Obamateurism of the Day

posted at 8:05 am on January 27, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama insisted that America needs to invest in today’s high-tech world, and what better way to do that than to spend lots of money on 19th-century transportation technology? In fact, Obama used the word “rail” or “railroad” as often in the speech as he did the word “economy,” seven times (with “economic” counting for another two).  This is silly enough as it is, but Obama tried joking about the ability to bypass security with high-speed rail, which is simply untrue.  Click the image to watch:

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying –- without the pat-down. (Laughter and applause.) As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

If Obama thinks that high-speed rail — or any other kind of rail — won’t need higher security, he hasn’t paid much attention.  While al-Qaeda has limited its major attacks in the US to airlines, they’ve proven themselves adept at massive and coordinated attacks on train systems in other nations.  Madrid saw almost 200 people killed in the 2004 attacks, and another 56 in the London attacks in July 2005.  There have been a few warnings about plots against subways here in the US, too.

Just two months ago, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security warned that the US needed to increase security at train stations, among other transportation:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said this week that her department is considering beefing up security on trains, ships and mass transit amid a public backlash over the body scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs at airports across the country.

When asked what terrorists will be thinking in the future, Napolitano said Monday on “Charlie Rose” that they will “continue to probe the system and try to find a way through.”

“I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime,” she said. “So what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

Besides, it sounds as if Obama himself is questioning the need for patdowns.  If he thinks they’re unnecessary, why hasn’t he directed DHS to stop conducting them?  The people who have to endure them don’t consider it a joke, Mr. President.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at obamaisms@edmorrissey.com with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!


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Foolishness, thy name be Odamna. Sheesh.

Crusader Rabbit on January 27, 2011 at 8:08 AM

You Lie!

screwauger on January 27, 2011 at 8:09 AM

he really lives in a bubble doesn’t he….

cmsinaz on January 27, 2011 at 8:10 AM

The whole SOTU speech was a joke.

The pat downs going on with this administration take place everywhere in our lives. The thief is looking for our wallets.

onlineanalyst on January 27, 2011 at 8:11 AM

i can’t believe that congress actually laughed at the pat-down joke…were they just being nice?

cmsinaz on January 27, 2011 at 8:13 AM

Doesn’t get any more presidential than that.

Proud Rino on January 27, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Agreed.

fossten on January 27, 2011 at 8:14 AM

what better way to do that than to spend lots of money on 19th-century transportation technology?

Clueless. Either really dumb or blinded by his ideology.

petefrt on January 27, 2011 at 8:15 AM

If everyone would just “pat down” the person next to them, it would save a lot of time and money…thats the ticket!

joe btfsplk on January 27, 2011 at 8:19 AM

The thief is looking for our wallets.

onlineanalyst on January 27, 2011 at 8:11 AM


Everything this man does
is aimed at redistribution. Everything.

petefrt on January 27, 2011 at 8:20 AM

We will win the future by referencing our 20th Century technological success (the space race) while revisiting our 19th Century technological success (railroads).

And if that doesn’t work, we will reinvent the wheel.

Disturb the Universe on January 27, 2011 at 8:20 AM

Next up, “investing” in high-tech steam and access to paddle boats.

RedRedRice on January 27, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Why end the hyped up security with mass transit?
Let’s go ahead & have pat-downs at the mall entrance.
While we’re at it, let’s do it at restaraunts,too. Lots people can fit into those.
And don’t forget pat downs at WalMart.
There a whole lot of people in a WalMart.
Oh, also pat downs at fairs, DisneyLand & DisneyWord, all of the 6 Flags & other amusement parks.
Let’s also do it at National Parks! Lots of people go to those.

Badger40 on January 27, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Just think, we can use are electronic equipment from start to finish and not have the hear/watch the safety message at the beginning of every trip.
As far as terrorists, just name the new system the Bacon Train.

Electrongod on January 27, 2011 at 8:22 AM

obama, I simply hate you.

skeedro on January 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM

In fact, if we make everybody get permits to be able to travel anywhere, this would stop a lot of this terrorist nonsense.
Cops could stop everyone & ask for their papers.
If they don’t have them, incarcerate them until they can produce them, & if they can’t put them in prison.
Gulag labor can be effective.

Badger40 on January 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM

yes, that is hate speech. what of it? thank God i’m free… for now.

skeedro on January 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM

he really lives in a bubble doesn’t he….

cmsinaz on January 27, 2011 at 8:10 AM

In this case, the bubble is that cranium of his that happens to fit that marble inside that he calls a brain.

pilamaye on January 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM

What a bad comedian Dear Liar is.

Oh, and I’ve done the Toledo to Newport News train route, it takes 21 hours. I can drive it in 10. No “high speed” rail is going to make a difference. It’s only cheaper when gas is $4+ a gallon.

Utterly stupid speech.

rbj on January 27, 2011 at 8:24 AM

Within 25 years, our goal is …

This could allow you …”

Such arrogance!

How about “America’s goal” and “could allow us”?

Josiah on January 27, 2011 at 8:24 AM

pilamaye on January 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM

true

cmsinaz on January 27, 2011 at 8:25 AM

I’m still trying to figure out that “Sputnik” moment he was talking about.

pilamaye on January 27, 2011 at 8:25 AM

You mean that POTUS does not get a patdown when he flies on Air Force One. /sarc

slp on January 27, 2011 at 8:25 AM

How about “America’s goal” and “could allow us”?

Josiah on January 27, 2011 at 8:24 AM

does not compute for dear leader…

cmsinaz on January 27, 2011 at 8:26 AM

the primary target of terrorists the past couple years has been railstations.

rob verdi on January 27, 2011 at 8:26 AM

And don’t forget pat downs at WalMart.
There a whole lot of people in a WalMart.
Badger40 on January 27, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Judging from the pictures I’ve seen, a lot of those folks aren’t exactly one’s I’d want to be patting down.
You go ahead, though.
;)

VelvetElvis on January 27, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Click the image to watch:

No thanks. Please Lord, get this fool out of our lives!

lukespapa on January 27, 2011 at 8:28 AM

If he thinks that I would give up the luxury and convenience of my own transport, in favour of a public version – with all that it entails, he’s crazy!

OldEnglish on January 27, 2011 at 8:32 AM

No “high speed” rail is going to make a difference. It’s only cheaper when gas is $4+ a gallon.
rbj on January 27, 2011 at 8:24 AM

It will NEVER be cheaper than driving!!! Perhaps some of the passengers will see some personal benefit, but their fares will NEVER cover the actual costs!
The 98% of the taxpayers who will never, ever use these metal dinosaurs will get stuck paying for the real costs as they are endlessly subsidized.

Bammy loves these things because they are built by union labor, and provide union jobs.

VelvetElvis on January 27, 2011 at 8:36 AM

Rail is just a government mode of transportation conveying taxpayer money to public union employees. High speed rail just does it faster.

Only in tight, congested urban areas does rail, usually commuter, even come close to be utilized to capacity. Does it pay its own way? No.

Other rail would be even worse and require huge amounts of taxpayer paid subsidization. What is the point? We already have buses running nearly empty.

Dandapani on January 27, 2011 at 8:45 AM

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama insisted that America needs to invest in today’s high-tech world, and what better way to do that than to spend lots of money on 19th-century transportation technology?

How about investing in improved teleprompter technology? The world needs ‘smart prompters’ and it needs them fast!

James on January 27, 2011 at 8:46 AM

This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car

 
And once you get there you’ll get to rent a car, effectively doubling your demand for resources (not counting the train) since the car in your garage has already been manufactured/assembled/shipped.
 
Hooray! I’m somehow green because my demand required two cars and a train instead of just one car!

rogerb on January 27, 2011 at 8:48 AM

Oh, and I’ve done the Toledo to Newport News train route, it takes 21 hours. I can drive it in 10. No “high speed” rail is going to make a difference. It’s only cheaper when gas is $4+ a gallon.

Utterly stupid speech.

rbj on January 27, 2011 at 8:24 AM

There used to be an Amtrak station in Bismarck. They closed it down & now the closest stations are all far north of me.
I go to S. IN every year to visit my grandmother, ~1300 miles one way.
Flying out of ND is very expensive. Tickets at their cheapest run about $375. And by the time I fly (& way more if I take any kids with me) & rent a car for the 2 weeks I’m there, It has become a pain in the butt & almost as expensive as driving & staying in hotels on the way.
The train & bus all would have taken 2 1/2 days!
So I am better off driving, & in fact, we all have a lot of fun bcs we take a different route each year & do tings along the way.
I’ve given up flying & will never ride a bus/train bcs those are fraking miserable to take. And kinda scary.

Hooray! I’m somehow green because my demand required two cars and a train instead of just one car!

rogerb on January 27, 2011 at 8:48 AM

Isn’t it funny how these idiots never think of that, them touting how green we must all be.

Badger40 on January 27, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Where does he pull his percentage figures from? Never mind, don’t answer that. 80% will have access? There is no place in my state that will make it profitable to have high speed rail service to. There was a young lady gathering petition signatures to get Amtrac service through our town. I told her no thanks, it might up the subsidy we’re already paying to keep that outmoded method of travel afloat. When the railroads gave up on passenger service 40 years ago and stuck with freight, the govt stepped in to keep it alive. They must have been saving the unions back then, too.

Kissmygrits on January 27, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Our President is still on the wrong track. Amtrak runs on a continuous deficit year after year, just like our Postal system. High speed rail is not designed for moving goods across the nation, it’s designed for moving people. You could fill every railroad car for the next fifty years and never pay for the cost of developing or the daily operation. The facts are, environmentalist will never allow the paths for these rail lines to be completed. They will tie up construction in the courts for decades, just as they have for every proposed nuclear facility—protecting some rare flower or salamander. This is another attempt by the central government to subsidize a form of public transportation that only the elite will use at the taxpayer’s expense.

Rovin on January 27, 2011 at 9:09 AM

“WTF” is the obscession with trains by this fool? Did Giggles get his electric train set stolen while living in Indonesia?

crazy_legs on January 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM

We need to build a fleet of river boats and steam ships too.

NeoKong on January 27, 2011 at 9:12 AM

One of the hit songs of 1931 makes for appropriate background music:

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

From: Songs of the Great Depression

Drained Brain on January 27, 2011 at 9:17 AM

You missed the point, Ed. the main problem with trains is not the security. Security is a problem for everything these days.

The real problem is that people don’t want to ride trains. They’re like airplanes without the speed. 41 of 44 Amtrak lines lose money. That’s the problem.

Obooba’s only way to get us onto trains would be $7.00 gas, which I’m sure is the unstated portion of this light rail program.

So Ed, this is your first OOTD fail!

Akzed on January 27, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Isn’t it funny how these idiots never think of that, them touting how green we must all be.

Badger40 on January 27, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Predictable of politicians in general. Let’s not actually do anything worthwhile, let’s just do something and call it worthwhile.

SKYFOX on January 27, 2011 at 9:39 AM

We can see it now.Big O rally, crowd gathers all over. People start taking off shirts to reveal a sea of Red Tea Shirts with a big
WTF on them.Chanting erupts telling o that he is full of it.
Can see the shirts now with the o thingy ringed by the words full of it,nice rework of old o logo.

Col.John Wm. Reed on January 27, 2011 at 9:45 AM

The real problem is that people don’t want to ride trains. They’re like airplanes without the speed.
Akzed on January 27, 2011 at 9:31 AM

The only reason I have ever wanted to ride a train is if they go by nice pretty scenery where there are no roads. That’s it. Or maybe one of those dinner trains, like the one in the Seattle area.
But who wants to be cramped up (bcs who can afford a cabin? You might as well fly for that price.) for 2-3 days trying to get across country?
And riding the train is no different than the bus. You usally have to go way out of your way & there’s a millions stops in between.
Either fly or drive.
That’s pretty much it.

Badger40 on January 27, 2011 at 9:57 AM

In fact, if BO were really trying to be green, he’d be hot on developing a transporter to beam people around.
Now that would be useful.

Badger40 on January 27, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Perhaps Obama’s talk about less security on the rails, was a message to his muslim brothers.

Hey boys….go at it. We’ve lowered security to nothing for ya. ;)

capejasmine on January 27, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Choo choo trains. Putting the Progress in Progressive!

MNHawk on January 27, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Obligatory background music:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zdTxrCJ1mc

mrt721 on January 27, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Amtrak runs on a continuous deficit year after year, just like our Postal system

Xactly. As Sarah would say: WTF!

katablog.com on January 27, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Obligatory background music:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XQybKMXL-k

mrt721 on January 27, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Fixed it for you me!

Shy Guy on January 27, 2011 at 10:55 AM

People, cattle, order, conformity..passenger trains are the embodiment of many of the left’s fantasies.

Then we have how Il Duce made them swoon with “on time” trains in Italy.

Now look at the stinkin’ moron behind the podium again.

He is living proof of the stupidity of the US electorate.

IlikedAUH2O on January 27, 2011 at 10:58 AM

“WTF” is the obsession with trains by this fool? Did Giggles get his electric train set stolen while living in Indonesia?

crazy_legs on January 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM

It’s a 100% union boondoggle, that’s the reason, 100% built by greedy union thugs, 100% operated by greedy union thugs. Not many projects are as efficient at turning over money to thug unions as HSR.

slickwillie2001 on January 27, 2011 at 11:01 AM

You must admit that Obama has an impeccable…….

……. track record.

/leaves the station

Shy Guy on January 27, 2011 at 11:20 AM

As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway

Yeah, the one here in Kalifornia is affectionately known as “the railroad to nowhere”.

GarandFan on January 27, 2011 at 11:20 AM

It’s just a payback to his union construction cronies.

HellCat on January 27, 2011 at 11:26 AM

High speed rail? Is the government going to run it? If so we’ve already seen the result of that. It’s called Amtrak. That’s government run railroad. How’s that going?

Oldnuke on January 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM

The foolish insistence in the State of the Union address on high-speed rail so we can be more like population-dense Europe is an Obamateurism in itself. No more explanation should be needed. It’s almost like a parody.

tom on January 27, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Could it be that Obama confused State of the Union with Union Station?

Shy Guy on January 27, 2011 at 12:39 PM

The Goof in Chief better pay attention to who runs the drug cartels and other terrorist orgs in Mexico – hint – Arab men and other assorted enemies of the U.S.

The U.S. population is intentionally kept in the dark on what really is happening in Mexico. Aside from the muzzie terrorism the chaos in Mexico is the U.S.’s biggest threat. They won’t discern trains from other routes. Obama is a mental midget, sold as Einstein.

Dear dead Mr. Einstein, my sincere apologies to you…

Schadenfreude on January 27, 2011 at 1:12 PM

One should never make fun of security matters, especially not as the president, aside from how dead wrong he is.

Schadenfreude on January 27, 2011 at 1:15 PM

He went off the rails, again.

Schadenfreude on January 27, 2011 at 1:17 PM

What’s next ?? Hot Air Balloons, autogyros?.
IT IS BAAA-LOOON!!!

teacherman on January 27, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Some people actually like the pat downs

antisocial on January 27, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Remove the ridiculous costs imposed by union ‘labor’, and absurd regulations, high speed rail would make sense in the high population density regions of the northeast. In which case, private industry would provide it.

Slowburn on January 27, 2011 at 2:59 PM

How about we speed up running him out of DC on a rail?

chickasaw42 on January 27, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Remove the ridiculous costs imposed by union ‘labor’, and absurd regulations, high speed rail would make sense in the high population density regions of the northeast. In which case, private industry would provide it.

Slowburn on January 27, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Not going to happen, the places with any kind of maybe-potential for HSR are all liberal bastions and I believe NOT right-to-work states.

slickwillie2001 on January 27, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Visit the existing train terminals in the places they talk about stopping the high speed trains for passengers. Imagine you had to get there from your home or office to make a connection. Then imagine the same on the far end, you have to somehow get to your real destination. Does the terminal exist in a reasonable part of town? Does it have fast transportation to your destination say via rental car or shuttle bus? How long does the REAL trip from say San Jose to Santa Ana take you including the high speed train’s average speed debilitating stops for passengers take? How long does it take you now via air or even by driving? Which mode of transportation are you going to take when you really have to make schedules?

After that analysis, do these idiot high speed trains make any kind of sense in spread out America?

Then note the current inefficiencies of modern US railroading. I have a scanner. I set it up, recently, to monitor railroad communications. I am not sure I’d want to be on a high speed train expecting to make it from A to B in two hours with only a 15 minute margin for it being late.

Yesterday a Metrolink engine blew something. (“Lots of black smoke.”) It delayed that commute considerably. And the train following it was also delayed. Ultimately the plan was to limp to the nearest station, get the passengers off, somehow clear the station, get the passengers on the following train, and get them delivered. 706 smoked. 806 was stuck behind it. I bet 906 was even delayed if there is such a scheduled train.

Around here we also have shopping carts on the tracks. They make a modest mess of the engines. Their debris CAN shred the coupling hoses. So the trains must stop, clear the obstacle, and then proceed. I can think of neighborhoods in which I’d not want to do that without an armed guard, by the way.

I don’t have a friend who regularly uses Metrolink for their commute to know what the real probability of delays might be. But from listening it’s bemusing to think of Metrolink really being on schedule rather than somewhat behind. The trains have to wait for each other much of the time because what should be double track in a sane world is single track with double track for stations. Ideally one train is pulling out as the other pulls in leading to no waits. It works most of the time, I suppose.

It is indeed gussied up 19th century technology. The concept needs a serious rethinking, including a serious rethinking of how much maintenance these wonder gadgets really require and a determination to deliver it.

My partner reads a site called Train Orders. High Speed Rail has a very tiny following if any on that site. The consensus is that it cannot work. But it can massage political egos.

{o.o}

herself on January 28, 2011 at 4:33 AM