life isn't fair. It let's us say to the child born into poverty - pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And it is especially tempting because each of us believes that we will always be the winner in life's lottery, that we will be Donald Trump, or at least that we won't be the chump that he tells: "You're fired!"
But there a problem. It won't work. It ignores our history. It ignores the fact that it has been government research and investment that made the railways and the internet possible. It has been the creation of a massive middle class, through decent wages and benefits and public schools - that has allowed all of us to prosper. Our economic dominance has depended on individual initiative and belief in the free market; but it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, the idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we're all in it together and everybody's got a shot at opportunity - that has produced our unrivaled political stability.

 

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