There is certainly a lot going on this week. I just heard the news that Arlen Specter has switched parties - becoming the 59th Democratic seat in the Senate. He is facing re-election in Pennsylvania this year and decided to run as a Democrat.
On one hand, this is good news for the Democrats, because if Al Franken finally wins in Minnesota, the Democrats could have a filibuster-proof majority of 60. (Assuming all 60 agree on the issue at hand, of course, which isn't always the case).
On the other hand, it is a sad day for the so-called Grand Old Party. That leaves even fewer moderate Republicans in the party, concentrating it even more into the hands of the far right. If anyone was hoping for less partisan rancor, it just isn't going to happen.
Of course the other big news right now is the swine flu, which may become a pandemic. Fears that it might be as bad as the 1918 pandemic that killed so many people are probably exaggerated. However, any time there is a new strain of flu that the vaccines can't prevent, it is a big concern. If you want to check out how many cases are in your area, here is a link to an interactive map.
President Obama is about to hit his first 100 days in office so be prepared for yet more analysis of "How's he doin'?" (as NY Mayor Ed Koch used to ask people about himself). As the linked article points out, most of the time the first 100 days don't really serve as a real indicator of the mettle of the President in question. Only Roosevelt accomplished a huge amount in his first 100 days - which would probably not be possible in modern times, since our modern Congress just doesn't do things that fast.
In a stunt of remarkable stupidity and insensitivity, one of the planes used as Air Force One made some low circles over the Statue of Liberty with an F-16 escorting it on Monday - just to provide a photo of the plane juxtaposed with the statue. Governor Corzine said that New Jersey was not notified of the plans and that it was "unacceptable."
Mayor Bloomberg's office was supposedly notified - but the word had not gotten out even to the Mayor, so he was furious about the incident, which caused workers in high-rise buildings to flee them in panic, thinking it was a reprise of September 11.
President Obama had nothing to do with the incident and was reportedly "furious" also.
But it isn't even a matter of notification - it's more like, "WTF WERE THEY THINKING?" How could anyone think this was a good idea given that New York's memories of 9/11 are like a raw wound that is just barely scabbing over? How could they even consider doing such a thing? I hope someone gets fired over this.