Thursday, November 6, 2008
The result reminds of the old story about a guy standing on a street corner repeatedly banging his head with a hammer. When asked why by a passerby, he replies: "Because it feels so good when I stop."
Well, that may be what is going on here. In a post election interview, Faleomavaega reiterated that he intends to continue to pursue his passion for in foreign affairs and will do his best to cram down the territory's throat his special interest bill to open the port to foreign built tuna boats, despite the opposition of the governor and leaders of the legislature. After all, he owes all his Asian contributors that much and the voters now have posed no objection.
Now, what's the payoff for the union contributions? As soon as congress passes the Employees Free Choice Act (a euphemism for eliminating secret ballots), we can expect the Teamsters to take another run at organizing the canneries and the Communications Workers no doubt will have an eye on the call centers being established once the fiber optic cable is here.
That is only the beginning. With a new administration in Washington and a Congress with swollen Democrat majorities, expect a lot more federal controls and dictation out of Washington. Expect Faleomavaega to expand his control of federal CIP money going to the territory, imposition of a federal court and continued escalation of the minimum wage. He also likely will attmpt to change the way local senators are elected and launch another round of GAO studies, investigations and audits of all facits of government.
It should be a wild ride but ultimately I guess the people will feel so good when it stops.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
In all the rhetoric that has swirled around, Faleomavaega has not answered the basic accusation: that he tried to slip this bill through the process under the radar. The question is why? Is he now prepared to sacrifice his quarter century political career by drawing this line in the sand? He says if re-elected he plans to introduce the bill again. Not a word about hearings. Nothing about consultations. Just ram it through in a raw demonstration of power. I suppose his party's expected swollen majorities in both the House and Senate means he will prevail, unless the voters stop him next week. Why is he so adamant about no hearings or consultations? It's not even the absence of local consultations that has the voters so up in arms. It is the secrecy with which he has operated and his unwillingness to explain why this has been desirable or necessary. Forget his foreign travels, his bad relations in Congress and all the rest. He deserves to be defeated on this issue alone.
Last year the U.S. House passed something called the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would do away with secret ballots in union organizing drives. The bill died in the Senate thanks to a Republican filibuster but Democrats have vowed to pass it next year if they have the votes--which they likely will--and a friendly White House--also likely.
The Teamsters some years ago tried to unionize our tuna canneries but were rebuffed. There is no doubt their contribution to Faleomavaega is designed to grease the skids for another attempt after EFCA passes and is signed into law.
Can Faleomavaega's defeat stop this? No, but we don't have to have our own delegate leading the charge to our economic destruction. And maybe after election day there still will be enough Republicans in the Senate to stop the bill or at least exempt us.
What Eni is going to do with all this campaign cash remains to be seen because there is only so many radio and newspaper ads you can buy. No doubt this is for "election day operations." Expect to see an army of paid election day "workers" and perhaps barbecues in every village. (a chicken in every pot?) In some eastern Mainland cities, this is called walking around money.
Will it work once again? We'll find out Tuesday night.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
The paper says the article is “based on a press release” but does not identify who issued the release. Since there is nothing posted in the press release section of Faleomavaega’s website, we assume the governor issued the release.
On October 8, in the only other media coverage of this story, Samoa News reprinted a letter Faleomavaega wrote the U.S. attorney general requesting the FBI "immediately" investigate this matter but there has been no coverage of any response to the letter by Justice nor any evidence Samoa News asked the local FBI office if it were looking into the issue. The letter to Justice also revealed that the ambassador would personally visit
According to the October 20 story, the ambassador arrived Thursday night and paid a courtesy call on the governor on Friday to “express his sincere gratitude for facilitating the smooth departure of the 42 Indonesian fishermen who were stranded” in the territory. It sounds like the matter already had been resolved before his arrival. If so, why did he bother to travel all the way from
The paper also said that
The paper goes on to report that Togiola hosted a private dinner for the ambassador on Saturday evening. How private was it? Who was in attendance? Was Faleomavaega there? If this were a private dinner, does that mean the governor did not pay for it out of his protocol funds and that it was not held at Government House? If any government funds or facilities were used, then shouldn’t the governor release the names of the people who attended the dinner?
With so much having been alleged in the blogosphere about Faleomavaega’s July, 2007 visit to Jakarta having included a secret mission for Barack Obama to seal the records of Obama’s childhood time in the country in exchange for muting criticism of Jakarta’s treatment of West Papua, is this seemingly unnecessary visit of the ambassador to American Samoa coincidental? Some have privately suggested that perhaps the ambassador might be bringing cash to help Faleomavaega’s re-election campaign in exchange for continued quiet about
Did anyone see these 42 fishermen go out on a plane? It seems to us there are a lot of questions that the local media should be asking. Our betting is that the story dies with today’s release unless the blogs pick up on it and press the issue. Did you notice the release was only issued and published after the ambassador was safely out of
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Eni Answers Salanoa and We Answer Eni (Part I)
Eni Answers Salanoa and We Answer Eni (Part II)
Eni Answers Salanoa and We Answer Eni (Part III)
Answering JR's Attack
Fundamentally, Tui has exposed Faleomavaega as little short than an outright liar. Question is whether the voters will finally see through him.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Another interesting occurrance has been pointed out, however, which may or may not be coincidental. Although Obama's record justifiable places him in the left wing of his party, he did not join the Congressional Progressive Caucus when he was elected to the Senate. The CPC is a group of the most leftwing members of the House and Senate and includes the likes of Barney Frank, Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee from the House plus the Senate's only self-identified socialist, Bernie Sanders. Even though his Senate voting record clearly places him in this group, he did not join, perhaps to burnish a more centrist image in preparation for his presidential run. CPC was founded in the early 1990s and Faleomavaega was a charter member. As recently as 2003 he defended his membership in the press when he was criticized for belonging to a group whose views on such issues as abortion, the Iraq war, prayer in school and American flag burning were so far outside the mainstream of Samoan thought.
However, just about the time Obama joined the Senate, Faleomavaega quietly withdrew his membership from the CPC. Coincidence? Maybe. But there are some who think he may be hedging his bets in case he loses this election so that he might be in line to be named assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific. In a debate with his opponents last week, he made a point of telling the audience that he was a strong Obama supporter. This is unusual because presidential politics usually do not play a role in local campaigns since American Samoa does not vote in presidential elections and candidates for office, including congress, do not run under national party labels. Was his public endorsement meant to send yet another signal to Obama? There has been speculation that he stayed away from the local Democratic party's national delegate selection caucus last spring (he was in New Zealand inspecting a new visa system) because he knew he would not be able to pry away any delegates from Hillary Clinton, who the governor and the party establishment was backing. Interestingly enough, however, Faleomavaega did show up for the caucus in Hawaii, which claims Obama as a native son and where Obama's sister is active.
Whatever favor he may be currying with Obama, to ensure that he doesn't lose this election in American Samoa Faleomavaega is expected to be flush with contributions from his usual sources: party leadership groups, labor unions and Asian related special interest PACs. So far, none of these groups appear on his FEC reports but they are expected to be after the October 15 public release of quarterly receipts and disbursements. Meantime, people are said to be nervous on island that the Indonesian ambassador to the U.S. who is due this week in Pago Pago might be carrying large amounts of cash for Faleomavaega to distribute around the island on election day.
Monday, October 6, 2008
One thing we have noticed in particular is Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior's habit of referring to Aumua by her full name in virtually every instance Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior mentions it. Other than to show contempt for her--or at least her name--we are not certin just exactly what point Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior is trying to make. Our point in doing the very same thing here, of course, is to demonstrate just how childish Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior looks. After all, Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior now is at retirement age. Isn't it about time for Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior to grow up? Or maybe retire?
It is no secret that there are a lot of Democrats in the foreign policy establishment who are hoping the perpetually exhausted and lame, and often incoherent Faleomavaega either retires or gets beat because he is a loose cannon that no one can control. No one is ever quite sure what is going to come out of his mouth. Mercifully, he travels a lot, so diplomats in Washington can breathe a sigh of relief but when he is around, people brace themselves. And he also periodically demonstrates his ignorance or at least lack of preparation .
The former president of the Marshall Islands is Kessai Note, has a last name that is pronounced as in "vote." But Faleomavaega addressed him at one Capitol Hill gathering as President "No-tay." Blame it on sloppy staff work if you will but when Note came back into town a year later for chair the Pacific Island Leaders summit, Faleomavaega again introduced him at a gathering as No-tay.
Moreover, at a Papua New Guinea independence day reception, Faleomavaega was invited to speak as the senior congressional representative in attendance. The PNG ambassador notably cringed when Faleomavaega used the ceremonial occasion to bang on Indonesia for its policy towards West Papua, even though Indonesian and U.S. diplomats were in the room and his views do not match the policy of either government. The ambassador also must have noted that Faleomavaega referred to his country as "the Republic of Papua New Guinea" when PNG is a member of the Commonwealth that recognizes the Queen of England as its head of state, so it is in fact not a republic at all.
We also have seen a lobbyist's confidential memo to his clients on Korean issues from a couple of years ago in which he calls Faleomavaega a lightweight that the then-chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA), tolerated primarily because he always count on Faleomavaega to sign up for committee trips, and that would give the trips bi-partisan cover.
Now, more recently, the noted Turkish intellectual, Ali Bulaç, attended a congressional hearing and wrote an article, "Impressions from the United States," on the World Bulletin blog. Let his words speak for themselves: "Last week, a special session on the Georgian crisis and relations with Russia was held at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of the US House of Representatives. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried gave a speech at the meeting and answered questions from committee members. Democrat Eni Faleomavaega, one of the members of the committee, asked this question: 'Was Turkey invited to NATO?' Fried replied, 'Sir, Turkey has been a NATO member for 56 years.' Read it here:
So much for all the foreign affairs expertise Faleomavaega clearly has not accumulated over nearly 20 years in the House.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
About 10 days ago, her campaign chairman, the respected Senator Salanoa Aumoeualogo, in the wake of the U.S. financial crisis issued the following statement:
As everyone who has been following the national news knows, the United States is in the midst of the worst financial crisis it has faced since the Great Depression over 75 years ago. The federal government is taking urgent action to correct the problems, which affect the world economy, including the U.S. territories.
Last weekend the Bush Administration met with Congressional Leaders and made a proposal that will require congressional action. This week this issue is squarely in the hands of Congress, with both political parties in both houses working around the clock to develop a consensus solution. Underscoring the seriousness of the crisis, Sen. McCain on Wednesday announced he was suspending his presidential campaign to return to Washington to work on the legislation.
One of the reasons the process continues unresolved is that various senators and representatives have different ideas on what should be in the bill being drafted. In situations such as these it is of paramount importance that we be vigilant so that any legislation passed by Congress does not have unintended consequences for American Samoa.
To minimize the possibilities that national legislation would be harmful to our territory, Congress created a non-voting delegate seat in the U.S. House of Representatives beginning with the 1980 election. Having that seat is particularly crucial at a time like this. Therefore, I was shaken to learn that as this crisis was developing last weekend, our delegate left Washington to return to Pago Pago and remains here now.
No matter how talented or well connected his congressional staff may be, they are no substitutes in Washington for the physical presence of the delegate, the only one who is permitted to attend high level meetings where key decisions are debated and made. We need only look back to 2007 to see the ramifications of having our delegate absent from Washington when crucial decisions are being made. The plans to abolish the industry committee and automatically raise our minimum wage were formulated and announced while our delegate was not in the capital. As we now have seen, the change in law has threatened our fragile economy and may have further consequences we are not yet able to foresee.
If Senator McCain were able to suspend his campaign, then surely our delegate could suspend his and return to Washington on the earliest possible flight and remain there to protect our interests until Congress has adjourned. Except in the direst case of personal emergency, it is imperative Faleomavaega fulfill his responsibilities as our Member of Congress. The situation demands no less.
end of statement
A few days later, Faleomavaega issued a response that for anyone who understands who Samoan politics is practiced, would stand on end the hairs on the back of your neck. Line by line we have dissected this statement, which is filled with lies, half truths, misstatements, mischaracterizations and distortions. Over the course of the next few days, we intend to post his statement along with our analysis. Stay tuned.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Others apparently have not dismissed this trip so lightly because the blogosphere has come alive with speculation that this trip was more consequential than might seem at first blush. First, the facts. Both Faleomavaega and Barack Obama spent a good portion of their time growing up in Hawaii. At a time when vitually all of the elected Democrats and party leaders in American Samoa were supporting the presidential bid of Sen. Hillary Clinton, Faleomavaega was backing Obama. Indeed, among House members, he was one of Obama's earliest supporters. Faleomavaega did make a trip to Indonesia in July, 2007 and even though he was refused access to West Papua, he did say he was satisfied with the progress the national government was making with the province. Those are the dots.
Now, a number of theorists have connected those dots and are asking if Faleomavaega's trip as the Asia subcommittee chairman was a cover for a secret mission he was making on behalf of Obama. The purpose of the trip? To get Indonesian authorities to seal the education records from Obama's early years living there. The payoff? The records get sealed and Faleomavaega backs off the criticism of the government's record in West Papua. Is there any truth to these allegations. This blog has no idea. There are a lot more questions being asked and this blog has more details on this matter: http://james4america.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/did-obama-send-congressional-representative-to-indonesia-on-his-behalf/. Bloggers are demanding Faleomavaega release his records of the trip but there is no evidence he is paying any attention to them. If there are new developments, we will post them.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The huge international financial crisis has preoccupied virtually everyone in Washington for the past 10 days. Last weekend the Bush administration crafted a plan to bail out Wall Street and handed it over to Congress for consideration. Virtually everyone in Congress has been on hand to protect their interests while trying to reach consensus on a solution. By Wednesday, even Sen. McCain suspended his campaign to return to Washington to work on the issue. Barack Obama also joined him in Washington.
I was astounded to see that while Congress was beginning to burn the midnight oils in Washington last weekend, Faleomavaega was coming down the stairs from the Sunday night Hawaiian Airlines flight. Clearly, I thought, he was home for Fuimaono's funeral. Fui gave him start in politics and as a paramount chief presided over a huge clan with lots of votes. Faleomavaega no doubt would be delivering a major eulogy.
So, I was surprised to learn he actually left Wednesday to "return to Washington" (according to KHJ News), a day before the funeral. Then I saw a statement by Senator Salanoa on www.manuatele.net criticizing Eni for not remaining in Washington to protect our interests and concluded he must have bowed to pressure for him to return to his duty station.
Then I read this morning's paper. My astonishment is now complete. According to Samoa News, Faleomavaega is NOT in Washington (where the crisis continues) but in Missouri for the retirement ceremony of Command Sgt. Maj. Falaniko.
Has he lost his political mind? His place is in Washington but a political case could be made, I suppose, for attending the Fuimaono funeral. He tried to attend the funeral of High Chief Fai'ivae last year while Congress was in session until the Speaker demanded he stay in Washington. I have trouble understanding his rationale for being neither in Washington nor at Fuimaono's funeral any more than I could understand his decision to miss the coronation of the King of Tonga and Secretary Rice's summit with Pacific foreign ministers in Apia in order to hand deliver a birthday card to a Chinese billionaire in Hong Kong. Something doesn't compute.
Monday, September 22, 2008
But I digress. No one really understood the purpose of this hearing. There is no legislation being considered and even if there were there is only about a week before Congress adjourns. There is hardly time to consider any new initiatives, even if he were to try to move it through the process as a secret amendment, as he did with his tunaboat bill. Moreover, like minimum wage, this issue is not the province of the insular subcommittee. It would need to go to the judiciary committee for consideration. Perhaps Eni saw this as something he needed politically back home and asked subcommittee chairman Donna Christiansen to do it as a favor but there has been no subsequent publicity other than a press release from Eni that says he now favors the AS Chief Justice's approach: a federal prosecutor rather than a federal court.
The whole hearing took less than 90 minutes and Eni announced at the outset they would have to hurry it up because the witnesses from American Samoa had a plane to catch. Huh? This hearing was scheduled for months. Surely the Senate President and House Speaker could have scheduled a Friday plane out, since there would still have been plenty of time to catch the Sunday plane home from Honolulu. If they really did have to leave, it could only have meant they had other things to do on the west coast or elsewhere on the Mainland (raise campaign funds?) since you have to take a morning flight out of Washington in order to get all the way to Honolulu in one day. Maybe they were all going to Vegas. Who knows?
All I know is a lot of taxpayer dollars were wasted on three faipules going all the way to Washington for 90 minutes of everyone reading prepared statements and a few questions. Thank goodness the governor and chief justice weren't fooled. They sent in written statements and didn't waste their time with a trip to D.C. at the height of the political campaign.
Nonetheless, if Eni's release means he is backing down on the court and will give it a rest until the people want it and ask for it through their local leaders, it is all to the good. Hopefully, Eni will be defeated in November and this whole nightmare will come to an end once and for all.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
July and August can be dreadful months in Washington, weather-wise, so it is no wonder people are eager to leave the Nation's Capital, even those who are in Congress and Congress is in session. Of course, Congress was in recess over the Independence Day holiday, so finding Faleomavaega back home was not especially unusual, since it is an election year, after all. He returned to Washington but soon was home again because, ev
July and August can be dreadful months in Washington, weather-wise, so it is no wonder people are eager to leave the Nation's Capital, even those who are in Congress and Congress is in session. Of course, Congress was in recess over the Independence Day holiday, so finding Faleomavaega back home was not especially unusual, since it is an election year, after all. He returned to Washington but soon was home again because, even though Congress again was in session, it was no surprise to find Eni on hand for the opening of the Pacific Arts Festival, given his long involvement in regional affairs.
Moreover, his penchant for travel even while Congress is in session and his position as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment virtually dictated he would be near all the action at a time all the region would be represented in American Samoa at a major Pacific event during which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice would be holding a summit with Pacific foreign ministers in nearby Apia and the King of Tonga would be crowned in nearby Nuku’alofa.
It was shocking, then, when there were no press releases out of Eni about his involvement in either the summit or the coronation. Instead he surfaced back in
This happened once before when the Speaker did not approve his request to travel back to
It all became clear when reliable sources revealed that Eni and his chief enforcer, Lisa Williams, demanded a speaking role for him at the summit and, when the State Department refused to let him speak, he chose to boycott the meeting. The good news is that, unlike 1990, when he was not invited at all to participate in President Bush 41’s historic summit with island heads of government in
Perhaps Eni would have been able to speak if Lisa Williams had not played hardball, once again overplaying her hand (the woman ranks right up there with Saddam Hussein when it comes to miscalculations), but the State Department also is well aware of Eni’s well-deserved reputation (among Republicans and Democrats) as a “loose cannon” and likely was not prepared in any event to give him a platform to make unscripted remarks that might embarrass either Secretary Rice personally or the U.S. in general.
After all, they have a file drawer full of statements he has made over the years attacking his own government, even when standing on foreign soil. Those outbursts may have played well in the media but not in Foggy Bottom. And there still are a lot of people around who remember how Eni held 10 heads of Pacific governments and 400 or so other people virtually hostage last year in the National Geographic Auditorium to listen to him and a variety of Washington politicians he corraled give long winded speeches prior to the annual Pacific Night reception. Yes, likely it was payback time.
Yet, why did he go back to
The gavel adjourning the House had yet to bang before Eni was in the air back to Asia once again, this time to Hong Kong, where he personally delivered birthday greetings from 20 members of Congress to Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-Shing. Just last year at Mr. Li’s invitation, Eni spoke at the privately funded
Now it’s off to where? The summit is over, the coronation concluded yesterday and the last of the Arts Festival participants leave
Why back to
He also has said he will be traveling to
But his travels over the three weeks between
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Why skip all these seemingly important events? Because he knows the voters don't care about any of it and he has two challengers hoping to unseat him this November.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Poor attendance at the hearing suggested that Central Asia is a waning priority among members of Congress. Only two members showed up to the hearing: Eni Faleomavaega, the chair of the subcommittee and a Democrat from American Samoa, and Ruben Hinojosa, a Democrat from Texas. Both showed shaky knowledge of the region, mispronouncing the names of many of the countries in the region and frequently digressing on issues that [Assistant Secretary of State Richard] Boucher said were outside of his portfolio, including missile defense in Europe, the possibility of a boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, and excessive profits of oil companies.
You won't read about this hearing in local media.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
There may be hope for the local media at long last. Samoa News recognized that Faleomavaega's chairmanship of the Committee of the Whole was not the big deal he made it to be and carried a truncated version of his press release in its "Community Briefs" section of the paper.
Yes, Faleomavaega no doubt was the first Samoan to preside over the Committee of the Whole. Of course, he neglects to point out that only two Samoans ever have served in the House and his predecessor, the disgraced Fofo Sunia (D) was not given that "honor" by the Democrats in charge during his seven years in the House before being forced to resign as part of a plea bargain that included 11 months in prison for his part in a ghost payroll scheme. Rather he focuses attention on the fact that Republicans did not give the gavel to any of the delegates during their 12 years in power. Of course, he fails to mention that whichever party is in power presides over all House sessions and all the delegates were Democrats during that period.
He notes that he could have chaired the committee during the 1993-94 session but "time ran out" before he had the opportunity. More likely, his travel schedule was so heavy he wasn't in town long enough to accept an invitation. That is probably why, despite his seniority, he only now, well into this session, was able to mount the dais.
The fact is, presiding over the House is a chore that majority members mostly try to avoid. The Speaker, who is supposed to preside, rarely does so. Presiding chores usually are rotated among junior members. So, on the few occasions he was in Washington during 1993-94, Faleomavaega probably ducked for cover. Why now, this year? Probably to build his credentials back home, where he now has two announced opponents and faces yet another tough race. The dissatisfaction and restlessness of the electorate is growing.
With good reason.
A final comment. Samoa News also carried a photo on its website with a caption about Faleomavaega presiding over the House. There is no way to tell if the photo was taken the day he presided because the backdrop was the seats in the House not the dais. We hope it was a stock photo rather than one from that day because he was attired in open collar with his trademark bolo tie. While such neck wear is permitted on the Floor, it is not encouraged, especially for someone not of Native American heritage. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who is of Native American heritage, always dresses in standard Western business attire, for example.
Monday, March 31, 2008
To further underscore that Samoa News really does not understand, they buried the ramifications in a page one story in today's paper wrapping up the governor's weekly radio call in show on Saturday. The headline of the article is "Governor appeals to Eni for help for displaced workers." But the story should have been headlined "Canneries Set To Leave" because the real news is in this quote:
Togiola also revealed that he was informed by the canneries that if the next 50 cent hike goes into effect, the canneries will leave the territory and the administration is working with the canneries to prevent this from happening.
The startling news was handled as almost an after thought. One might think in view of the circumstances that Faleomavaega would have cleared his Easter recess schedule (formally called a "district work period" by Congress), either to be home to explain what is going on, work with the canneries and governor to find a solution or to stay in Washington to redouble his efforts to find a solution to the problem.
But it's all business as usual for our wandering delegate. According to story datelined Majuro yesterday, Eni just spent six days in the Marshalls conducting a field hearing. Six days. Can you imagine? The recent field hearing conducted in American Samoa was confined to a single afternoon. The subcommittee got in on a Thursday night, paid some courtesy calls on Friday morning, held a hearing for three hours Friday afternoon, called it a day and went over the Western Samoa for the rest of the weekend until plane time. In contrast, The Marshalls gets six days of his time.
But will the American Samoa media cover any of this? Don't count on it!!
Meantime, Samoa News this morning also reports a newcomer is jumping into the congressional race. Some retired military enlisted officer who works in an administrative job at the college. They must be high fiving and breaking out the champagne in Eni's office. It's just what he hoped for when he rammed through a bill to let him win elections by a plurality. The anti-Eni vote now can be split between the newcomer and veteran politico Aumua Amata, thus giving Eni yet another term to continue his globetrotting. And so it goes.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Only two weeks earlier, Faleomavaega was the lead witness in a hearing before the Senate Energy Committee (which has jurisdiction over territorial issues), in which he testified in favor of a bill to halt such an increase. At the conclusion of the hearing, a sympathetic Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) promised to do all he could to pass legislation to freeze the minimum wage at the current level.
It would come as no surprise if Bingaman felt betrayed by Faleomavaega's change of heart, which was guided no doubt by his fear of Kennedy's and especially Miller's power in Congress but it really should come as no surprise because this is at least Faleomavaega's fourth and perhaps fifth different position on the issue since it first arose over the 2006 Christmas holidays before Democrats took formal control of Congress.
Among others, American Samoa's tuna industry is likely to be furious at Faleomavaega's new position which he expressed in a letter to Governor Togiola transmitting a copy of the Kennedy/Miller letter to Chao. Saying "As indicated in their letters, the bottom line is we need more specific data and information before we put a hold on another 50-cent increase on our minimum wage."
This bombshell was dropped in time for the Thursday edition of Samoa News but not in time for any immediate reaction. Owing to the Easter holiday, the paper won't publish again until next Monday, leaving all those whose legs were cut out from under them time to stop the bleeding before reacting in public.
In the meantime, add one more crucial issue to the growing list of issue over which time grows shorter and shorter for Faleomavaega to demonstrate he can exercise any substantial influence. In the past, early in his career, he could argue he was too junior. In the middle of his congressional career, he could argue we was in the minority. Now he is a senior Member in the Majority and a subcommittee chairman. The time to produce has come or be exposed for the fraud so many insiders know he is.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Three times in his remarks Obama referred to minorities in the U.S. but each time omitted Pacific Islanders. In the first instance Obama referred to "problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all. " Referring to his pastor's church, he went on later in the speech to talk about "a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old." Finally, he talked of "schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children."
Nowhere is there any indication that he recognizes that Pacific Islanders matter, too. Hillary Clinton announced some time ago that she was appointing American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono as a national co-chairman of her advisory council on Asian and Pacific Americans. We have seen no similar announcement that Faleomavaega has been appointed to any role in the Obama campaign. Obama may be building coalitions, as he stated, but it is apparent that Faleomavaega need not apply for a role with a group that is not part of it.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Well, Washington has its customs, too. U.S. Senate rules require male senators to wear coats and ties to be admitted to the floor of the Senate. While Senate rules do not cover attire in committee hearings, business dress is customary throughout official Washington. It need not be written because it is expected.
For many years now, Faleomavaega has discarded conventional neck ties in favor of American Indian style bolo ties although even Members of Congress with Indian heritage stay with Washington custom. But more recently, he has pushed the envelope a bit further by discarding suit coats as well as neckties in favor or shirtsleeves and bolos. He has even chaired subcommittee hearings that way. Well, if it is his subcommittee, presumably that is his prerogative, even if it does show some disrespect for witnesses who are testifying before him.
In his controversial first trip to Indonesia last year, the local media there reported that Faleomavaega caused a minor uproar by showing up to meet the President in a bolo tie and sandals. This did not go over well with the protocol conscious Indonesians.
One might have thought that such a controversy might have made an impression on the traveling delegate but if it did, he did not apply the lesson to his home base in Washington, DC.
Although he did not express it or betray any annoyance at yesterday's hearing, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman could not have been pleased when he saw that the leadoff witness in his minimum wage hearing, Faleomavaega, appeared before his subcommittee in bolo tie and shirtsleeves.
Faleomavaega appeared as part of an all-male panel that included the governors of American Samoa and the Northern Marianas. Even though the governors arguably could have appeared in native garb as "national dress," all were clad in conventional western style business suits with neckties.
Indeed, when he took office in 2006, the governor of the Northern Marianas, Ben Fitial, decreed that high government officials henceforth would be required to wear dress shirts and neckties, a move that caused some considerable grumbling in the semi-tropical climate of Saipan.
It is difficult to understand why Faleomavaega would persist in so arrogantly flouting custom, especially when he is appealing for Senate consideration of a bill he has introduced in the House. True, it has been said that Faleomavaega has never passed up a buffet table, it is not as if he has gained so much weight that no one makes suits for his size.
It is unlikely Bingaman's decision on the bill will be predicated on Faleomavaega's attire, but it does contribute to the overall negative impression the delegate continues to make in Washington, where he has had little legislative success in his two decades in office.
Friday, February 22, 2008
So you can imagine the surprise and disappointment U.S. diplomats must have felt when they woke up to a story on New Zealand's Pacific Radio News website on February 19 headlined "US CONGRESSMAN REINFORCES VIEW WHITE HOUSE DOING LITTLE FOR PACIFIC." The story says that during his four-day visit to New Zealand the previous week, "U.S. Congressman Eni Faleomavaega says he's more convinced the White House is doing little for Pacific nations." He went on to praise New Zealand and said the U.S. could learn from New Zealand's example.
Besides being a cheap shot designed to curry favor with Kiwi Politicians and pander to Kiwi public, what is particularly troubling about the Democrat Congressman's criticism of the Republican administration is that the U.S. hosted in Washington a summit of Pacific heads of government last May, with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice making a specific point of declaring the meeting to be the opening of the "Year of the Pacific" for the U.S. Faleomavaega played a prominent role in the Washington program, hosting a meeting on Capitol Hill, sponsoring a reception, emceeing the Pacific Night program and bringing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the event to speak to the heads of government.
What makes his criticism such a cheap shot is that he is now the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Global Environmental Affairs. Yet, except for a couple of hearings that gave him a platform to continue his ranting and raving about the Bush administration, there is little evidence that he has done anything to help put meat on the bones of the "Year of the Pacific." After all, Congress is a coequal branch of government and, with his party in control of both houses, he has had every opportunity to propose and shepherd through the process legislation that would accomplish the goals he espouses for U.S. involvement in the region. If you want to criticize, show you have influence by getting a bill passed and then let President bush sign or veto it. If he vetoes it, then you have a basis to criticize (albeit hopefully not while traveling abroad).
Instead, the delegate has contented himself with moving a resolution condemning Japan for its treatment of Korean women during World War II, backing a resolution condemning Turkey for conducting a genocide of Armenians nearly 100 years ago, opposing U.S. sales of F16 fighter jets to Taiwan, interfering in internal elections in the Marshall Islands, poking his finger in the eye of the Indonesian leaders over its refusal to relinquish control over its provinces on the island of New Guinea, and praising the leadership of the late Vietnamese dictator Ho Chi Minh.
And, of course, travel, travel, travel and more travel. The delegate seems to have forgotten he is no longer in his years in the wilderness as a junior, back bench, opposition, non-voting delegate with little power and few responsibilities. Those circumstances gave him the opportunity and latitude to spend as much of his time as his electorate would tolerate to travel and criticize. And as the ample record demonstrates, he has done plenty of both over the years, especially during the period Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress.
Now he has a different imperative as a front bench, majority party subcommittee chairman. He has the opportunity to show leadership on the issues he says he feels so passionately about. So far he has squandered it. Clearly, he has more fun when he can burst into a room, toss a turd into a punch bowl and quickly leave.
His constituents are tiring of his act.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
According to a news story on Radio KHJ this morning, Education and Labor Committee staff who are tagging along want to hear from wage earners, particularly those who favor the increase. And Faleomavaega said that since time was short and not everyone will be able to testify, those who do not get heard should submit their statements for the record.
Since the main purpose of this trip is to hear testimony on the effect of additional minimum wage hikes, a full day of hearings should provide plenty of time but, wait, they aren't starting the hearing until 1 p.m. No doubt they will finish in time for the cocktail hour. But, ah, you say, since they don't have a military plane they can't go back to Honolulu until Sunday night, so that should give them plenty of time to hold additional hearings on Saturday and maybe use the time on Sunday to visit various facilities on the island to get a better look at the territory's most pressing needs. After all, this is the subcommittee of jurisdiction (except, ironically, it does NOT have jurisdiction over minimum wage).
Not so fast. A story in this morning's Samoa News says that Eni is taking the group over to Apia for the weekend. What? The subcommittee has no jurisdiction over foreign affairs either but the subcommittee Eni chairs does. So maybe he just wants to show off. It looks like Chairman Christiansen is not going to have an opportunity to see much more of American Samoa than did the Majority Leader and Minority Whip, when they blew through here in January on a refueling stop from new Zealand. You will recall Eni missed that visit, because he was off inspecting fish farms in Israel with a bunch of U.N. ambassadors. This time he will be in Apia with the CODEL, essentially saying about his own constituents: let them eat cake.
So what is this all about? Window dressing. A favor to a fellow Democrat by Donna Christiansen in an election year. After all, her subcommittee has NO jurisdiction over the bill Eni introduced to freeze wage hikes. That bill has been referred to George Miller's committee. Miller is nowhere to be seen. And she doesn't have to worry about criticism for meaningless travel. She routinely wins reelection by lopsided margins (while the other small island territorial delegate is so popular, she runs unopposed). The only one who has trouble getting reelected is Eni, hence the help.
And so it goes.
Monday, February 18, 2008
And just as he knew his man was going down in American Samoa, he knows the Hawaii-born Obama is heavily favored to win the caucuses here tomorrow, even though the powerful Sen. Daniel K. Inouye is backing Hillary Clinton. It should be no surprise Faleomavaega is spending more of his time in Hawaii than American Samoa because this is where he grew up. Although it is not required by federal law or the constitution, he has no dwelling in American Samoa that he can call his home. He and his wife reportedly co-own property in Nevada, where she has resided in recent years (no point in being in Washington or American Samoa--the two places Faleomavaega rarely can be found) since pulling up stakes in Washington. Since she moved out of the D.C. area, however, she does go to American Samoa every election season so that voters can see that, despite swirling rumors to the contrary, they still are married.
Turning his back on his party in American Samoa should not particularly prove politically costly to him because party leaders don't like him anyway. Samoa News and other local media never seem curious to ask party officers when they will be endorsing Faleomavaega for re-election. Why? Because they won't. And he knows it, so he does not ask for party endorsement. A number of years ago when he was still winning comfortable victories for his House seat, he also ran for Democratic National Committee for the territory. He lost. Big time. Same reason a lot of people believe he will never run for governor. They believe that his winning margin is made up by people who vote for him to keep him off the island. Out of sight, out of mind.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Since he is said to have in Washington last week, not traveling, there is some speculation that Faleomavaega dragged his feet so as not to upset Hawaii's congressional delegation, especially Senator Dan Inouye, on whom he relies heavily to dig him out of messes he frequently creates for himself in Congress (largely out of the eye of the Samoan public).
If so, this would not be the first time he has put Hawaii, where he grew up, ahead of local interests. When Governor Togiola was battling Hawaiian Airlines a couple of years ago over treatment of Samoan passengers and lack of service to the territory, Faleomavaega was nowhere to be found. Again he was thought to be appeasing Hawaii's powerful members of Congress, who were likely not pleased to see the state's flag carrier attacked.
Baby Futi was to be buried in Hawaii this weekend. Unless it interferes with yet another fabulous foreign junket (Congress is in recess--not that it matters), it can be expected that Faleomavaega will be in Hawaii for the funeral with his arms wrapped around the casket and tears flowing onto the coffin. He has learned how to do that with some considerable skill from accompanying to American Samoa the bodies of every Samoan soldier killed in Iraq. His local staff knows where to place the chalk marks for the media cameras.
Someone may ask why we can't say something nice about the fact that Faleomavaega did call for the investigation, even if it took five days. Well, okay then. At least that is better than the governor's office, which has had no public comment at all yet, and the attorney general, who said he sees no grounds for an investigation by his office.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Members of the legislature, senators in particular, have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to Faleomavaega's interference in what they view as being local prerogatives and last week openly debated whether to boycott the hearing, which was to take place on February 22. No doubt sensing there would be fireworks not only from the legislators but the public as well, the beleaguered delegate beat a hasty retreat and requested House Insular subcommittee Chairwoman Donna Christiansen (D-VI) limit the hearing to minimum wage only. His press release announcing the scrubbing of the hearing lamely cited lack of time but no one was fooled.
Legislators also claimed Faleomavaega's proposal of the college as the venue for the hearing was an effort to attract a younger audience that might be more favorable to his proposals. With the hearing scrubbed the need for the college was moot and the two sides settled for the "neutral" Lee Auditorium for the wage hearing. The legislature wanted the hearing at their building.
Faleomavaega's prestige has suffered yet another blow at a time when his principal opponent in 2006, Aumua Amata, has announced she will run again. In her announcement, she noted her race was the fourth closest in the country in 2006 against a Democrat elected to the U.S. House.
Should be interesting.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
In retrospect, it probably should have been no surprise that Clinton defeated Obama 57 percent to 43 percent because that is about the level of support Faleomavaega (whose real name is Eni F. Hunkin, Jr.) himself has been getting in elections in recent years. The level of his personal popularity was reflected in the caucus results.
Nonetheless, Faleomavega risked his prestige on a very public backing of Obama and he and his chief political operative, Lisa Williams, have been handed a humiliating defeat in his own party.
If Clinton does go on to win the nomination and be elected president, Faleomavaega can expect to be frozen out for the duration of the Clinton presidency. At least that has been the historical pattern of the Clintons, who have been known to punish their enemies severely. Should he lose his congressional seat, he should not expect the Interior Deputy Assistant Secretaryship for territories as a consolation prize either.
The Democratic presidential race remains too close to call and if Obama prevails, Faleomavaega could find himself vindicated. However, he may have been irreparably damaged at home politically in the process.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Does that mean that Faleomavaega winged his way home to spend a week trying to persuade local Democrats to vote for Barack Obama, the candidate he has endorsed for his party's nomination? No way. As we wrote earlier, he headed for New Zealand to, um, discuss the visa pilot program for the independent sate of Samoa and learn about the Maori Language Commission. That was a week ago. Where is he now? He's still there!! One wonders how he is spending all that free time.
It seems he is staying on for Waitangi Day observances on February 6, which is February 5 just across the dateline in American Samoa, which still leaves a lot of down time. So it looks like he is taking a pass on the caucus, although you can bet he will be front and center at the convention itself.
It also therefore looks like the epic "Battle of the Titans" won't occur since Governor Togiola Tulafono, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, will be absent from the caucus as well. He continues to be laid up in a Honolulu hospital recovering from complications resulting from surgery first performed in Pago Pago in January.
Incidentally, in contrast to the Northern Marianas, the American Samoa governorship has not been kind healthwise to its holders. Both territories first elected governors in November 1977. Six men have held the office in CNMI while American Samoa is only on its fourth. The first CNMI ex-governor to pass away only did so in 2007 while all the former governors of American Samoa are gone. Moreover, all of American Samoa's elected governors suffered significant health problems while in office.
The American Samoa delegates have not fared much better. There have only been two but the first left office in disgrace and served federal prison time for a ghost payrolling scheme. The second one, Faleomavaega, despite all his world travels, is not all that healthy either. Despite foot surgery he can still barely walk and also has had heart bypass surgery. Nonetheless, he gives no indication he ever will retire even though he turns retirement age this year.
Friday, February 1, 2008
According to a story in this morning's Samoa News, however, Faleomavaega arrived in New Zealand Wednesday afternoon, American Samoa time. In order to get to Auckland that quickly, he must have been heading to the airport out of Washington no later than the bang of the gavel (or maybe earlier?).
What great purpose is served by this little trip? Well, it seems, according to the story, Eni was to visit the "U.S. Consulate Office for an update on the visa pilot program, which was launched in 2006." Um, hello? Don't they have telephones for that sort of thing. You would have thought that maybe that could have been handled by staff over the phone.
Ah, maybe that was only coincidental to the main purpose of the long, arduous journey to New Zealand. The story said he also planned "to meet with other New Zealand officials including the Maori Language Commission to replicate some of their work here as one effort to preserve the Samoan language. Faleomavaega said any information obtained from this meeting will be shared with officials in the territory." No phones at the Commission office either?
Well, since Congress is not back in session until Feb. 6, maybe Eni was just passing through New Zealand early en route back to American Samoa to get ready for the Feb. 5 delegate selection caucus, at which he and Governor Togiola will see who has the most influence. Eni is backing Barack Obama and Togiola is backing Hillary Clinton.
I guess there is no reason to stay in Washington longer than absolutely necessary. Question is who laughed hardest at this latest absurdity: the administrative staffer who filled out the travel justification form, the press secretary who drafted the press release, the news editor who inserted the story into the paper or the readers. Since he can barely walk anymore (probably from those long walks through airport terminals over the years) as it is, if the voters ever really start to howl about his travel, maybe he can announce he has restless leg syndrome and check into the Betty Ford Clinic. Why not? It wouldn't produce any bigger laugh than this story does.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Following the release of a U.S. Department of Labor study that suggests the rise of American Samoa's wage rates to U.S. parity would be devastating to the territory's fragile economy, Eni has announced he is introducing legislation to exempt American Samoa from future automatic wage hikes and return instead to a bi-annual survey to determine what would be sustainable.
He will beg his leadership to do this for him on the basis of its importance to his political survival then will turn to the Senate's twin Hawaii octogenarians, Inouye and Akaka, to carry his water in the upper body.
Will it work? Who knows? He has failed so far to get timely enactment of the 30A wage credit the canneries say they need to remain profitable and once again will need to get a bill passed that will make the credit retroactive to January 1, when the previous provision expired. Another 50-cent wage increase is due in May. It would be pretty tough to get that made retroactive. Getting voters to fork over their increase wage or to be forced into a reduction after a brief rise would be a disaster in an election year.
Maybe Eni will have to curtail his foreign junketeering at least between now and May to shepherd his legislation through Congress. Will he skip his party's presidential delegate caucus in the territory on February 5, especially after Hillary Clinton has made reference to it? He has endorsed Barack Obama, while Governor Togiola and the local party leadership have endorsed Hillary Clinton. The results of the caucus will be a test of his prestige and influence.
If he does make a quick trip home and then go back to Washington, he is going to have to turn right around to come back for the House Insular Affairs Subcommittee hearing he has orchestrated for February 21 and 22.
Poor Eni. He may be forced to stay on the job more than he likes.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Did he learn his lesson? Nope. Last week while Congress was furiously negotiating an economic stimulus package that includes a tax rebate for everyone, he was again out of town.
Perhaps he negotiated American Samoa into the package by phone. Apparently not.
He has issued a press release about a letter he has now sent to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and others asking them to "clarify" the effect of the bill on the territories. Read clarify to mean "territories forgotten." So, once again he has to play catch up and then if he succeeds he can triumphantly claim he has saved the day--even though he's only cleaning up a mess he himself has made. Reminds me of the guy who was banging his head with a hammer., When asked why he was doing that he replied: "Because it feels so good when I stop."
By the way. Steny Hoyer. Steny Hoyer. Unusual first name. Say, isn't that the fellow who was in American Samoa just a week or so ago as part of a fact finding tour that Eni skipped so he could tour Israel with a bunch of island ambassadors to the U.N.? I think so. Apparently, American Samoa did not leave enough of an impression on him to remember us when it came time for the stimulus package. Perhaps if Faleomavaega had been on that junket instead of looking at desalinization projects in the Middle East we might not have to be playing catch up once again.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The big news in the morning papers today was the completion of negotiations between Congress and the Executive Branch yesterday on a federal stimulus package to counteract the country's economic slowdown. Most House members were in town to make their views known.
At the same time, this morning's Samoa News carried a photo and story about Faleomavaega giving a talk to a local third grade class yesterday. If he had to be away from Washington, at least he was home. If there is little or nothing in the package for American Samoa, you will not hear a peep out of him and not from the sad sack local media either. If American Samoa does benefit, you can bet there will be a press release, carried in full in the local papers, even if he was 10,000 miles away when it was negotiated and had not a thing to do with it. Life goes on.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
“I am especially happy that the new law included ocean thermal energy conversion, a concept that was included in a bill I introduced in the House earlier last year, and I am thankful to Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership for recognizing the importance of ocean thermal energy conversion as a potential alternative source of energy.”
Notice he didn't claim responsibility for the provision on ocean thermal conversion, only that he was happy the bill included a concept he introduced in a bill in 2006.
He goes on to express hope the governor and legislature will take advantage of the bill. What leadership! What a fraud! But once again, he got away with it.
Friday, January 18, 2008
In a follow up letter to the editor, one of Faleomavaega's goons wrote:
"There is a fine line between freedom of press and being disrespectful of a Samoan leader in your letters to the editor. You are entitled to your opinions. However, since you have chosen to live in
In a second letter he wrote:
"you are obligated to your opinions and you have that freedom even in the Samoan culture. Have you done a sanity check about your position on the issue as well as how the Samoan people feel about your approach? The last time I checked our leaders were elected by the majority. I know you have been around several of your wife's extended family meetings and village council meetings to appreciate the decision-making process in those settings. You can say whatever your heart dictates as long as you know your place and the language to use in those meetings. As you have known in those meetings, nobody talks out of line."
In the past, letters like this have been enough to end discussion, but in this issue, this approach appears to have backfired. More letters against the position of both Faleomavaega and his backers have been published, and this time from Samoans. This issue does not appear to be going away. Whether Eni will cut his losses and apologize remains to be seen.
His press officer must have had trouble suppressing a smirk writing this one, in which he has our roving delegate claiming he missed the opportunity of showing the House majority leader first hand what the territory's unmet needs are because he needed to be traveling with a bunch of Pacific Island ambassadors "to discuss ways to advance the relationship between Israel and Pacific Island nations" says the press release.
The biggest joke,of course, is that he says this junket was at the behest of Hoyer. Among other things, he addressed the group, which was billed as an "educational exchange" and looked at some desalinization projects. Please note that he was the ONLY member of Congress on this delegation. Everyone else was a Pacific Island Country ambassador to the U.N.! Last time I looked, "international tour guide" is not listed in the job description for congressmen.
What in God's name does he take the voters for? Look hard and long and read slowly and closely. If anyone can find a shred of benefit or potential benefit to American Samoa from this pure junket, please post a response to this blog.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
We understand that the itinerary did not orginally have a stop scheduled for American Samoa but after complaints by Faleomavaega, a refueling/rest stop in Pago Pago was added after New Zealand.
A big page one photo in the January 10 issue of Samoa News shows Lt. Gov. Ipulasi Sunia greets the CODEL leaders: Hoyer, Blunt and Bordallo. What's wrong with this picture? Well. No governor for starters. He's still in the hospital following emergency surgery over the weekend. And I'm sure there is some squirming on Hoyer's staff since fellow Democrat Sunia is under federal indictment for alleged procurement illegalities when he was government treasurer. But also absent from the photo? Faleomavaega!! The wandering delegate had a conflict. He's off touring the Middle East at the moment, thank you. But he did send his best regards.
Needless to say, this characterization of Uncle Ho did not go down too well with American Samoa's sizable community of Vietnam veterans. The rhetoric has been incendiary.
Unlike the situation in which then-Sen. Leader Trent Lott, in praising Strom Thurmond
on his 100th birthday, offhandedly and jokingly suggested the country should have elected the then-segregationist president in 1948, Faleomavaega issued a press release (on Pearl harbor Day, no less)with his pro-Ho remarks.
Not terribly bright, but it gets better. After a couple of sharply worded letters to the editor criticing the delegate's position on Ho, Faleomavaega issues another press release containing his own letter to the editor in response, in which he fully defends his prasie of Ho. Not to let an opportunity go by, in the same letter he slurs President Bush and Vice President Cheney over their military service or lack thereof. So much for the passionate bi-partisanship he so fervently avowed during his years in the wilderness when Democrats controlled neither Congress nor the White House--although last time I looked, Bush/Cheney has a year to go.
Well, it often seems Faleomavaega follows the Bill Scott school of press release writing. You will recall that after his most recent re-election, he announced that Papuan self-determination towards independence would be the top priority on his agenda in the new Congress (not American Samoa's problems, of course--but that's a story for another day).
So, on one of his frequent overseas junkets during the summer, he went to Jakarta with the expectation of traveling on to Papua for some self-determination seminar. Only thing is that the Indonesian government wouldn't give him permission to go. So he left, saying he was nevertheless satisfied with the progress Indonesia was making with its troubled province. Immediately after he cleared Indonesia airspace, the central government rounded up all the dissidents Eni wanted to meet and hauled them in for some, um, routine questioning.
Fast forward to December, now. Indonesia is hosting in Bali the latest International Conference on Climate Change. Of course, our lead junketeer is front and center. Okay, we'll give him a break this time. After all, he is the chairman of the House subcommittee on Asia, Pacific and Global Environment.
This time he makes a big deal about having gotten permission to travel to Papua while he is in the country. Only problem is the government hardly lets him out of the airport in Papua.
Naturally, when he returns to Washington he issues a press release about his failure to get to see people in Papua. Maybe they didn't like his bolo tie.