Parkland dirty tricks

In the immediate wake of the Parkland school shooting the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were immediate stars.  They were passionate, articulate, polished, highly-motivated champions of gun control.

Perhaps there was a little more to the story than just a group of fabulous grieving students?

Kyle Smith on Opinion Laundering:

The reason television has made stars out of Hogg and González is obvious: They are telegenic, sympathetic vehicles for a message media personalities wish they could get away with openly espousing themselves. (“I get so angry talking to these gun nuts,” Piers Morgan said in a revealing moment on British morning television today.) Just as an op-ed editor at a newspaper can showcase his opinions without his name ever appearing in print by his selection of which articles to publish, the TV media keep giving airtime to students like Hogg because they’re saying all of the things the media’s nominally neutral hosts believe but don’t otherwise feel comfortable saying. Katy Tur, George Stephanopoulos, and Wolf Blitzer can’t passionately lecture the audience about why they think gun policy is crazy in this country, so they put the students on camera to say it. They’re simply laundering their opinions through these kids.

David Hines on Astroturfing:

On February 28, BuzzFeed came out with the actual story: Rep. Debbie Wassermann Schultz aiding in the lobbying in Tallahassee, a teacher’s union organizing the buses that got the kids there, Michael Bloomberg’s groups and the Women’s March working on the upcoming March For Our Lives, doing social media promotion and (potentially) march logistics, and training for student activists provided by federally funded Planned Parenthood.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers told BuzzFeed they’re also behind the national school walkout, which journalists had previously assured the public was the sole work of a teenager.  …

What’s striking about all this isn’t the organization. If you start reading books about organizing, it’s clear how it all works. But no journalist covering the story wrote about this stuff for two weeks. Instead, every story was about the Parkland kids being magically effective.

On Twitter, I lost track of the number of bluechecks rhapsodizing over how effective the kids’ organizational instincts were. But organizing isn’t instinctive. It’s skilled work; you have to learn how to do it, and it takes really a lot of people. You don’t just get a few magical kids who’re amazing and naturally good at it.

The real tip-off should have been the $500,000 donations from Winfrey and Clooney. Big celebrities don’t give huge money to strangers on a whim. Somebody who knows Winfrey and Clooney called them and asked. But the press’s response was to be ever more impressed with the kids.

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Media v. Evangelicals

I have been reading a rash of stories about disarray and infighting among Evangelicals. These stories are mostly written by journalists who are not Evangelical, and who can generally be considered hostile to traditionalist religion. They focus on disagreement over President Trump, and then fail as they try to relate a position regarding President Trump to issues in the church.

Remember how the NeverTrumps preached at us? During the 2016 campaign, they said that support for Donald Trump amounted to “sacrificing conservative values.” But as they realized that their erstwhile followers were not dissuaded from Trump’s candidacy, they went further. They began to tell us that it would be “immoral” to vote for Trump. There were some who said that a vote for Trump was “unChristian.”

Anti-Trump sentiment dominates Leftist mass media. They keep recycling the anti-Trump remarks of the Nevers, who for the past 1-1/2 years have been getting greater distribution than ever before, even while their readership has declined. Leftist journalists also like quoting Christian pastors who criticize President Trump. These journalists are typically so unacquainted with religion that they assume that all Christians must be Conservatives. I saw a number of year-end editorials that cited divisions within Evangelical Christianity that quoted the most politically liberal Christians and mistook them for political conservatives because they had Christian credentials.

Journalists seem unable to understand that there is a difference between political right and left and theological right and left.

This editorial is typical. It is featured in the Google News spotlight today. It is by Rachel Zoll of Associated Press. It gets circulated as if it were a news article, but it is an editorial.

Ms. Zoll quoted four politically conservative Christians who offered weak criticism of President Trump, mixed with lukewarm brushoffs that the “shithole” remark was unfortunate but not inaccurate. Then she pivots with this:

“Yet anger spread among other conservative Christians.”

Following which, she quoted two moderates and two liberals. The only thing that would make these four men qualify as “conservative Christians” is that they all believe that the Resurrection actually happened. Otherwise, nobody would call these guys “conservatives” in either the theological sense or the political sense.

What is actually going on is that journalists get praise from other journalists whenever they can wedge liberal Evangelicals away from conservative Evangelicals. This has been going on for a long time. They think that they can boost the Leftists in the Evangelical churches same way that media boosted the Leftists in the old mainline churches, until they destroyed them.

This battle is part of a fight that has its roots in the Enlightenment. It is a continuation of the ongoing fight of the Left against the authority of G-d, by tearing down the churches.

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Knowledge Base: Embedding Media in Posts and Comments

Thanks to a technology called oEmbed, it is possible to embed videos, documents, tweets from Twitter, images from image hosting sites, polls, and other media in your posts on the main site and in groups, and in comments on those posts.

It couldn’t be easier.  For example, suppose you’re viewing an interesting video in YouTube which you’d like to share.  As long as the person who posted the video hasn’t marked it as ineligible for embedding, you simply copy the URL from the address bar of your Web browser, something that looks like “” into your post on a line by itself, without any formatting (such as bold or italic type), and the link address will be automatically transformed into embedded media when you publish the post or comment.

In order for a link to be embedded,

  1. The site linked to must support the oEmbed protocol and,
  2. The site must be on a “white list” of acceptable sites.

The white list for is presently the standard list supplied with a stock installation of WordPress, but sites may be added or removed in the future based upon user requests and experience.  Here is the complete list of sites from which you may currently embed content.  In addition, you can embed links to posts or comments on

This about 95% of what you need to know.  What follows are more technical details which many users can safely ignore.  But this is the knowledge base, so here’s the knowledge.

Some sites, for example YouTube and Twitter, will give you “embed code” which often starts with something like “<iframe”.  This is not what you should paste into your post or comment.  That is intended for sites which do not support oEmbed but rather require you to paste the raw HTML (the markup language for Web documents).  Ratburger, like most modern WordPress-based sites, fully supports oEmbed and does not permit raw HTML in posts.  Simply post the URL from your browser’s address bar on a line by itself, and the site will take care of all of the details of embedding.

But how does it work, you ask.  The oEmbed protocol is clever.  Upon encountering what looks like a URL in text, and determining that it references a site our white list allows embedding, a special request is sent to that site for the embed code for that URL.  If the site recognises the URL and permits embedding it, it supplies the HTML code to be inserted to embed the media in the page.  This step should make it abundantly clear why a white list is necessary: without massively complex parsing and analysis of this HTML, there’s the possibility it might contain malicious code which could damage the user’s computer or compromise privacy.  Consequently, embedding is restricted to sites with deep pockets where the damages from such misbehaviour deter them from engaging in it.  (In other words, “Don’t be evil, or we’ll sue you into the stone age”.)

Finally, what if you want to cite a URL, but not have it embedded?  This happens frequently when writing about resources on the Web or documenting work which cites them.  It’s beyond irritating to try to provide the user a URL and have it expanded into a box which disrupts the flow of the text.  When I first encountered this, I slew more thesauruses than the Chicxulub impactor trying to express my distaste for this: my favourite was “the mephitic URL expander”.  The secret lies in recalling the phrase “on a line by itself, without any formatting”.  To cite a URL without invoking oExpand, simply break one of these rules.  The easiest way is to work it into your text, quoted, for example, as I did in the second paragraph of this post.  You can also simply precede the URL with a period, which few people will notice, but which breaks embedding of the URL.


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