Friday, October 24, 2008

Indonesia Controversy Persists

The controversy over Barack Obama's citizenship and what role Faleomavaega may have played in helping to cover up Obama's childhood years in Indonesia jut don't seem to go away. What should be troubling to American Samoa voters is having in Washington a delegate who may be preoccupied not only with his incessant traveling but entanglements over his July, 2007 trip to Indonesia at a time when a new president and a new congress will moving rapidly on all fronts. In such an atmosphere, we need a delegate who not only will stick around in Washington but who will not be distracted by the business at hand. Here is the latest clip up on YouTube this morning:

Monday, October 20, 2008

American Samoa and the Indonesia Connection

The story in the Oct. 20 Samoa News about the Indonesian ambassador’s visit to American Samoa raises lots of questions that beg for answers. Let’s just take them in the order they come to mind from a reading of the article:

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 American Samoa to pursue the matter but there was no press coverage of his arrival or his 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 Washington, just to personally thank the governor?

The paper also said that when it published the October 8 story it "was unable to obtain any other specific information on the case and was told by government officials that no such ‘case’ existed.” That apparently is still the case but how do you “hide” 42 fishermen from public view on a small island like Tutuila where the coconut wireless works overtime. Apparently it isn’t connected to the media.

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 West Papua. Might he also have brought some cash to aid Togiola’s election as well? Are diplomats given the “courtesy of the port” or is their luggage examined? Was the ambassador’s luggage searched for large amounts of cash?

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 American Samoa air space? Curious, very curious.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Faleomavaega's Excuses Don't Hold Water

We are indebted to Tui Fa'amatai, who has shattered Faleomavaega's excuses for leaving Washington during the economic crisis. He also took on Aliimau Scanlan, Faleomavaega's hatchet man. There are four posts. Here are the links:

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

Faleomavaega and the Indonesian Connection

Stories continue to circulate on the internet speculating that in July of 2007 Barack Obama sent Faleomavaega on a secret mission to Jakarta to persuade the Indonesians to seal up the childhood records of Obama, who was at that time known as Barry Soetoro. In exchange, Faleomavaega supposedly arranged for cash assistance and promised to mute his criticism of the Indonesian government over its policies in West Papua. Faleomavaega did in fact speak more favorably of the regime on his departure according to press accounts of the trip but the rest remains speculation at this moment.

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

Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior

We have been looking over the stories, press releases and ads for the congressional race in recent weeks and have been struck by how Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior for some reason focuses his fire on one of his two opponents, Aumua Amata. No matter that the governor, the fono leaders, the other opponent, one of the other candidates for governor and a variety of members of the fishing community are opposing his secret tunaboat amendment, Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior seems to relish concentrating his attacks on Aumua Amata. Sounds to me like maybe she is breathing down Congressional Non-voting Delegate Faleomavaega Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin, Junior's neck.

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?

Faleomavaega the Foreign Affairs Expert?

Faleomavaega has made no secret of the fact that he is more interested in foreign affairs than insular policy. He even put out a statement that he turned down the chairmanship of the insular subcommittee when it was offered to him in December 2006 in favor of accepting the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, Pacific and International Environment Affairs. Those who are apprehensive about Gov. Sarah Palin, with no foreign policy experience, being a heart beat away from the presidency ought to be almost as concerned that Faleomavaega is but a couple of heart beats from the chairmanship of the full Foreign Affairs committee. Fortunately the two members more senior than he is are younger and in better health. Then again, the late Tom Lantos also looked pretty healthy.

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 BulaƧ, 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: How embarrassing. Especially since Faleomavaega was one of the co-sponsors of the ill-fated resolution that passed the committee last year that condemned Turkey for genocide policy towards Armenians during World War I. The protests from Turkey and Turkish Americans were so strong that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the measure pulled from the House calendar.

So much for all the foreign affairs expertise Faleomavaega clearly has not accumulated over nearly 20 years in the House.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Faleomavaega's vicious attack

As the name of our group suggests, we are for anyone but Faleomavaega. But the filing deadline is well past and that "anyone" boils down to two alternatives: one is his previous opponent, Aumua Amata, who in 2006 held him to the fourth closest race in the country against any Democrat who won a House seat and a retired army enlistee, Rosie Lancaster, who it appears spent her entire career as a paper shuffling personnel specialist and has no Washington experience. Lancaster, who previously was a volunteer on Aumua Amata's campaign, is a paper shuffling bureaucrat at the community college. Since Lancaster's campaign seems to be going nowhere, let us focus on Aumua Amata.

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

Secret Agent Faleomavaega?

Although we did not make much of it at the time, we did find it strange that after years of severely criticizing Indonesia for its policies towards its West Papua province, Faleomavaega pronounced himself satisfied with the approach Jakarta was now taking towards West Papuan self-determination as he departed the capital on a visit in July, 2007, even though he was refused permission to visit the province.

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: 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.