Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time to Say Goodbye

As you may have noticed, it's been about a month since I last posted on the Outsider. Between applying to law schools, the craziness that is the holiday season, and a general aversion to spending any additional time in front of a computer after work, the site has taken a back seat to other things going on in my life. To be sure, there has been no shortage of topics to write about - cabinet appointments, political scandals, financial scandals, athletes doing stupid things, shoes flying at the president's head, etc - but to be honest, the motivation to post early and often just isn't there anymore.

So, as of today, I'm suspending the DC Outsider indefinitely.

It's been a great ride and I've been thrilled to see the site grow from something I created to keep myself sane during the job hunt to being a blog that has been quoted numerous times in the Washington Post Express, the DC Blogs Noted page, and on other influential sites. Thank you for reading, commenting, and making this page a part of your web routine.

And who knows? Maybe the Outsider will make a comeback someday like a well-known celebrity who shares my name. But for now, it's time to say goodbye and so I'll leave you with the immortal words of Neil Sedaka: "Breakin' up is hard to do..."

But it's time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sarah Palin Embarrasses Herself

Have you felt an emptiness in your life recently? A void in your soul? No, it's not because it gets dark around 4:30 or because the weather is turning frigid. It's more likely because you are not getting your daily dose of Sarah Palin that you were so used to during the campaign season. Those winks. Those glasses. Those shout-outs to Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder. Admit it, you miss her, if only for entertainment's sake.

Fortunately, there's an interview that hit the web today that reminds us why we love Sarah Palin so much. The interview takes place - where else? - at a turkey farm in Alaska where Palin looks like the quintessential hockey mom: winter coat and scarf on, cup of coffee in hand, standing in front of turkeys being slaughtered in a machine. Wait? What? Here she is in all her oblivious-to-what-is-going-on-behind-her glory. Close your eyes at 1:52 if you love turkeys:

Alaska may be "the land of opportunities and possibilities" as Palin says, but apparently not for that turkey. Is this what happens when McCain's handlers aren't around to script her every move?

Thanks to Ashley for the tip!

(CNN covered the story here)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Brian Williams Embarrasses Himself

For being one of Time's most 100 influential people, newscaster Brian Williams sure knows how to make a fool of himself.

Many of you know my Sunday weakness for the free Parade magazine stuffed in the newspaper with the comics and Best Buy ads. Today as I opened up the Post, I saw Brian Williams staring up at me on the cover of Parade with the goofiest grin on his face and a slice of pizza in his hand:

"What America Eats" it reads on the cover. And apparently, Brian Williams is an expert. Where were his handlers and publicist on this one? In an additional article titled "I'm Blissfully in Love With Food Courts," Williams writes:

My problem is limiting the choices. I will do a slice at Sbarro, or I’ll go to A&W—their cheeseburgers are underrated, and need I say more about a cold mug of frosty root beer? Cinnabon exhaust fumes have a hold over me like crack cocaine would over an addict. And when I’m on the road and see that friendly Arby’s, Cracker Barrel, or Waffle House sign, it might as well read, “Brian, Welcome Home.”

I've always been slightly put off by Williams ever since he replaced Tom Brokaw on the NBC Nightly News. I've never really taken to the guy and after seeing that ridiculous picture (there's an even better one in the print version of the story with coffee and a doughnut) and reading his I-love-Cinnabon article, I don't think I ever will.

To read Williams' full story (and you know you want to), click here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Kicking It" at Georgetown

Tonight, the Georgetown University Library Associates screened the documentary "Kicking It" at Georgetown's Gaston Hall. The film tells the story of the 4th Annual Homeless World Cup held in Cape Town in 2006 through the eyes of players from the US, Ireland, Kenya, Russia, Afghanistan, and Spain. The tournament, played on a street soccer pitch, hosted 500 homeless players from 48 countries that year.

"Kicking It" does a fantastic job of showing the humanity of these men who have spent time on the streets and in jail and rehab, yet all with the goal of improving their lives through sport, exercise, and teamwork. At the end of the film, which features extensive interviews, training, and actual tournament footage, I felt as if I had made the journey with them even though I'll never be able to fully comprehend the challenges and struggles these men have faced.

Producer Ted Leonisis (of AOL/Lincoln Holdings/SnagFilms fame) and director Susan Koch led a Q&A session following the screening where they discussed the power of film as a catalyst for social progress and what Leonis calls "filmanthropy." "Kicking It" is a great example of the ability of the documentary genre to educate, entertain, and, hopefully, create a force for positive change. It's a must see, especially in these tough economic times which are disproportionately affecting the most needy.

To watch a 20 minute excerpt on SnagFilms, click here.

To visit the official "Kicking It" website, click here.

For more on the Homeless World Cup (to be held next month in Melbourne, Australia), click here.

***UPDATE***: Ted linked to this post on his great blog, Ted's Take (thanks!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Time to Do This Change Thing

My apartment is back to normal. The beer and champagne bottles have been recycled. The mini keg has been taken out. And the spinach dip that spent the night congealing on the kitchen table has been tossed. Last night's festivities felt like a joyful mix of New Year's Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, Christmas morning, and - oh yeah - Election night, all rolled into one. November 4, 2008 will be one of those dates that you'll look back on and say, "I remember where I was when the American people elected Barack Obama the president of the United States of America."

I'll let the pundits and the historians explain the significance of last night's victory. What does it mean for American politics? What does it mean for race relations? What does it mean for the US's connections with the rest of the world? What does it mean for you and me? Time will surely tell. But those of us living in the United States today will forever be linked to a moment in American history when we smashed the status quo and said we can do better. Nothing is ever going to be the same again - and that's a good thing.

But let's be honest - we just gave Barack Obama a damn difficult challenge. Two wars. The threat of terrorism. An economic meltdown. An environmental crisis. What a reward for almost two years of campaigning non-stop. But I feel Obama is ready - particularly if he surrounds himself with intelligent and dedicated people. I just finished reading James Mann's The Rise of Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, a well-crafted, highly-detailed, and fascinating look at George W. Bush's inner circle during his first team. Simply put, you are who you surround yourself with. Every cabinet secretary, administrative assistant, and aide brings a personal history with them when they arrive at the White House which shapes the persona of an administration.

Bush didn't do such a good job of picking his advisors. Over the next few weeks, we'll see who Obama chooses. Joe Biden was a good start. And Rahm Emanuel is a get-things-done kind of guy. So stay tuned to find out who else rounds out Team Obama.

And then let's do this change thing...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Johnny Cash Says Go Vote!

Now I'm not going to guess who Johnny Cash would vote for in this year's election (some guy was bold enough to do that already and was rightly rebuked by Roseanne Cash for doing so), but all I can say today is go out and vote! You're not too busy, it's not too rainy, the lines aren't too long (though they are long), and your vote truly does count. Don't let history pass you by - let your voice be heard and fulfill your duty as an American:

Friday, October 31, 2008


"We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but felt this was the only way to ensure fairness to the complete electorial process." 1. America deserves better than this. 2. Electorial process? Check your grammar if you are going to fake an announcement when trying to rig an election.

Click here for the back story. And show up on November 4th.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Week to Go

One week from today, we go to the polls in what may very well be the most important election in which we will ever cast a ballot.

Many of you received an e-mail I wrote a year and a half ago from my dorm room in Dublin asking you to support Sen. Barack Obama as he took his first steps towards the presidency. I wrote about my belief in Obama's ability to be a transformative leader: someone who has the courage to restore America's image throughout the world, promote transparency and accountability in government, and tackle the challenges of our time with creative strategies and ingenuity.

Now, as Mr. Obama nears the finish line of a race that he began in February 2007, I ask you once again to support him - this time in the voting booth. As the senator has said throughout his campaign - this election is not about him - not about the yard signs, the bumper stickers, or the t-shirts - it's about an opportunity for us to reach our full potential as Americans and global citizens. It's about giving the middle class a fair chance, providing health care for all, and promoting American military and diplomatic influence with responsibility and respect for the rest of the world.

I hope you feel the same way and cast your ballot for Obama/Biden on November 4th.

Monday, October 27, 2008

From the State Department to Candlestick Park?

While I'm sure many big-shots in the Bush administration will have corner offices waiting for them at the American Enterprise Institute come January 2009, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might have a different option: president of the San Francisco 49ers.

A top ranking official with the team was quoted by Adam Schefter of the NFL Network as saying, "If she's interested in talking to us, I'm interested in talking to her." Today, though, the State Department tried to squash the rumors by saying that Rice was planning on returning to Stanford University where she was provost from 1993-1999.

So who knows what lies in store for Condi? On the surface, going from trying to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict to running the 49ers should be a piece of cake. But then again, the 49ers are such a mess this season, too. With a 2-6 record, a fired coach, a disruptive player, and press conferences like this, she would have a lot on her hands in San Fran:

Coach Singletary wants winners!!! And given Condi's record over the past few years in the failed Bush administration, she doesn't quite fit that job description.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Must See Election Night TV

On November 4th, I plan on tuning into CNN for my election night coverage. You can't mess with the "best political team on TV," right? (Even if Wolf Blitzer reminds us of that every 5 minutes). And that "magic map" is so...magical. Still, viewers tuning into the other major news networks are in store for some special coverage, as well. This morning, Variety reported:

ABC will be broadcasting its proceedings in Times Square on its 43rd Street JumboTron, while just across the street, Fox News will be beaming down from the Square’s gargantuan Astro Vision monitor. NBC, meanwhile, plans to superimpose a gigantic national map on the Rockefeller Center skating rink and project Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s escalating electoral vote counts on the facade of its 30 Rock HQ.

Given the political fever gripping the country (and the world), I'm sure the ratings will be through the roof - and I'm sure local pizzerias will be making a killing delivering to Election night parties.

Still, my biggest hope for that night is that the skaters at Rockefeller Center will be whizzing by on a predominantly blue ice rink if you know what I mean...

To read the full Variety article, click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Real McCainiac

Country First? Um, not so much. As a recent article by Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone reveals, Sen. John McCain is "a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather."

Dickinson continues the fine (and in-your-face) political reporting that Rolling Stone has produced over the course of the campaign season (did you read Matt Taibbi's "Mad Dog Palin" yet?). After finishing Dickinson's "Make-Believe Maverick" you'll be hard-pressed to find a reason why this man and his wife belong in the White House. Check out the article online here and see why former Republican senator Lincoln Chafee said "McCain is putting himself first. He's putting himself first in blinking neon lights."

Choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate is merely the most recent calculated move in a lifetime of self-promotion and looking out for #1 at any cost. America, let's not reward this man with the most important job in the world. Turns out, he's not as qualified as he would like you to think. And a pretty poor pilot to boot.

To read the article, click here (and get a printer ready, it's a long - but necessary - read).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When the General Speaks... should listen. Today, Sen. Barack Obama received perhaps his most important endorsement to date during his campaign for the presidency. On "Meet the Press," Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Tom Browkaw that he was going to vote for Obama on November 4:

"So, when I look at all of this and I think back to my Army career, we've got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities--and we have to take that into account--as well as his substance--he has both style and substance--he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world--onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama."

Powell said he didn't plan on campaigning for Obama with two weeks to go, but this very public endorsement of the senator is better than twenty stump speeches. Undecideds and independents, take note - Powell has been through the trenches and back when it comes to foreign policy. Sure, he's made mistakes (remember this?), but in terms of an awareness and understanding of how to promote and improve America's role in the world, Powell knows what he's talking about. So while many people tomorrow morning at work might be talking about this video clip from another NBC show, this is the one that really has significance (though it is arguably not as funny):

Click here for the entire transcript and more video from Powell's appearance on Meet the Press.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Time to Make Up Your Mind

During the last three debates I haven't been able to take my eyes off the rising and falling lines at the bottom of the screen during CNN's broadcasts. The graphics supposedly show the instant reactions of a handful of undecided Ohio voters who turn a dial depending on their feelings about the candidate's responses. For some reason, I have paid more attention to those spikes and dips than the candidates themselves.

But with all due respect, why should I care what those people think? Yes, I know about the importance of undecided voters, independent voters, swing state voters, etc. But honestly, with 3 weeks until Election Day what are these people waiting for to make a decision? This has been the longest election season in history. What could Obama or McCain possibly say or do at this point besides personally finding a cure for cancer that would better help these "not sure yet" voters to finally make up their minds?

Still, there's one more chance for those who still don't feel they fully know the candidates to get a better look. On Tuesday night, PBS's FRONTLINE will air "The Choice 2008," a two-hour in-depth look at the candidates, their policies, and their worldviews. It kicks off the fall season of FRONTLINE, perhaps the best current issues programming on television. From the press release:

It has been called one of the most historic presidential elections in our nation’s history--Barack Obama versus John McCain. It is a race that pits the iconoclast against the newcomer, the heroic prisoner of war against the first African American nominated by a major party. FRONTLINE's critically acclaimed series The Choice returns this election season to examine the rich personal and political biographies of these two men in The Choice 2008, airing Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings).

The Choice 2008, part of "PBS Vote 2008" election coverage, draws on in-depth interviews with the advisers, friends and those closest to these unlikely candidates, as well as with seasoned observers of American politics, who together tell the definitive story of these men and their ascent to their party's nominations.

FRONTLINE has an online archive of almost all of their programs from the past few years, available free and on demand. The videos are accompanied by a website with extended interviews, in-depth analysis, and commentary on the issues from each program. Here are a few of my favorites worth checking out:

News War (2007)
The Insurgency (2006)
The Storm (2005)
A Company of Soldiers (2005)
The Man Who Knew (2002)

For more on "The Choice 2008" click here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Philadelphia = Obama Country

Philadelphia made me proud and brought their "A" game Saturday night. Notice the Obama/Biden posters at 44+ seconds:

Way to bring it, Philly.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Make Me Proud Philadelphia...

...and do not give Sarah Palin a "brotherly" welcome this weekend when she drops the first puck at the Flyers' home opener Saturday night.

Philadelphia sports fans aren't known for being, well, diplomatic (after all, this is a city that threw snowballs at Santa Claus) and I hope they send a message loud and clear to Palin to hit the road and get back to Wasilla.

“We are very excited she has accepted our offer and we are very proud of the publicity she is generating for hockey moms and the sport of hockey," said Ed Snider, the owner of the Flyers. Wait, did I miss something? Is Palin now running for the commissioner of the NHL? On second thought, that may not be a bad idea after all. I'd trust her more with Zamboni machines than our nuclear codes.

[Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News weighs in here, calling for fans "to stand up Saturday night and turn their back on Sarah Palin and especially turn their back on Ed Snider," who is apparently a major funder of the ultra right-wing organization Freedom's Watch.]

***UPDATE***: This post was featured on the DC Blogs Noted page today. Thanks, again!