Monday, August 8, 2011

Woes Mount for Faleomavaega

President Obama can console himself over having a bad week by measuring himself against Faleomavaega, whose horrible year continues. Clearly he is bracing himself for a challenge for reelection by Gov. Togiola, who is barred by law from running for re-election last year.

Not one for much legislative activity over the course of his career, Faleomavaega has introduced or co-sponsored a flurry of bills the past few weeks to bolster his credentials with his electorate and to strengthen his chances for reelection next November. He also has tossed a bone to Organized Labor in an obvious effort to pave the wave for major contributions from the unions to his campaign by publicly endorsing the idea of establishing a workers' union at the local StarKist tuna cannery.

One of his bills would convert long-time resident aliens to U.S. Nationals. Were he to succeed in getting this bill passed, of course, he would have the gratitude of a group of new voters that would be large enough to cement his reelection. However, he knows that this bill has no more chance of passing in the current climate in Washington than did his laughable ASPIRE bill in the last Congress. Readers will recall that even though his party controlled Congress and the White House, he even had fellow party members speak out against the bill, which never passed out of the subcommittee.

The clever Faleomavaega knows that even though Congress is not likely to make it easier for more immigrants to get into the country, many of these long term resident aliens have numerous children born in the territory who now are adults (and all eligible to vote). It is their gratitude he is seeking at the ballot box.

Faleomavaega long has prided himself on being the voice of the Pacific in Washington (when he's there) and an influential senior policymaker. Apparently Hawaii's two House members bought this load of baloney because when the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to abolish the Hawaii-based East West Center, they turned to their Samoan colleague, a member of the committee, to save the day. At a mark up of the bill, the delegate argued against the closure and offered an amendment to retain the institution that was quickly voted down. Needless to say, his arguments fell on deaf ears and it will be up to the two Hawaii congresswomen to try to save the Center when the bill comes before the full House.

Eni has never been especially known for bipartisanship (his Memorial Day press release was filled with invective against Republicans) except in one area: he has roundly criticized administrations of both parties for neglecting the Pacific. Indeed, it is ironic that the U.S. Involvement in the region has decreased as steadily as Faleomavaega's seniority (and, ostensibly, “influence”) has increased over the past 23 years. He even criticized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not making visits to the island countries on her Australia and New Zealand trip earlier this year.

As a result of that trip, however, she did send Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell on an eight-nation mission to the islands. Curiously, there was not a peep out of Faleomavaega about Campbell's trip. No words of praise or anything else. It would be our guess that Faleomavaega wanted to go on the trip but was turned down. So he said nothing either out of pique or embarrassment, just as he said nothing when Clinton's predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, held a summit in Apia with Pacific foreign ministers but declined to let Faleomavaega have any role beyond being a member of her delegation. Even though he was just a few miles away in Pago Pago at the time, he pouted at not being allowed to speak and stayed home altogether. Campbell, a career foreign service officer long active in the Pacific, was aware of this incident and also knows Faleomavaega's reputation as a loose cannon. Most likely he wanted the delegate nowhere near his eight-nation visit.

To add insult to injury, it is his rival Togiola who has scored big on the diplomatic front. When Clinton stopped in Pago Pago on her way back to Washington from her Australia-New Zealand trip, both the governor and the congressman were there to greet her. Despite American Samoa's dire economic straits, Eni used his brief time with the secretary to urge her to give debt relief to Cambodia. In fairness, it should be conceded that Cambodia is part of Clinton's portfolio and American Samoa is not, but the governor wisely used his time to ask the Secretary (whose campaign for president he had endorsed in 2008 while Eni supported Obama) to review the U.S. policy not to permit its territories to seek official observer status at the Pacific Islands Forum.

As far as is known, Cambodian debt relief has gone nowhere but this week Clinton wrote Togiola to advise him she has changed the policy on Forum observer status and, moreover, she has invited to be a member of the U.S. delegation to the Forum next month in New Zealand, where the U.S. will formally ask that body to grant observer status to all its territories. Watch very closely in the next few days for press releases from Faleomavaega's office to see what he has to say about this policy change. Watch also whether he will be part of the U.S. delegation to the Forum.

So, it has been a very bad couple of weeks for Faleomavaega in what has been a very bad year. With the change of control of the House after the November 2010 election, of course, he lost his subcommittee chairmanship in January. To make matters worse, the following month he lost the one House chairmanship he expected to get when Freshman Congresswoman Judy Chu was named chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Since the formation of the caucus many years ago, it always had been a practice to have a Mainland APA in one of the two top positions and someone from the islands (Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and, more recently, the Northern Marianas) in the other post. Traditionally, the chairmanship rotated annually, with the vice chairman automatically moving up. Guam Congressman Robert Underwood served as vice chairman at one point and then became chairman the following year.

Seven years ago, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) rotated into the chairmanship but, unlike his predecessors, he continued in the position until this year. All during his chairmanship, Faleomavaega served as vice chairman. So, when Honda announced he was stepping down, Eni was ready to take the gavel but Honda stabbed him in the back by recommending the chairmanship go to the freshman Chu, his fellow Californian and the first woman of Chinese descent to be elected to the House. The stunned Faleomavaega let it be known he would not oppose Chu but it was a huge blow to him. Guam's Madeleine Bordallo took his position as vice chairman. It will be interesting to see if and when she rotates into the chairmanship. If it is any time soon, one might surmise that Honda held on to the chairmanship as long as he did to wait for someone new to be elected to the House while he blocked the unpredictable Eni's ascent to the chair.

The announcement this week by Faleomavaega that he will receive an award from the Japanese American Citizens League for his service in Congress was most likely pushed by the Japanese American Honda as a sop to Faleomavaega for having stabbed him in the back in February. Otherwise, why now? Did the JACL only just discover Faleomavaega after 23 years in Congress?

Perhaps Faleomavaega should count himself fortunate not to have become CAPAC chairman. After all, he was one of Obama's earliest supporters but has received no substantial favors from him in return. He may blame Republicans for wanting to abolish the East West Center, for example, but it was his friend Mr. Obama who had proposed in his own budget to cut the Center's funding in half. In the nearly three years the Hawaii-born Obama has been president, he has seen fit to meet formally with the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses but not the APA caucus. At a meeting with staff at the White House just last week, Honda complained about this and Obama's staff finally committed to setting up a meeting. Had Faleomavaega been chair, perhaps such a meeting still would be nowhere on the horizon, giving further evidence of his lack of clout in Washington.

Of course, few people in American Samoa are aware of any of these stories because the local daily newspaper, Samoa News, where Eni's sister-in-law (who also is Democratic National Committeewoman for the territory) is one of the editors. [Can you imagine the howls of protest if any dominant paper in the states had as an editor a member of either party's national committee?] The paper gladly publishes all of his press releases, mostly verbatim, but don't look for any negative stories. Nor is there ever any analysis, tying all these threads together. No, you have to read it here if you are going to read it at all.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Faleomavaega Blasts ABCDEFGroup Blog

We have been highly critical of the local media in American Samoa for its "inadequate" coverage of our wandering Congressman, Faleomavaega Eni, who seems to be everywhere in  the world but Washington or American Samoa most of the time.  We have long felt the leading news outlets have given him a pass for his foibles and indiscretions, especially Samoa News, where his sister-in-law is an editor.  Most of the controversies in which he has been involved seem to get sept under the rug.

So, it was a pleasant surprise to see the leading radio news organization, Radio Station KHJ-FM raise questions about some of the campaign money he has raised, based on our report, even if the story were centered on Faleomavaega's condemnation of us for our report.  See:  Give Faleomavaega credit for his ability to divert attention from controversy by attacking his adversary.  Regrettably he sucked KHJ into the diversion.  Instead of condemning our report, he should have attacked the Project of Government Oversight (POGO), the source of our story.  We did not raise the question of whether his campaign contributions might be tied to his support for the dictatorship in Kazahkstan.  POGO did.  We only reported what POGO suggested.   But of course, it makes more sense for him to attack us, since we have an admitted bias against him, rather than attack POGO, which is a respected non-partisan, non-profit organization that has no agenda.

Nevertheless, we salute KHJ-FM for bringing this important story to the attention of the public.  As for Samoa News, we will give them a half salute for carrying a buried link to this story in their on-line edition.  They may not have swept it under the rug but they did manage to push it into a corner.  Until they do their job and carry this sort of news up front in their A section, we will continue to give them a big raspberry for pro-Faleomavaega bias.   It hardly comes as a surprise not only because his sister-in-law is an editor while also serving as Democratic National Committeewoman for the territory, a fact we do not recall seeing ever having been disclosed (she does byline some stories), but because the paper has a leftist bias.  It is no secret Faleomavaega is on the left of the Democrat Party and was a charter member of the socialistic Congressional Progressive Caucus and Samoa News often carries editorials and op-ed columns by such left wingers as Paul Krugman.

KHJ wrote: "Faleomavaega  commended POGO for championing good government but said at no time has the group contacted him to inquire about the Central Asia Caucus, or the contributions mentioned.  Neither has the ABCDEF Group or Samoa News which posted the story on its website."
Let us note for the record that at no time did Faleomavaega contact us to refute POGO's story, either.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Foreign Funds May Have Been Funneled to Faleomavaega

One of the more curious aspects of Faleomavaega's career has been his devotion to issues
involving Kazahkstan, a central Asian country he has visited numerous times.  Central Asian
countries have never been under the legislative jurisdiction of the Asia-Pacific subcomittee on
which he serves and which he chaired from 2007 to this January.  The mutual love relationship
has been so great that the Kazakh government once even took out an advertisement in the
Washington Post to sing Faleomavaega's praises.  Now it may be coming more clear.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) is a thirty-year-old nonpartisan, independent, watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO, which, according to its mission statement, investigates "corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government," has turned its attention to Kazahkstan's cozy relations with members of Congress.

The POGO investigation has uncovered circumstantial evidence that strongly supports some claims that the Kazakh Embassy has used lobbyists to create two separate caucuses dedicated to supporting its interests: the Friends of Kazakhstan caucus and the Caucus on Central Asia.  Employees from the lobbying firms hired to create the most recent caucus—the Caucus on Central Asia—have donated thousands of dollars to every member that has served in a leadership capacity of that caucus.

According to POGO: "One Member of Congress, Delegate Eni Faleomavaega from American Samoa, a co-chair and driving force behind the creation of the Central Asia caucus, particularly stands out. In the 2010 election cycle, two of Faleomavaega’s top organizational contributors had been under contract with the Republic of Kazakhstan: Employees and family members from Policy Impact Communications, the lobbying firm hired to create the Central Asia caucus, contributed $4,800, making the firm Faleomavaega’s second largest organizational contributor; and another firm, Steptoe and Johnson, which is the Republic of Kazakhstan’s outside counsel, contributed $2,000 through its Political Action Committee."

Faleomavaega long has been the subject of criticism by his opponents for relying on big contributors with Asian names living in California and labor unions with no activities in American Samoa for the lion's share of his campaign budgets.   A few maximum contributions from these special interests will buy a lot of  election day plate lunches for voters.  He always seems to be able to tap these same sources time and again for all the money he needs to ward off stiff challenges.   His supporters insist donors with Asian names are legal contributors interested in his work on the Foreign Affairs Committee, with some having interest on his position on tuna boats built in Taiwan whose owners want access to the South Pacific through American Samoa.  He switched his position recently to oppose the legislative change necessary to clear the way for the boats so it will be interesting to see what contributors drop off his list this next campaign.

Meanwhile, there is no telling where the POGO investigation is going.  The full details of the scandal can be read here:   One thing is almost certain: don't hold your breath waiting for Samoa News, where Faleomavaega's sister-in-law is an editor, to report on this issue.  Expect this to be swept under the rug the way they have minimized almost every controversy involving Faleomavaega over the years.

Weiner Resignation Could Thwart Faleomavaega Ambitions

As unimaginable as it may sound, the resignation of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), may have thwarted Faleomavaega's ambitions to rise to the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a prospect that undoubtedly sends chills up the spine of House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi and other senior leaders in her party.

All the stars would have had to line up right next year for it to happen but it is quite possible that Democrats could retake the House while Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), the full committee chairman, and Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the second ranking Democrat on the committee, were losing re-election battles.  That scenario would put third ranking Faleomavaega in line to become chairman.

As unlikely as it would seem for Berman and Ackerman to be be in trouble in their safe seats, they will be running in newly configured districts, thanks to redistricting resulting out of the 2010 census.   If Democrats were to catch a wave, normally the two veterans would be among the least likely to be in trouble.  However, a new non-partisan redistricting commission has thrown Berman into the same district with another senior Democrat, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).  There is said to be no love lost between the two men and, if they should decide to square off against each other, there is no certainty in the outcome.

Meanwhile, in New York, the state legislature must redraw the district lines in a way to adjust for the loss of two seats as a result of decennial reapportionment.  There has been a gentleman's agreement that one seat would be eliminated in the Republican leaning upstate area and the second seat would be taken from the New York City area, where Ackerman's constituency is.

Now that Weiner has resigned, it makes the job easier for the legislature, which simply can eliminate his seat and make all the other incumbents, including Ackerman, safe for re-election.  So, if Berman were to lose next year, the Democrats still should have Ackerman in place to block Faleomavaega's rise.  Of course, Democrats still would have to win back the majority and it is much to early to tell if that could happen.

But more than likely, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.  American foreign policy should be safe for another two years.  Nonetheless, all three men are getting up there in years (Berman is 70; Ackerman is 68; and Faleomavaega is 67) and Faleomavaega has been in poor health for a number of years.  The retirement of death of any of them would change the equation.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Faleomavaega Praises Reelection of Dictator despite International Community Views

Caspionet, the state run national satellite television channel of the Republic of Kazakhstan has seized upon the comments of one person, Faleomavaega, to declare on its website,
 That “the US Congress believes that the early elections in Kazakhstan demonstrated transparency and freedom of choice.”  Caspionet goes on to say Faleomavaega noted that this transparency and freedom of choice “was because of the officials of the country and especially Nursultan Nazarbayev.”   Capionet quotes Faleomavaega as saying: “For a country like Kazakhstan with some 40 religious organizations, 65% Muslim and 20% Russian Orthodox, I think speaks well to the fact that it has rather tremendous religious freedom, allowing the people to express their own personal religious preferences.

Oh, my, my.

Of course, the respected international Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) saw it a bit differently.  According to a Reuters News Agency report,, “Kazakhstan's presidential election revealed the same shortcomings as past polls,” with International observers noting “that reforms necessary for holding genuine democratic elections have yet to materialize."

Reuters went on to quote Amb. Daan Everts as saying "Regrettably we have to conclude that this election could and should have been better."   Everts is Head of the long-term election observation mission deployed by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
Faleomavaega’s continued fawning support for Kazahkstan’s long serving dictator comes as no surprise, as he has lent his backing to the Kazakh president in the past and has also warmed to other dictators as well, including Fiji’s Frank Bainamarama.

But his comments here are so completely at odds with the findings of international observers, and are so embarrassing, one has to believe that Samoa News, where his sister-in-law is an editor, will quickly and quietly bury them.   Prediction: you will only read this story here.   The links to the Reuters and Caspionet stories are provided above, lest you think we are exaggerating.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Obama Ignores Faleomavaega

Prior to President Obama's recent trip to Chile, Faleomavaega made a fervent public plea for him to put Rapa Nui on his agenda with the Chilean president.  Joined by lame duck Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), who will retire at the 2012 election apparently without his Hawaiian Sovereignty bill (Akaka bill) enacted, Faleomavaega wrote an opinion piece for the Honolulu Star Advertiser that called on the U.S. to take the lead in protecting human rights on Chile's island province in the Pacific. 

As has been the case in virtually ever cause he has ever undertaken in Congress, his pleas went unheard, as Obama declined to raise the issue in Santiago.  Perhaps Faleomavaega suspected that would be the case but did not worry about taking another blow to his prestige, knowing his sister-in-law, an editor at his home town daily paper, Samoa News, would bury the story and preserve his ability to fool his consituents.  It may have been a pretext for him going to Rapa Nui himself, as we predicted he would.

Anyone who thought Faleomavaega's travel wings would be clipped in this Congress, now that he has been stripped of his subcommittee chairman, has been sadly mistaken.  The first quarter of 2012 has just come to a close and already he has been on a congressional junket to Australia and New Zealand,  stopping in Pago Pago each way just long enough to get fuel and give the people his middle finger and Rapa Nui and has announced he will be going to Korea.  Even with Republicans in charge and tight congressional budgets, he has found the money to keep on traveling.

What makes this visit to Rapa Nui so absurd is that he has absolutely no power or authority to do anything about the situation.  What makes it sad is that while he was in Rapa Nui, the new president of SgtarKist was making his first visit to American Samoa.  This was precisely the time Faleomavaega needed to be home to sit in on the  meeting between the new head of StarKist and the governor to plot a course to keep the cannery in the territory.

And of course, his fans just keep cheering him on.  Atta boy, Eni.  We have just one plea to Eni: any issue you really care about, please keep it to yourself.  Once you get involved, it ia guaranteed you will be on the losing side.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Business as Usual for Faleomavaega while American Samoa Sinks

If proof ever were needed that Samoa News, the territory's only independent daily news source, has not a clue what is going on around it, the paper's recent coverage of Faleomavaega's latest travel provided it.  While the Governor was in Washington fighting a last ditch effort to get federal assistance for the territory's tanking economy--with unemployment now over 20%, Samoa News was headlining Faleomavaega's "speaking out" about the need for Pacific Island countries to be included in trade talks between Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.

Was he doing so from his office in Washington, between meetings and appointments with the governor and federal policymakers?   No.  Eni was on his latest and one of his most inappropriate trips abroad: for a conference in New Zealand focused on U.S.-New Zealand commercial relations and a quick dash to Australia to discuss intellectual property rights.  Nowhere in the paper, at which his sister-in-law is an editor, can a question be found about why it was necessary for him to be on this trip while his governor was in Washington trying to save the territory in the face of sharp reductions in federal spending.

Adding further insult to injury, the nine-member congressional delegation of which he was a part, stopped in American Samoa to refuel in both directions, pausing only long enough for a quick ride into town on the return leg of the trip.   Not for lack of trying, the Governor no doubt will come home empty-handed.  Eni was back in Washington in time to take his seat last week at a House oversight hearing on territorial issues but his major contribution was to rebut the Governor's contention that the rise in the minimum wage was the major factor in the territory's economic crisis.

One wonders if they even met at all. 

Faleomavaega already has announced he will be traveling to South Korea.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Governor: Faleomavaega is a Rogue Delegate

Open warfare once again has broken out between Governor Togiola and Delegate Faleomavaega, but this time with a vengeance not seen in the past.  Why?  According to a Radio New Zealand report, it is widely believed that Togiola will make a bid for Faleomavaega's seat in Congress next year.  Togiola, who is served his second elected term after completing the unexpired term of his late predecessor, is barred by law from seeking re-election.

Sensing the potential competition from the powerful governor, the second longest serving chief executive in the territory's history, Faleomavaega last week fired a shot across Togiola's bow when the governor asked the Fono for a tax increase to cover the government's current deficit.  For his part, arguing against the tax hike, Faleomavaega pointed out that the federal government has sent down nearly a billion dollars since 2005, so the government should not be broke.

Now Togiola in a letter to the Fono leadership that played as a page one story in Samoa News has called Faleomavaega a "rogue delegate in Congress" in whom the ASG executive branch has "lost confidence."

In his letter Togiola said Faleomavaega stated his "views on our use of federal funds that publicly disgraces the territory, and requires a considered and definitive response."  Togiola says that Faleomavaega's suggestion that federal funds could be used to cover the government's shortfall in local revenues is the "kind of public demagoguery (that) is a witless call for corruption."  He went on to say "It is the nightmare of every inspector general in federal departments and federal agencies as well as the Department of Interior, who are charged with safeguarding federal funds for only authorized use."

To have used federal funds to cover a shortfall of local revenues, the "publicly delivered message" of the Congressman "is not only illegal, but with the intent he espouses, this becomes the promotion of criminal acts," the governor points out, adding that local and federal grants are operated separately and federal funded operations are "in good order."

According to the governor, the Congressman's "call for corruption" in the use of federal funds to offset shortfall in local revenues "is such an embarrassment to the territory."  He also said "I know that no other government of a U.S. territory that has had to put up with a constantly attacking and overreaching Congressional Delegate, as we do in American Samoa."

The next move is up to Faleomavaega.  The delegate announced that despite American Samoa's budgetary crisis, he is returning to the Foreign Affairs Committee and already is planning a fact-finding trip to South Korea.  Since he has been in and out of Seoul over the years as if it were Chicago, it is hard to believe he can find any new facts, but that's another story.  In the meantime, it does not appear his call for the Fono not to enact new taxes has fallen on deaf ears, as the governor's bill is moving apace through both houses.

What the governor left unsaid in his letter is that the shortfall in revenues was iteself caused by Faleomavaega's failure to stop the minimum wage increase in 2007 that drove out one cannery and forced the other one to downsize significantly.   A lot of wages on which revenues would have been collected have been permanently lost.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Faleomavaega Fails Again

In response to Faleomavaega's plea to the Government of Chile not to remove protesters occupying a hotel over traditional land ownership issues on Rapa Nui, the Government of Chile promptly evicted the protesters.  The outcome is nothing new for Faleomavaega, who has been on the losing end of scores of causes over his 22+ years in Congress.  What is different this time is that he dragged Hawaii Sen. Dan Akaka (D) into the issue, so now the both of them have gone down in flames.  And so it goes.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Faleomavaega Takes On New Cause: Rapa Nui

Stripped of his floor vote, stripped of his committee chairmanship and reduced in personal office budget, Faleomavaega has to be more clever than ever this year to keep up his frenetic pace of travel and he already may have found a way.  Congress always has set aside funds for Members to return home during recesses to connect with their constituencies.  Faleomavaega rarely has gone home during these recesses over the years, preferring instead to use the time to travel abroad on a series of adventures.

But last week, to the surprise of many, he showed up in Pago Pago.  The local leaders must have been stunned.  And he also signaled what may be his next big cause: Rapa Nui landowners.   To give him some cover, he had Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka (D), himself a native Polynesian, cosign a letter to the President of Chile expressing concern over current unrest of Rapa Nui natives over land issues.

So, while we are unsure how he will find the funding, as a minority party non-voting delegate to the House, to go to Rapa Nui, we do expect any day to read about him being on the island locking his arms in solidarity with the native people.

Bet on it.  Take it to the bank.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Togiola and Faleomavaega: One Day at a Bar

Togiola was talking to Faleomavaega one day how both of them had lost touch with the people. "Eni, I have a great idea! I know how we can win back the people."

"Great, but how so you propose we go about that", asked Eni? "

Togiola responds, "we'll put on some everyday clothes like most people wear, and then we'll buy a dog. When we look the part, we'll go to a quiet bar somewhere in Tafuna and show them that we really enjoy the regular life of the island, and show admiration and respect for the hard working people living there."

A few days later, all decked out and with the requisite dog at heel, they set off from the Governor's Office towards Tafuna. Eventually they arrived at just the place they were looking for.

With the dog in tow, they walk into the bar. When they stepped up to the bar, the bartender takes a step back and says, "Aren't you Togiola and Faleomavaega?"

"Yes we are", says Togiola, "and what a great bar you have here. We were just passing through and Eni suggested we stop and take in some local color."

They then order a couple of beers and proceed to drink them down, all the while, chatting up a storm with anyone who would listen.

All of a sudden... the bar room door opens and a grizzled old man comes in. He walks up to the dog, lifts its tail, and looks underneath, shrugs his shoulders and walks out the door.

A few moments later, in comes another old man... walks up to the dog, lifts its tail, looks underneath, scratches his head and then leaves the bar.

Over the course of the next hour or so, another four or five people come in, lift the dog's tail, and go away looking puzzled.

Eventually Togiola and Eni could stand it no longer and called the bartender over.

"Tell me", says Eni, "why did all those old men come in and look under the dog's tail like that? Is it some sort of old custom here?"

"Good Lord no", said the bartender. "Its just that someone had told them there was a dog in this bar with two Assholes and they wanted to come in to have a look!"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Faleomavaega Partly to Blame for Tucson Tragedy

Although we are not aware of any public statements Faleomavaega may have made following the Tuscon shooting that took six lives, he nonetheless has to shoulder part of the blame for the tragedy.  For it is the left wing of the Democrat Party, of which he is a proud member, that has forced the "mainstreaming" of so many mentally ill persons who a generation ago would have been receiving in-patient treatment at secure facilities.  Shame on him for such an ill conceived policy.

Although he is the senior Democrat in Congress involved in Asian affairs, President Obama passed him over when extending invitations for last week's dinner honoring Chinese President Hu, just as he was snubbed for the state dinner for the leader of India, even though he long has been a congressional champion of U.S.-Indian relations.  We hoped he enjoyed his consolation prizes: a ride to Washington from Hawaii on Air Force One and an  invitation to have lunch with Hu a day after the lavish State Dinner.

In fact, the presidential plane ride may be the high point of Eni's year.  Since his return to minority status in the House, Eni has watched himself stripped of his chairmanship and stripped of his vote in the Committee of the Whole.  Moreover, Republicans have slashed five percent from his office budget and new restrictions have been placed on congressional travel.   In many ways, as a non-voting delegate, he is lower on the totem pole than the nine new Democrats who were elected to the House.  He may have a nicer office than they do because of his seniority but that's about all.  If you want to see what it's like to be a new member in the minority, just read this article:

Meanwhile, in the wake of Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie's failure to find Barack Obama's legitimate birth certificate, questions are being asked anew about Faleomavaega's role in covering up Obama's past.  One such article his here:   Perhaps the Obama plane ride was to assure Faleomavaega's continued silence about the real purpose of his trip to Indonesia.

Faleomavaega also figured in the Wikileaks diplomatic document dump.   One classified cable generated by the U.S. embassy in New Zealand said "Bainimarama asked Australia and New Zealand to drop their demands for 2009 elections, and called on the other PIF states to not listen to Australia and New Zealand.  He also credited U.S. Representative Eni Faleomavaega with having a better understanding of the situation in Samoa and that Faleomavaega's views, rather than those of Australia and New Zealand, should form the basis of USG policy towards Fiji."   Even if he isn't as welcome in Washington these days, at least Eni seems to continue to have a fan in Fiji's dictator.

Since he is virtually useless in Washington now, our betting is that Eni will find a way around the travel restrictions and be back on the road as soon as he can.  Nothing for him to do in DC and besides, now that his floor vote has been taken away, he won't have to worry about being exposed, as he was last term, as the Member of Congress to miss the most votes (41%).  Of course, don't expcect the territory's leading newspaper, Samoa News, to cover any of this.  His sister-in-law continues to be one of the small group of editors of the paper.  And so it goes.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Faleomavaega: The Travelin' Man

A beautiful young Samoan woman was so depressed that she decided to end her life by throwing herself into the ocean. But just before she could throw herself from the docks, Congressman  Eni Faleomavaega stopped her.
"You have so much to live for," said Eni. "Look, I'm sailing up to Honolulu tomorrow and I can stow you away on the ship.  "I'll take care of you, bring you food every day, and keep you happy."

With nothing to lose, combined with the fact that she had always wanted to go to Hawaii, the woman accepted.

That night Eni brought her aboard and hid her in a lifeboat. From then on, every night he would bring her three sandwiches and make love to her until dawn.

Five days later she was discovered by the captain during a routine inspection.

"What are you doing here?" asked the captain.

"I have an arrangement with one of your passengers," she replied. "He brings food and I get a free trip to Honolulu."

"I see," the captain says.

"Plus," (wanting to make a full confession, she adds) "He's screwing me!"

"He certainly is" replied the captain. "This is the Manu’a Ferry."