Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween and Milk

It rained a lot today but now is hot and muggy again, although past midnight.

This cartoon just evolved from a doodle and was finished before I knew it.  My subconscious must have been drawing from those old Nixon masks I remember, and an unpublished Milk cartoon where my little guys referred to the governor as a "master of disguise."  We can only hope that Fitial's corrupt regime does not spawn a cadre of similar-thinking, similar-acting children.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Marianas Milk-Anti-Corruption

Hot and humid and still.

I wanted to depict the tools that are being used to aid and carry out corruption.  I couldn't really think how to visualize them, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed important to just convey that these kinds of things are tools--emergency declarations are a tool to overcome procurement regulations and to provide the governor with power to take over and do things.  He uses those not for natural disasters and true emergencies, but for "emergencies" created by bad management.  

The ice epidemic isn't just a phenomenon occurring independently--it must be supported and managed as part of the government. I come to this conclusion from the tip of the iceberg that has been revealed--the governor's chauffeur dealing ice out of the governor's own car, customs officials being a ring of operators, a congressman admitting he's dealing ice and no consequences taken against him (his case being brought up just before the impeachment vote, but now that he voted not to impeach the case is sinking out of sight again).  The people who are still loyal are living on false promises and nepotism/government jobs.  The governor's cronies, old and new, form corporations and days later get sole-source contracts.  Lies and more lies are so common we can't even keep track of them.  

Bad cops were revealed so clearly when a whole slew of them pleaded the 5th amendment right not to incriminate themselves in the impeachment hearings--as if we weren't already worried when Ray Mafnas interfered in the Luhk girls disappearance, tried to redirect searching away from certain areas, and managed to get an ice-using fireman (I think) out of the CNMI without any arrest.  We are still waiting for the promised press release of news about Emy Romero's murder. 

Vacancies in the civil service have completely gutted the operation of this constitutional agency that is supposed to protect government workers from political influence--instead we have a government workforce that is afraid to do anything against the governor for fear of reprisals--and we are seeing reprisals. Think of the DPS official who didn't take the 5th at the impeachment hearings--who has now been re-assigned to rookie cop duties despite his many years (11?) on the force. 

Thugs are so active we have repeated attacks on prominent citizens--Glen Hunter's tires slashed, Tammy Doty repeatedly harrassed, Tina Sablan threatened--all by the governor's close supporters--his thugs.

We are being hammered, screwed, nailed, wrenched, attacked with pliers, greased and bolted and just worked over with so many tools of corruption that our society is an ugly mess.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Milk

It's just past midnight and pouring down rain.

I have been trying to figure out how our Governor continues to lure voters to his side.  This image just popped into my head.  It is, of course, a twist on the poem-step into my parlour, said the the spider to the fly.  Although the fly resists many advances, in the end, he gives in to flattery when the spider speaks of his mirror and how good the fly will appear if he looks into it.  Politics in the CNMI is sort of like that.  Promises of better times, how good people will see things, the lure of what they want to hear and believe.  Flattery (and other forms of corruption) are at the core of what is happening here now.  Unless and until we change it...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Marianas Milk today

Some beautiful sun and some misty rain.

While Glen was in watching the vote on the impeachment, someone slashed the tires on his car.  It was a very childish action, yet annoying and mildly threatening.  I don't think the DPS actually said anything like I show in this cartoon, but the attitude here does not inspire confidence in the police.   Any excuse not to find a culprit...  hence the comment from the little guy that this is going around.  The girl's comment reflects a different world view--there is in fact a mildly popular band in the states (washington? oregon?) called Slashed Tires. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Anti-Corruption Rally

Sunny and beautiful!

Photos from today's Anti-Corruption Rally--courtesy of Sapuro Rayphand.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's "Purposeless" Cartoon

hot and overcast.

This cartoon was inspired by George Hasselback's turn at the impeachment hearings.  He gave clear and concise testimony about the ARRA contract between the CNMI government and Mike Ada and how it violated the CNMI's statutory provisions.  He was rashly accused by Daling Ogumoro of having a "personal agenda" against Ed Buckingham because George quit the AG's office when Ed pulled the plug on prosecution of a case George was handling.

The evidence George presented at the hearings was clear and included a federal review report noting the probable CNMI violations by the ARRA contract.  So I thought of a clear window--shattered by Governor Fitial's sole-source deals, in this case the Ada $400,000 waste.

I title this post "purposeless" cartoon because in today's Variety, the Governor's Press Secretary, Angel Demapan, takes a pot shot at me in his tribute to Ruth Tighe, saying Ruth earned respect of friends and foes because she didn't engage in "name-calling, childish acts like manipulating personal photos or drawing purposeless comics."  Angel chiding the governor's foes for name-calling? How ridiculous as the Governor is on record calling the people of Rota and Tinian "stupid" and calling Alan Fletcher a "liar" and does more name-calling than anyone. As for the rest, Wendy swirls and photo-shops photos, so I think that part of the comment is aimed at her.  But the cartooning dig is obviously meant for me (and possibly Mitch Westland who has also contributed an editorial cartoon recently).

But seriously, Ruth Tighe of all people, would approve of the cartoons.  She appreciated all forms of political expression.  And Ruth,  more than anyone, as a librarian and highly educated and literate person, would understand that political comment through cartooning is not purposeless.  It has been an American fixture of journalism since the Civil War.  Beloved children's book author and illustrator Theodore Geisl, bka Dr. Seuss, drew more than 400 political cartoons during WWII.   The best satirists win national and international prestigious awards. Political cartooning is hardly "purposeless."

As described here, it is
"an enduring presence in American political culture. In its telling is exemplified those salient themes dear to the collective scholarship of the medium, such as it is-- the power of the giants of the genre to fuse creative caricature, clever situational transpositions, and honest indignation to arouse the populace and alter for the better the course of human events. "

Roger A. Fischer, Them Damned Pictures: Explorations in American Cartoon Art. (North Haven CT: Archon Books) 1996.

I do not claim to be the best, or even good at political cartooning, but I do understand the need for the three considerations-creative caricature, clever transpositions of familiar situations, and honest indignation--all for the purpose to arouse the populace to a better course of action.

For more on political cartoons and lesson plans for middle and high school on the subject: see this page at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In Memoriam-Ruth Tighe

I first met Ruth Tighe at a meeting of Saipan women in the mid-1980’s. The group was variously called Saipan Women’s Association, CNMI Women’s Association, and other names as well. It was a group of women who wanted to make a difference. The issue of the day was poker parlors and the group was concerned about the negative effects they would have if allowed to flourish in our community.

Ruth was a stand-out, even in that group of illustrious women who included Paz Younis, Anicia Tomokane, Chailang Palacios and others. Ruth had a clear focus and a sharp mind. She wanted to know the facts first, and then wanted to figure out what to do. She wouldn’t quit until there was a clear action plan in place.

Ruth ardently supported “good” causes—advocating for people (young, old and in-between), protecting the environment, pursuing transparency in government, insisting upon clarity and excellence in the written word, and promoting the arts. Purpose motivated Ruth. She was indomitable! Her energy was phenomenal.

And as I noted in one of my old blog posts, she played bridge.  And shared books. This is community!

Very little fazed Ruth. When she needed to quit smoking after decades of her habit, she simply opened up her reserve of will-power and did it. When her health required a constant supply of additional oxygen, she just toted it along with her.

Most importantly, Ruth was kind and compassionate to those in need. Despite her sometimes prickly manner in contentious situations, she had an infectious smile and a ready wit that she would share with the down-hearted, the fatigued, the stressed. She was generous with her time and talent and noble in all her endeavors. She had a beautiful spirit.

It has been an honor to know Ruth Tighe.

More Milk

It's hot and muggy today, and still overcast but with sun, causing a glare.

This cartoon was inspired by the "whistleblower" concept.  The referee (the whistleblowers like Glenn Hunter and George Hasselback, and even the House members Joe Deleon Guerrero, Ray Yumul, Tony I. Sablan, Janet Maratita, etc.) is too little and ineffective to stop the onslaught of the 'roided up thuggish football players.  The illegal contracts in the CNMI have been pouring in--the Mike Ada contract was unethical, the CHC contract that got stopped in its tracks with a newly created Boise outfit, the $190M CUC contract for an unnecessary diesel power plant with another newly created outfit run by con-man Ken Mahmood,  the latest sole source contract for around $350, 000 (I've actually forgotten the details)...they're just draining the CNMI of what little money we've got and are piling up faster than anyone can stop.

The little people in the 'toon include a cheerleader concerned that Team Fitial isn't listening to the ref's whistle and her counter-part, Daling Ogumoro, with her ridiculous comment echoing that made to Alan Fletcher, suggesting that he should have stopped the governor from signing the sole source CUC power plant deal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Drink Milk

Overcast, with a bit of sun. A heavy atmosphere.

Alan Fletcher was called to testify before the House Impeachment committee. He gave detailed and comprehensive testimony that included his opinion that the $190 million, sole-source contract with Ken Mahmood was a bad deal for the CNMI, that it was not needed and wouldn't save consumers money. The Governor responded in the media by calling Fletcher a liar.

I originally had Fletcher saying "nanny-nanny boo boo, I can tell on you-oo" because there was something of that feeling in the reports of his testimony, but I decided that could be more a function of the reporting rather than Fletcher's actual testimony.  It took some guts and professionalism to give his testimony.

(Later Fletcher came back to the committee, said he told the truth and didn't know why the Governor was slamming him, and further testified that he refused to sign the contract when asked to do so and told the governor it needed more analysis.)

Fletcher is often seen wearing Island-print shirts. The Governor usually has his big smile in place, no matter what trash he's spewing.