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July 18, 2008

Comments

One of the best descriptions of George W. I ever read was "born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."

That and "idiot man-child."

It's especaillly revelatory to read about these twits after reading Wes Clark's and Howard Dean's speeches to the Netroots. Yes i know i am comparing Republican pundists to Democratic politicians, but giventhat the corporate media doesn't allow more than an miniscule sliver of Demo pundits and prefers DINO's for that sliver, it is hard to make a direct pundit compaison. Clark and Dean do however represent the thoughts of the leaderrship of the party just as Gerson and K represent the deswperate efforts to rationalize and obfuscate on behalf of the Republicans, that being a party of id wihtout constructive thoughts from its leaders.

the socks! the socks!

And Gore, of course! There is no Republican equivalent, either pundit or politician.

I agree with Krauthammer. Obama is full of himself.

I attribute this to the nurturing, judgment-free environments that he has lived in for the past four decades. This is why he has press releases about cartoons (most Christians don’t have press releases about cartoons). He does not want people to talk about his ears.

It is why he threatens people who criticize Michelle’s political speeches. He does not seem to grasp the concept that political speech is subject to criticism in a Republic.

People at the hospital where Michelle makes hundreds of thousands of dollars as a diversity coordinator are not critical of her. Criticism is new to Barack and he is not good at handling it.

This will become more apparent with time.

And then the left will need to do better than put up pictures of Bush. Bush is not running this year.

I'm sure the left will think of something, Bill. They almost always do.

Isn't it just about past time for norbizness to be chiming in, here?

I think a better choice of uniform would have been Imperial Stormtrooper white, but that probably fails to comply with Navy standards for fireproofyness.

I've got a picture of myself in one of those, minus the life vest, harness, and oxygen mask. It makes me look fat, though, so I haven't gotten around to making it public.

Yeah, that Harvard Law School is one nurturing, non-judgemental environment.

WTF have you ever done, Brick Oven Bill? I mean, like, ever? You claim to be an engineer of some sort, and yet you've seriously argued that the heat released by nuclear fission is the result of friction. So tell us about all your great accomplishments.

"What Obama does not seem to understand is that the Brandenburg Gate is something you earn."

I watched commuting Berliners on bicycles swoop through the pillars of the Brandenberg Gate this spring. What Krauthammer does not seem to understand is that the Brandenberg Gate is not a symbol of American politics, but a place in Berlin... but someone who still thinks that a retired actor with dementia was responsible for the collapse of the USSR probably thinks that the Brandenberg Gate is actually a piece of American scenery that exists only to provide honor to US Presidents.

I loved the Krauthammer piece. Sorry.

I like both candidates--leaning toward McCain. Do Obama fans deny that there might be a tiny experience gap? Maybe experience and record of accomplishment should be vaguely relevant for assessing a candidate? Well, of course an inexperienced candidate can surround himself with experts, and we'll be OK (sounds familiar, doesn't it?).

We haven't even gotten to Tommy "Suck-On-This" Friedman yet...

And it seems to me that McCain is the one living in a "judgment free atmosphere."

"Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?"

Krauthammer, you're like, so totally right! What does a man who was head of the Harvard Law Review, taught Constitutional Law, spent years mobilizing communities to vote and find grassroots solutions to local problems, work across party lines in both the Illinois Senate and U.S. Senate, mobilize an unprecedented campaign that has more transparency than any other I've seen (in my albeit short 37 years) and more of an ability to integrate new technologies that create a powerful relationship with his prospective constituents, who has persistently articulated the intricacies of major national issues instead of boiling it down into sound bites, and who treats the voters as people with brains who can think for themselves.

I mean honestly, who the hell does he think he is? The nerve.

Jes: yeah. I certainly wish someone had told me that I wasn't supposed to go to the Brandenburg Gate before I had done something like end the Cold War or create cold fusion. I could have saved the subway fare.

I think what I said, Phil, was that you owe both your existence, and your electricity, to friction. I’ve already explained one of those two processes in detail. If you need help with the other, I can arrange referrals. You might cheer up.

Maybe experience and record of accomplishment should be vaguely relevant for assessing a candidate?

Good idea. On any standard, Obama wins.

I'm not an Obama fan, but between him and McCain, it's clear who's the better candidate. Of course a doddery old guy who can't remember his policies from one day to the next can surround himself with younger, more effective people who can get things done. Sound familiar?

Hilzoy: I certainly wish someone had told me that I wasn't supposed to go to the Brandenburg Gate before I had done something like end the Cold War or create cold fusion. I could have saved the subway fare.

I would have gone anyway. But then I could have felt rebellious and standards-defying, instead of just slightly awed in a ridiculously mundane kind of way.

I think what I said, Phil, was that you owe both your existence, and your electricity, to friction.

You most certainly did not. You stated quite emphatically that the heat released in a fission reaction was the result of friction, even after some actual, like, scientists corrected you. Don't make me post links.

I’ve already explained one of those two processes in detail. If you need help with the other, I can arrange referrals. You might cheer up.

The day I take recommendations on education from you is the day I give up.

As for cheering up, I just watched my best friend of 20 years on television, helping bury one of the officers on his force, who was shot in the head four times during a traffic stop last weekend. So keep it to yourself.

"Bush is not running this year."

No, but his policies are, through John McCain. Iraq, taxes, Soc Sec privatization, offshore leases that won't do squat, and on, and on.

Do Obama fans deny that there might be a tiny experience gap? Maybe experience and record of accomplishment should be vaguely relevant for assessing a candidate?

Actually, not really. Looking at McCain's "experience", it appears that he's been wrong time and time again, and has been overly aggressive (like his "next stop, Baghdad" comment in January, 2002). I guess that could be called "experience", but it's not the type that I wish to have in the Oval Office.

Or maybe a better way to say it is that vast experience in poor judgment isn't really desirable.

Ben,

I won't disagree that experience is a factor to consider. But in my watching of the race, McCain has consistently shown his experience to be non-helpful in formulating policy and helping him get facts about the world straight. Consider his gaffes on Sunni vs. Shia, Czechoslovakia, his own veteran's affairs votes, etc., not to mention his garbling of economic policy viz. gas tax holidays, the "psychological" economy, balancing the budget while cutting taxes and increasing military spending, and the ridiculous prize offer for a better battery.

So, no, I won't deny that there is an "experience gap" in that McCain has been in the Senate longer than Obama. But he has to demonstrate, rather than simply claim, that he is more competent in an area than Obama before I believe that that "experience" in the Senate is reflective of a better Presidential candidate. If you know of such a situation, I'd love to discuss it with you.

Oh noez too much italix. Sorry .

Jes: you'll love this, from Macsmind:

"Having lived in Germany for three years I can tell you than the German people cannot be too happy with Obama using their sacred venues for his own selfish political purposes and make no mistake that is exactly what it is."

Sacred venues?

Ben, I forgot to mention that Dick Cheney had even more experience than John McCain. Would you consider him to be a good candidate for president?

Judgment. Without it, McCain is just an observer.

I think what Phil was referring to was this, Bill:

Uranium is nothing more than a heat source, really no different than natural gas or oil or coal. It isn’t that complex. Instead of generating heat from the combustion of fossil fuels, you generate heat through the friction created by the controlled splitting of atoms. Once the heat leaves the reactor compartment, nuclear plants are identical to convention plants. I’d be happy to get into any level of detail on this.

And then you said this:

To clarify, the binding energy is released from the Uranium, in the form of fission products moving away from each other quickly. The fission products are slowed through interactions with other matter (AKA ‘friction’), which gives off heat, which is used to warm water, which is used to create steam, which makes turbines spin.

More, this time from riverdaughter:

"Hubris isn’t just a Greek concept. Proverbs 16:18 says: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Maybe it’s a sign that November comes during the season we call “Fall”"

Then again, maybe it's not.

What Krauthammer does not seem to understand is that the Brandenberg Gate is not a symbol of American politics, but a place in Berlin

Not a Krauthammer fan, but he has a valid point even though, as Hilzoy notes, he took the "we are the ones we've been waiting for" out of context. I think that line is a good line and a nice variation of Kennedy's "ask not" line.

And my political memory is not working today so other stupid self-aggrandizing comments or behavior (like if Gore had actually said he invented the internet) do not come readily to mind.

All that being said, Krauthammer has a valid point about Obama. The presidential seal fiasco (what did it say, vero podemus?) is a good example. In the hubris of his campaign, he let go of E Pluribus Unum?

And the Brandenburg Gate thing. He wasn't going there as a tourist but using it as a backdrop as Krauthammer suggests. If world opinion is so important, why don't we listen to the German leaders on the issue:

Steg [chancellor's spokesperson] noted that the Brandenburg Gate has become "a place with a particular exclusivity, intensity and symbolism" in view of past speeches by sitting U.S. presidents and events such as a large rally in solidarity with the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

As a result, he said Merkel has voiced "great skepticism as to whether it is appropriate to bring an election campaign being fought not in Germany but in the United States to the Brandenburg Gate."

Steg said that "no German (chancellor) candidate would think of using (Washington's) National Mall or Red Square in Moscow for rallies, because it would be considered inappropriate.

Krauthammer never said Obama had to do something momentous before visiting the gate. Just before using it for a speech, much less a campaign speech.

I've had something of an engineer's education.

I just can't believe that BOB can spout that nonsense. I mean, how does he even wrap his little mind beta radiation? Or photons that are emitted from electrons changing orbitals? Electrons don't hit each other, and orbitals don't have anything material associated with them. Where's that contact friction? Or...what is the *true* meaning of E=mc^2? BOB isn't an engineer. There's no way they'd let him out of engineering school believing that bull...

As for Krauthammer...I don't read him, therefore I am sane. How much sanity does Hilzoy have left before she becomes a shrill, unholy mess? The experience thing is a canard, and usually a placekeeper for other, unacceptable opinions.

Very good Slartibartfast;

I think I later qualified my statement to state that friction only makes up the vast majority of the heat generation. The reaction also releases photons, which transfer energy via the photoelectric effect and Compton scattering, technically not friction. The pair production-pair annihilation interactions with photons are, however, friction events. So the degree of photon energy released by friction is dependent on their energy levels.

I wasn’t talking about ‘education’ Phil. Unless I assigned you too much credit.

Well, let's be fair here: while it's certainly not a sacred place and the Germans are very casual about it in day to day life, the Brandenburg Gate does have some special significance and there is a difference between going there to have an ice cream or buy a silly hat and a foreign politician staging a big rally. Most Germans wouldn't have minded Obama speaking at the Brandenburg Gate but that's only because they like him or at least vastly prefer him to the alternative. Had any member of the GOP tried to pull something like that off, I can ensure you there would have been quite an uproar because they are more or less universally hated. Anyway, the kerfuffle seems to be over, Obama's people (as opposed to some members of the German conservative political establishment) handled the issue very gracefully and I think a place like Tempelhof would actually work much better anyway, because it is much more connected to US history.

I think I later qualified my statement to state that friction only makes up the vast majority of the heat generation.

Which would be true if you'd redefined friction as "every interaction that produces heat". It'd be a significant expansion of what friction is, though, into a regime of interactions that are nothing like friction.

Handy article on friction here. Or here.

Sorry if I'm getting too nit-picky on what is and is not friction; it's what engineers do.

Well, at the expense of having a side-flyby conversation, I think your disagreement here is on the definition of "friction," rather than BOB not understanding what's going on inside a reactor.

Reaction material breaking down gives you particles with lots of kinetic energy (thermodynamically, "heat") and photons. If you want to call energetic particles transferring energy through collisions ("thermal conduction") "friction," I wont stop ya.

I watched commuting Berliners on bicycles swoop through the pillars of the Brandenberg Gate this spring. What Krauthammer does not seem to understand is that the Brandenberg Gate is not a symbol of American politics, but a place in Berlin... but someone who still thinks that a retired actor with dementia was responsible for the collapse of the USSR probably thinks that the Brandenberg Gate is actually a piece of American scenery that exists only to provide honor to US Presidents.

Posted by: Jesurgislac | July 18, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Jesurgislac,

you are now my hero :|

One last one and I’ll try to stop.

Mass moving against mass has its kinetic energy reduced (‘it gets slower’). Thermal energy is released in the reaction (‘it gets hotter’ or ‘it gives off heat’). This process is friction.

You can do lots of things with heat. Like generate steam and spin turbines.

"Criticism is new to Barack and he is not good at handling it."

After all, one never encounters it at Columbia University, or Harvard Law School, or in politics.

And if you want to call the sound of a thousand pots and pans all falling onto a thousand drum sets at once "harmony", I won't stop you either.

But you'll still sound like someone wholly unqualified to even discuss music, let alone claim they're a member of an orchestra.

Still wrong, Bill. You've got the electricity-generation part right, but once again, you cannot stretch the definition of friction to encompass everything that generates heat.

Or, possibly, the light (and heat!) coming from that incandescent bulb is generated by billions of microscopic elves, busily scrubbing the filament with sandpaper.

NB: I'm a Purdue-educated electrical engineer, so perhaps I know bupkus about friction. That being a mechanical thing, and all. But they did cover it in freshman physics.

@BOB:
I attribute this to the nurturing, judgment-free environments that he has lived in for the past four decades.

I'm highly skeptical that we'd not find nurturing, judgment-free environments as the primary habitat of most of our politicians, given the class from which they generally arise.

This is why he has press releases about cartoons (most Christians don’t have press releases about cartoons).

Most Christians don't have press releases, full stop. Nor are most Christians the subject of political cartoons.

(But yes, I get the insinuation: Muslims get upset about cartoons, and Obama is upset about a cartoon, ergo... I do have to give you points for style on that one.)

I really promise to stop after this.

The 235 atomic mass units of fission product particles start off:

Fast.

The 235 atomic mass units of fission product particles end up:

Slow.

In the process of slowing down, the 235 atomic mass units of fission product particles give off:

Heat.

The process if called:

Friction.

Mass moving against mass has its kinetic energy reduced (‘it gets slower’). Thermal energy is released in the reaction (‘it gets hotter’ or ‘it gives off heat’). This process is friction.

No, it isn't.

Y'all don't know jack about the physical processes. And, yes, it DOES make a difference. Being that precise is what science and engineering are all about.

The real world doesn't hire engineers that sloppy. The real world fires them.

The process if called:

Friction.

No.

It.

Isn't.

BOB, you're equivocating between micro and macro perspectives here. Heat is moving fast.

Fast, heavy particles (lots of energy) bounce around in slow, lighter particles (water), losing energy in each bounce and giving energy to each bounced-against particle. The end result is that the water has more energy (its particles are moving faster), and it is statistically "hotter."

Saying the fuel rods "give off heat" means that it has lots of high energy particles in/around it, which give energy to the surrounding water. To call this "friction" is dubious.

Why do we care about this again? I'm a nerd and I love to argue but aren't we way off subject now? Sorry.

most Christians don’t have press releases about cartoons

No, just stamps. (See Bill O'Rielly, "War" on Christmas, postage stamps)

"The real world doesn't hire engineers that sloppy. The real world fires them."

On the bright side, there's no danger of BoB building a nuclear weapon for any of his friends.

"Why do we care about this again?"

We just like to beat on the Bill with a baseball bat oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah.

Wrong again, Bill.

Effectively, you've now expanded friction to include collision energy, and thermal energy. Friction: it's how air warms up!

It's also what keeps the Sun going. FRICTION, BABY!

Friction makes the world go around
the world go around,
the world go around!
Friction makes the world go around;
it makes the world go around!

I would like to take this moment to make a genuine attempt to reach you, BOB: do you have any interest in being taken seriously at all? Please understand that we're not discussing abortion, or the free market, or anything else where there can be a genuine, good-faith difference of opinion on what works and doesn't. We're talking about physics. We're talking about fundamental concepts that most high school students grasp by graduation, let alone anyone with an education in an engineering field.

You're wrong. This isn't an attack on you, it's just an indisputable fact. An educated reader is left with one of only two possibilities:

- You are uninformed about your subject matter, or;
- You know what you're talking about but insist on standing by your incorrect statement for one reason or another.

If you look through your posting history here, you will find countless examples of this sort of thing playing out, where you make an unsupported claim, are challenged by facts that undermine that claim, and rather than acknowledging error and moving on a wiser man, you stubbornly stick by your guns and fall back on arguments by assertion and other fallacies. This doesn't convince anyone. All it does is beclown you and erode the credibility of your ideology. So if your goal is ensuring that conservatism continues to be a laughing stock associated with anti-science religious extremists and incompetence, by all means, continue with your work.

Though come to think of it, a stubborn refusal to acknowledge mistakes or deal with inconvenient facts that undermine your worldview does reminds me of a few other, more famous people.

I hate breaking promises and will do something nice later today to make up for this.

The heat is generated in the fuel, largely in the immediate vicinity of the fission event, as the fission particulates, alphas, betas, and neutrons interact with other mass and generate friction.

This heat travels via conduction through the fuel, to and through the cladding. Water passes across the cladding and picks up heat via convection.

most Christians don’t have press releases about cartoons

No, just stamps. (See Bill O'Rielly, "War" on Christmas, postage stamps)

After all, one never encounters it at Columbia University, or Harvard Law School, or in politics.

I hear the Illinois state senate is just like a Do as You Feel Festival at Summerhill.


possibly, the light (and heat!) coming from that incandescent bulb is generated by billions of microscopic elves, busily scrubbing the filament with sandpaper.

This sounds like an awesomely good idea, actually. Perhaps it is time for me to quit commenting, have a glass of wine, and let the weekend begin.

I think BOB would make a good toy for my cats. One of them killed its first mouse last week.

LFC @ 11:24,

Jim Hightower made the "third base" comment about George H.W. However, to extend the metaphor, Dubya was also born on third base. Then, an umpire (whom his family selected) declares a balk on the pitcher, when in fact no balk was committed. As Dubya crosses the plate, he acts as if he hit a home-run.

Sorry for the double post.

The real world doesn't hire engineers that sloppy. The real world fires them.

Not necessarily. IOKIYAR. (See hilzoy's post about KBR and electrocutions, frex.)

"I would like to take this moment to make a genuine attempt to reach you, BOB: do you have any interest in being taken seriously at all?"

I go back and forth on just how much of a troll BoB is. He's definitely at least partially a troll on more or less all occasions, here to (apparently) propagandize and Stir Up The Libruls.

But whether he's a deeper troll, more of a parody, pretty much a complete put-on, like, oh, wosshisname from a couple of years ago, I go back and forth about.

Ooh, good one, Slart!

And, as we know, time is money.

OT- Slarti is a Purdue alum? Awesome! I'm a lowly student, but I feel the brotherhood. ^.^

This just in: apparently it has been decided that Obama will speak at the Siegessäule (victory column) in the Tiergarten (big park in the middle of the city) not far from the gate (depending on how they frame it, it can be seen in the distant background).

Apart from commemorating the wars leading to German nationhood (you'll be hard pressed to find a lot of major European staging areas that don't refer to some war or battle), the column featured in Wim Wender's Wings of Desire and used to be the centre-piece of the Love Parade. It also shares its name with Berlin's biggest Gay and Lesbian magazine.

Cool, lol.

Who would have thought that from ChaKra's vile column would spring something as useful as a lesson in basic physics?

But my favorite part of it was:

Does Obama not see the incongruity? It's as if a German pol took a campaign trip to America and demanded the Statue of Liberty as a venue for a campaign speech.

Um...really? If the next American president is no more significant to the Germans than his German counterpart would be to us, does that mean we're not so "unipolar" anymore after all?

This heat travels via conduction through the fuel, to and through the cladding.


No. Nono. If you're going to put radiation and convection in the friction bag, I'm going to insist that you also put conduction there.

Just to have a sort of grand unifying theory of friction, mind you. Because I'm all about symmetry.

I'm a lowly student, but I feel the brotherhood.

You'll look back on your days on campus with some fondness, years later. After the nightmares subside, I mean. What's your major?

Much ado about friction. (There seems to be a lot of friction when BOB comments.)

Shoot me now!!! Shoot me now!!! (Daffy Duck's version of pronoun trouble, as instigated by Bugs Bunny. It's troubling to think of Krauthammer as Bugs and Obama as Daffy.)

After the nightmares subside...

Like the ones where you somehow forgot to go to class all semester and now have to take the final, which has lots of vaguely familiar, yet wholly incomprehensible and seemingly mathematically complex problems on it. If that's what you mean, it ain't just a Purdue thing. I'd guess it's not just an engineering thing, either.

Purdue is a good school with one exception. People don’t drink enough beer there. Drinking beer kills off the weaker brain cells during the formal education process, yielding clearer-thinking engineering graduates.

But I will grant you conduction.

it ain't just a Purdue thing

The thing about that dream, though, is that with me, it was about something that actually happened.

Sort of, anyway. My parents were getting divorced, and I elected to deal with it using a combination of beer and video games, which left little time for such trivia as going to my 3:30 class on optimization. As a result, I had to beg one of the other students to let me copy their notes, but I didn't do that religiously. There were spans of a few weeks where I didn't attend at all, so there were one or two surprise-ish occasions involving tests and quizzes and the like.

So, I didn't do well. I managed to pass, though. Life got me back: I now do optimal estimation for a living. Maybe I'm in one of Dante's various Hells.

I know: lots of that kind of story in college life.

hsh: It's not just a student thing either. I've been a math professor for nearly twenty-five years, and I still have occasional nightmares of that ilk. Of course, I'm the one who's supposed to be giving the final, despite not having shown up to teach the course. (And yes, that's just about as frightening as the student version.)

Slarti, I feel like you're my long-lost brother. I just didn't have a divorce bothering me when I was in school - just my own unfocused, immature, undisciplined self and an almost complete lack of external guidance.

Jim Parish, I never would have guessed. Thanks for the insight.

The worst version of that nightmare I ever had was of showing up after having missed half a semester of classes and done maybe a tenth of the problem sets... for a final in the nastiest applied statistics course I ever took... being proctored by a particularly frightening incarnation of my graduate adviser... in a building that was a cross between one at my university, my high school, and a high school I'd taught in overseas... and passing this exam was both necessary and sufficient to finish the degree... yet it was also somehow retroactively necessary for my high school diploma.

Yeah, all kinds of irrational stress and fear packed into that one. Good times.

(Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I've had the teaching version of this too. It just didn't leave quite such an impression, and I think was only the "totally unprepared for a lecture" version.)

I just didn't have a divorce bothering me when I was in school - just my own unfocused, immature, undisciplined self and an almost complete lack of external guidance

For me, that was the previous three years. Really, it's a miracle I graduated at all.

For what it's worth, my father used to dream of being back at Caltech with registration and finals on the same day, and paperwork out of order...let's see, he was class of '48, and I know that he had the dream at least once while recovering from heart surgery in the '80s.

Something for the rest of you to look forward to. :)

Oh, there is this about BOB's posts. He demonstrates why it's good to use a synonym - anyone this incompetent is probably jeopardizing his eligiblity for professional credentials of any kind. Certainly nobody would want to hire someone with that combination of ignorance and stubbornness as a contractor, for instance. But since he keeps it separate from his work, he can keep up the pretense of being fit for whatever profession it is he claims next, for a while longer at least.

HaHaHa Bruce. I’ve already got them! HaHaHa. Better stock up on duct tape. HaHaHa.

Friction friction friction friction friction.

or pseudonym...

I've had something similar to that, too, NV. It's not really as nightmarish, but I've had dreams where I had to go back to high school and take some course that was added to the curriculum for graduation. It wasn't scary or stressful, just slightly distubing in that "something's not right about this" kind of way.

I really can't recall the last time the Krauthammer was either right or interesting. To the extent that he makes valid points, some non-crazy person makes the same point just as well.

Friction

It all has to do with the phlostigon rubbing agaisnt the aether, doesn't it Bill?

No laughter? I'm a history major at an engineering school. (The history and philosophy depts are great, though.) ^.^;

I'm quite familiar with the 'beer and video game' study plan, though.

A thousand drum sets and a Ramones reference, all in one thread. Plus, Daffy Duck.

Sweet!

So, I didn't do well. I managed to pass, though.

I once tried cramming a semester of ancient Greek in a week, hiding out in the grad carrels up in the library.

The horror.

I also managed to pass, but it was a gift.

Friction friction friction friction friction.

all work and no play makes jack a dull boy

Did you see that movie?

Bill, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away.

Thanks -

It all has to do with the phlostigon rubbing agaisnt the aether, doesn't it Bill?

FTW

Drat, novakant beat me to the Siegessäule connection. :-(
I hope that is too obscure to be used as another "proof" that Obama is the spearhead of the homosexual agenda (together with the Teletubbies, Buster the Rabbit, Barney the Dinosaur and Spongebob Squarepants).
---
As an actual Berolinian I have to say that the Brandenburg Gate has become so notorious a prop for anything imaginable that a (serious) US presidential candidate is of no special significance. Actually Frau Merkel is about the only one having public qualms about it apart from those that prefer the Son of Cain. The way I understand it, she is less objecting to Obama talking there by itself but by giving the impression of favoritism (i.e. if the Son of Cain would come too that would remove most of the objections). As for the Son of Cain being disliked over here, the press constantly portrays him as a moderate and few if any of his less popular actions/remarks are known to most people. The only risk he would run over here is being careless about what he says. Berolinians are very "undiplomatic" in speaking their mind but respect courage. The highly unpopular Nixon won over the crowd by climbing on top of the car seemingly unafraid of bombardment with rotten vegetables (which as a result did not happen)http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2397/2065088051_65c8ba39a9.jpg?v=0>Nixon on car in Berlin
As for the reverse situation: Most German candidates for the chancellorship go to Washington and use the photo-ops and there is no public outcry. To name a recent example: Despite their mutual animosity chancellor Schröder had no problems (at least in public) with Frau Merkel doing it. Prior to that Bush's endorsement of Edmund Stoiber was one important factor that led to Schröder's (razor-thin) victory (the other one was Stoiber's open endorsement of Bush's Iraq war and the seeming willingness to participate agaisnt the overwhelming public sentiment against it).
Btw, if Obama spoke in front of the US embassy, it would be right next to the Brandenburg Gate, so there'd be no problem at all to get them into the same picture and there will be a public walkthrough anyway.

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