Monday, May 28, 2012


This ran on TV the other night. It's a nationwide campaign that's been running for the past couple of years.  Can you imagine it in the U.S.?  Not hardly.

Me, the Recruiter

Here's the next Badger tight end, if I have anything to say about it:

And no, I'm not standing in a hole.  It just kind of looks that way.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Sydney is beautiful (the city is nice, too).  Beautiful weather, the harbor, all of the things that  captivated us during our time here.

Small world story: after my Planet America interview, an American who has lived here for 30 years emailed me, asking if I wanted to meet.  I wound up meeting two people, Jeff Young and Carl Peterson, who came over in the early 1980s for work.  Jeff is from Des Moines, and Carl is from Green Bay.  Carl's son Greg  plays professional rugby, and there was a game today.  He's 6' 9"", about 270 pounds, and has a couple of offers to play college football (Indiana, but still).  I went to the game, and learned a lot about it.

Met a man named Colin Scotts, who played professionally with Arizona and Houston from 87-91:

And Carl (one of the two men) had a dog, a chocolate lab named Mars (think about it):

Carl has a beautiful house near Manley Beach, right on the water.  They took me out to a sushi restaurant, where we had an incredible meal.

What are the chances?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Planet America

Finished in Canberra.  Gave talks at ANU and Parliament House, appeared on ABC Radio, lunch with students.

Then off to Sydney.  My first stop was a television show called Planet America, hosted by two recovering comedians (formerly "The Chasers"), who are really into American politics.  They asked questions about the Wisconsin recall, which would be like an American TV host asking about the Darwin city council elections.

You can see the video here.  I was the last story, starting at about 34:30.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

West Coast Eagles

We became Australian Rules Football fans during our 2006 stay, and the West Coast Eagles were our team.  I tried to find a T-shirt for Adam, without much luck, since the sleeveless jerseys are the most common souvenir.

As it turns out, the Consul General here in Perth is a huge Eagles fan.  When she found out about my quest, she insisted on taking me to the stadium to visit the official souvenir shop.

Here I am in front of the 2006 Championship trophy:

And guess what I was able to procure?  Anyone?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coonawarra Naval Base

Here's a pic of me talking to a group of Royal Australian Navy personnel and local government department heads, at the Coonawarra Naval Base in Darwin.  Amazing place, remarkable people.  The host was Commander Ben Favelle, RAN.  In the link, you can see the whole base, and my talk was by the water, directly across the channel from the 3 ships at the right hand pier.  Darwin is in the background.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Made it yesterday.  The place is still booming, and there's tension here over the fact that the WA economy is growing so fast that payments from the federal government are being reduced every year, to the point that many people here feel they're being punished for the state's success.  In this morning's paper, the Premier denied that the state was considering formally separating from the rest of Australia.  That the question came up at all is interesting.

The cost of living is astonishingly high.  Skilled trades (electrician, plumbing, mining) are earning close to $200,000 in the mining areas, and households earning $150,000 a year are sometimes eligible for government subsidies.  People struggle at $50,000-$75,000 a year.  A cab driver told me that salaries in mining are so high that even professionals -- and we're talking lawyers, accountants, even medical providers -- are taking mining jobs.

Hmm. . .

Darwin, Concluded

Yesterday morning I visited the Darwin Military Museum, and the exhibit on the Japanese bombing of the city in February 1942.

It was a glorious day, and I got some nice pictures looking North towards the Arafura Sea.

One last note: the weather was perfect.  Warm, not a cloud in sight.  The weather report that morning was "mostly sunny."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Darwin, Continued

Busy day today.  Went to a high school in a town called Palmerston, about 20 miles outside of Darwin.  Then a 45 minute panel interview on ABC Darwin, with the director of a local health care center, and a journalist.  An interview with the Northern Territory News, another high school, a meeting with members of city government, and then an informal talk at the local Royal Australian Naval Base, to a group of officers, enlisted, and government agency heads.

The high school kids were a hoot.  Though I started with a talk about politics, they invariably wanted to know more about the U.S., so I wound up talking about the differences between Australia and the U.S. One student thought that we were defined by "pies," by which she meant the meat pies that are common here.  She was very surprised to learn that if she asked for pie in the US, she'd likely get a wedge-shaped crust filled with apples, cherries, or chocolate.

The journalist was hilarious, too: he was fascinated by the number of elections we have, and thought it uproarious when I told him that we actually elected our coroner  (judges, too).  We even talked about it on the show.  He thought it odd that we have so many elections, but don't have compulsory voting.

Tomorrow I'll visit a museum that deals with the Japanese attacks on Darwin during World War II, and another with exhibits about cyclone Tracy, a 1974 storm that killed dozens of residents.

Everyone in Australia says that Darwin is a unique place.  They're right.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Inside a Crocs Head

What I was told about the saltwater crocodiles:

When they see something that moves, their reaction is that they have to decide whether they will  **** it, fight it, or eat it.  Taking a bite is their way of figuring it out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

At the Top End

Made it to Darwin.  It's beautiful; tropical, lush,very warm.  I was warned not to wear a suit, as everything is extremely casual here.  Wore what they call a "tropical rig," shirt, no tie  (pants, too).  Spoke to a high school in town, where  we had an informal discussion about politics.  The school is right on the water.

It is much like Hawaii in that regard; laid back and beautiful.

Except Hawaii doesn't have huge saltwater crocs.  There is a sign in the Melbourne airport showing the largest croc every found; the thing was bigger than a car, about 23 feet long.  They say that the local newspaper, the Northern Territory News, always has a croc picture on the front page.

Tonight I'll go to an outdoor market, where they sell all kinds of things.  And all kinds of food: crocodile, snake, opossum.

Blogging will be light for the next few days, as there is no internet access in the hotel room.

Australian American Association

Here's a blog post about my speech at the AAA in Melbourne, by a member of the AAA, Victor Perton.  He comes to Chicago a few times a year, and I hope to see him at some point.

Sweet Adelaide

Said farewell to Melbourne, and hello to Adelaide.  The weather in Melbourne was iffy -- rainy, then cloudy, then sunny, then rainy.  The weather here is wonderful - sunny, cool, just great.

This morning I talked to another high school, this one a college prep school on the University of Adelaide campus called the University Senior College.  They were fascinated with American politics.  I was introduced by a former student there who was born in Bosnia, and emigrated to Australia after the war there; she's now a sophomore at Flinders.  Small world: she's spent time in Des Moines, and thought it was quaint.  But cold.

Next was a lunch at Flinders University, where I saw Howard Schweber, my colleague who is the current Fulbright Distinguished Chair.  Talked about the election again (my presentations are becoming a kind of campaign stump speech, but since the audiences are new each time, it's all good).  Howard and I went back and forth during my speech, which surprised the audience, but I assured them that this was normal for us.  I am looking forward to his return, though he's going back to Astana (Kazakhstan) first.

Tonight a dinner, some time with Howard and his family, then off to Darwin in the morning.

So far, so good all around.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Melbourne, Continued

On Tuesday, I also met with two civic groups in Melbourne.  The first was the Committee for Melbourne, which is concerned with issues related to livability.  They were enormously proud of the fact that a recent ranking of world cities ranked Melbourne as the most livable city, worldwide.

My last event was at a combined meeting of two groups, the Australian America Association, and Invest Victoria.  Invest Victoria is a business group dedicated to fostering business investment in the state.  I met a number of distinguished people, including the Chief Justice of the Victoria Supreme Court (Marilyn Warren).

On Wednesday, I did an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation morning news show; the first thing they said to me was that I'd have to go to makeup (shiny head and all. . .).  The interview went well.

Three more events on Wednesday:  a talk at the Monash University Law School, lunch hosted by two governmental affairs companies, and then tea at the Consul General's home.  The CG's home is in the toniest neighborhood in Melbourne (and the second wealthiest in the country), where internet billionaires and mining magnates live.  It makes Beverly Hills look like a transitional area.

Then a flight to Adelaide (on QANTAS, with a hot meal served on the 1 hour flight).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Melbourne High

First stop was Melbourne High, a selective public all-boys high school, and an impressive place.  The principal said that 99% of the graduates go on to college, and many go on to be leaders in medicine, business, law, and politics.  No Prime Ministers yet (the school has been around since 1905 in its modern form), but many cabinet ministers and state Premiers.

I gave a short talk to the two upper grades, about 660 students.  The assembly was quite formal, with the faculty in academic gowns and all of the students in uniform (jackets and ties).   I encouraged them to come to the U.S. to study, although they may be put off by the Madison winters: there was a gasp when I said the temperatures  in Madison can get down to -25 C. 

Here’s a shot taken by the consular officer, Gabrielle Connellan:

After the talk, I was presented with a gift –a beautiful pen and key chain. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Your Tax Dollars At Work

What's going on here?   I am visiting Australia courtesy of the U.S. State Department, as part of their Public Speaker and Specialist Program.  This program sends U.S. scholars around the world to talk about things that are of interest to international audiences.  In my case, I'm talking about the 2012 presidential election, Obama's first term, and election administration.  I'll be speaking to civic groups, universities, the media, and several high schools.  I'll also give a talk at the Australian Senate as part of their occasional lecture series (I attended these when we were there in 2006).

This is my 3rd trip: the first was in 2006, when the whole family went when I was on a Fulbright at the Australian National University; the second in 2007, when I participated in an international visitors program run by the Australian Electoral Commission, in which delegations observed the parliamentary elections (including election administrators from Afghanistan and Iraq).  I hope it's not my last.

Apart from the flying forever to get there part, the country is a joy to visit.  In this instance, though, the sting of the flying forever part is substantially mitigated by the fact that State Department uses business class for international flights over 13 hours.

I'm in LAX, waiting for the Sydney/Melbourne flight.  Can't wait.