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On this week's tryptophan-filled weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World watches as President Trump expands his cabinet on Parallel Earth; Jen Sorenson shakes her head at "kettling"; The K Chronicles listens to some country music; Red Meat looks on as Earl considers taking a dive; and Apoca Clips delays the end of the world.

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On this week's shaking-its-head weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson examines the difference between patriotism and nationalism; The K Chronicles pays tribute to the scariness of the vacuum cleaner; This Modern World wonders how low the GOP will go; Apoca Clips looks in on a budding romance; and Red Meat needs help with an insulin shot.

Published in Comics

You’ve heard the term, “All politics is local”? California Republicans had better hope so.

The pre-vote polls told us that this week’s gubernatorial matchup in Virginia would be a nailbiter. Instead, it was an electoral thrashing. Voters handed the governor’s mansion to Democrat Ralph Northam with a decisive 9 point margin while stripping the state GOP of its firm grip on the legislature’s lower chamber, reducing a supermajority to a virtual tie.

By all accounts, this blue wave—which also swept up statehouse races in New Jersey and New Hampshire, municipal contests in Pennsylvania, a special election in Washington state, and a Medicaid expansion vote in Maine—was as much a referendum on what’s happening in Washington, D.C., as it was a rebuke of local lawmakers. Or as Republican political consultant Mike Murphy told the Washington Post, Virginia was a test of whether the GOP’s electoral fates are tied to the president’s approval numbers. “The canary in the coal mine didn’t just pass out,” he said. “Its head exploded.”

Though political analysts are still analyzing the numbers, it sure looks that way. Virginia saw its highest increase in voter turnout in two decades, with the bulk of the bump coming from Clinton-winning districts in the suburbs. Young voters and voters with college educations flocked to the Democratic side. According to exit polls, a third of all voters said they cast their ballot in part to “express opposition to Donald Trump.”

“There may have been some local issues involved, but the main driver of what happened was the energy among base Democratic constituents who finally woke up,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant who advises the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa.

California Democrats are hoping for a similar awakening in the elections of 2018. On the line: their lock on power in Sacramento, where the party holds a commanding two-thirds supermajority of legislative seats, along with all statewide constitutional offices. At the same time, the GOP’s control of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., could also be decided here. Of the 14 California districts that last sent Republicans to Congress, seven voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

Hours before Tuesday’s election returns rolled in, GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista became the first of those 14 to withdraw support for the current House GOP tax plan, saying it would strip away tax deductions disproportionately used by Californians. Democrats had identified Issa as a top target for 2018.

So how nervous should California Republican candidates be? Very, said Jason Cabel Roe, a Republican political consultant in San Diego.

“They’ve got to assert their willingness to step up to the president when they feel he’s wrong,” he said, but do so without alienating the party’s base. Though only 27 percent of California likely voters approve of the president, 7 in 10 Republicans still stand by their elected man.

“A majority of Republican voters don’t seem to really care about winning as much as they care about voting for someone who they believe will be a shot to the system,” Roe said.

Indeed, some Trump loyalists are arguing the election results merely prove that Republican candidates fell short because they failed to embrace President Trump even more enthusiastically.

While many other Republicans are wringing their hands, Democrats are imagining 2010 in reverse: Recall the historic shellacking the party took that year when conservatives—driven by Tea Party fervor, equal parts anti-Obamacare and anti-Obama—turned statehouses red across the country and flipped the House.

“Trump is clearly the giant orange blob blotting out the sun for Republicans,” said Dan Newman, a political consultant and spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the early Democratic frontrunner to be governor. “He's depressing moderate Republicans, alienating swing voters, and motivating Democrats—who are fired up like they haven't been in years.”

That’s the inversion California Democrats hope for heading into the 2018 midterms: depressed Republican numbers (as the base fails to turn out and moderates cross over to vote blue) and jacked-up Democratic turnout among so-called “low propensity” voters—non-white and younger voters who typically lean Democratic but who are usually less likely to turnout during off-year elections.

In the small number of elections we’ve seen in California this year—a special Congressional election, an assembly primary matchup, a handful of municipal races like the one in Palm Springs—we have haven’t seen that kind of turnout.

This week, in Virginia and elsewhere across the country, those stars finally seem to have aligned. But then again, 2018 is still a year away. And California is not Virginia.

According to Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data, Inc., the Golden State has been shielded in the recent past from the political waves that buffet the rest of the country.

As statehouses went red en masse in 2010, for example, Democrats in California actually picked up a legislative seat. “There some evidence to suggest that the waves stop at Reno,” he said.

Plus, the Democratic party’s current political dominance could serve to buffer the effect of an anti-Trump wave. Typically, the voters most animated during midterm elections are those hoping to rebuke the party in power. This week, voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Maine found ready targets for their frustration with the status quo among the Republicans occupying their statehouses and governor’s mansions. But in California, powerful Republicans are hard to come by.

And then there’s the simple fact of geographical distance: While national politics may weigh heavily on the mind of a D.C. suburbanite, said Mitchell, national politics might seem more abstract to a California voter, whereas the quality of local education, the housing crunch or the price of gas might feel more pressing.

California Republicans are certainly banking on that anyway—although the list of Republicans who didn’t respond to requests for comment on this story includes Republican National Committee member Harmeet Dhillon, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Dahle, and Assemblyman/gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen.

“In a low-turnout midterm election, at least some California Republican incumbents will find other issues to help them achieve re-election. Those who do survive, however, will do so in spite of their party’s leaders,” wrote Dan Schnur, a former GOP consultant who was a key aide to the state’s last Republican governor, and now a professor at the University of Southern California.

As far as Schnur is concerned, national Republicans have sized up California’s changing ideology and demographics and concluded “it’s not even worth fighting to retain a foothold in the nation’s largest state.”

So on the campaign trail, state Democrats will do everything in their power to remind voters that every last Republican dog catcher shares a party label with a wildly unpopular president.

“Here in California, the reason they want to talk about Donald Trump is because they don’t want to talk about the record they’ve created here,” Jim Brulte, the state GOP chairman told a gathering of Republicans at the party’s convention last month. After rattling off a list of economic and social ills facing the state (presumably all the fault of the party in power), he then tried out a phrase that is sure to resurface in campaign ads and talking points in the months to come: “They broke it; they own it.”

With that, the California Republicans have crafted themselves a midterm strategy. Keep it local. Talk about the gas tax. Talk about the state’s first-in-the-nation poverty rate. Donald Trump’s latest Twitter spat with Kim Jong Un? No, I’m afraid I haven’t seen that.

Or as Brulte put it while speaking at the Sacramento Press Club last week: “I don’t get the vapors over what’s going on in Washington D.C.”

Nor, presumably, in Virginia, New Jersey, or Maine.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Published in Politics

On this week's unseasonably cool weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World explores Donald Trump's crisis-management system; Jen Sorenson serves the 1 percent; The K Chronicles reminds us about the self-shooting gun; Apoca Clips gives Kevin Spacey a trim; and Red Meat spends the night in the tree house.

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After the automotive attack in New York City on Oct. 31, Donald Trump called for the death penalty for the perpetrator.

“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the federal system …” he tweeted about the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov. “There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”

It’s hard not to compare this response to his “both sides” response to the automotive terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Va. Trump has built his political career on demonizing Islam, but neither he nor his staff have condemned white nationalist terrorist organizations—whose ideology they continue to openly espouse.

When Trump was asked whether or not James Alex Fields—who on Aug. 12 drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing Heather Heyer and seriously injuring 12 others—was a terrorist, he dissembled. “And there is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? Then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer, and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing."

By calling Fields a murderer, rather than a terrorist, Trump is able to maintain the myth that white-supremacist terrorists are bad actors in a field of otherwise “fine people.”

Trump regularly mentions “our heritage” when he talks about the Confederate monuments that the Nazis descended on Charlottesville to defend. And his chief of staff, John Kelly, once laughably called “the adult in the room,” recently said that Robert E. Lee was an “honorable man who gave up his country to fight for his state,” and that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”

Our racist nation finds it easy to condemn all Muslims as terrorists. And, since the “anarchist bombings” of the 19th century, we’ve also easily associated the left with terrorism. At press time, a “We the People” petition to “formally recognize Antifa as a terrorist organization” had 362,010 signatures. The entire right-wing mediasphere has been flipping out over an imagined “November 4” conspiracy where Antifa was supposed to go door to door killing white people and Christians. 

And yet, despite mounting evidence of conspiracy and murderous intent, there have been virtually no calls to declare Vanguard America, or related groups, terrorist organizations.

On Aug. 12, James Alex Fields was photographed wearing the uniform and carrying the shield of Vanguard America. The first thing I saw when I got to Charlottesville was Vanguard America members chanting: “You can’t run; you can’t hide; you get helicopter rides!” at leftist protesters, whom they then attacked with sticks. The chant was a reference to Augusto Pinochet’s right-wing death squads. Some press outlets have been woefully gullible at allowing these organizations to call such threats jokes—even when they are accompanied by actual violence.

Thanks to a series of chats on a gaming app uncovered by the media collective Unicorn Riot, we know that people involved in planning the rallies also “joked” about running people over with their cars. Then Fields followed through, committing murder.

Others involved in Vanguard America have shown that the organization as a whole, and not just Fields, had terrorist intent. William Fears, who spent much of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville trying to stab people with a flag pole, has identified himself as a member of Vanguard America. He; his brother Colton; and another man named Tyler Tenbrink were in Gainesville, Fla., following the flop of a Nazi rally led by Richard Spencer. They allegedly pulled their Jeep up to a group of anti-fascist protesters and began yelling, “Heil Hitler.” Someone in the group hit their Jeep with a baton. The three men then jumped out of their Jeep, and the Fears brothers reportedly yelled, “I’m going to fucking kill you,” and, “Shoot them!” as Tenbrink got out of the car with a gun and fired it at the people.

“Us coming in and saying we’re taking over your town, we’re starting to push back, we’re starting to want to intimidate back,” Fears had told the Gainesville Sun earlier that day. “We want to show our teeth a little bit, because, you know, we’re not to be taken lightly. We don’t want violence; we don’t want harm. But at the end of the day, we’re not opposed to defending ourselves.”

Then he justified the Charlottesville terrorist attack carried out by James Alex Fields as self-defense.

“They threw the first blow,” he said. “I look at it as self-defense whether he just was radicalized and said, ‘You know, I’m just going to mow these people down,’ or whether he was in fear for his life—but they threw the first blow, so I’m going to take his side.”

Fears, who says he was previously radicalized in prison, was arrested along with his brother and Tenbrink and charged with attempted murder.

So here we have a situation in which a member of Vanguard America justifies a murder committed by another member of the same group hours before allegedly attempting to commit another murder—both actions seemingly based on political ideology. What else do we need to treat Vanguard America like we do window-breaking leftists wearing black?

Nearly 200 people are facing conspiracy charges based on the clothes they wore at Donald Trump’s inauguration. But because the white supremacists dress like Donald Trump playing golf—the event page for the “White Lives Matter” rally in Tennessee during the last weekend in October noted that Vanguard America and other groups “will be wearing white polo shirts and khakis”—many Americans can still imagine that some of them are “fine people.”

After I wrote the original version of this story went to press, the terrorist attack on a church in Texas took place, with 26 people killed. The perpetrator was white—and the president has not yet called him a terrorist or suggested Guantanamo.

If suspects wear all-black and look like punks, then they are all responsible for any crime committed by someone who looks like them, as the arrest of 200 people on Inauguration Day shows. If suspects have brown skin, then Trump, Kelly, Vanguard America and the rest of the alt-right see them as terrorists, even in the absence of an actual crime. This idea of collective, preemptive guilt is enshrined in extreme vetting. But polo-wearing white guys are never judged as part of a group—even when they wear its uniforms or carry its shields. That’s how white supremacy works.

Baynard Woods is a reporter at the Real News Network and the founder of Democracy in Crisis, a joint project of alternative newspapers across the country, including the Coachella Valley Independent. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Twitter @baynardwoods.

Published in National/International

On this week's Pride-tinged weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson looks at our sexual-harassment culture; The K Chronicles gets awkward with pumpkin spice; This Modern World fears that everything is terrible; Red Meat finds a way to keep meal costs down; and Apoca Clips uses the Zoltweet 2000.

Published in Comics

On this week's pumpkin-spice-free weekly Independent comics page: Apoca Clips gets its dossiers mixed up; Red Meat hops in the time machine with Milkman Dan; Jen Sorenson looks at "politicization"; The K Chronicles has a revelation about squirrels; and This Modern World is in a state of denial.

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A while back, Independent contributor Baynard Woods put out a call for alternative publications across the country to share information about musicians who are writing and performing protest songs in the era of President Donald J. Trump.

The response was amazing: More than 20 publications—including the Coachella Valley Independent—did writeups on protest songs created in their markets. Many of them are fantastic.

Here is the compilation—and we’ll start off our abbreviated list with the Independent’s contribution. —Jimmy Boegle

The After Lashes, “We the Sheeple”

Coachella Valley

The After Lashes is a new all-female punk band that features Ali Saenz, the wife of former Dwarves and Excel drummer Greg Saenz.

Frontwoman Esther Sanchez explained the inspiration behind the band’s song “We the Sheeple.”

“‘We the Sheeple’ was an easy song to write, because it came from a place of frustration and growing resentment toward the current powers that be, and, of course, more specifically, Donald Trump,” she said. “We have a president who calls anything he doesn’t like ‘fake news’ while simultaneously spending an insane amount of time tweeting nonsense and lies like a crazy person.

“The policies he intends to establish are harmful to pretty much everyone who is not wealthy; unfortunately, so many who voted for him were unknowingly voting against their own best interests. The song is very much about uniting against a tyrant, because that is precisely what we believe Trump to be.” —Brian Blueskye

Keith Morris, “What Happened to Your Party?”

Charlottesville, Va.

Known to at least one of his fellow musicians as “our rockin’ protest grouch in chief,” Keith Morris has a slew of protest songs, such as “Psychopaths and Sycophants,” “Prejudiced and Blind” and “Brownsville Market,” from his Dirty Gospel album, plus “Blind Man,” “Peaceful When You Sleep” and “Border Town” from Love Wounds and Mars. His latest release: “What Happened to Your Party?” —Erin O'Hare

Thunderfist, “Suck It”

Salt Lake City

Sure, there are more articulate ways to denounce Trump than a song called “Suck It.” Countering blustery, bigoted bullshit with artfully composed, well-reasoned takedowns is how we’ll effect change. That doesn’t mean we can't occasionally vent our rage by strapping on Les Pauls, cranking up Marshalls, raising middle fingers and offering a blues-based, punk-rock invitation to fellatio. And maybe also, as the final, snarling chord slides into silence, by calling him a “fat baby fuckface.” —Randy Harward

Dooley, Lor Roger and TLow, “CIT4DT”

Baltimore

This Boosie-tinged Thee Donald diss from Baltimore, which dropped long before inauguration, still thrills: “Boy ain’t even white, you yellow / You said you’d date your own daughter; you a sicko.” Stakes are high here, too—the mastermind behind it, Dooley, is Muslim—and right-wing semi-fascist snowflakes took the song totally seriously, denounced it as a “death threat” (“CIT4DT” stands for “chopper in the trunk for Donald Trump”) and bemoaned its Baltimore origins. Meanwhile, the trio responsible for it thought the shit was hilarious. —Brandon Soderberg

Trombone Shorty and Dumpstaphunk, “Justice”

New Orleans

Trombone Shorty and Dumpstaphunk teamed up on a song called “Justice”—released on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated president. A mélange of funk, jazz and New Orleans brass band sounds, the video for “Justice” slyly marries video footage of Trump against pointed lyrics.

“Inauguration day seemed to be an appropriate time to voice the need for equal say and opportunity for all people,” said Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville. “We entered a New Year with a lot of unanswered questions on the subject of ‘justice’ that we all felt a little uneasy about. But there’s only so much we can do and this track is our way of expressing our worries.” —Gambit Weekly

Lonely Horse, “Devil in the White House”

San Antonio, Texas

Shots fired! Lonely Horse comes out guns-a-blazing with the track “Devil in the White House.” Opening with a sludgy cadence that crescendos into a tumultuous rock ’n’ roll explosion, the “desert rock” duo of Nick Long and Travis Hild make very clear their feelings about the 45th POTUS. —Chris Conde

Mal Jones, J Blacco, Lost Firstborne, and DJ Shotgun, “CODE RED: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot"

Jacksonville, Fla.

The spate of deaths at the hands of law enforcement led Mal Jones and his collaborators to take action.

“We came up with this song after all of the recent acquittals in the cases related to the steadily rising murders of unarmed black men in the hands of law enforcement in America,” Jones said. “We wanted to protest about this issue in the most effective way we know how—through song. Blacco explained how the song came together.

“My inspiration for writing my verse was, first, the climate of events going on at the time,” he said. “It was right after the Alton Sterling situation (Alton Sterling was shot and killed in Baton Rouge, La., by police while he was being held down on the ground.) When my man Lost Firstborne played the beat, that’s just what the track was speaking to me. It had a haunting soulful vibe about it, so once I heard it, everything flowed rather easily,” —Claire Goforth

Lingua Franca, “A Man’s World“

Athens, Ga.

Shortly after Inauguration Day, two Athens studios invited 19 local bands to commemorate the dawn of the Trump Age, tracking 20 songs in a marathon 48-hour session. While much of the resulting album, Athens Vs. Trump Comp 2017, is suitably bleak, ascendant emcee Lingua Franca’s “A Man’s World” stands out for its sheer defiance. “Frenzied and indiscreet,” it’s a fiery feminist anthem for the resistance. —Gabe Vodicka

OG Swaggerdick, “Fuck Donald Trump”

Boston

Among diehard hip-hop heads as well as artists, Boston’s underground rap scene is renowned as one of the most lyrically elaborate and intellectual anywhere. But when it comes to straight-up protesting and verbally impaling the potty-mouthed POTUS, there’s something undeniably satisfying, even admirable, about OG Swaggerdick’s simple and straightforward election anthem, “Fuck Donald Trump.” From the fittingly filthy rhymes—“never give props to a punk ass trick / motherfuck Donald Trump, he can suck my dick”—to the strangers on the street who gladly join along in rapping in the video, these are protest lyrics you’ll still be able to remember and perhaps even rap for relief on occasions when the president leaves you otherwise speechless. —Chris Faraone

Clint Breeze and The Groove, “Blood Splatter”

Indianapolis

Featuring more than a dozen guest contributors—including poets, rappers and jazz musicians—Clint Breeze’s album Nappy Head weaves a phantasmagoric assemblage of words and sounds into a razor-sharp critique of racial oppression in modern America.

“I wanted to symbolize the state of oppression that black people experience every day,” he said, “from not getting fair treatment in the justice system, to getting shot and killed by law enforcement, to being unfairly treated in the workforce—you name it. I wanted to make a statement on how we as black people view this oppressive society that we live in. I also wanted to give a different perspective from white people. I have a couple of my friends who are white on the album speaking about the nature of white privilege.”

“Blood Splatter” is the record’s most cutting track, featuring spoken word artist Too Black, with cascading cymbal cracks and careening sax. —Kyle Long and Katherine Coplen

Priests, “Right Wing”

Washington, D.C.

There’s been no shortage of scathing political protest songs coming out of D.C. since, well, the birth of punk. But in recent years, post-punk quartet Priests has succeeded in reminding the rest of the country that D.C. is, and always has been, pissed the fuck off.

“Right Wing,” off the band’s breakthrough EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power, so perfectly captures the ass-backwardsness of living in a country controlled by capitalists, fascists, racists, and war mongers. “Everything everything / So right wing / Everything everything / So right wing / Purse searches, pep rallies / Purse searches, SUVs,” sings Katie Alice Greer. It reads like a short, poetic treatise on how the toxicity of right-wing ideals infects everyday life. —Matt Cohen

Withdraw, “Disgust”

Columbia, S.C.

On its 2017 debut EP Home, Columbia’s Withdraw oscillates violently between bristling, pedal-to-the floor emo (think At the Drive-In) and brutal, clawing crust punk. And on “Disgust,” the band proves the virtue of its versatility, shifting from an unflinchingly blackened hardcore blitz that bashes sexual abusers to a more expansive, anthemic coda that seeks to lift up the victims— “You are not tarnished!” It’s a potent statement, a searing declaration of alliance in musical realm more often derided for problematic gender politics. —Jordan Lawrence

NODON, “Alt-Wrong”

Burlington, Vt.

NODON is an anti-fascist, anti-hate power-punk duo born out of the 2016 presidential election. Seething with caustic epithets, the duo’s songs condemn xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy and, above all, President Donald Trump.

“Alt-Wrong,” from the 2017 EP, Covfefe, delivers a swift and vicious kick to the alt-right’s figurative crotch. Over razor-sharp guitar riffs and seething drums, NODON screams its battle cry: “Annihilate this hate! Not right! Alt-wrong!” —Jordan Adams

Rmllw2llz, “So Amerikkkan”

Louisville, Ky.

Nationwide, when you think of the Louisville music scene, your mind probably bounces to My Morning Jacket, Bonnie “Prince” Billy or maybe even White Reaper—all who are great—but the city’s hip-hop scene is packed with poignant hip-hop artists, and if you’re looking for a pure protest song, look no further than Rmllw2llz’s “So Amerikkkan,” in which he says: “Fuck Trump, he’s a bum and Hillary trash, too.”

The song was released a few months ago, but if you give it a listen, you can hear a lot of the country’s past, present and future angst packed into a few powerful minutes. —Scott Recker

Michael Bone, “My Peace Will Outlive You”

Chico, Calif.

Michael Bone is a Chico musician, husband and father who has a day job teaching music to developmentally disabled kids, a night job playing drums for jazz-combo Bogg, and dozens of side projects including running the 1day Song Club. The latter is a songwriting group that receives a one-word prompt every other week, after which participants are tasked with writing, recording and submitting a song to be posted online (at www.1dayclub.com) within 24 hours.

“My Peace Will Outlive You,” an angst-ridden yet hopeful slice of psychedelic pop, is Bone's contribution to the prompt of “Trump.” —Jason Cassidy

Dais, “Atrocity”

Rochester, N.Y.

Dais tells you exactly where it stands on “Atrocity,” the first track off its self-titled debut EP. The post-hardcore band makes a racing, pounding apology to the Earth before (sort of) slowing down to confront the powers that be.

“Show us a tyrant / And we’ll show you our grievance / Fuck that, we will fight this,” vocalist Travis Rankin yells and strains in defiance.

“The person who the States had elected was talking about withdrawing us from The Paris Climate Accord,” Rankin says. “We felt betrayed and began writing this song. It’s an apology to the Earth for us not being as good to it as it has been to us.” —Jake Clapp

Iris DeMent, “We Won’t Keep Quiet”

Iowa City, Iowa

Back in February, Iowa City held a Solidarity Rally Against the Ban, proclaiming support for immigrant populations and refugees in the wake of Trump’s first and most ridiculous attempted travel ban. In between the community leaders, local politicians and youth speakers, a variety of area musicians performed, including the brilliant Iris DeMent. She debuted a song, “We Won't Keep Quiet,” that captured the feeling in the crowd that day in a really powerful way. —Little Village

Joshua Asante, “No Time for Despair”

Little Rock, Ark.

Joshua Asante, best known for fronting the bands Amasa Hines and Velvet Kente, is also a photographer—someone who delights in the tangible process of making art. It’s in his latest work as a solo artist that this becomes most evident, Asante hunching down over a briefcase stuffed with loop stations and processors.

Of “No Time For Despair,” Asante says: “In times of distress and turmoil, it’s easy to get kinda caught up in the collective despair, so the lyrics are very much about, like, ‘Yeah, times are tumultuous, but there’s also a lot of really wonderful magical things that are going on in your life.’ ... That is probably the supreme act of defiance—to be joyful, to be loving.” —Stephanie Smittle

The Whiskey Farm, “Flag Pin”

Madison, Wis.

The Whiskey Farm is an Americana/folk rock band from Madison, Wis. Formed in 2010, the band has produced four albums and won Madison Area Music Awards in the Folk/Americana and Ensemble Vocals categories.

The band’s most recent album, Songs of Resistance (2017), is the band’s first record comprised entirely of social and political music, covering topics including immigration policy, faux patriotism, money in politics, gun control, equal rights and gerrymandering. “Flag Pin” is a tongue-in-cheek blues-inspired indictment of opportunistic patriots, including Trump.

The band released Songs of Resistance as a benefit for the ACLU of Wisconsin. —Catherine Capellaro

E-Turn, “Ill Legal Alien”

Orlando, Fla.

Orlando MC E-Turn raises a particularly eloquent middle-finger in the face of Donald Trump. The Persian American, outspoken, femme MC is a firebrand on the mic, and her lyrics deftly meld the personal with the political in ways that hardcore dudes could only dream of. The fury and technique with which she drop bars—and other, usually male, MCs—onstage is the proud definition of a nasty woman. Her anthemic “Ill Legal Alien” may predate Trump’s election, but the Swamburger-produced track (Solillaquists of Sound) is still furiously of-the-moment. —Matthew Moyer and Bao Le-Huu

Cheap Perfume, “Trump Roast”

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Cheap Perfume is a four-piece Colorado Springs band who followe in the tradition of feminist punk acts like Le Tigre and The Slits. “Trump Roast” is, not surprisingly, one of the band’s biggest crowd-pleaser, as Stephanie Byrne and Jane No deliver a “Dear Don” letter to the resident president, culminating in a final verse that grows more timely, and more serious, with each passing day: “You wanna ban Muslims? Well, we wanna ban you / Your fascist ideas wrapped in red, white, and blue / Your KKK clones won’t be the ones to choose / Enjoy your last gasp ’cause racism’s through.” —Bill Forman

DBL DRGN, “Trim the Bushes”

Charleston, S.C.

Several election-reflection songs that came out of Charleston following Nov. 7, 2016. One of those that stood out is by a local hip-hop duo—Damn Skippy and Bad Mojo—dubbed DBL DRGN. Before releasing the audio, the guys filmed the video for the song “Trim the Bushes” on Election Day. With Bad Mojo dressed as a dragon, high-fiving passers-by, the silly aspect of the visuals was meant to complement the circus-like atmosphere of the 2016 election; it also brought a smile to the faces of voters on an otherwise stressful day. The video was released on Inauguration Day, another attempt to lift the spirits of those who felt the doom and gloom all too well that January morning. The duo rather brilliantly mashes up George Bush (“Fool me once ... can’t get fooled again”) with Bob Marley (“You can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all of the time”), while the video shows footage of Donald Trump’s remarks on everything from immigration and Mexicans to birtherism, Putin, John McCain and women. The acknowledgment of all the things progressives find disturbing about the current administration, coupled with the sense that folks should keep their heads up (and alert) and stick together for the duration of the hand we’ve been dealt, made for a perfect combo. —Kelly Rae Smith

On Oct. 8, the Trump White House released a long list of demands that the president had given to Congress—demands that Trump said would need to be met in order for the fate of young undocumented immigrants, often called DREAMers, to be determined.

“These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients,” Trump said. “Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end.”

The list of demands disappointed advocates of DREAMers—young men and women who could face deportation if Congress does not act.

Hadley Bajramovic is a Riverside County immigration attorney for both the Consulate of Mexico and the Consulate of Guatemala. She said the proclamation by Trump did not surprise her.

“I don’t know that it was shocking,” Bajramovic said, “but the recommendations (the Trump White House) made are very harsh from our point of view. A lot of the principles and policies that are talked about in that memo are already in place. So, for me, there are parts of it that are just a big eye-roll.

“I noticed a theme of using criminality as a scare tactic—like we aren’t protected from (immigrants). ‘We need to protect the U.S.A. from these people,’ but the protections are already there.”

Bajramovic highlighted some of the positions outlined in the White House directive that she found to be misleading and/or inflammatory.

“The administration is suggesting that the border is still porous, and it is not,” she said. “I work with people who come to the border and declare asylum or ask for protection, and also people who crossed the border illegally. In the past two to three years, I have not had anybody come to my office who recently crossed without inspection. It was very common up until about 2007-2008 that people would either cross through the desert or come in (with the help of) a coyote. Now the people I am seeing were admitted or paroled in by the Border Patrol because they established that they could be eligible for relief. So the notion that the border is still porous is wrong. Building a wall is unnecessary. It’s an unnecessary expense.”

“But what was interesting and eye-opening is that whoever drafted these policies was aware of the protections coming into place under our local laws to help undocumented people or people with immigration issues who have criminal convictions. Most recently, California passed a law that allows attorneys to submit motions to vacate criminal convictions if it can be proven that the defendant was not fully aware of the immigration consequences of accepting a plea deal. This law, California 1473.7, went into effect this past January and says that before a person can do a plea deal, they must understand what they are doing. It’s a due-process protection, and it’s fair. This memo attacks that type of due-process protection and is calling it a part of the ‘sanctuary status.’ It calls for prohibiting states or cities from giving that kind of a remedy. That’s really disturbing.

“Another point that is really important: California provides services and benefits to aliens,” Bajramovic said. “In fact, the California Department of Social Services just opened up federal funding (to access by the public) of $45 million to fund immigration relief for undocumented people. Now this memo says they want to restrict grants to states that do that.”

Megan Beaman Jacinto is a La Quinta-based immigration-rights attorney.

“I’ve seen some phases of reaction and response (among current DACA beneficiaries), beginning with the time leading up to Sept. 5, when Trump declared that DACA would be ended by executive order. There was dread mixed with terror leading up to that date—but after, it was just terror,” she said. “There was a lot of uncertainty immediately about whether that announcement meant that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would just be coming for everyone who then possessed DACA. That was the initial reaction, I think, both in the advocate community as well as the DACA-recipient undocumented community.”

Beaman Jacinto pointed out a less-obvious consequence of the Trump administration’s ongoing anti-immigration stance.

“There’s been an interesting political framing of the DREAMer community as the one, limited group of people who are deserving of immigration protection,” Beaman Jacinto said. “It’s like they were the victims of their parents (actions and decisions). I appreciate, and agree, that the group we call DREAMers should be protected, but it sort of requires that we vilify everyone else. The parents of those kids are not DREAMers, even though they came here to provide a better life for their families. And the kids arriving now are not DREAMers, because they didn’t arrive before the deadline and the passage of the DREAMer legislation. It’s an interesting and arbitrary set of guidelines that have established this one deserving group that’s received protection both from Obama’s DACA executive order and now, most likely, from the (new Trump iteration) of the DREAM Act which we think will become law, hopefully next year. If that passes, it will be really great, and a step in the right direction—but it has required throwing a lot of other people under the bus.”

“If the DREAM Act does pass, or even if it doesn’t, we need to do the right thing for other people who didn’t fall into that so-called DREAMer category—because we’re all dreamers.”

Published in Local Issues

On this week's stunningly delightful weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson invites you to choose your own sexual-harassment adventure; The K Chronicles finds similarities between a famous cartoon character and a child; This Modern World fills in a citizen regarding the last month's insanity; Red Meat fears more layoffs are on the way; and Apoca Clips listens to Trumpy ramble on and on.

Published in Comics

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