Tag Archives: clinton

Vote 2017: Still Broken

I’ve been… creatively constipated recently, and if I don’t get this out of my system, I won’t be able to move on. So, sorry, we’re talking politics today. FGC and Pilotwings Resort will return on Friday.

Also, trigger warning, every damn thing that has happened in the last year.

UghI feel like the 2016 election fundamentally broke… everything.

First, to be clear, I’m not talking about the obvious here. President Trump has been in office for a solid ten months as of this writing, and, yes, the world has become… unmoored as a result. It is crazy what has been normalized: we are literally currently in a situation wherein people are begging Twitter to deactivate the president’s account so as to prevent nuclear armageddon. That, somehow, is not an exaggeration. We also have Nazis that have been empowered by recent political dealings, a nigh-weekly fight to keep healthcare for our most in need, and, gosh, can we find a “cute” third thing? Oh yeah, the Vice President’s two main traits seem to be significant homophobia/misogyny and a tendency to be immediately offended by public performances. And, through it all, President Donald Trump has never stopped campaigning.

And it’s that last part that scares me.

At this point, I’ve only really been “awake” for three presidents: Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama. Before that, I was technically around for Bush Sr. and Reagan, but the concept of “president” was about as serious as “daddy’s boss” or “guy in the Big Bird costume” (note: I assume that any given president was not, at any point, my father’s boss or Big Bird). But I came to be politically aware in the midst of White Water and white stains on dresses, and I was most “involved” in politics during the Bush Jr. days, when I was pretty convinced the entire world had gone crazy. We were at war! With… some random country that was at least tangentially related to a terrorist sect that attacked us? That… still comes off as peculiar, and the fact that it was unanimously supported at the time made me feel like the country was beyond my understanding. Actually, no, I take that back. We were a country fueled by vengeance against anybody, and I can completely understand how a group of people reeling from a significant slight would rail against anyone they even perceived as a threat. I don’t condone it, but I fundamentally understand it. But then we had Obama, seemingly the answer to those war-torn times, who… okay, the war never ended, but at least it seemed like that wasn’t the focus of the administration. Sure, Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize for the accomplishment of not being W., but the important thing was that Obama was more intellectual than warmonger, and there was a very real feeling that he’d at least try to heal the world with words instead of bombs.

Still UghAnd you know who I don’t remember being mentioned at all during those administrations? Bob Dole. Al Gore. Mitt Romney. John McCain. … I just had to look up John Kerry because I forgot who even ran against Bush in 2004. Occasionally, you’ll still hear a name or two from the loser patrol because they’re promoting some crazy thing like abolishing healthcare or actual science, but, by and large, post election, the presidential loser was done, banished forever to the annals of Washington DC apocrypha, and that was that. End of story. Let’s move on with our lives.

So it’s vaguely disconcerting that Donald Trump is still talking about his “opponent” Hilary Clinton, a woman who lost the election nearly a full year ago. And, since Trump is talking about it, the media has to talk about it. And since the media is talking about it, we have to talk about it, and that means that somehow I still have to hear from neanderthals that her handling of Puerto Rico would be, “Just as bad.”

This frightens me.

We’re all 100% aware that the 2016 election was terrible. Full disclosure? I was planning on having an “election” themed video FGC article, with two well known games campaigning against each other for “best”. You know the drill: both games starting out with “here’s why you should vote for me” followed by a descent into mudslinging and maybe one game would be revealed to have been involved in some scandal. Hoary old clichés all around. I scripted out the early bits, but by the time it would have been relevant, I was… tired. I was tired of the mudslinging. I was tired of the press reporting on every time Donald insulted the handicapped or bragged about how rape was fun. I was tired of the Republican Party repeatedly denouncing Trump before lining up to kiss his ring. And, most of all, I was just plain tired of the ubiquitousness of it all; that it felt all-encompassing, from my radio to my television to my Facebook feed.

Though one of these things is not like the others: turns out my Facebook feed may have been compromised.

UGHIt’s becoming more and more obvious that Russia had a significant hand in the 2016 election. As has been confirmed by the big F itself, Facebook generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from ads about the American election that just happened to have been submitted from Mother Яussia. What’s more, it now appears that these ads infiltrated other sites, such as Twitter, Google (Ads), and, for anybody that really cares about pictures of dogs, Instagram. And the ads weren’t simply “Vote Trump” or “Make America Great Again”, these were ads that were deliberately targeted to sway swing voters that may have voted for Clinton. The basic gist of it is pretty familiar: “they’re both just as bad” so may as well stay home and hope rural Pennsylvania makes the right choice. And the kicker is that it worked: statistically, more democrats stayed home than republicans, and, even though Trump got 3K less votes than Obama in 2012 (and, uh, 3k less votes than Clinton), he became president because he got more republican votes in more specific states. Gosh, sure would be significant if those states were intentionally targeted by foreign countries.

In fact, that’s the scary thing. I can’t fault Facebook, Google, or Twitter for taking money from foreign powers in order to distinctly influence our government, because we’ve created these monsters, it seems gauche to ask them to stop murdering the villagers now. It’s capitalism, baby, and if Russia wants to pay for Trump to gain power, let ‘em, their rubles are always good here. And, let’s be honest, there is nothing we can do to stop such a thing. Pumping cash into foreign governments and businesses is nothing new, just go ahead and ask Central America about North America’s policy on international interference.

No, what truly seems bothersome about this event is that we so completely fell for it.

Look, I know Russia didn’t invent bipartisan politics. And I know we’re all team players, so it is easy to fall into an “us against them” mentality that completely deadlocks discussion and useful debate. I know all of that is human behavior to a T, and stoking the flames of that already raging fire is about as difficult as getting racist Uncle Jerry to use the n-word (“… What did he just call his hash browns? Is that prejudiced?”). But the specific methods used, the specificity of “hate this woman that is running for president” has somehow lingered like the no doubt pungent odor of our current president in his soiled khakis. It might not have worked on everybody, but enough people took the bait, and now we still have to hear from a commander in chief that is begging for “equal time” a year after the election ended.

UGHAnd the kicker is that is that it’s going to keep happening. Facebook, Google, and all the rest have added one new thing to the formula: they’re global. No more can we count on radio or television ads to have at least been produced by America-based companies that have a vested interest in seeing our country not literally explode. No, now we have other countries that can group together a couple of part timers, crank out some memes, and, Goggle Bob’s your uncle, ~emails~ becomes the scariest word in the English language. This doesn’t take much, and the same budget and techniques that will get you to drink sugar water daily can now get you to elect a president that comes off as more senile than the last fetishized republican president that was also an actor. And we have no defense against this kind of advertising! If we think information is coming from a “trusted source”, we trust it implicitly. Think I’m crazy? Just go ahead and tell that to any McDonald’s employee that had to live through Szechwan Sauce Wars. Thousands of perfectly well adjusted nerds transformed into screaming lunatics because a funny cartoon man told them that a corn syrup package from twenty years back was somehow worthwhile. The nerds trusted the funny cartoon man! They drove hours to honor his luscious sugary juices! You better believe the same kind of thinking applies to real issues like gun control (“They’ll take away our guns!”), healthcare (“Obamacare is bad for some reason!”), and general race relations (“Uppitiness is happening on the football field!”). We are a nation of suckers, and Trump is living proof of such a fact.

And that’s why I feel like we’re just… broken. Nothing is going to change that. We can call our senators, we can protest in the streets, we can take a knee whenever possible, but it’s still going to pale to the sheer inertial force of an advertising campaign that stopped being relevant a year ago. They’re still chanting “lock her up”, they’re still talking about Clinton like she’s some kind of rival to the president, and they’re still posting every damn “wow shocking if true” story that comes down the pipe. A nation that basically lives by the philosophy “if I can’t be skinny, then please make my friends fat” did its best to sneak cookies into our nutritious boxed lunches, and now nobody wants to go to the gym anymore. We can still fight! We can absolutely fight! But… I don’t think this is going to get better. Our politics are national, our commerce is international, and now the overlap is biting us all in the ass. And “change” is such a three letter word, we can’t even get away from friggin’ coal, so our prospects look dim. And, oh yeah, an idiot is in charge, so that can’t really help anybody.

And… that’s it? I don’t know, I mean, I really want there to a moral here. I want to be able to say “go call your senators” and affect some meaningful change or… something. But, no, that honestly feels like a lie. What’s broken here is broken, and nothing that has happened in the last two years gives me any sort of hope that we could even identify the problem fast enough to solve it. A foreign power set us against each other, and we’re still continuing that same useless bickering to this very day. I guess… be better?

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Be better. Do better. Ask yourself why you’re doing something, and if the answer is a response to something you saw on Facebook, maybe don’t do it. Consider what you’re doing, consider why you’re doing it, and… just be considerate. Be better, and maybe things will get better.

And maybe, one day, what is broken can be fixed.

FGC #334 NBA Jam Tournament Edition

Let's get ready to rumble?I’m a gamer. I rather loathe that moniker, but the shoe does seem to fit. And, as you’ve no doubt noticed, I’m a gamer that cares about videogames. It’s not about the physical cartridges or discs or the history of gaming or anything so concrete; no, I care about actual fake videogame people and concepts. At any given moment, I’m worried about what Ryu is getting up to. I have cried over fatally kabobed JRPG heroines. I have spent a great deal of my life logging the goings on of one moron with a key-sword. And these are all not “default” settings for the human brain. Had I never “gotten into” gaming, I’m sure I’d be worried about other, more mundane pursuits, like how often I get laid, or how I could totally crush it at beer pong. Also, I might give a damn about sports. I’ve always been confused by that one.

Before we go any further, I want to make one thing clear (and spell it out for myself so I don’t meander later in the article… eh, that’s probably inevitable): I am not the kind of person that sees “I don’t like sports” as some kind of higher calling. It’s very easy to insult any given sport for being “a bunch of adults that get paid millions to play a children’s game”, and I want to be absolutely clear that that is not how I see it. I don’t like sports, but it’s not somehow the corner of my belief system or identity. I’ve been to a couple baseball games, I tried watching college basketball with an ex, and I was dragged along to a number of marathons by another ex. Did I think these events were wastes of time? Or perhaps that the players involved would be better off applying their phat physical skills to, I don’t know, repaving my driveway? No, of course not (though if any NFL stars would like to repave my driveway, please give me a ring. I’ll accept estimates). There are people that think Shigeru Miyamoto has not actually contributed to the betterment of mankind, and there are people that think the same of Babe Ruth. They’re both wrong. In my opinion, if you make people happy with what you’re doing, and you’re not hurting anybody while doing it, then you’re doing a good thing. I’m not going to lambast anyone just because they’re not specifically making me happy.

He's on fire!But, as a giant nerd, I’ve always wondered why I didn’t like sports. It’s not because I have the physical coordination of a beached manatee, because I know plenty of people that can barely leave their couches, but adore the sweet sciences. It’s not because of some lingering obsession with “jocks” and “nerds” from high school, because some of my best friends were jocks (when you have spindly little arms, you learn pretty quick to make friends with people who could, twenty years later, please move your couch). And I can’t imagine it’s because I didn’t have parental encouragement, because my dad tried to get me to throw the ol’ pigskin around roughly 20,000 times before he finally realized I wasn’t going to stop cowering at an incoming ball-shaped object. And I did always enjoy gym class and “playing sports” and such… even if I wasn’t any good at anything. Look, I was a kid, I couldn’t even beat Castlevania, I knew I wasn’t that great, and I didn’t have high hopes for my soccer career. Oh, and I’ve always enjoyed swimming. That’s a kind of sport, right? I like sports, maybe! Kinda!

But I’ve never liked sports games. And it’s not for lack of sports games entering my orbit as a child. Tecmo Superbowl was played quite a bit, and I believe it was NES Baseball that taught me the wonders of following a ball’s shadow. Ken Griffey was on the cover of at least one of my beloved Nintendo Power issues! Sports was all around me, but… It just never really registered as a “fun” thing. Was it simply because I found watching sports to be incredibly boring, so “playing” said sports on my television was equally dull? Or did I not care about a bunch of anonymous randos known only as “catcher” and “pitcher” on “blue team” when I could be playing a perfectly good adventure game starring an elf? I’d play sports games, but I wouldn’t salivate for them like some of my more preferred “sports”, like bombermanning or beat ‘em upping.

And then there was NBA Jam.

I don't get itNBA Jam is ostensibly a sports title. It’s a basketball game. It features real basketball teams. It stars authentic, live basketball players like that one guy that is our ambassador to North Korea. You score three pointers and dunks. Passing is important, traveling is not allowed, and getting that last toss off at the buzzer is as important as ever. This is basketball. This is unmistakably basketball, one of those sports things that doesn’t do anything for me.

So why did I play NBA Jam, NBA Jam TE, and NBA Hangtime for approximately 100 billion hours?

While it would be easy enough to blame my peer group (we were all nerds, but some of us were nerds with delusional aspirations of becoming some manner of sports hero just as soon as that all-important “growth spurt” finally hit [“Vinne, your dad is like 5’ 3”, don’t kid yourself”]), but I think NBA Jam is something much more simple: it’s basically a fighting game. It’s 2v2, but that second player is only on your team for passing along the ball when things get crowded. Once you get past that, this is basically just a one-on-one fighter with rad dunks substituting for jabs. And I understand fighting games! This isn’t about “plays” or “stats” or whatever the heck happens in Hockey (what the hell is “icing”?), this is about scoring hits on your opponent and blocking every time the offense gets offensive. You’re only as behind as your score (formerly health) allows, and even the turbo works as a sort of “super meter”. Throw in a kombatant or two, and this would be indistinguishable from some of the other arcade offerings of the time. And I know every game at the arcade.

BOINGSo that, evidently, is what it takes to get me to care about sports. I might not give a damn about the Celtics or the Knicks, but I know that any videogame where I get to play one-on-one with my archrival is going to get my attention. No homeruns, no commentary, just two opponents, and a seesawing score card that is ruled by a turbo meter. That’s what I like to see from videogames, and that’s what I like to see from a sport.

FGC #334 NBA Jam Tournament Edition

  • System: Super Nintendo is dear to my heart, but also available on Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, Sega Game Gear, Playstation, Jaguar, and (dear God no) Nintendo Gameboy. Also, there’s an arcade version, because that’s where it started.
  • Number of players: Two for realsies, but there’s probably a version out there that allows for four. Did the arcade? You’d think I’d remember such a thing.
  • Port-o-Call: I don’t own the original NBA Jam, because I think I rented it until it just became one with my SNES. TE came out at just the right time for a gifting holiday, though, so that actually wound up in my collection. I believe TE started the substitution system, and also included the “crazy” powerup/extra point options, but who cares? It’s all basically the same (fun) game.
  • Favorite Team: Is there a single person who played NBA Jam and didn’t just choose the Chicago Bulls every single time? I know nothing about basketball, and even I knew that was the team to play.
  • GET IT!?Greatest Loss: Somehow, there was never a NBA Jam/Space Jam crossover. However, you are welcome to listen to the Space Jam soundtrack while playing NBA Jam. I mean, if your Jock Jams tape is busted or something.
  • Hidden Players: This is somehow the second game of the FGC to make weird, innocuous jokes at the expense of the Clintons. In retrospect, we all should have expected a Clinton loss in 2016, as she’s been the butt of random jokes for two decades. Good thing our current president hasn’t been the subject of media mockery since the 90’s.
  • Did you know? Most people know that the Mortal Kombat 2 incarnations of Raiden, Reptile, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion were all cut from the arcade game. But did you know that we also lost the Grim Reaper, King Kong, and some dork with a weird nose named Elviscious with that same update? NBA Jam… is a weird game.
  • Would I play again: Maybe! Like, if I’m suddenly twelve and stuck in my old life again, NBA Jam would certainly be on the menu. Otherwise, no, probably not. Not a big sports fan.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Rayman 2! Pirates and frogs ahoy, mateys! Please look forward to it!

Jazzy

Vote 2016 Part 1: Naive Optimism

LoserMuch though I loathe to admit it, this is a blog, I am a blogger, and, God help me, I’m pretty sure it’s required by law (BLOGGER LAW!) that I talk about the election. Strap in, my lovelies, it’s time to talk politics. We covered religion last time.

Truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ve had a post like this in mind since last year when I started this damn site. In my head, I’ve always seen myself as a gentle, loving creature, floating around the world wearing flowing robes and softly imparting my patience and wisdom upon all who would hear it. This magnanimous version of Goggle Bob would take the day before the election, and post one simple statement, “I don’t care who you vote for, simply vote.” And thus, my blogger duty fulfilled, I would retire to the atrium to feed orphaned baby bunnies. Perhaps later I would smoke a pipe while reading the New Yorker.

Suffice it to say, this election has changed my plans.

In a way, I feel like it always had to be this way. My first real “remembered” election was Clinton vs. Dole, which, from a child’s perspective (well, technically teenager) was basically “old man vs. young man”. Clinton was freewheeling and loveable, Dole was an old fuddy-duddy. I didn’t understand policy or economics or even really “liberal vs. conservative”, simply that Bill Clinton came off as a 21st Century Man, and Bob Dole repeated his name a lot. … Yes, I’m basically admitting that my political views came entirely from shallow Saturday Night Live sketches. I was an informed little non-voter.

LoserAh, but the 2000 election, Al Gore vs. George W. Bush, now that’s something I’ll always remember. While I was personally a Gore supporter, I tried to maintain that earlier mentioned benevolent neutrality, so I was something of a political Switzerland to anyone that happened to ask me about my views. And that happened surprisingly often! I remember with perfect clarity a pair of classmates asking who had my vote, and, upon hearing my “I try to stay out of that stuff,” I received a retort of, “You have to care about this election! Don’t you care if a woman can get an abortion!?” To be perfectly honest? I didn’t. I figured I had about as much political sway as a housecat, so what’s the point in worrying about such a thing? Not like it particularly impacted me at the time, anyway. I’m pretty sure that, thanks to public high school sex education, I was going to be wearing six condoms if a woman so much as came within seventeen yards of my jeans. Abortion, war, economics? I understood all these concepts, but they seemed to impact me about as much as my toothpaste choice. Mint or plain? Whatever.

Then the 2000 Election actually happened. I was for Gore, but Bush won in the highly contested final hour. Say what you will about elections being stolen or what have you, but, one way or another, it didn’t instill a lot of trust in our newly elected president. Shortly thereafter, I had a front row seat to 9/11 (I can still close my eyes and see that black cloud that hung over NYC for a week… I’m not speaking metaphorically), and the war that followed. That war… did not make me happy.

LoserLook, on one side of my family, I’m descended from Quakers. On the other side of my family, I had a very vocal grandmother that described World War II and Vietnam and “all our good boys that died” as practically the worst thing that ever happened to our country (twice). I’m basically genetically disinclined toward war, and the idea of a “warmonger” president riles up my conscientious objector blood. It also doesn’t help that I was draft age when this was going on, so, even though I am a tremendous coward, there was that looming threat of maybe getting shipped off into a warzone for no good reason. If only for his promoting “the War on Terror”, I was going to vote for Bush’s opponent in 2004 if the Democrats ran an actual elephant. And, what’s more, I made my opinion known to anyone that would listen. I didn’t seek out conflict, but if someone asked, I’d list the issues. Searching for WMDs? Slamming our National Debt back into the negatives? There was probably a third thing! I don’t care! Get that damn New England born wannabe Texan out of the White House! Jon Stewart agrees with me!

And it didn’t take. We got another four years of Bush.

That election probably colored my political beliefs more than anything before or since. I was convinced that people weren’t that stupid. It had to be a trick. It had to be wealthy kingmakers manipulating our democracy. No, I didn’t believe it was the Illuminati or some vast conspiracy that traced back to lizard people (incidentally, why are people always so afraid of lizard people running our government? I think lizard people might be a fair ruling class), but I did believe that the Republican Machine had grown too powerful, too “good at it” to ever lose an election again. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing? Evil was greasing the gears and keeping the tank rolling, good was being polite and… neutral. Geez, was my own general detachment from politics hurting my own interests? By this point, I had friends and family members actually serving in this war. Could my own complacency lead to their deaths? My God, the Democrats need to take back the White House.

LoserWhich brings us to Obama. Full disclosure: I supported Hilary Clinton in the 2008 primaries. It wasn’t because I agreed with her policies, gender, or that I loved that our presidential line could go Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton (okay, maybe that last thing was a factor); No, I supported Clinton because I felt like she was the only way we could battle the Republican machine. Clinton was mean, she “worked” like a Republican, and she fought and bit Obama every step of the way. Obama was… polite. Obama came off as smart and reserved, two traits I admire, but terrible when fighting a political war. And he was also black, and his name rhymed with “Osama”. To be absolutely clear, I had no problem with these factors (name rhyme rarely impacts my voting), but I figured there was absolutely no way our clearly racist country would ever elect such a man. We had barely (barely!) gotten over the phrase “Muslim terrorist”, how was the nation going to vote for a secret Kenyan?

(Completely unrelated to anything, but anyone remember how there were cries of “secret Muslim” and that Obama’s (Christian) pastor said a mean thing one time? People are weird.)

But, somehow, against all odds, Obama won. It may have had something to do with the economy being in a death spiral, but an actual, honest-to-God democrat was back in the White House for the first time since I was in high school. Those eight years had seemed… very long.

Obama was a wonderful president, from not only a presidential perspective, but also as a human being. Obviously, I’ve never met the man, but he seemed to be consistently thoughtful and obliging. He was not the graduated frat boy we saw helming the Bush administration, nor the playboy that was Slick Willy. Both of those previous presidents seemed to only want the position for the power it bestowed; Obama was president seemingly to make the country Loser(and world) a better place. In a way, it feels like Obama was the ideal “philosopher king” of yore: a wise and just ruler that solved problems through diplomacy and empathy. And maybe a few drones. Pobody’s nerfect.

And then we have today.

It’s… hard to be okay with anything that is happening in this election.

First of all, to be clear, I like Clinton. Like, actually like her, not just like her for the presidency. I like her policies, I like that those policies have actually evolved over the course of the campaign, and I still like that she’s a pitbull that is likely to go for the Republican jugular. This is not a woman that, at any point in her career, rolled over and said “hey, you guys do what you want, I’m cool with whatever.” This is a woman that has the potential to get things done as a president.

But she’s following the least politic-y politician in my entire lifetime, so it’s hard to get excited. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of Bernie Sanders, but I envy his supporters and the fervor they still seem to possess. That man was a truly different candidate, and, love him or hate him, he at least knew how to get his base excited. It didn’t… uh… help. But good hustle!

LoserBut on the other side of the aisle. Whoa, boy. I could write an entire article about Trump and what he has exposed about the American people. Racism is over? Nope. Misogyny is a thing of the past? Don’t think so. It’s “just the anonymity of the internet” that makes people assholes? No, my Facebook feed says otherwise. I can see you there, with your name in bold, blue letters, posting a meme about Beyoncé wearing yoga pants being exactly the same as Trump committing sexual assault. Trump has somehow managed to bring out the absolute worst in people, and the really scary thing is that people revel in it.

So, even putting aside literally everything about the Republican platform (like, say, women’s rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, or the whole damn healthcare thing), there was never any way I could vote for Trump in good conscious. When you have a candidate that, again, brings out the absolute worst in the population of the country he’s supposed to lead? No, no you can’t let that kind of thing continue. I know that a Trump loss isn’t going to simply make all these disenfranchised people disappear (they’ll just disappear from the news’ radar), but the idea of people that are so okay with… hate… being empowered by “their” president…. I’ll be honest, it downright scares me. In a way, I’m just as fearful of the future as they are, but for completely different reasons.

So, yes, this is my blog post telling every American reading this post to vote Clinton. I’m with her and all that riot. I’m not excited about her, because I want a metaphorical Obama Jr., but she’s the only real choice in this election. America is already pretty great, vote for the woman that is going to keep it that way.