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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Winston Churchill's Way With Words

Churchill spent and hour practicing out loud on every minute of his speeches.
Winston Churchill wrote every word of his many speeches — he said he'd spend an hour working on a single minute of a speech. Above, he is shown speaking during the 1945 election campaign.
Express/Getty Images Winston Churchill wrote every word of his many speeches — he said he'd spend an hour working on a single minute of a speech. Above, he is shown speaking during the 1945 election campaign.

Winston Churchill is best remembered as the British prime minister whose speeches rallied a nation under a relentless Nazi onslaught in World War II. But few people know that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature — in part for his mastery of speechmaking.

Courtesy of Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge
  Though he went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Churchill didn't always excel in school. His 1884 school report card states young Winston is "very bad ... a constant trouble to everybody," and unable to be "trusted to behave himself anywhere." Click to enlarge.

Now, a new exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York City, Churchill: The Power of Words, holds a megaphone to Churchill's extraordinary oratory.

On May 13, 1940, three days after Germany invaded France, Churchill gave his first speech as prime minister to the House of Commons, a speech that was later broadcast to the public. "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat," he said, as he helped the country brace for hard times.

"Winston Churchill managed to combine the most magnificent use of English — usually short words, Anglo-Saxon words, Shakespearean," says Andrew Roberts, author of a history of World War II called The Storm of War. "And also this incredibly powerful delivery. And he did it at a time when the world was in such peril from Nazism, that every word mattered."

In another landmark speech, Churchill proclaimed: "You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."

Before he became prime minister, Churchill had already written an acclaimed four-volume history of World War I. After World War II, he wrote a six-volume memoir. His historical writings, along with his speeches, earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Declan Kiely, curator of manuscripts at the Morgan Library, points out Churchill's 1953 Nobel Prize citation, a gilt booklet that accompanies the gold Nobel Medallion. He describes it as "a modern illuminated manuscript."

The citation, Kiely says, is wonderful. (To see it, click here.) Translated from the Swedish it reads: For his mastery of historical and biographical description, as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.

Churchill makes his broadcast to the world on V-E Day, May 8, 1945.
Enlarge Keystone/Getty Images Churchill makes his broadcast to the world on V-E Day, May 8, 1945.

Churchill wasn't born a master orator — he overcame a childhood lisp by practicing enunciation. He understood the power of words early in his career.

As a 23-year-old British soldier in India, Churchill wrote an essay called "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric." The original manuscript is in the Morgan exhibition.

"The climax of oratory is reached by a rapid succession of waves of sound and vivid pictures," Churchill wrote.

"Those are the kinds of things you see 40 years later," says Kiely. "He's using these vivid pictures and these great, successive waves of sound."

You can hear the way he employed these rhetorical methods in the weekly radio address he gave on Sept. 11, 1940, as he responded to Hitler's merciless aerial assault on London:
This monstrous product of former wrongs and shame has now resolved to try to break our famous island race by a process of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction. What he has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts which will glow long after all traces of the conflagration he has caused in London have been removed.
Churchill wrote every word of his many speeches — he said he spent an hour working on every minute of a speech he made. At the Morgan Library are several drafts of a single speech from February 1941, when England stood alone against the Nazi onslaught and Churchill appealed to President Roosevelt for aid. The first draft looks like a normal typescript; the final draft, says Kiely, "looks like a draft of a poem."
Churchill spaced and marked his speeches to help him with his delivery. Above is the final draft of the speech he broadcast on Feb. 9, 1941. Click to enlarge.
Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the Estate of Winston Churchill
  Churchill spaced and marked his speeches to help him with his delivery. Above is the final draft of the speech he broadcast on Feb. 9, 1941. Click to enlarge.

Churchill made those markings, Kiely explains, to indicate how the speech should be delivered. He inserted white space to remind himself to pause.

Churchill asked: "What is the answer that I shall give, in your name, to this great man, the thrice-chosen head of a nation of a hundred and thirty millions?"

Here, lots of white space is inserted into the final draft.

"Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt."

Another long pause, and then he said:
Put your confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and under Providence, all will be well. We shall not fail or falter. We shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long‐drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.
In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone — and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life — he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.
Historian Andrew Roberts says the impact of Churchill's speeches cannot be underestimated. "An awful lot of people thought that it was impossible to beat the Nazis," Roberts says. "Yet what Winston Churchill did, by constantly putting Britain's peril in the greater historical context of other times that Britain had nearly been invaded, but had been ultimately successful, he managed to tell the British people that this could happen again."

On April 9, 1963, President John F. Kennedy summed up Churchill's speechwriting achievements, saying, "In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone — and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life — he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."

On June 18, 1940, immediately after the fall of France, Churchill rallied the British people once more. With his characteristic Shakespearean gusto, he declared, "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.' "

In 1938, Churchill said dictators were afraid of the power of words. "A state of society where men may not speak their minds cannot long endure."

To listen to the audio of this story, including Churchill himself, click below:

Turn off your computer, phone, pad and listen in just might learn something!

"Consider the common practice of students blogging, networking, or tweeting while listening to a speaker....The most important reason to stop multitasking so much isn't to make me feel respected, but to make you exist. If you listen first, and write later, then whatever you write will have had time to filter through your brain, and you'll be in what you say. This is what makes you exist. If you are only a reflector of information, are you really there?"


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Are we in an age of too much information?

Can we even know the difference between truth and lie, fact and fabrication, valid and invalid? How much can we read, watch and listen to?

And if we ignore the news, current events and issues that impact our lives, can we (our kids and grandkids) pay the price for our own apathy or ignorance?

What can we do to cut through the clutter?

How can we become informed citizens?

How can we do so while staying sane?

Any ideas?

Sunday Morning News and Views

Open your mind.

"Too much politics, history and news..."  is a common complaint from students about teachers and courses. Those students are either bight A students or the C students who think that education can be spoon fed, as if filling an empty vessel. Education requires the use of examples and studies have shown that examples need to be clear, made to feel current and with strong emotional or concrete values. There is plenty of research to support this, despite what some students may think is education (hint: high school). Rather then toss tones, challenge yourself to think, to question, to research and grow. As to anything I teach other than communication theory, it is all filtered honestly and openly through my life experience, my beliefs and my understanding. That by no means makes it true, or the only way to believe or that I am trying to change your views. Those who think that, read the posts and material on critical thinking and listen as I lecture...I give plenty of disclaimers for a reason. Teach yourself how to learn in a challenging college environment.

The Beachboys and The Rolling Stones both celebrated 50 years in show business this past week. Woodie Guthree would have been 100 yesterday. Of contemporary artists who will still be going and remembered fifty to one hundred years from now.

E-Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt says the organizers of a London concert were too heavy-handed when they pulled the plug on Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney last night for violating a sound curfew. Springsteen had already exceeded Hyde Park's 10:30 p.m. curfew by half an hour when he welcomed McCartney on stage. The pair did manage to sing "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Twist and Shout" before they were silenced.

The top British official in charge of the London Olympics is defending the government's actions after a major contractor failed to provide enough security guards for the games. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt tells the BBC on Sunday that the government moved quickly, activating contingency plans to bring in in an extra 3,500 troops as soon as it realized G4S would not be able to deliver the 10,400 guards it had promised.

Syria is now at war; a civil war. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it now considers the conflict in Syria a civil war, meaning international humanitarian law applies throughout the country.This opens the door for war crime trials and even potential international intervention at upgraded levels. The Geneva-based group's assessment is an important reference that helps parties in a conflict determine how much and what type of force they can or cannot use. ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said Sunday that the humanitarian law now applies wherever hostilities are taking place in Syria, where fighting has spread beyond the hotspots of Idlib, Homs and Hama. International humanitarian law grants parties to a conflict the right to use appropriate force to achieve their aims. But attacks on civilians and abuse or killing of detainees can constitute war crimes.

Thousands of former Kennedy Space Center workers in Florida are still struggling to find new jobs or match their old salaries a year after NASA ended the space shuttle program. Some have headed to South Carolina to build airplanes in that state's growing industry. Some found lower-paying jobs beneath their technical skills that allowed them to stay in the area.More than 7,400 people lost their jobs when the shuttle program ended last July. The county's workforce agency offered job placement and training services. Slightly more than half of the 5,700 workers the agency has been able to track have found jobs, but more than a quarter of those positions were outside Florida. Other shuttle workers in Houston, New Orleans and Huntsville, Ala., lost jobs, but those areas had bigger economies to absorb the workers. 

The economy is drawing much of the attention in the White House race, but the outcome may be decided on the margins by narrower issues that energize small but crucial slivers of the population. For three months, the economy by most measures has faltered. Yet the White House contest has remained locked in place, with President Barack Obama holding a slight national lead or in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney. Analysts from both parties have no doubt that without a defining, unpredictable moment, the race will remain neck and neck until November. Several strategists say that means secondary issues such as health care, immigration, education, even little mentioned social issues such as abortion, guns or gay rights could make a difference when targeted to the right audiences.

Much of the responsibility for carrying out the Affordable Care Act falls to the states. the National Governor's Association met this week.  There is great division between those who support and oppose the law. All governors must now consider what's next. The federal government will pick up the vast majority of the costs, yet Republican governors are saying the law is confusing, costly and will decimate their states.Democrats say to accept the law and make it happen. They say do not be a hypocrite and take the money but attack the source. The details of the implementation are not clear, and under the the law, the federal government will cover the cost of an exchange in states that turn down the money.

As the White House challenger, Mitt Romney can seize on the attention that accompanies the selection of a running mate.  When the London Olympics get under way, he can use that spotlight to play up his leadership of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. His candidacy also is benefiting from the fundraising power of outside GOP-aligned political groups that are spending millions on TV ads to promote him and undercut President Barack Obama. The weak economic recovery offers the chance for Romney to make inroads among unhappy voters. Not all is rosy, however. Health care is the last thing Romney wants to talk about. As he appeals to independents, he has to fend off charges that by moving to the middle, he's changing core positions for political purposes.

Some prominent Republicans are calling for more financial disclosures from Mitt Romney. And the call comes after Romney just declared he would not release income tax returns except for 2010 and 2011. At the National Governors Association meeting on Saturday, Alabama's Republican governor, Robert Bentley, said Romney should release all the documents requested of him. Bentley said "If you have things to hide, then maybe you're doing things wrong." He added that he thinks "you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people." One GOP strategist says "There is no whining in politics." He says Romney should stop demanding an apology for political attacks and release his tax returns.

President Barack Obama says Washington "feels as broken as it did four years ago," when he took office. He's most frustrated by the inability "to change the atmosphere" in the capital "to reflect the decency and common sense of ordinary people" who want leaders to solve problems. He adds "there's enough blame to go around for that." Obama tells CBS' "Sunday Morning" that there's no doubt that he underestimated how much "politics trump problem-solving." On a lighter note, he says the White House will be a quieter place this summer because his daughters will be in sleep-away camp for a month - and their parents will be "experiencing the first stages of empty nest syndrome." Asked if he's prepared, the president says, "Well, I get a little depressed."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Egypt on the tail end of her Asian tour. She has urged Egypt's new, Islamist president to engage in a dialogue with the military to defuse a political and constitutional crisis that is threatening Egypt's transition to a civilian-led democracy.  Clinton has been pressing the chief of Egypt's army to cooperate with the country's new Islamist leaders. Clinton met with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in Cairo today, a day after meeting with President Mohammed Morsi. The State Department says she discussed Egypt's "political transition" and the military's "ongoing dialogue with President Morsi." The council of general Tantawi heads stripped the presidency of much of its powers before Morsi took office.

Spain's fabled San Fermin festival, complete with the running of the bulls, took place this past week despite the country's deep economic crisis. There were street parties and sangria and there were revelers..but not as many as usual. And there was a sense that when the festivities drew to a close, the massive hangover known as the Eurocrisis would be just around the corner.   Summer is a season of festivals and celebrations across Europe, which European countries hope will bring people out spending money and stimulating the service economy.

Hot weather can make it more difficult for planes to get off the ground, but McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is specially equipped to help pilots conquer the challenges of the desert. Heat thins the air and makes it more difficult for planes to lift during takeoff, so pilots need to gain more momentum as they cruise down the runway. McCarran is built for the desert conditions with an extra-long runway measuring 14,505 feet. The Las Vegas Sun reports it's the 27th longest runway in the world, and the third longest among commercial airports in the United States. It's also sloped downhill 1.1 degrees, which is just enough to help jets reach takeoff speed more easily. 

Authorities say levels at Lake Mead are expected to drop this year because of drought conditions.The western slope of the Rocky Mountains would need at least seven years of normal snowfall to bring southern Nevada out of its 12-year drought. A Southern Nevada Water Authority spokesman says he expects the Colorado River will end up at just 46 percent of its average flow. Most of Las Vegas' drinking water comes from Lake Mead. It rose 30 feet last year because of record snowpack in the West. Officials couldn't say how far lake levels would drop this year.
State officials say they have shut down a hummingbird rescue operation run by a woman out of her southern Nevada home the past four years.The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Marion Brady did not have the proper permits to rehabilitate the birds through Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary. Officials at the Nevada Department of Wildlife say Brady's heart was in the right place but what she was doing was out of line. Brady told the newspaper she was saddened by the turn of events. She took down her website and stopped accepting injured or abandoned hummingbirds Monday after being contacted by the state. Board president of the nonprofit nature sanctuary says the permit issue is a misunderstanding.Brady's work with hummingbirds was featured in the Review-Journal on July 7.

Before most readers in China learned of Romeo and Juliet, they fell in love with "Dream of the Red Chamber." The 18th-century novel tells the story of an aristocratic Chinese family, whose fall from the emperor's good graces provides the backdrop for a love triangle. The book has been called China's greatest literary work, inspiring generations of "Red" scholars and fans, including the young Mao Zedong. The Red Chamber" is now out in English, offering Americans and English speaking countries access to a classic Chinese love story for the first time.

France's far-right National Front plans to file a complaint against Madonna after the singer showed a video at a Paris concert that contained an image of the party's leader with a swastika on her forehead.The video has been shown at other concerts on the singer's tour, and the party has expressed its outrage before, warning that it would take action if the video were shown in France. On Saturday night, Madonna played at the Stade de France. National Front spokesman Alain Vizier said Sunday that the party would file a complaint in French court next week for "insults." Marine Le Pen, who was pictured in the video, tried to shed the National Front's image as racist and anti-Semitic during her recent failed bid for president. 

The Philippines are in mourning. People across the Philippines have been watching the funeral of the country's "King of Comedy" on nationwide TV. Rodolfo Vera Quizon Sr. was a popular actor fondly called Dolphy by generations of Filipinos. The 83-year-old died Tuesday of organ failure, kidney ailments and complications from pneumonia. He was buried Sunday. Quizon starred in more than 200 films in his 66-year career. Once a poor peanut vendor in movie houses, he shot to fame playing gay roles and slapstick characters. He became so famous that presidential candidates courted his support in elections. He had 18 children with six women. President Benigno Aquino III declared Friday a national day of remembrance to honor the movie icon. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in the capital.

What's A Governor To Do With The Health Care Law?

Audio for this story from Weekend Edition Sunday
As governors from around the country meet this weekend in Williamsburg, Va., health care is near the top of their agenda. Specifically, what to do about the federal health law, now that the Supreme Court has given states new options.

Republican governors in particular said they were genuinely surprised by the Supreme Court ruling. The justices declared the health law in general constitutional, but gave states the option of whether or not to dramatically expand their Medicaid programs. They'll now get to choose whether to put most people who earn more than about $15,000 a year on the program or not.

"I think a lot of us, certainly on the Republican side, believed it would be found unconstitutional. So I think it's just added more confusion to the issue rather than settling the issue," said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, "and probably more impetus on the November election to really find out and sort out what the implications are going to be going forward."

Indeed, the meeting's host, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, said he wasn't planning to say yet whether his state would expand its Medicaid program, even with the federal government picking up the vast majority of the costs.

"Honestly, I don't think it's responsible fully for my state to make a decision now because there's still more information we need," he said.

Many Democratic governors see things differently, however, including Delaware's Jack Markell, the incoming chairman of the National Governors Association.

"This is not political. This is a financial analysis of what does it mean to cover, in our case, an additional 30,000 people," he said, "and my view — and we're clarifying that we're understanding it all properly — ... is that this is absolutely a good deal for Delaware taxpayers."

Unlike Republicans, who say the Supreme Court decision confused matters, Democrats like Maryland's Martin O'Malley also insisted that it should have ended the debate.

"I think most governors understand that the Supreme Court's decision was a final and clear ruling," he said.
Other Democrats were less charitable. Vermont's Peter Shumlin said some of his Republican colleagues aren't being honest by calling for the repeal of the health law on the one hand, while declining to say whether they'll accept the federal Medicaid funding that flows from it on the other.

"Have a spine. The American people are sick and tired of spineless politicians. [Either] say, 'I believe the Affordable Care Act is the wrong thing, so I will not take the loot,' or say, 'I believe the Affordable Care Act will help my state cover uninsured Americans, grow jobs, economic opportunities, and I'm taking the loot,' " Shumlin said. "But to say, 'I'm gonna criticize the plan, but I won't tell you whether I'm taking the loot or not until after the election,' that's what breeds cynicism among the American people."

O'Malley of Maryland thinks most of those Republican governors will eventually come around and take the money for economic — if not political — reasons.

"Once the posturing of the election is past, I think that a lot of these governors are going to have a hard time going home to their doctors, nurses, hospitals and explaining to them why they are passing up an opportunity to transform these dollars into better economic uses for job creation in their states," he said.

But for many Republican governors, like Nebraska's Dave Heineman, it's about something bigger than parochial interests.

"They all say it's free federal money. No, it's not. That's our tax dollars," he says. "It's costing every one of us."

Behind the scenes at the meeting, however, governors did seem to agree on one thing. There are still lots of questions they want the federal government to answer about how they will all work together as the health law's implementation proceeds.