From Jerry Sims:
I believe that a reasonable argument can be made that the allocation of State presidential Electors on a winner-take-all basis is an unconstitutional denial of the equal protection of the law and the principle of one man one vote. The argument may be summarized as follows:
1. Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution mandates the selection of the president by the Electoral College with each state having the same number of Electors as it has Senators and Representatives. This creates an inherent bias in favor of small states by giving every state two additional Electors without regard to population. (For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to this hereinafter as the small state bias or the bonus Electors.) But the small state bias is fairly minor and it WAS NOT the cause of Donald Trump’s apparent victory in the Electoral College in this year’s Presidential election. Trump won because of the winner-take-all method of allocating Electors used by 49 of the 51 jurisdictions participating in the Electoral College.
2. Trump won 306 Electoral votes while Clinton won 232. In doing so, Trump won the popular vote in 31 States while Clinton won in 19 States and the District of Columbia. Each candidate took all of the Electors in each state won, except Trump took one elector in Maine. Without the two bonus Electors in each state there would be a total of 436 Electors and Trump would have won 306 Electors minus (2 x 31) = 306–62 = 244 and Clinton would have won 232 Electors minus (2 x 20) = 232–40 = 192. Clinton lost the election because of the winner-take-all method of allocating Electors. Trump’s lead in Electors would only have dropped from 74 to 52 if each of the States did not have the two bonus Electors. As a percentage of all Electors, Trumps lead would have only dropped from 13.8% to 11.92%.
3. In this election Trump won the vote in States providing 306 Electors with approximately 40,000,000 votes or approximately thirty percent (30%) of the total national vote of approximately 134,000,000. In fact he could have won those states with several million fewer votes than the 40,000,000 votes he received. From the standpoint of practical reality, although Trump received approximately 62,500,000 votes in total, he did not need to receive a single additional vote to win the election. None of the votes in the States won by Clinton played any role in the outcome of the election. I may be going too far into the weeds here, but to illustrate how extreme a result the winner-take-all allocation of Electors could lead to, it would be possible to win the presidency by winning the vote in 37 of the 40 states with the smallest population, including DC (losing any 3 of the jurisdictions with only 3 Electoral votes). These “small States” would have approximately 45% of the total US population in aggregate. Assuming that there are only two candidates, that voters in each of the 50 States vote in the same approximate percentages and that the Electors from each of these small States are allocated on a winner-take-all basis, then the theoretical minimum vote to assure victory would be fifty percent (50%) plus one of the votes cast in each of these small States, or 22.6% of the national vote total. That vote would assure victory without a single vote from any of the other States being required to win. To be clear, this mathematical illustration provides an important backdrop to my constitutional argument, but does not provide the basis of the argument.
4. The constitution does not mandate the method the states use to select Electors. That matter is left to the discretion of the States. Originally the State legislators selected the Electors. But during the 19th Century all of the states moved to statewide elections. Currently all of the States select Electors by statewide elections and all but two of the States, Nebraska and Maine, select Electors on a winner-take-all basis. Nebraska and Maine allocate Electors by congressional district with two Electors elected on a statewide winner-take-all basis.
5. Since the Electoral system was adopted vast changes have occurred in state populations, so that as of 2010 our least populace state, Wyoming had a population 563,626, and 3 presidential Electors, and our most populous State, California had a population of 37,253,956 and 55 presidential Electors. In other words, California had a population more than 66 times greater than Wyoming while having only 18 times as many presidential Electors. As of 2010 our most populace 9 States in aggregate have a larger population than the other 40 states and the District of Columbia combined. The large concentration of population in a handful of states combined with the winner-take-all method of selecting Electors has skewed the original constitutional design so that the likelihood that a candidate who loses the popular vote will win the Electoral College has become greater than ever before.
6. A candidate who lost the popular vote has been elected President 5 times in US history. It occurred 3 times in the 19th Century when the elections were thrown into the House of Representatives because the Electoral votes were spread between multiple candidates with no candidate getting a majority. As we all know it has also occurred twice in the last 16 years. The 2000 election was the first time in US history that the candidate losing the popular vote won a majority of the Electoral College outright. Now that has happened again in 2016. The major contributing factors to this outcome are the winner-take-all system of allocating Electors coupled with the growing concentration of the US population in a handful of States. These factors create a substantial risk that a candidate that loses the popular vote would win the Electoral College outright even if the small state advantage did not exist. This election is a clear example of that risk. To be clear, Trump did not win the Electoral College because of a constitutional design, he won because of the winner-take-all system of allocating Electors and that critical legal factor is strictly a function of State law.
7. In Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23, 89 S. Ct. 5, 21 L.Ed.2d 24 (1968), the Supreme Court made the critical point regarding presidential election law, that although the election of the president by the Electoral College is established by Article II of the Constitution, presidential Electors may be selected by the States in any manner they choose, but when the States opt to select Electors by an election, the election conducted by the states must be conducted in a manner consistent with other provisions of the constitution:
‘The State also contends that it has absolute power to put any burdens it pleases on the selection of Electors because of the First Section of the Second Article of the Constitution, providing that ‘Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors * * *’ to choose a President and Vice President. There, of course, can be no question but that this section does grant extensive power to the States to pass laws regulating the selection of Electors. But the Constitution is filled with provisions that grant Congress or the States specific power to legislate in certain areas; these granted powers are always subject to the limitation that they may not be exercised in a way that violates other specific provisions of the Constitution. **** Nor can it be thought that the power to select Electors could be exercised in such a way as to violate express constitutional commands that specifically bar States from passing certain kinds of laws. Clearly, the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments were intended to bar the Federal Government and the States from denying the right to vote on grounds of race and sex in presidential elections. And the Twenty-fourth Amendment clearly and literally bars any State from imposing a poll tax on the right to vote ‘for Electors for President or Vice President.’ Obviously we must reject the notion that Art. II, § 1, gives the States power to impose burdens on the right to vote, where such burdens are expressly prohibited in other constitutional provisions. We therefore hold that no State can pass a law regulating elections that violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s command that ‘No State shall * * * deny to any person * * * the equal protection of the laws.’ Id. pp, 28–29.
8. In Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 121 S. Ct. 525, 148 L.Ed.2d 388 (2000), the Supreme Court further explained as follows:
The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for Electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. **** When the state legislature vests the right to vote for President in its people, the right to vote as the legislature has prescribed is fundamental; and one source of its fundamental nature lies in the equal weight accorded to each vote and the equal dignity owed to each voter. The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint Electors. See id., at 35 (“[T]here is no doubt of the right of the legislature to resume the power at any time, for it can neither be taken away nor abdicated”) (quoting S. Rep. №395, 43d Cong., 1st Sess.).
The right to vote is protected in more than the initial allocation of the franchise. Equal protection applies as well to the manner of its exercise. Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another. See, e.g., Harper v. Virginia Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 665 (1966) (“[O]nce the franchise is granted to the electorate, lines may not be drawn which are inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”). It must be remembered that “the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964). Id, pp. 104–105. (Emphasis supplied)
9. In Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 84 S. Ct. 1362, 12 L.Ed.2d 506 (1964), the Supreme Court made the following salient observation:
Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests. As long as ours is a representative form of government, and our legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly representative of the people, the right to elect legislators in a free and unimpaired fashion is bedrock of our political system. It could hardly be gainsaid that a constitutional claim had been asserted by an allegation that certain otherwise qualified voters had been entirely prohibited from voting for members of their state legislature. And, if a State should provide that the votes of citizens in one part of the State should be given two times, or five times, or 10 times the weight of votes of citizens in another part of the State, it could hardly be contended that the right to vote of those residing in the disfavored areas had not been effectively diluted. Id p. 561.
Logically, in a society ostensibly grounded on representative government, it would seem reasonable that a majority of the people of a State could elect a majority of that State’s legislators. To conclude differently, and to sanction minority control of state legislative bodies, would appear to deny majority rights in a way that far surpasses any possible denial of minority rights that might otherwise be thought to result. Id. P. 565.
10. Although Reynolds was decided in connection with legislative elections, the point the Court made in Reynolds is clearly true in connection with the selection of presidential Electors. Paraphrasing Reynolds v. Sims, in the converse, to apply to Presidential Electors, the applicability of Reynolds becomes clear.
“Presidential Electors represent people, not trees or acres. Electors are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests. ****Logically, in a society ostensibly grounded on representative government, it would seem reasonable that a minority of the people of a State could elect a minority of that State’s Electors. To conclude differently, and to sanction winner-take-all control of the States’ Electors would appear to deny minority voting rights in a way that far surpasses any possible denial of majority rights that might otherwise be thought to result.”
11. In summary, a winner-take-all system of allocating Electors by the states denies the minority of voters within each state any representation whatsoever within the Electoral College and ultimately in the case of the 2000 and 2016 elections, denies the plurality of voters nationwide their choice for President under circumstances in which the constitutionally established small state advantage made part of the Electoral College would not. This is neither a reasonable nor a rational result in a representative democracy. This result was dictated by the winner-take-all method of allocating Electors used by the states. It is this state law method of allocating Electors that is an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and its bedrock principle of one man one vote.
12. The winner-take-all allocation of multiple Electors (ranging from 3 Electors in our smallest states to 55 in our largest) denies any voice whatsoever to each states minority voters, no matter how substantial their vote may be. The distortion of presidential election results by the winner-take-all apportionment of a state’s Electors is an unconstitutional denial of the equal protection of the law. If the selection of Electors is viewed by a state as a statewide election and 51% of the voters in that State vote for Candidate A and 49% for Candidate B and all 29 Electors from that State are Electors for Candidate A, then the voice of all of the voters for Candidate B will be ignored. On the other hand, if that State’s Electors are allocated proportionately between candidate A and Candidate B, every significant group of voters in the State is represented by Electors in the selection of the President. The winner-take-all allocation of a State’s Electors results in an Electoral delegation that is not representative of the State’s voters and denies any voice whatsoever to minority voters within that State.
13. In Georgia, for example, we have 16 Electors and approximately 44% of all voters cast ballots for Clinton. Yet the Clinton Voters receive no representation within the State’s Electors. They are left with no voice whatsoever in the election of the President by the Electoral College, their votes are for all practical purposes thrown away. If Georgia were electing a single candidate then a winner-take-all result would be proper, but in an election of 16 Electors, the Clinton votes are not being given equal dignity with the Trump votes. Of course the state could argue that there is a single slate of Electors is up for election. But therein lies the rub, the State is not free to disregard the one man one vote rule by arbitrarily framing the election of 16 Electors as though it is an election of a single office holder. That argument would be a pretext designed to deny any voice to the voters for the candidate not winning the plurality of the vote within the State, even though in reality multiple representatives are being selected to vote in a second election for a single candidate. This system leaves minority voters in Georgia with no voice whatsoever in the final real election. Thus, if the election is viewed by the State as a statewide election, then Electors should be allocated proportionately, in order to give every vote equal dignity and weight, thereby electing a delegation of Electors that actually represents all of the voters within the State. Under this methodology every vote counts. Proportional allocation of Electors respects the one man one vote principle while preserving the small state bias. It merely eliminates the likelihood of a President being elected who did not win the popular vote and did not win because of the small State bias embedded in the Constitution.
14. On the other hand, if the selection of Electors is viewed by a state as part of a nationwide election, then no matter what percentage of the voters in that State vote for a candidate a winner-take-all approach makes sense when the “winner” is based on the winner of the national popular vote, because this selection of Electors is representative of the plurality of voters nationwide in the ultimate single candidate election. Thus in a very different way, under that methodology, every vote counts toward the ultimate result of the election and reflects the will of the people, thereby honoring the one man one vote rule.
15. I think it is important that the argument be made that either proportional selection of Electors be allowed on the State level or winner-take-all selection of Electors be allowed based on the national vote. The winner-take-all method on the national vote level could serve as a backstop to use in the event a political party moves to gerrymandered district voting for Electors. That methodology would also provide some insurance against the increased risk of elections being thrown into the House of Representatives due to some Electors being allocated to third-party candidates. This is a greater risk of having elections thrown into the house of Representatives using proportional selection of Electors even if a minimum cutoff of 10% of the vote if required for a candidate to be eligible for allocation of Electors. Finally both options would encourage voters to turn out because under both methods all votes are count and are equally important. Under current methodology democratic votes in heavily Red States play no role in the outcome of the election and the same is true of Republican votes in heavily Blue States.
16. There are arguments that can be made against proportional allocation or the unconstitutionality of a winner-take-all allocation to the winner of the national popular vote and I am aware of several of them, but probably not all. There are also several end arounds — the most obvious being drawing (or shall I say gerrymandering) districts from which each elector is selected by popular vote. Another would be to have Electors appointed by the legislature. Anyway, if I am missing something please let me know.
17. I have attached an excel spreadsheet [now a Google sheet] showing what would have happened in the current election if Electors were appointed proportionately by each state disregarding candidates with de minimis votes of under 5%. The columns are labeled at the top of the spread sheet. The far left side uses voting figures (percentages) as of the end of week of the election; the voting figures to the right are based on voting totals as of November 17.
18. Several people have commented that cutting off candidates from an allocation of Electors who receive less than 5% of the vote within a state is inconsistent with a proportional allocation of Electors and the principle of one man one vote, because some votes would not be counted that might proportionately qualify to be awarded Electors. Others have observed correctly that without the 5% cutoff used in my calculation of who would have won the 2016 presidential election if Electors had been allocated proportionately, third party candidates would have been allocated several Electors and no candidate would have received a majority of Electors. This illustrates another point made in a comment — without a cutoff the likelihood that an election would be thrown into the House of Representatives is greatly increased by a proportional allocation of Electors.
I have little doubt that the winner take all method was intended, in part, to minimize the probability that no candidate would win a majority of the Electoral Vote. But unlike a proportional allocation of Electors, the winner take all method could theoretically lead to grossly aberrant results. The method denies representation at the Electoral College to significant blocs of voters within every state. The concept of a proportional allocation of Electors with a de minimis cutoff is designed to minimize the risk of an election being thrown into the House of Representatives while giving significant voting blocs a proportional voice in the election. Using a cutoff set at a de minimis percentage of the total vote within a state might accomplish this goal without denying major voting blocs representation in the Electoral College.
If equal protection of the law is taken to a level as granular as individual ballots and hanging chads, as in Bush v. Gore, then a de minimis cutoff might be viewed as constitutionally impermissible. If failing to award Electors to a candidate with only 4 or 5 % of the vote would be constitutionally suspect then clearly the winner take all method would be unconstitutional. On the other hand, awarding Electors to candidates receiving a de minimis percentage of a state’s votes would be an exercise in constitutional “purity” that accomplishes nothing other than systemic dysfunction (i.e., throwing the election into the House of Representatives). Although this may seem to pose a practical dilemma, consider these questions:
Would the equal protection principle of one man one vote be best served by the winner take all system which cuts off all candidates from an allocation of Electors who receive fewer votes than the “winner” of the state’s plurality of votes?
Would that principle be best served by cutting off all candidates from a proportional allocation of Electors who receive fewer votes than the two candidates with the highest vote totals within the state?
Would that principle be best served by cutting off all candidates from a proportional allocation of Electors who receive less than a specified de minimis percentage of the total vote cast for presidential candidates in the state (say 5%, 10% or 15%)?
Would the principle be best served by allocating Electors proportionately to all candidates whose share of the vote would round to a whole number of Electors, thereby posing a substantial risk of throwing the election to the House of Representatives?
It would seem that the most reasonable practical answer would be a proportional allocation of Electors with a cutoff at a de minimis percentage of the total vote. The percentage should represent a reasonable balancing of the right of every voter to participate in the election in a meaningful way and the risk of taking the election entirely away from the voters by sending it to the House of Representatives. A reasonable cutoff would probably be in the range of 10 to 15% of the total vote; but any cutoff percentage should be based on a detailed probability analysis which, for obvious reasons, has yet to be conducted.
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Open Letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper:
We are Electors who were selected by the voters of our states to represent them in the Electoral College on December 19, 2016. We intend to discharge our duties as Electors by ensuring that we select a candidate for president who, as our Founding Fathers envisioned, would be “endowed with the requisite qualifications.” As Electors, we also believe that deliberation is at the heart of democracy itself, not an empty or formalistic task. We do not understand our sole function to be to convene in mid-December, several weeks after Election Day, and summarily cast our votes. To the contrary, the Constitution envisions the Electoral College as a deliberative body that plays a critical role in our system of government — ensuring that the American people elect a president who is constitutionally qualified and fit to serve. Accordingly, to fulfill our role as Electors, we seek an informed and unrestrained opportunity to fulfill our constitutional role leading up to December 19th — that is, the ability to investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for in the Electoral College.
We further emphasize Alexander Hamilton’s assertion in Federalist Paper #68 that a core purpose of the Electoral College was to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” The United States intelligence community has now concluded with “high confidence” that a foreign power, namely Russia, acted covertly to interfere in the presidential campaign with the intent of promoting Donald Trump’s candidacy. During the campaign Russia actively attempted to influence the election outcome through cyber attacks on our political institutions and a comprehensive propaganda campaign coordinated through Wikileaks and other outlets.
Allegations that Donald Trump was receiving assistance from a hostile foreign power to win the election began months before Election Day. When presented with information that the Russian government was interfering in the election through the course of the campaign, both in private briefings and public assessment, Donald Trump rejected it, refused to condemn it, and continued to accept their help. Donald Trump even made a direct plea to the Russian government to interfere further in the election in a press conference on July 27, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
According to reports in the Washington Post, New York Times, and other outlets, the United States intelligence community has now concluded definitively that the Russian interference was performed to help Donald Trump get elected, yet even today Mr. Trump is refusing to accept that finding. In response to the reports, the Trump transition office instead released a statement which called into question the validity of United States intelligence findings, and declared the election over despite the Electoral College not yet casting its votes. Trump’s willingness to disregard conclusions made by the intelligence community and his continuing defense of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin demand close scrutiny and deliberation from the Electoral College.
Separate from Mr. Trump’s own denials of Russian involvement in the election, the confirmed communication between Trump’s aides and those associated with the Russian election interference activity raise serious concerns that must be addressed before we cast our votes. Trump-confidant Roger Stone confirmed during the campaign that he was engaged in back-channel communications with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, responsible for releasing much of the Russian-hacked Democratic communications, and indicated that he was aware of the hacked content prior to its release. Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page reportedly visited Moscow in July of this year, just prior to the release of hacked DNC communications, during which it was believed he met with the Putin aide in charge of Russian intelligence on the U.S. election. Page returned to Moscow this week where he claimed to be meeting with Russian business and thought leaders.
In addition to Donald Trump and his aides’ conduct, revelations about their further involvement with the Russian government over the course of the campaign demand further investigation, as well as full disclosure of findings from any ongoing or closed investigative efforts:
Russian government officials revealed that they had maintained contact with the Trump campaign during the election, and stated that they were familiar with most of the individuals associated with Mr. Trump.
Media inquiries into whether the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s July plea for Russian interference in the election resulted in a “Glomar response” neither confirming nor denying the existence of an investigation, rather than the more typical response of denying the request outright.
U.S. intelligence officials reportedly probed Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page in regard to travel to his Moscow during the campaign.
The FBI reportedly began an inquiry into Trump associates following reports of a multi-million dollar business relationship with pro-Putin figures in Ukraine and Russia, and reports of an effort to sway American public opinion in favor of Ukraine’s pro-Putin government.
Michael Flynn, Trump campaign aide and the announced incoming National Security Advisor, traveled to Russia in December of 2015 for a gala event celebrating RT, a state-controlled propaganda network, at which he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.
Additionally, the Electors will separately require from Donald Trump conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisors did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward.
We hope that the information and actions described in this letter will be provided in an expeditious manner, so that we can fulfill our constitutional duty as Electors.
Christine Pelosi (CA)
Micheal Baca (CO)
Anita Bonds (DC)
Courtney Watson (MD)
Dudley Dudley (NH)
Bev Hollingworth (NH)
Terie Norelli (NH)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH)
Clay Pell (RI)
Chris Suprun (TX)
Presidential electors interested in adding their names to this letter should contact ElectoralCollege16@gmail.com.
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“The Phantom Menace” was depressing, perhaps because of the centrality of the child Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), whose perky earnestness in a holy cause makes the movie feel like a homiletic children’s broadcast. The actual emotional peak of the film—the “Ben-Hur” parody of the space-chariot race, which Lucas realized with obvious verve and delight—occurred early on, while the huge quantities of exposition and lengthy establishment of the conflicts underlying the episode and the series turned the film into a slog. Nonetheless, the sheer volume of that exposition, the invention of an intergalactic politics to counterbalance the quasi-religious story, impressed me even more than the mythology of “A New Hope”—even if Lucas here relied on even duller methods to deliver it. What’s more, one visual device—the red zone of the shield generator, which filled the screen to look like a faded and scratched color print running sideways—was utterly arresting (I watched it three or four times in a row) and it suggested realms of invention that Lucas was barely ready to tap.
This peculiar contradiction began to resolve itself with the pleasures of “Attack of the Clones.” There, Lucas’s force awakens. The movie’s rich-hued palette alone is a jolt from the start, and the movie’s action scenes have an alluring, entrancing kinetic vigor and texture. The speeder chase with the paid assassin, with its swoops and spins and drops; Obi-Wan’s fight with Jango Fett; and the serial duels with Count Dooku—all of these display balletic gracefulness and dazzling rapidity along with closely-textured compositions in depth, surprising pictorial imbalances, and angles that are as expressive as they are surprising. The colossal scale of the assembled clones toward the end of the film has an awe-inspiring power greater than anything in any of the four films that preceded it. My hypothesis is that digital technology caught up to Lucas’s imagination. Finally, by 2002, digital technology, which he had begun to use in “The Phantom Menace,” liberated him from the limits of optical effects and, by means of C.G.I., could create the fusion of live action and animation that was implicit in the project, and in his vision, from the start.
The labyrinthine opening shot of “Revenge of the Sith”— of Anakin and Obi-Wan giving chase to Dooku through the space vehicles on the planet of Coruscant—is a mighty and audacious gauntlet-throw, the digital equivalent of the opening shot of Orson Welles’s “Touch of Evil.” It wheels and gyrates and zips and pivots with a vertiginous wonder that declares, from the beginning, that Lucas had big visual ideas and was about to realize them with a heroically inventive virtuosity. And the rest of the movie follows through on that self-dare.
If I had seen “Revenge of the Sith” in real time, in a theatre upon its release, in 2005, I think that, at the moment when Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), sizzling in the blue lightning that Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) reflects back at him, cries out to Anakin (Hayden Christensen), “Power! Unlimited Power!,” I would have leaped out of my seat yelling with excitement. The entire movie is filled with an absolute splendor of the pulp sublime, and that moment is its very apogee. Lucas reaches historic heights in the filming of action: the martial artistry of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s double duel versus Dooku, the gaping maw of outer space and of the airshaft into which the heroic duo drops, Obi-Wan’s light-sabre fight with the four-armed Grievous, and, above all, the apocalyptic inferno of the confrontation of Obi-Wan and Anakin (which, regrettably, cuts back to Yoda and Emperor, a much duller battle). I watched these sequences over and over—happily, with the sound off to get rid of the musical score—and was repeatedly and unflaggingly amazed by Lucas’s precise, dynamic, wildly imaginative direction.
The scripted politics of the conflicts have a grand imagination to match. What Lucas brings to the script of “Clones” and Sith” is a quasi- (or pseudo-) Shakespearean backroom dialectic of power-maneuvering. The dialogue is just heightened and sententious enough, just sufficiently rhetorical, to convey the grave moment of ideas in conflict and the grand mortal results of that dialectical clash—the making of a villain and the unmaking of a republic.
No, Lucas isn’t Shakespeare; I’m not inclined to throw around the lines as newfound poetic gems, and there’s nothing in his direction to throw the language, such as it is, into high relief. It’s in language that Lucas’s limitations as a director reveal themselves. When he films people talking, his inspiration seems to grind to a halt. “Clones” and “Sith,” for all their merits, slam against what I’d call the problem of baroque opera: like the operas of Handel, they’re just series of dazzling arias (in Lucas’s films, visual arias) that are punctuated by long stretches of recitative to advance the action.
If the mark of the modern cinema is its approach to the word, the great modern directors are also like opera composers, who, with the compositional comprehensiveness of Verdi or Wagner, set the text cinematically and seemingly turn words into images. In the classic action films that served as inspirations to Lucas, such as those of Howard Hawks and John Ford, the directors found distinctive and personal ways to turn apparent exposition into dramatic action and visual expression. The question is why Lucas—whose genius burst into brilliant flower in “Clones” and “Sith”—didn’t (or couldn’t) extend that artistry to the entire spectrum of his material, textual as well as physical.
I suspect that the world-making, the narrative architecture of the self-extending mythological power of the “Star Wars” series, got in the way of its own realization. Could the word be too sacred to Lucas for him to subordinate it to the profane cinematic image? Could the import of the invented mythology be too great, in Lucas’s mind, for him to subject it to the ambiguities of visual transformations? Did he know, or surmise, that the enduring authority of the series would be based not in his direction—however original and distinguished—but in his stories? And, if so, did he conclude that he wasn’t prepared to submit them to the all-too-readily misunderstood realm of the image?
Lucas is a complex person whose great talents are at war with each other. His gift for serial form—his skill as a writer and producer, as an inventor of stories that will be remembered as cultural artifacts when only a small cult of aesthetic enthusiasts will recall his directorial artistry—is a mark of his will to power. Lucas the producer, a man of the world, is a man of the word. Lucas the director, the still-aspiring avant-gardist whose own pleasures in ecstatic confections and delirious conjurings seem, to the lovers of his myth-world, like a merely incidental idiosyncrasy, is oppressed by Lucas the storyteller and Lucas the showrunner of his own long-term series. In effect, his mighty lust for power clashed with his mighty artistic inclinations and abilities. His great talents and his great desires, his will to create and his will to control, came into conflict—a conflict which, judging from his recent remarks, he hasn’t happily resolved to this day. Anakin Skywalker’s Faustian story is, in a way, Lucas’s own.
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Which Rock Star
Will Historians of the
Will Historians of the
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that's some long essay, one is supposed to just make a click-monkey top ten list
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I’m not going to the Warriors ground-breaking ceremony.
This isn’t some dramatic protest of the move to San Francisco. This isn’t a shot at the Warriors, per se, or knock on the ownership. It is but a conscious choice to not be involved in the celebration of what they assuredly see as an achievement.
This is about siding with the frustrated and angry fans who can’t shake the sting. This is about being in unison with those who don’t see the Warriors’ move as a good thing, but just one last, final slap in the face.
This is about those who proudly represent the East Bay culture in this Bay Area civil rivalry, especially those who carry a flag for Oakland, and sees this as a major blow.
For the record, I fully support the Warriors’ right to move their team where they want. When Joe Lacob won the bid to buy the Warriors, it was clear where this was headed.
What’s more, I have respect and appreciation for this Chase Center project. I think how Lacob went about this, privately financing his arena and taking all the burden on himself, is how this should be done. It is a great example of modern ownership, assuming all of the risk since he will reap all of the rewards when the franchise value bubbles.
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On top of that, I will concede the Warriors haven’t been as heartless about this transition as they could have been. As an organization, they have at least been mindful of the anger their move is causing. There are people inside the Warriors organization who feel what Oaklanders feel, even some who disagree with the move.
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The Warriors have stepped up their donations to Oakland community organizations, been cognizant about what they say publicly knowing there are feelings involved. They seek input from Oakland natives, including myself. They even held the championship parade in Oakland and were ready to do it again had they won last year. There is talk of an Oakland jersey or Oakland-centered merchandise coming.
Those levels of appeasement are acknowledged. Yet, they are but concessions in a painful break up. And since I know many are upset over what the reality of this groundbreaking drives home, I don’t want to be at the engagement party between the Warriors and San Francisco.
Full disclosure: I wasn’t compelled by my employers to be there. It probably wouldn’t have changed anything as they would have gotten this same pitch. And even if they insisted, and I found myself at the Chase Center celebration, these were the words that would have come out. Because I have the same chip most of us have in Oakland and on this side of the Bay.
For decades, the Warriors have refused to acknowledge our city. Years ago, during the previous ownership, I asked why they weren’t the Oakland Warriors. Years ago, after they introduced the retro San Francisco jerseys, I asked why there were no Oakland uniforms. Each time, they gave the same answer: our fans are all over the Bay Area. “We have season ticket holders in Walnut Creek and Concord” … “We have to think about our fans in the South Bay” … “We’ve been Golden State for so long, why change?” … Blah. Blah. Blah.
Translation: Oakland is too violent, too ghetto and too ugly and we don’t want to share in that brand. Even where the stadium is located – deep East Oakland, where the undesired grime and ruggedness is the décor – is deemed unfit for such a glamorous team.
For 50 years, Oakland has embraced the Warriors. This city was the refuge back when San Francisco didn’t support the Warriors and then-owner Franklin Mieuli was ready to bounce to San Diego. This region, with its rough edges and bent on loyalty, made the Warriors relevant when the franchise wasn’t shiny enough to attract San Francisco’s wealth. Oakland made the Warriors. The East Bay made the Warriors.
So even though the grass might be financially greener in San Francisco, the theme is common: this area isn’t good enough. This is about business, no doubt, Lacob maximizing his investment. It’s about getting money. The problem with that is, the fans’ dedication wasn’t about money. It was personal. It always will be. Business decisions don’t go over well in personal relationships. And when you chose the girl across the street, it really hurts. You have to be from here to understand why San Francisco is that.
Perhaps this is an overly sensitive point of view. So what.
That same sensitivity is why Oracle was rocking for Run TMC and We Believe. Why people lined up for free tickets on Chris Mullin Buzz Cut night. Why people have rocked Warriors gear as premiere fashion for the three-plus decades I have been alive.
The arena will no doubt will be nice. Many from the East Bay will venture over and have a great time. Many don’t share in this particular conviction. That’s cool.
But today, I’m siding with those who are hurt by the having their beloved team snatched from them, only to be dangled where they can still see it. Today, while the Warriors celebrated their hard-fought achievement, I’d rather chill with those who see this as an elite takeover – who invested into the Warriors and whose interest makes this team cool and hip and popular enough for the ownership to go make a killing on the Silicon Valley crowd. Today, I choose not to act like the Warriors moving to San Francisco is a great thing.
Oakland. This is for you.
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Join date : 2011-04-11
- Posts : 8623
Join date : 2011-04-11
Donnie Yen wrote:
I just can’t see anyone other than Carrie Fisher play Leia; more importantly I don’t want to see anyone other than Fisher play Leia. My preference would be for Leia to die off-screen near the end of Episode VIII, presumably at the hands of the First Order, and certainly heroically. Possible example: Personally crashing her ship into a Star Destroyer chasing Luke and Rey, in order to let them escape. You see her in control of the ship, but then it cuts to the explosion.
Reworking the end of the movie would probably necessitate some CG Leia, but hopefully not too much, because that also seems inappropriate to me. I want the final scene of Episode VIII to be Leia’s (possibly symbolic) funeral, with the morose cast standing around in tears—but even more motivated to kick the First Order’s bum, and making their defeat in Episode IX more satisfying.
This has the benefit of giving Episode VIII a crushingly downer ending, which of course mirrors (although it also exceeds) the end of The Empire Strikes back. More importantly, I feel like it would treat Fisher’s tragic passing the solemnity it deserves, and treat Fisher herself with the respect she deserves, as an integral part of the Star Wars universe. And then we also avoid any of the bad decisions that would need to be made for Leia’s inclusion in Episode IX.
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