White Lightnin’ Challenge

Nate Cope, Life and Style

Jiles is an S.O.B!!! Writing a life and style column is no easy task for someone whose wardrobe assemblage consists primarily of thrift store finds.  After much foot dragging on my part, and repeated threats of an assignment, Jiles appeared at my front door on a Friday evening.  Had I known what I know now, I’d have preferred if he’d left a flaming bag of dogshit on my stoop and run off.  Clutching a small brown bag he simply handed it to me and walked away, “review due Monday.”  Balls, both at the inconvenience of working for this tire fire shit excuse for a journalistic outlet, and at the contents of the bag.  He knows me all too well, my weakness, my Achilles heel; booze.  This wasn’t just any booze.  Oh no. Platte Valley, 100% Straight Corn Whiskey. 


Eighty proof. I drink 80 proof for breakfast; this is gonna be a cinch.  Fast forward, as I write this with pounding head and the taste of vomit in my mouth, heed this warning: “The proof or absolute volume on the bottle should never be used as an indicator of how fast or how much of something you can drink.”  Rewind: 80 proof, I was impressed by the small hillbillyish jug.  “This is gonna be sweet, I can put my Conway Twitty CD on and bring my inner redneck full circle,” I thought.

I pulled the cork (yes, a corked jug) and took a swig.  Immediately, my gag and cringe reflexes combined to perform some sort of strange, involuntary, simultaneous coughing/jerking motion.  Well this shit is leaded. Ok, one more for posterity.  Much better prepared this time, I was able to somewhat analyze what was going on in my palate.  There was a bit of a sweetness, but there was nothing smooth about any part of this stuff, even after being aged three years.  Ok review complete, time to jump on the back of this tiger.


Certain spirits possess a strange attribute in that their alcohol content does not accurately reflect their potential to fuck you up. Absinthe and true Korean Shochu are super good examples.  Well friends, I can now add Platte Valley Straight Corn Whiskey to this column of death spirits.  Four shots in I began to feel more on drugs and less drunk, uh oh.  Had the bottle not been sealed I would have thought that Jiles had drugged me.  I may very well have been under that assumption, as I sent him a string of expletives on the old iphone, to which he responded with a single love you too heart emoji; bastard.  At any rate, all that remains is an empty jug (I may have poured a bunch down the drain in a desperate attempt at penance), messes of angry Facebook messages to an ex-girlfriend, and some thawed chicken nuggets in the toaster oven who never got the glory of being heated.  Friends, I usually view liquors such as this as a novelty, as people buy them once just to try. Well, there’s a reason that people first started drinking this stuff and there’s no novelty when it comes to the shine, in actuality this stuff should be taken very seriously. 

Final Verdict on Platte Valley 100% Straight Corn Whiskey: DANGEROUS!          

Trumpty Dumpty Bet On the Wall

Staking his political future on an easily contested issue met with minimal enthusiasm by allies might seem like the worst possible strategy for success, but then again, something tells me Donald J. Trump doesn’t really care about strategy. Frankly, he loves the chaos created by a complete lack of strategy and pursuing politically controversial objectives. The Trump strategy is to have no strategy and to love every moment of it. It’s easy to imagine a meeting in the oval office where his people ask, “what’s the plan?” to which a smug Trump says “just win” as he walks out. Then again, this picture has been painted of him through one of the most negative media campaigns of the modern era. While he may have lost face by reopening the government, should we really be discounting the man who pulled off one of the most shocking campaign victories in political history? I would argue, even with Russian assistance, if you are so inclined to believe, 2016 required one hell of a strategy. Maybe Trump sees value in his opponents seeing him this way. On some level, my gut tells me DJT just might be crazy like a fox and his opponents should take heed, as the stakes are high, and this thing is far from over. Remember, he made a promise.

Resistance to the border wall has hinged on claims of immorality; a medieval solution to a twenty first century problem. While rushing to claim the moral high ground is a timeless political tactic, to say that attempting to physically bolster laws that regulate how people can enter our country is not immoral. By that logic, every country in the modern world is immoral for having laws governing immigration. We as a nation of means should aid those in this world who need help, that is a moral obligation most Americans feel and share, but is helping poor immigrants from third world nations really the reasoning behind opposition to the wall?

It is no secret that Latinos are a rising power in the electoral landscape, and while politicians have been quick to frame the immigration debate in terms of morality, race, and aiding the less fortunate, the truth is, this is about votes. Democrats see Latinos as essential to their future political plans, while illegal immigrants might not be eligible to vote, the perception of Latino advocacy is all they want to help build their voter base.

More sinister than political aims is labor – cheap labor. Illegal/undocumented immigrants work in the gray area of immigration status, performing some of the lowest paying jobs in society. Personnel typically accounts for the most expensive part of a business and many, including the President, have benefited from this cheap labor source. If every illegal/undocumented worker returned to their country of origin tomorrow, labor would be at a premium, businesses would be at a standstill, and wages would be forced to rise. With little ability to advocate, due to the threat of deportation, this labor source is forced to stay cheap even though they possess a serious bargaining chip that could upend the labor market.

The real immorality here is not the building of a wall, it is the acceptance of a system that encourages some of the poorest members of the global community to make a harrowing journey across miles of desert just to shore up votes and fill roles in an underpaid labor market. Can you say “exploitation?” Ok, maybe you question my use of the word “encourages.” Then what roles do sanctuary laws play: to disregard federal law to allow migrants to live and work while circumventing the immigration process? Why do we look the other way when businesses continually hire illegal/undocumented individuals? If this is not about politics and money, what is it about? Their countries of origin are not safe, you say. Well, how can they improve when the best members of their society continually flee as opposed to staying and building? That’s right, I said best. The majority of people coming across our southern border are devout Christians, hardworking, and family oriented – sounds Conservative doesn’t it? Democrats would be mindful to consider this when planning their political futures.

The wall started out as a far-right solution to our immigration problems, and most extreme right or left solutions are miserable failures; however, maybe it is immoral not to build the wall. Just maybe the opposition is not about humanity but about the status quo of exploiting the poor. DJT just might have unknowingly made the right bet for people, but it flies in the face of everything the elite want, and maybe that is the true source of opposition. Then again, do we really need a wall to fix the problem?

Band-Aids Off

2019 – one year out from 2020. Yes, we can do math at The Breakfast. It would be difficult to say that the memories from the 2016 election are memories at all, given that they appear to still be playing out in the daily news cycle. While many media outlets were quick to comment on the particularly damaging nature of the 2016 election, they also played a huge role in the ongoing saga of gridlock and ensuing bombast of the Trump victory, fracturing our political landscape. However, despite what might have been said post-election, the sky did not fall, the economy grew, and generally the United States moved forward. Depending on your political leanings, that might not be an accurate assessment; but the country is still here with the potential for a strong future, contrary to what the partisan press would have you believe.

As Democratic candidates announce their intent, an ominous cloud grows or one never left, it’s your choice. Maybe, the better analogy is that we’re stacking fuel for the fire. If recent history is any indicator, 2020 is going to be terrible. The media machines will be in full swing, Twitter will be ablaze, accusations of fake news and influence campaigns will run rife. Any Band-Aids that are in place now will likely be torn off.

The American political past is full of difficult elections and brutally divisive political struggles. Hunter S. Thompson’s words on 1972 campaign trail sure sound very familiar in 2019. Our political cycles are nothing new; however, our access to information is. Easily won influence in the age of the internet or opinion inflamed till the point of acceptance, is not truth. Part of our human condition is a deep-rooted wanting to belong, and the media has become adept at exploiting this to influence us towards political ideation, as have foreign powers. Freedom of the press helped build American society but with this freedom comes a responsibility. Media maintains alliances for access: how many times did Fox News interview president Obama versus president Trump? Our politics have become intertwined with journalistic sides beyond the point of benefit. Media outlets would have you believe they are fulfilling a constitutional necessity, all the while maintaining influence, profit, and the vanity of judging their opposition to further factional goals.

As we move forward from 2019 into an election year, CAUTION should be the order of the day. Go to work, pursue passion, and be mindful of biased influence: your life is too short and we’re all better than falling for bullshit. Expectations of acceptance and unquestioning loyalty should trump relevance to your individual opinion – NOT! Watch NBC, CNN, Fox, and form an individual opinion, as the new America requires triple the time to ascertain the truth. Read multiple opinion sources, record numerical facts and check them until you have an idea of what truth is, and, for god’s sake, go to a library and do real research. The current degradation of ideas is a symptom of the instantaneous; however, experience has been recorded, both novel and redundant, in great repositories of knowledge -AKA: libraries. This has all been written – Orwell, Kafka, Burgess, Lewis, Marx, Smith, Jefferson, King – this list is infinite. Read it for yourselves. Research theory and consequence, as the future is too precious to leave it in the hands of ideological servants.


Monday, January 21, 2019, a day set aside to reflect on the life of a powerful force for change in American society. On this day, how many Americans will access the near instantaneous knowledge, which we now have in our pockets, to read, watch, and learn about the life and times in which Dr. King stood out as a force for good?

In “What is Your Life’s Blueprint,” a speech given on October 26, 1967 at Barrett Junior High School in Philadelphia, Dr. King addressed the future. He outlined the way forward for the personal success of a youthful audience and their future participation in the civil rights movement through merit, self-worth, pride, and a responsibility to be the greatest they can be, regardless of their life’s course.

Words of an enduring and infinite nature like these drive the question: “Where is their place in the society of today?” The latest media frenzy, outside of the usual Washington gridlock, involves a confrontation between indigenous people, Black Hebrew Israelites, and youth from a Catholic High School on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And while the usual competing forces have taken to their ideological sides, framing this event for their agenda, the words spoken by Dr. King loom large. Dr. King displayed not just a great understanding that the future of the Civil Rights movement sat before him, but of the impressionable nature of youth and the importance of laying a solid blueprint for their success. Given our political climate, is taking a group of youth dressed in Make America Great Again apparel to Washington to attend a controversial rally a solid blueprint? Supporting the tenants of faith is important, as is providing youth opportunities to participate in discourse and conversation, in this case the March for Life Rally. However, where were the chaperones, administrators and staff that allowed these minors to engage with a differing ideology in this context? Did it not send up a red flag when teenagers showed up wearing MAGA gear? Furthermore, is the development of youth not a societal responsibility? Posing the question, why would responsible adults attempt to engage in a confrontation with teenagers? Do students truly possess the necessary life experience to understand and be open to such diverse viewpoints, or was this an opportunity to exploit them for the next viral moment?

Exposure to varying viewpoints is vital to produce well rounded citizens and fosters a broad perspective for a promising future. Much like the previously mentioned event, shout-downs and safe spaces, on college campuses, exploit youthful vulnerability, skewing perspective and bolstering factions. Is this one-sided participation preparing future generations? Creating, knowingly or not, opportunities for preprogrammed civic participation that are void of uninhibited thought, and designed to incite and/or isolate difference, whether in agreement or not, is not just irresponsible but imperiling to future generations.

On that October evening in 1967, Dr. King outlined a path for shared success to be benefitted from by future society, but he warned against hate, specifically never allowing oneself to hate opposing individuals or viewpoints, cautioning against the resulting “loss of self-respect.” How can we respect ourselves when we have no respect for others? In the aftermath of this American polarization, will the legacy of the early 21st century be one where we sanitized minds and pushed difference on behalf of faction and political aspiration, all the while fumbling for a winner in longstanding division? We owe our youth the kind of impassioned, thoughtful, and responsible leadership that was conveyed in 1967. Regardless of difference, we must reach out to these future generations with the blueprint laid out by Dr. King, lighting their path in the darkness of our confusing times.

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What About U.S.

Border walls, budgets, shutdowns, Mueller probes, and cries of impeachment all seem to dominate the current media fever pitch. Despite what our political leaders might try to sell us on, all of these headlines are vaguely linked to actual government for the people. Yes, these are all related to functions of our political process; but are they really governance, or actually the abuse of our system for the sake of power moves? While some of them are necessary to ensure that our government does not go off the rails through abuse, the question should be asked: are these mechanisms themselves being abused? Of course, any politician will tell you that this is part of the process, and from a purely systemic point of view they are correct, but are these mechanisms not also like fire alarms that say, “break glass in case of emergency?” It appears our political leaders are standing in the same hallway looking at each other, screaming, daring each other to break the glass.

Hyper-polarization has turned our system from a solid democratic process into something that resembles a mafia turf war. Maybe for their next act the President and House Speaker will start firebombing offices. While we are a two-party system, the idea that each party is now a side in the war for the American soul is ridiculous. It’s starting to seem like we are all kids hiding under the table while our parents throw dishes at each other. Where is the moderate government that we so desperately need in order to move forward, common sense legislation to fix our immigration issues, healthcare, and infrastructure? Not building walls, single payer, or green new deals. Maybe the only reason these radical ideas have gained any traction at all is due to the distraction of our mainstream political leaders with how many blocks they control, or, how many “no’s” they can say to increase their own personal power base. While they were taking their responsibilities for granted, in a series of high stakes one-uppers, the extreme left and right became emboldened and now threaten to drag us all into their no-win ideological war of failure.

Perhaps it’s time for a new grassroots campaign and I’m not talking about supporting your local socialist or nationalist. No, a serious grassroots campaign to find moderate, commonsense people who are serious about addressing the political issues in our nation in a practical way. Perhaps, it is time to dump the Republicans and Democrats all together and form a new coalition, one void of socialists, nationalists, and careerists: a coalition for U.S.

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