We are past the 100 day mark in Barack Obama’s presidency. The country continues to find itself in a recession. The housing market slides further downward, and more Americans find themselves unemployed.  Detroit finds itself at the epicenter, with Chrysler filing for chapter 11 (reorganization) bankruptcy and GM taking drastic steps of its own – planning to shut down 16 of its 21 plants for 9 weeks during the summer and also planning to buy out 40% of its franchise agreements.

The country is divided on the job that the administration is doing. On Saturday, billionaire Warren Buffet said that he felt the government was taking the right steps to move out of the recession, although Buffett was not sure what the immediate future might hold.  On the other side, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh continues to criticize the vast majority of moves that the Obama administration makes.

The central them that I have observed, however, is that the discussion of the administration has been centering on the policies they are implementing or intending to implement.  The fact that our president is African-American – something that were were constantly reminded of during the election – appears to be completely lost in the melee.  For that, I am pleased.  I feel that this does not diminish the importance of this step in our country’s history, but instead enhances it.  I optimistically believe that we are judging the president on his merits (or perceived merits) with little regard to the color of his skin.

On an Obama tangent, singer LaShell Griffin, who sang for Obama on the campaign trail, is giving free concerts.  Griffin asks that concertgoers donate to the homeless instead.  I know absolutely nothing about this woman, but that sounds pretty cool.

Arlen Specter

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania turned a few heads by switching parties and becoming a Democrat.  Specter had actually been a Democrat in long-ago days, but had been a Republican since 1966.  Assuming that Al Franken eventually prevails in the Minnesota senate race, and furthing assuming that all Democrats follow party lines on cloture votes, the Democrats would have a filibuster-proof majority, as 60 Senators can invoke cloture to end debate on a bill and force a vote.

The wife of a co-worker was quite disappointed in Specter, saying that this should not be allowed, as people had voted for him as a Republican, and were now getting a Democrat instead.  I am an unaffiliated voter, and would hope that people would have voted for Specter based on his stance on the issues, rather than simply his party (although I realize that this is hopelessly optimistic).

So, why did Specter switch parties?  Most likely, because he was afraid of losing a primary contest to Pat Toomey, who is considerably more conservative.  Pennsylvania has been trending more democratic lately, and his views are moderate enough to win as a Democrat but probably not conservative enough to win as  Republican.

Jim Bunning

In news that is likely to make Republicans happy, Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning (a former Major League pitcher who threw two no-hitters, including a Father’s Day perfect game) appears to retiring at the end of his term, choosing to support Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the Republican Primary.  Bunning has exhibited some erratic behavior in recent years, and the GOP leadership has been trying to get him to agree not to run in 2010 for fear of losing the seat that Bunning narrowly defended in the 2004 election.  He had responded by threatening to step down immediately (which would allow Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (a Democrat)  to appoint his replacement.  Beshear would likely have appointed a Democrat.  It appears that Bunning has decided to take the high road.

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp,  former MVP of the American Football league and longtime congressman from New York, has died of cancer at the age of 78.  Kemp was a long shot to ever have a meaningful football career, being drafted in the 17th round of the NFL draft and being cut by several other teams before landing with the Buffalo Bills of the AFL (a league that competed with the NFL before they eventually merged).  He led the Bills to titles in 1964 and 1965.  After retiring from football, he ran for congress.  He served 9 terms in the House of Representatives before serving as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George H.W. Bush.  Kemp ran unsuccessfully for president in 1988 and vice president (with Bob Dole) in 1996.  For further information on the interesting life of Jack Kemp, check out his Wikipedia page.