Sunday, July 3, 2016

Breakfast with Bill

SagePort Grille on Columbia Park Drive in Richland, Washington
I had breakfast at the SagePort Grille with my friend Bill (not his real name) this morning. We meet for breakfast once every week or two, usually here, but sometimes at the Village Bistro (formerly Deli), occasionally at IHOP, once at Country Gentleman. We vary our breakfast destination because I believe in diversity and wealth distribution, and because he thinks it's better in avoiding ambushes.

I had the Huevos Rancheros; two corn tortillas, covered with refried beans, two poached eggs, covered with salsa and cheese. My friend had bacon and eggs over medium, with hash-browns and sourdough toast.

We talked a little about our various maladies; his rotator cuff injury, my ruptured disk, then segued smoothly into politics.

"So I suppose you're not playing any golf," Bill said.

"Nope. Can't twist my back that violently."

"So what are you doing all day, trying to get the democrats organized?"

Bill got a sour expression on his face when he said "democrats." Probably put too much salt on his eggs, I thought.

"I'm writing letters to the editor, and keeping up my blog," I said.

"About what?" Bill said, frowning.

"About electing democrats," I said.

"Don't you have anything better to do," he said, pushing his plate away, and starting on his toast.

"I suppose you're voting for Donald Trump," I said.

Bill wrinkled his nose and shook his head. "That jerk," he said. "You know Hillary Clinton is corrupt," he added, tearing a bite out his toast like it was Hillary's ear.

"How so?" I said.

"How so,?!" Bill said, his voice rising, which is already loud, because we're both hearing impaired, or as Bill would say, 'deaf as doornails.'

"In what way is she corrupt?" I said.

I was having Bill on in a way, because I've heard all this before, and not just from him, but  from others, who have been convinced by the long-running Republican propaganda campaign that Hillary Clinton is a liar and corrupt. I wrote about this in an earlier blog titled 'Swiftboating Hillary Clinton.' As I wrote then, Swiftboating is a coordinated smear campaign waged on uncorroborated allegations so damning and ostensibly widespread that the public is disinclined to give the target the benefit of the doubt.

Certainly my friend, Bill, is so inclined -- to not be inclined that is. He knows in his bones that Hillary Clinton is corrupt. Hey, all that bone pain can't be just age-related arthritis.

"So, you don't think Clinton accepting millions of dollars for giving a talk to Goldman Sachs is corrupting?" Bill said.

"Well, it was actually less than one million dollars, for three speeches, after she'd already left office, and no, I don't think you can assume there was any quid pro quo involved."

Bill cocked his head to the side and smirked. "Will you at least admit that it's a conflict of interest?" He said.

"I'll admit that you perceive it as a conflict of interest," I said. "And a lot of Americans feel the same way, including me. But the fact is, the Supreme Court has ruled that buying political influence is just free speech by other means."

"So you think it's all right to bribe government officials?" Bill said.

"I didn't say that. And you have no evidence of a bribe. And as I said, Clinton was not in office."

A waitress came over with a pot of coffee and topped off my cup.

"You're not our gal," Bill said to the waitress.

"Here I am," another waitress said, topping off Bill's cup with the decaf he'd ordered.

Bill looked at the two waitresses and said, "I don't know if I can handle two of you. I'm not as young as I used to be."

Bill watched the waitresses leave our table, and then turning back to me said, "Bill and Hillary Clinton are ethically challenged."

"Well, I'll give you Bill," I said.

"She stayed with him," Bill said.

"I thought you evangelicals opposed divorce," I said.

"We'd make an exception for that sleaze-ball," he said. "Anyway, there's always some scandal coming out about the two of them."

"That's true," I said. "But they tend to be the same so-called scandals resurfacing at different times in the guise of new revelations. When nothing is ever proved, they germinate into conspiracy theories."

"Where there's smoke..." Bill said.

"Yeah, where there's smoke, there's a smoke machine, and it's called the RNC." I pushed away my half finished Huevos and took a gulp of coffee.

"You understand that Hillary Clinton has been convicted of nothing, right?," I said. "Nada. Not even an indictment."

"She'll be indicted over her emails," Bill said.

"Not likely," I said. "Other government officials, like Colin Powell, used personal email for government business. Condoleezza Rice staffers used personal email. As in the case of Hillary Clinton, those emails were later classified. You can't convict someone of, quote-unquote, mishandling classified information that wasn't classified at the time."

"Well, she used bad judgment," Bill said.

"Granted," I said.

Bill and I, despite having different tastes in breakfast, always manage to find common ground.

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