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Barracking… it’s an Aussie thing.  You “barrack” for your favorite footy team.

Barack… is officially an American thing for the next 4 years (at least, according to the latest breaking news networks).

So it seemed fitting to declare on the blog what I’ve been declaring all day on the red, white and blue pin I’m been sporting:  

i barrack for Barack!


What I’m listening to this week:  A variety of songs that remind me of the great journey that awaits us, and our return back home…

Way back home, String Cheese Incident; American Girl, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; Travelling Song, Passenger (feat. Gabrielle Huber & Cameron Potts); America, Simon & Garfunkel; On the Road Again, Willie Nelson.

Any suggestions for my mixed playlist?  I need a little variety – this playlist has to last me 6 weeks with many, many, many hours spent on trains, planes and in automobiles….

I am beaming today with something that is easy to lose sight of miles away from home – good ol’ American patriotism.

The U.S. Supreme Court (largely) upheld the Affordable Care Act.  For the first time since law school, I’m relishing digging into the 193 page opinion… the Court’s reasoned analysis of a key cornerstone of our legal system–the Commerce Clause; the power of the Federal  government to raise monies (tax); the surprise majority (Roberts) and dissenting (Kennedy) opinions. This case has the potential to be a great constitutional law case studied by U.S. law students in the decades to come.

Legislation passed by a majority of our democratically elected legislative body should never be overturned by the Supreme Court lightly.  But there was a lot of speculation, and more than a mere possibility, that this case would be decided on political and not legal grounds.  Whatever your personal political views may be on the appropriate balance of private capitalism versus governmental programs vis a vis the U.S. healthcare debate, this lawyer thinks the court made the right legal decision. The power to tax is clearly within the constitutional rights of the federal government, and the Affordable Care Act (for its many benefits and failings) fits squarely within the Congress’ power to legislate in a space where the private mechanism of capitalism has fallen short and we, as citizens, need for the government step in.  In the midst of enormous political pressure, the SCOTUS avoided that pressure to make policy and deferred to the legislative body’s constitutional function. 

So that’s why I’m beaming with patriotism today.  Because in my view, it’s ultimately not whether your politics rule the day, its whether a functioning democracy and system of legal checks and balances exists and continues to flourish.  (‘Course, like any good Washingtonian, I like it when the outcome also reflects my political philosophy, but that is mere icing on the cake.) 

Oh and, FINALLY, Obama has done what he should have done 2 years ago:  explain the health care legislation in a clear and concise way.

As a break from the Aussie landscapes, a bit of portraiture. Laura and her Mia.

Moving from the center of American politics (Washington D.C.) to literally the other side of the Earth has it’s advantages.  My barista doesn’t ask my political affiliation (or maliciously spike my coffee with sugar if I answer incorrectly).  I can be blissfully unaware that inability of two-party system to compromise is driving us into potential economic default until the uncertainty slams the brakes on all transactions I’m working on, and I’m forced to eduate myself as to why 3 deals disappeared in a week.  (Turns out, the potential default of the world economic power has a skittish effect on U.S. and global capital markets).

It has it’s obvious downsides too.  Friends look to us to explain U.S. politcal drama, bizzare political personalities, U.S. foreign policy…   We often find ourselves trying to explain the nuances of the political system Americans hold so dear to people who receive only highlights of stupid political ploys on the evening news, and are rarely able to engage in the same spirited debate that was a weekly occurance at happy hours or dinner parties in D.C.

While, at first, I attempted to keep up with U.S. news, I now find I know more about the carbon tax debate and national broadband proposal in Australia than I do about the Republican candidates for 2012!

So I am trying to tune back into American politics.  And hoping that “Washington” doesn’t create another GFC out of this debt ceiling mess.  Then this afternoon, reading one of my favorite columnists for the NYT, I stumbled across this gem from former Texas governor, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson:

If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”

Do you think if I asked nicely they’d let me stay in Australia???

It’s officially the Fourth of July in (east coast) United States.

Oh to be eating corn off the grill and sweet sticky BBQ right about now…  For our part, we’re having apple pie this afternoon at the office (freshly baked by our latest ex-pat addition, Kelly) and singing the national athem quietly inside.  Happy Fourth to all back home!

Saturday, Steve & I joined Kelly and Adam at the Good Food & Wine Show  at Melbourne’s Exhibition Center.  What could be better than thousands of people, free wine and beer tastings and oodles of food vendors?  Oh and, a dozen people commenting on your “unique accent”….  The trend continues: I’ve been called a Canadian 5 times this weekend!

One guy actually said, “I’m going to follow you guys around the tastings because you’re soo funny to listen to!”  Steve pointed out that he was the one with a funny accent (which he didn’t take all that kindly to).

One lucky lady did get it right though.

<<“Where are you guys from?”>>

(I like to play the game, so I replied, where do you think?”)

<<“Well America for sure, but I just can’t tell where…”>>

Be still my heart, and my wallet.  That just earned you a two-bottle sale, oh kind wine lady….

We started a new tradition and broke bread with some expat Americans and Aussies for Thanksgiving this year.  Needless to say, the Aussies were impressed by our food-tastic holiday.  And we, on such a holiday, were thankful for such great company.

(and, my just-moved-to-a-new-place-so-make-friends-with-food strategy seems to have succeeded again!)

1) I just had one of the most interesting and enjoyable conversations in weeks with the cabbie on my 25 min ride to the airport, and realized I NEED FRIENDS! (besides talking to Steve of course)

2) Common language and heritage aside, this American girl sticks out like a sore thumb. I had three people today actually use the phrase “you’re a long way from home!” to me. I’m not exaggerating, 3 different people. The guy at the gate added for emphasis, “I mean a LONG way…” Of course, they’re a bit different in Western Australia, so I seem even more different.

3) This really is America (with different accents and sport predilections) in the 1950s. Have flown now from Melbourne, Sydney and Perth in less than 1 weeks time, I’ve been asked for ID….. ZERO times. Seriously, not once. (though I was randomly screened for bomb residue twice).

4) I really am a long way from home. And I miss my family! It’s easy to talk yourself into rationalizations about phone and internet chats, it’s hard to miss Elenor being passed around the table with the turkey for the first time.

So were having Thanksgiving at our house this weekend (we sadly don’t get Thursday off) for some Americans and Aussies. It’s a bit potluck–there’s two other cooks for the main meal–and I’ve got the essential but boring tasks: turkey, mashed potatoes and salad.

So I’ve decided to make a few creative “classic American” dishes for starters. I’m definitely making deviled eggs, fried mac n cheese balls, fried pickles and a granny smith apple cocktail. But I’m in need of a meat to round it out. So tell me, what do you think is “classic American cuisine”? Help a cook out!

It’s harder than you’d think, especially without having the whole of it be southern food and giving everyone a heart attack before the main course…