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He may not have possession of Air Force One yet, but Obama is riding on what you might call “Amtrak One” on his way from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. today. Retracing the train tour of another famous Illinois president, Obama will be making stops to greet people and celebrate on his way to claim the throne assume the presidency. It sure is more friendly than flying along in a private jet away from everybody else or cruising down the highway with a motorcade isolating him from the rest of humanity.

The Baltimore Sun has a good article on the long history of railroad cars and Presidents. The very car he rides in was used before by other Presidents. The heyday of train-traveling Presidents died off with Eisenhower and the advent of jumbo jets and the interstate system. This symbolic action by Obama brings us hope that he will also resuscitate inter-city and inner city rail as more effective modes of transportation.

Updated 1/17 with picture by Flickr user will.quale. Obama arrived in D.C at 6:30 pm. Read of the stages of his ride at the Detroit Free Press.

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Three Great articles I highly recommend.

An entire generation of Americans has grown up thinking public faucets equal filth, and the only water fit to drink comes in plastic, factory sealed. It’s time to change that perception with public fountains in the city’s busiest quadrants, pristine bubblers that celebrate the virtues of our public water supply, remind us of our connection to upstate watersheds and reinforce our commitment to clean water for all.

Oil fueled our ambitions and dreams. The more we drank, the happier we felt, the bolder we acted. We believed in the eternity of oil, the everlasting cheapness of it; we looked askance at anyone who questioned our faith.

In all of this, we had enablers, politicians who supported our habit, told us not to worry, that there was more cheap oil to be found somewhere — in another country, perhaps, if not our own. They said they would fix whatever needed fixing.

It is one thing to meet with an Amtrak worker for a photo-op. It is another to get on board for the rail service America needs for a green economy, less urban congestion, and a more civilized future. Obama says, ‘‘Detroit won’t find a better partner than me in the White House.’’ In the past, that has also meant making a pariah out of Amtrak. Nothing would symbolize a break from this past more than a whistlestop tour in the presidential campaign, to promote trains themselves.

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