Former Manu Samoa Rugby Coach Rehired

First of all, a hearty congratulations, again,  to Coach Fuimaono Titimaea Dicky Tafua.  Ia manuia tele ou faiva!
Coach Tafua and the Language Irony (also printed in the Samaoa Observer)
It’s rare in professional sports for a former coach to be re-hired after being fired.  Perhaps even rarer - and ironic - is that one of the reasons Tafua was sacked, is now also the reason he was rehired according to the Samoa Rugby Chairman, who is also the Prime Minster.  

A few years ago during the Manu woes in one of its campaigns and therefore the onset of the present Manu coach malaise, Tafua was the coach then and was on the verge of being - if had not already been - replaced.  Subsequently, an editorial in the government newspaper, Savali, opined, at the time, on the urgency and necessity of “modernizing” Manu rugby.  One of the so-called “lessons” suggested by the Prime Minister - via the editorial - had to do with the “language” issue, specifically the lack of English proficiency of the coaches. Here’s an excerpt:
As the Prime Minister rightly said, there are many lessons to be learned from this, well, disappointing episode. Here’s [one]:
First lesson, modern rugby is continuing to evolve and we need a coach who can keep up with the evolving joneses [sic] of professional rugby. A coach with good English and speaking proficiency who can communicate well with the players and coaching staff.  It is without doubt that the team will continue to be picked from professional ranks –– largely players born and raised overseas –– who will not have a good grasp of the Samoan language.
The editorial surmises a couple of things that may be happening at the moment and/or have changed especially with the makeup of the team as far as local versus overseas players, hence the coinciding language factor and analysis.  Coincidentally or not, this same analysis has resurfaced with the rehiring of Coach Tafua, only this time it’s the flip side. Tafua’s native language now seems a strength rather than a weakness and disadvantage, again according to the Prime Minister:
However, the problem with [overseas-based coaches] is they want to coach here but continue to live off-island. They wanted to come and go…. also, it’s questionable whether our players would understand their language and whether the players would heed their instructions.
Although language proficiency of the coach(es) versus the players seems to be at the core of the dichotomy, it actually is not as consequential to the success of the team as other more important elements and aspects of sports fundamentals. 

The following blog post of mine, in response to the above-mentioned Savali editorial, was written in 2011. Though it was in defense of Coach Tafua then, the gist is still relevant today, in principle, as well as to any other coach in a similar situation.


This response is in defense of Coach Tafua (and other Samoan sports leaders) whose seeming lack of English proficiency may cost him his job and position as coach of the Manu Samoa rugby team. The insinuation and criticism are found in a Savali editorial. 

First, I agree with the notion that communication is important, and even critical, in any organization - sports or otherwise. However, effective English communication alone - between coaches and players of rugby - cannot and will not win the World Cup for Manu Samoa. It takes knowledge of the game for the coach, and athletic skills and prowess of the players. Coach Tafua may lack a good command of the English language, but the assumption and inference, that such inadequacy contributes to The Manu’s problems, is not only flawed, but also demeaning to Tafua’s character as a coach and as a human being. Again in sports, a coach’s language skills should not be directly linked to the success or failure of a team.

And despite the fact that all the winners of the Rugby World Cup since its inception have been from countries whose predominant language is English, it is still neither a prerequisite nor a guarantee for excellence and/or winning games. The connection is more coincidental than absolute. If anything, the trend seems to favor the countries who have had a long history of playing the game and talent level, not for their English language proficiency. (Though history too is not necessarily a guarantee for dominance as demonstrated by the winners of the Soccer World Cup.)

Rugby has its own “language” - independent of linguistics - which makes winners of most teams. That “language” consists of “words” such as fitness, speed, strength and execution. Oftentimes, our players are found lacking in one or more of these throughout the duration of games. Coaches are often blamed for losing and praised for winning, nonetheless, a coach’s English skills are not and should not be a determinant or cause in either case.

Also, if pre/post game interviews are a concern, then have a translator or a PR/spokesperson do the interviews and let the coach ...uhmmm...coach?!!!...  I firmly believe that the team management needs to understand that the recruits who “will not have a good grasp of the Samoan language,” should make language concerns the least of their worries and make their skills of the game first and foremost in their minds. 

Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of verbal interaction between the players and coach(es) during the game (unlike other team sports) so much of the communication referred to by the writer, happens during practices and meetings, hence, no apparent urgency. Therefore the need for good English skills can be resolved and handled through translation and interpretation by an assistant coach or another staff member with English proficiency. And by the way, I believe that Tafua has enough knowledge of English to communicate what the players need to know. It’s not like he’s defending a dissertation. Rugby, as a matter of personal opinion, after all, is more an art form than a science. 

And finally, if English proficiency were a defined formula for winning rugby games, let alone the World Cup, then the American Eagles (they speak English too, you know) should certainly be among the Tier One teams; and France will have no right to be in the finals. So once again, let’s not worry about the language skills of the players and coaches; instead, let’s concentrate on the “real language” and fundamentals of rugby.

And, by the way, here's the coach for Manu China! ...Hahahaaaaa


So Who is Lying?

I understand that the title is more of a rhetorical question because all politicians lie most of the time, if not all of the time.  So maybe the better question is "Who is out-lying the other?" or  "Who is/are the better liar/s?"

This is another update on DACA (re: If I were President post)

In recent weeks, president Trump started “reaching across the aisle”.  He started becoming obsequious (Samoan fa’asusususu/fialelei) to the Democrats much to the chagrin of his fellow Republicans.  But part of this seeming obsequiousness, is his indecisiveness and ongoing equivocation on DACA.  He says one thing about it one day and the next day he denies or prevaricates on it.

Yesterday, Trump had dinner with some of the Democratic leaders after which the Democrats released this statement:
"We had a very a productive meeting at the White House with the President. The discussion focused on DACA. We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides....”
According to CNBC:
“The [Democratic] leaders said they specifically agreed to pair the DREAM Act - legislation that offers the young immigrants an eventual path to permanent residency and citizenship that’s previously failed in Congress - and the wall....”
But early Thursday morning, the day after the meeting and dinner, Trump tweeted (Ahem! Ahem!) that
"No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote."

So who dunnit?  Who dundalyin’? Who da beddah liar? ....................Stay tuned!



Trump Confirms Support for Law to Protect ‘Dreamers’ 
New York Times - September 14, 2017
WASHINGTON — President Trump confirmed on Thursday morning that he supports legislation that would protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation and would deliver a “massive” increase in border security — but not with a wall on the southern border
Mr. Trump’s comments, both in Washington and in Florida, affirmed the broad parameters of an agreement that Democratic leaders unilaterally announced Wednesday night after dinner with the president at the White House.
In remarks to reporters as he left the White House on Thursday, Mr. Trump said, “We’re working on a plan for DACA,” referring to protections for immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He confirmed, “the wall will come later.”
Mr. Trump’s comments seemed to contradict his own Twitter posts early Thursday morning when he said, “no deal was made last night on DACA.” But they were very much in line with Democratic leaders’ statements. 
[Pelosi] told reporters, “We agreed to a plan to protect our nation’s Dreamers from deportation,” adding that there would be a “border security measure that does not include a wall” included in immigration legislation.
Republicans were more befuddled by the developments than angry.

Befuddle (Samoan 'pifalō' ...hahaa) is correct.  And about “the wall”?  Trump is slowly inching away from it.  Sounds like Mr. Trump is going back to be with his old party - Democratic Party...lol!

"In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat," Trump told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in a 2004 interview.

Who is the LIAR now?  You make the call! ... Se kao ia i se ka'igafi gei ka'ika'i faapegei.


Moana “Debate” Continues

Re: Op-ed in Samoa Planet ("The Moana movie - and Mormons")

A couple of recent comments:

It’s a Disney movie. Mostly for children’s entertainment. NOT a Documentary. Some people have way too much time and just analyze the living daylights out of everything. BTW, No one even needed the Mormons to tell them anything, except for the Mormons themselves. Ridiculous!

Moana is a fairy tale, and it brings the sub-culture of Polynesian-Americans into the mainstream. Of course it is not accurate, it’s Disney! It is a hint or an outline, but the grandmother character rang true from our Samoan-American family. Take what works. It is not a documentary, but a cartoon. It’s meant to be enjoyed as such!

LV Letalu:
OK, Mormon aspect of the op-ed aside.

Samoan tulāfale (orators) often use the word “loloto” (deep) for its metaphorical association with the moana (ocean).  Example: “e loloto le moana” (the ocean is deep). The oratorical context of the adage suggests wisdom, profundity, reason and intelligence.  For example, “lafo le upega i le loloto” (to cast the net into the deep), is a suggestion to view something and/or conduct discussions/deliberations/debates using insights, deep understanding and wisdom. Another similar maxim: “O i’a o le aloalo e fitivale, ae o i’a o le moana e to’a, e lē gaoiā,” (Fishes of the shallow waters/lagoon are often agitated while those of the deep are calm and unflustered.)  The expression is often used to differentiate between the untried and inexperienced orators or arrivistes (shallow), and the older, wiser and more seasoned ones (deep).

Moana is a Disney movie and a cartoon. I concur. But, like many other forms of art and entertainment, Moana can also be much more profound - on several levels - than its stereotypical association with the Disney cartoon genre.  In fact all Disney cartoons have deeper meanings and themes underneath their cartoon shells.  You just have to have a deeper sense of cognition and perception to see them. The cartoon level, of course, is for children mainly and the young at heart  for entertainment and superficial pleasure. But the more loloto (deeper) levels of a simple cartoon - as in an allegory - are actually what make them endure as classics and masterpieces.  The characters, plot, storyline, theme/s, etc., can all be writ large to represent real life situations, hence affirming the popular aphorism of “art imitating life”.  Disney’s “Lion King” has endured as a classic not because of its cartoonishness but because of its depiction and portrayal of a father-son relationship and other real life themes.  Other similar works that may fall in the same category include “Animal Farm, ” “Lord of the Flies,” “Charlotte’s Web,” etc.  Sometimes these genres are often more effective in their portrayal and demonstration of practical themes than, say, documentaries - as surmised.

Again, for me, Moana is loloto (pun intended).  It’s much more than just a cartoon, a hint, Disney movie and/or a fairy tale.  Moana is not for children only either. Some adults, like me, who have the knack and propensity for the profound, enjoy Moana more because of its socio-political, cultural, historical, sentimental, nostalgic, thematic and artistic value and sophistication.

Ma le fa’aaloalo lava

Fantastic article! Putting comparisons aside, I understood the moral of your point of view. To which I say, beautifully written. A matter of opinion, which we’re all entitled to have, but an opinion with a positive message. How can you argue with that?


Mountain of the Lord

Mountain of the Lord’s House, by Don Busath (Utah).  Salt Lake City Temple (Lord's House)

Isaiah 2: 2-3
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.


If I Were President

Trump, this is how I would rule (re: speech below) on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

(First, some background information.  The DACA program passed by President Obama gives limited legal status to those infant/young children who have been brought into the United States illegally, by their parents.  The children, under the provision, are allowed to attend school and to work.  President Trump is supposed to rule anytime between now and Tuesday,  on whether to continue the program or end it.  If DACA is discontinued,  these children (sometimes referred to as "Dreamers") will face deportation.  Now if Trump's recent adversarial positions towards Obama's initiatives are any indication, DACA will certainly be rescinded and discontinued.)

This is a sample of the speech I feel and hope that Trump will and should give with regards to the DACA issue in the next day or two.

"My fellow Americas, many are anxious to know how I would rule on DACA which has been a tough one for me. Tough one.   Believe me.  As I have said before, I have children of my own and I can understand the situation for close to a million children who will be affected.  Now I know that in all likelihood, I will be seeking re-election in four years and my chances of being re-elected may depend on how I rule on this particular issue.  But you know what?  Let me tell you:  To hell with the 2020 election! To hell with partisan politics!  To hell with my so-called base!  I am going with my HEART on this one.  These children are human beings and they have known only one country in all of their lives, and that country is America.  We can change the laws of the land but we cannot change the laws of God which are governed by love and compassion.  Speaking of changing the law, I will sign an executive order to not only keep DACA, but also give these children a path to citizenship.  And if my presidency will end up being defined solely by this issue and how I've decided against one of my campaign promises, then so be it!  I am reminded of the words of one foreigner who said that when America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!   America will always be great as long as we're  on the side of goodness, kindness and compassion which are some of America's traditional and core values.  Once again, DACA will not be reversed or rescinded.  Thank you, and God bless America!" 

But IF Trump decides to reverse DACA, then he may lend proof to one familiar expression that "there's no HEART in business" -  Trump himself being a bona fide businessman.  Or he could very well be a CRUEL and HEARTLESS president, as he often seems to be. And so in his own flagship quip: "We'll see. We'll see!"

Update (9/7):
Trump decided to end/rescind DACA.  He went against “his heart” and capitulated on his pre/post election promises that DACA recipients need not worry, that they will be okay. But although Trump ruled against the program, it’s still far from being settled. He seems still very indecisive, and still torn between the two sides of the issue.  And so instead of him reading the decision, he sent Jeff Sessions (AG), who he doesn’t really like, to do the dirty job of announcing the rescindment.  The decision now gives Congress six months to come up with a solution. Through his favorite form of communication, Trump has tweeted urging Congress to act on the issue, and if not, he will “revisit” it, in a mostly favorable tone.  And just today he again tweeted:

 “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about - No action!”

Trump seems concerned about the fallout if he plans to eventually deport some 800,000 individuals who are now backed and supported by major employers like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. as well as by most if not all university presidents.  My prediction therefore, based on the current political, economic, moral, and many other - even legal - dimensions of the issue, DACA recipients will be fine. They will become legal residents and eventually be given a path to citizenship. Even basic common sense allows it.  This American blogger stands with millions of other Americans in support of DACA.


A "Dramacomic" Post on "The Wall".

What's “The Wall”?  No, not that money game on NBC. It's the wall that Trump wants to build at the US and Mexico border.  (Notice the doublespeak and the lies.)

First: The Drama.

During the campaign, Trump said:

"I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."

After Trump won the election, he said:

"I don't feel like waiting a year or year and a half. We're going to start building. Mexico in some form and there are many different forms, will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. That will happen. Whether it's a tax or whether it's a payment,"

And then former Mexican President Vicente Fox tweeted:
“Neither today, nor tomorrow nor never Mexico will pay for that stupid wall. If Trump wants a monument to his ego, let him pay for it!!”

Now, (7 months in office) Trump is threatening to shut down the government (yes, the US government) if Congress does not provide money to build the wall.

“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,”   I'm building the wall even 'if we have to close down our government'    Covfefe!

Second: The Comedy