Archive for June, 2010

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Presentation? – How the Pros Make Nervousness Their Friend

“There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.”

-Mark Twain

Everyone is afraid of a presentation, physiologically. Toastmasters International reports that the following professionals have admitted to feeling nervous when speaking in public: Mark Twain, Ronald Reagan, Carroll O’Connor, Barbara Streisand, Anthony Quinn, Garrison Keillor, Sally Struthers, George Burns, James Taylor, Liza Minelli, Joan Rivers, and… Mary Sandro. I couldn’t resist adding my name to such a star-studded list!

Many presenters fight their nervousness. They deny it or use it as an excuse for not presenting. The first step to making nervousness our friend is to accept that it is normal. I dare say, the more nervous we are, the better a presenter we can be. The rationale for this seemingly ludicrous claim lies in the physiological understanding of nervousness.

Making a presentation is an opportunity and a challenge. Any time we are faced with a challenge, our bodies produce adrenaline. Psychologists refer to this as the “Fight or Flight” response and there is no way to stop it. It is wired into our genetic makeup and our bodies have been producing adrenaline for thousands of years.

Adrenaline is a fancy word for energy. When we are faced with a challenge, like making a presentation, our bodies produce energy. That almost sounds helpful, doesn’t it? In fact, from this point forward we will never call it nervousness again. We don’t get nervous; we have excess energy! All of those nervous symptoms we experience like dry mouth, shaky knees, hyperventilation, and butterflies are nothing more than excess energy getting the best of us. Now, what if we could take that energy and get the best of it?

Energy is a necessary ingredient for a successful presentation. Nervous presenters have a lot of raw energy available to them, which is why I claim they can become great presenters. This is also why I disagree with the advice most often given to nervous presenters, “Just relax.” This advice is counterproductive and almost physically impossible to execute.

When was the last time you went into a performance or a competition relaxed? Maybe the last time you didn’t perform very well. We need energy. Some call this energy the competitive edge. Some call it inevitable. It’s very difficult to fight thousands of years of evolution. If we think a presentation is a challenge, which it is, our bodies are programmed to produce adrenaline or energy. Instead of trying to fight this natural, helpful phenomenon, why not use it?

The difference between a polished presenter and one who seems to be having a nervous breakdown is not that one is nervous and the other is not. Physiologically they both are producing excess energy. The difference is how they use the energy. Polished presenters use the energy positively. Historically nervous presenters can too.

In general, things exist in pairs, on a pole as opposites. For example, there is hot and cold, light and dark. Things on the same pole can be changed into one another. Light can be changed into dark and hot can be changed into cold, but cold cannot be changed into light. The same is true with emotions.

Emotions exist in pairs, on a pole as opposites. For example, there is happy and sad, love and hate, anxiety and anticipation. Happy and sad are of the same pole and can be changed from one to the other. The same is true with anxiety and anticipation. Nervous presenters allow their energy to manifest as anxiety, while polished presenters channel that energy into anticipation.

The same energy that creates nervousness or anxiety can create anticipation or excitement. There are many strategies for shifting the energy to the higher end of the pole. The most helpful are mental strategies. To keep the energy anticipatory and exciting, focus thoughts on positive aspects of presenting. Visualize only success. Imagine the benefits of presenting and focus on the opportunity rather than the challenge.

Another strategy for shifting the energy is to get in touch with the physical feeling of anxiety in our body. Where is the feeling centered? Is it in the gut, throat, or somewhere else? Once located, move it up one inch higher and notice how the emotion changes. This mental and physical relocation will shift the emotion to the higher, more positive pole of anticipation or excitement. Do this exercise anytime nervousness strikes, even just before the presentation.

To summarize, everyone gets nervous when they present, even the pros. Nervousness is nothing but excess energy that we can use to generate an emotional state of anxiety or anticipation. Be gentle with yourself and make friends with the energy by focusing on the positive aspects of presenting. Know that the energy can propel you to great presentations by giving you the necessary competitive edge.

Mary Sandro

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Posted by mark - June 30, 2010 at 6:56 pm

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In Re Salomon Analyst Metromedia Litig.: Rebuttable Presumption of Fraud-on-the-market Extended to Analysts


In Douglas Millowitz v. Citigroup Global Markets et al (“In Re Salomon Analyst Metromedia Litigation”), 544 F.3d 474 (2nd Cir. 2008), the Second Circuit extended the fraud-on-the-market presumption of reliance, first set forth in Basic v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988), to analyst reports. The Court also stated that defendants should be afforded the opportunity to rebut that presumption at the class certification stage in an effort to prevent certification. The opinion may make it harder to pursue class actions in some securities fraud cases.


In re Salomon Analyst Metromedia Litigation, 544 F.3d 474 (2nd Cir. 2008),  (“Salomon”), the plaintiffs – an alleged class — were investors in Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. (“Metromedia”). They claimed that defendants Citigroup, Citicorp USA, Salomon Smith Barney, and Salomon’s research analyst Jack Grubman defrauded buyers and sellers of Metromedia stock through materially false and misleading statements in Grubman’s analyst reports, in violation of section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the SEC Rule 10b-5. Grubman’s reports, which included “Buy” recommendations, were overly optimistic about Metromedia’s potential and touted a $350 million Citicorp credit facility for Metromedia without disclosing problems and delays with the facility.

Plaintiffs alleged that Grubman made the false and misleading statements to attract business for Salomon from Metromedia, which would increase Grubman’s income. As Grubman was an influential analyst, his positive reports were able to drive up share prices.

The Southern District of New York had granted class certification, finding that the proposed class representatives met the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(a) requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy; it also determined that common questions of law or fact among class members predominated over individual class member questions, pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3).

The district court agreed with the plaintiffs that their reliance on the statements could be presumed under the fraud-on-the-market doctrine set forth in Basic v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988) (discussed in detail below), and that the doctrine could be applied to analysts as well as issuer statements. The district court rejected the defendants’ argument that plaintiffs had to show materiality of the statements by showing that those statements actually “moved the market” – the district court determined that plaintiffs’ demonstration of a “substantial likelihood” that the analyst reports altered the total mix of information available to the public was sufficient.

The Fraud-on-the-market presumption and its application to analysts

In order to successfully pursue a 10b-5 claim, plaintiffs must prove “(1) a misstatement or omission (2) of a material fact (3) made with scienter (4) upon which the plaintiff relied (5) that proximately caused the plaintiff’s loss.” McDonald v. Alan Bush Brokerage Co., 863 F.2d 809, 814 (11th Cir.1989) (citation omitted). The fraud-on-the-market doctrine holds that when certain conditions are present, the element of reliance (the fourth element listed above) may be presumed.

The fraud-on-the-market presumption was established in the Basic case in recognition of the fact that “[t]he modern securities markets, literally involving millions of shares changing hands daily, differ from the face-to-face transactions contemplated by early fraud cases.” 485 U.S. at 243-44. The Basic court held that plaintiffs in a securities fraud action are entitled to a presumption of reliance on the misleading statements where: (1) the security was traded in an open, impersonal, efficient market; (2) the alleged misrepresentations were publicly made; and (3) the misrepresentations were material. Id. at 244-47. The Basic court based this doctrine on the notion that “in an open and developed securities market, the price of a company’s stock is determined by the available material information regarding the company and its business.” Id. at 243.

The Basic court ruling certainly benefitted securities fraud plaintiffs, and purported classes in particular. Since class members have to prove that common questions of fact or law predominate to obtain certification, a presumption of reliance obviates the need to individually query each class member to ascertain a common claim of reliance. The presumed reliance makes it more likely that class certification is appropriate.

In Salomon, the district court held – and the Second Circuit agreed – that the fraud-on-the-market presumption set forth in Basic can be applied to more than merely issuer statements. Both courts rejected defendants’ argument that Basic was not applicable to analysts, noting that nothing in the Basic opinion suggested such a restriction. 544 F.3d at 481. The Second Circuit stated that “the premise of Basic is that, in an efficient market, share prices reflect all publicly available information, and, hence, any material misrepresentations” and therefore it “does not matter, for purposes of establishing entitlement to the presumption, whether the misinformation was transmitted by an issuer, an analyst, or anyone else.” Id. While the court did not go so far as to allow Basic to be applied to all speakers, it confirmed applicability of the doctrine to secondary actors such as analysts. Id. at 484, n.8.

Plaintiffs’ proof of materiality of the misrepresentation

Under the Basic doctrine, the plaintiffs still have to prove that the misrepresentation was “material” in order to establish the presumption of reliance. As noted above, the Salomon defendants argued that plaintiffs had to establish that the misrepresentation “moved the market” – had a measurable impact on the stock price – in order to prove materiality. This argument was rejected by both the district and circuit courts.

However, the Second Circuit set forth a new standard for proof of materiality that leaves open questions and conflict between Circuits. The Second Circuit stated that “plaintiffs must show that the statement is material (a prima facie showing will not suffice).” 544 F.3d at 486, n.9. In other words, the Second Circuit would require more than a prima facie showing of materiality, but less than proof that the statement “moved the market.” The Second Circuit did not specify how much or how little evidence would be sufficient to meet this in-between standard, leaving that question open for future litigants.

This new standard articulated by the Second Circuit conflicts with the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in Oscar Private Equity Investments v. Allegiance Telecom Inc., 487 F.3d 261 (5th Cir. 2007). The Oscar court required the plaintiffs to prove “loss causation – that an alleged misstatement ‘actually moved the market’” before they could establish a presumption of reliance at the class certification stage. 487 F.3d at 265. The Oscar court required this level of proof “to tighten the requirements for plaintiffs seeking a presumption of reliance.” Id.

Although the Second Circuit was aware of the Oscar decision when it wrote the Salomon opinion, the Second Circuit did not acknowledge the conflict between its holding and Oscar in its opinion.

Defendants may rebut the presumption at the class certification stage

The fraud-on-the-market presumption is rebuttable. Defendants can rebut the elements that gave rise to the presumption by showing, “for example, that the market price was not affected by the alleged misstatements, other statements in the ‘sea of voices’ of market commentary were responsible for price discrepancies, or particular plaintiffs may not have relied on market price.” 544 F.3d at 485. The question before the Second Circuit in Salomon, however, was when defendants can present their rebuttal evidence.

The district court had determined that it could not consider defendants’ rebuttal evidence prior to class certification because that would require the court to weigh merits-related evidence at the class certification stage, which was prohibited under Caridad v. Metro-North Commuter R.R., 191 F.3d 283 (2nd Cir. 1999). However, after the district court issued its opinion and before the appellate briefing, the Second Circuit decided In re Initial Public Offering Sec. Litig., 471 F.3d 24 (2d Cir. 2006), which overruled Caridad on this issue. In re IPO required a district court to make a “definitive assessment” that the Rule 23(b)(3) predominance requirement had been met, necessitating consideration defendants’ rebuttal arguments.

As a result, the court clarified that defendants should be able to present their rebuttal arguments at the class certification stage. As a result, the Second Circuit reversed and remanded the case to give defendants the opportunity to present evidence rebutting the Basic presumption prior to class certification.

Joel B. Ginsberg

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Posted by mark - June 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

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A ‘candidential’ Who’s Who


A New Astrological Look At The Current Presidential Candidates

by Suzanne White

Buffalo. June 2006 – Bill Clinton was working the back of the room at Chef’s, a busy checkered tablecloth spaghetti restaurant in the city center. Like a friendly navy blue Lab, Clinton bounded up to table after table of astounded Buffalonians, shook hands with them all, kissed the regulation number of babies and hugged one or two huge flowered ladies over sixty real hard till their glasses fell askew.

“He’s so tall.” gasped my sister-in-law, Nicole. “and handsome.”

What could Bill Clinton be doing in downtown Buffalo? thought I, pretending to study the huge plasticated menu, whilst keeping an eye peeled on Big Bill’s progress.

My brother George, a terminally tranquil seventy-two year old convicted life term Republican was suddenly in motion. First, he fidgeted his beer glass to his lips and squinted in amazement over top of the glass’s rim as the immense blue-suited apparition hove our way. By the time Clinton was upon us, George had gone all sedate and respectful. He had decorously placed his napkin on the table beside his plate, gotten to his feet and extended his hand. “Mr. President.” I heard him say reverentially. “Tickled pink to meet you.”

Bill shook his hand amiably, performing that chummy demeaning hold onto your wrist thing that patronising men do to each other sometimes. It looks like the first guy is stealing the other guy’s right cuff link. But Bill was just being his charming presidential self. “What should I order here?” Bill asked George. “They say it’s pretty good. What would you suggest I eat here today?”

The last time I had seen my brother paralyzed was at Buffalo Children’s Hospital when he had polio at age 12. The look on his face said, Do I advise this Democrat punk about the hearty home-cookin’ here in my favorite Italian restaurant? Or should I steer him to the heartburn column?

Clinton stood fast, waiting for his culinary tip. With that dopey

Labrador grin on his face, he looked so calm he might have been asleep.

To an experienced politician like Bill Clinton, Republicans probably have a certain smell. To me, it looked like Bill had diagnosed old Georgie from afar and decided to try to do a quickie on the spot party conversion. His unspoken message was: Hey chum. You got an Armani knit polo shirt on. Gucci loafers without tassles. You look like a guy who knows his Italian cuisine. The truth, they say, is the ultimate con.

Still immobilized, my brother half sat, holding the menu up so as Bill could easily read all the available dishes: Pasta, Calzones, Lasagna, Meatballs – the usual suspects. “You ought to have this one. Mr. President.” intoned George, pointing to a square in the center of the menu. “It’s the specialty of the house.”

“Did you order that?” Bill wondered. George nodded and smiled goofily up at Bill. Yes indeedy, he had.

The die was cast. My strictly conservative Reaganite brother George had just fallen in love.

By now, the entire restaurant was in heat. A kind of groupie estrus malaise had come over all the women. I was the worst hit. A 68 year old 16-year-old with a digital camera. I kept hot flashing it up at the towering Bill as he still stood near our table now talking to Chef’s Restaurant’s owner who is of course called Chef.

“You were born on the same day as me,” Chef told Bill. “August 19, 1946.”

“Oh that is a co-incidence now, isn’t it?” said Bill.

I had written a New York Times Op-ed piece about Clinton when he was running against Dole. It was all about New Astrology signs and how Clinton was a Leo born in a Dog year and Dole was a Virgo born in a Pig year and what that meant for the outcome of the election. I had, even back then, compared Bill Clinton to a Labrador who jumps up on you and laps off your makeup just to say hello. Eager and friendly but perhaps not all that well-bred.

FYI, this Bill Clinton person is a giant. I looked up and shouted over the restaurant’s hysterical din, “You’re a Leo/Dog! You are both Leo/Dogs.”

The way those men looked down at me then made me sure that both Clinton and the Chefster had me figured me for some batty old woman who lives half-snockered in a trailer under the overpass outside the city limits and who dreams of having something – anything – even her obituary – published in The New York Times.

But Bill had nonetheless connected. “A Leo/Dog huh?” He hollered back down to me.

“Yes.” I shouted. “You are a Leo and you were born in a Dog year. That makes you a Leo/Dog in New Astrology. I invented it. It’s a book!”

Now I was really a rattling loony tunes. I got that old sizzly feeling of impending immortality. I was talking to a former president of the United States about The New Astrology. It was like sitting right next to Salvador Dali in the cinéma in Paris. I did that once too. It also felt sizzly.

“Well,” said Bill, leaning down to me. “I’m a Leo/Dog, huh.

“Yep.” I chirped. “That’s what I said. You are a Leo/Dog.”

He smiled, placed his big hand on my shivering shoulder, gave a nod and confided, “I’ve been called worse.”

I can’t help it. I brake for a man with brains. For me, in a man, income level, social status and availability are irrelevant. They have to be smart and make me laugh. Otherwise, what good are they?

Now let’s have a look at the current presidential candidates… and their brains.

D- Barack Obama is a Leo too. He was born in 1961. In The New Astrology, that makes him a Leo/Ox. Like Napoleon Bonaparte and Louis Armstrong and Monica Lewinski. Dictator, jazzman and uh…. Tough cookie?

D- Hillary Clinton is a Scorpio. She was born in 1947. She’s a Scorpio/Pig, Like Marie-Antoinette and Chiang-Kai-Shek and our own Kevin Kline. These whiz kid people drip canny authenticity. They often benefit from unusual destinies.

D- John Edwards? He’s a Gemini born in 1953. That’s a Gemini/Snake like John F Kennedy and Bobby Dylan and Brooke Shields. Irresistibly attractive, meticulous, slick and ever so clever at fibbing.

D- Dennis Kuchinich is a Libra born in 1946, a Dog year. There are lots of famous Libra/Dogs like: George Gershwin and Susan Sarandon and Brigitte Bardot. Good people. Just. Fair. Honest. Hardworking and frequently out-of-sorts with the mainstream.

R- Rudy Giuliani is a Gemini/Monkey from 1944. He’s in good company with the Duchess of Windsor and the Marquis de Sade. Agile. Shrewd. Imperious. A tester of social convention. .

R- Mike Huckabee is a Virgo/Goat from 1943. There’s a slew of famous Virgo/Goats . A most eclectic lot they are too: Larry Hagman, George Wallace and Jean-Claude Killy. Eccentric. Lovable. Large-scale. Dogmatic. But can he ski?

R- John McCain was born in late August of 1936. He’s a Virgo/Rat. A couple of his birthmates are song and dance men, Maurice Chevalier and Gene Kelly. The sunny kind of Rat. Capable and power hungry.

R- Mitt Romney is a Pisces born in 1947 which makes him a Pisces/Pig in New Astrology. Pigs are naïve but they can very convincing. He shares a New Astrology sign with L. Ron Hubbard. Is this the sign of the preacher man?

Each of these New Astrology© signs is double. They blend the person’s western month sign with his or her Chinese Year sign and come up with a whole new character type. Caution! Cast not thy vote before swine.

Suzanne White

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Posted by mark - June 8, 2010 at 9:04 pm

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A George Bush Farewell

I doubt that many have bookmarked or written in their calendars the George Bush farewell speech for tonight. But, nonetheless, President George W. Bush’s farewell speech is more than a goodbye to the nation that elected him twice. History will judge him more correctly as is the case with all of us.

It is his last chance in office to define his tumultuous presidency in his own, unfiltered terms – a mission that will keep his fire burning even after he fades off to a quieter life.

Bush will say goodbye to the country Thursday night. He will follow the script of Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and many before them: Express thanks to the country and pride in the honor of serving, wish the next president well and outline what he considers to be the biggest challenges ahead.

The transition is truly on. Obama is back stage and ready.

Bush and his loyal backers see his record this way: He kept the country safe from attack after terrorism redefined his presidency, cut taxes, freed the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, reformed education, oversaw 52 straight months of job growth, acted decisively when the economy tanked, stuck to principle no matter what his poll numbers, retooled the military and improved federal crisis management after the worst U.S. natural disaster happened on his watch.

To his critics, Bush wasted the world’s good will after the Sept. 11 attacks, got the nation into a catastrophic and avoidable Iraq war, presided over a staggering 2.6 million jobs lost in 2008, ran up debt, reacted slowly to Hurricane Katrina, did more dividing than uniting and refused to listen to the will of the people.

I’m sure we each have our opinions, but as humans, as Americans, may we thank he and his family for serving eight long years wherein his life was not his, but given to a greater cause.

Ernie Fitzpatrick

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Posted by mark - June 6, 2010 at 1:11 am

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Churchill’s During World War II and Its Aftermath

The growing rapacity of German gluttony forced Hitler to take over Austria in 1938 and threaten Czechoslovakia. In Britain this produced a national crisis which resulted in Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s meeting Hitler in September 1938 at Berchtesgaden. Chamberlain returned from the meeting announcing ‘peace in our time’ which was abruptly smashed when Hitler invaded Prague in March 1939. Soon after given Western weakness and hesitation to work with the Soviet Union Stalin formed a pact with the Nazi’s guaranteeing Russian security and the partitioning of Eastern Europe between the Bear and the Hun. There was nothing to stop Hitler from destroying Poland and then turning his malevolence towards the West.

Public anger which had exploded after the subjugation of Prague had forced Chamberlain to give the improvident pledge to guarantee Poland’s security. Militarily and rationally this was an impossibility. The British did not possess a large enough standing army to lend help to Poland to stem a German advance and the logistics of transferring military relief to Poland was never calculated. Only the Navy was possessed war making power and there was little the Navy could do to defend Poland. She was invaded on the first of September and the Second World War began. Churchill was immediately recalled into power as First Lord of the Admiralty – the very same post he had assumed control of 25 years previous on the eve of the First World War.

From day one of the war Churchill was the true Leader of Britain. Chamberlain was defeatist and broken hearted remarking bitterly how his life’s work was now tragically sundered. He did not have the capability to rouse a nation and persevere to the bitter end. Winston as Naval War Lord was not only attacking the enemy on the seas but combating defeatist elements at home and trying to prod the blind neutral nations into action. Only Churchill could utter with true conviction and spirit, “Now we have begun; now we are going on; now with the help of God, and with the conviction that we are the defenders of Civilisation and Freedom, we are going on, and we are going on to the end.”

The Royal Navy was the only strong force that Britain possessed and from the opening bell the naval squads were on the offensive. Churchill worked at least an 18 hour day. Plans were drawn for a blockade of the German coast, convoy arrangements were made; mine-sweeping was instituted, enemy raiders harassed and submarines sunk. By the end of 1939 the Royal Navy had sunk half of all German submarines. However the war was only in its infancy. Great battles loomed.

On May 10 1940 the Germans began their vicious assault on the West. The Hun streamed into Holland and Belgium. That night the King of England sent for Churchill and asked him to form a government. Thus began the creation of the Churchill legend and his enshrinement into history. The story of the British war effort under Churchill falls into two distinct categories – the struggle to survive and the establishment of the alliance with the USA and Russia and the ultimate destruction of Germany and Japan.

The battle to survive covers the twelve or so months that Britain fought Germany completely alone in 1940-1. This period covered the dazzlingly quick disappearance of France under the heel of the Gestapo in June of 1940 to the German attack on Russia in June of 1941. This grim year brought horrible highlights; the partition of France, the formation of the pro-Nazi French Vichy government, the battle of Britain, the blitz on London, the beginning of the North African desert war, the defeat of Greece, and the British Commando raids along the Norwegian and French coasts.

It was during this sombre episodic current of ruin that Churchill became the most inspirational Leader of the Western world in the 20th century. He portrayed the towering, implacable fierceness of a proud nation, and of liberty, and expressed every free man’s tenacity to fight in words that no other could have summoned forth. Winston’s knowledge of military matters and his close operational vigilance over all affair animated and excited the British war effort with a boldness that astonished. British prestige in this desperate hour reached its highest ever pitch. The world over prayed for its salvation and success.

The immense energy and illimitable skill that throbbed and turned in his heart and mind was at last released from its bondage and given full scope of use. Churchill no longer knew the frustration of ideas that could not be brought alive, vitality that could not be expended, or ingenious approaches that could not be tested. The supreme challenge was met by a man of supreme stature. The Government was turned upside down. Routine was destroyed. Twenty four activity the rule with Churchill as the master organiser. All knew their place and role. Churchill immediately established a small War Cabinet to make effective and quick decisions. At first the membership was four which grew during the war to seven. This tiny all powerful directing force was supported by sixty or seventy other ministers of all parties who formed the core membership of the Coalition government but responsible only for their own departments. As Churchill pointed out, it was only the members of the War Cabinet, “who had the right to have their heads cut off on Tower Hill if we did not win.”

Never before in modern history did one man have so much power. Churchill was everywhere. He not only controlled the government but the operational side of the conflict as well. He was not only the King’s First Minister but Leader of the House of Commons and, even more important Minister of Defence also. The military Chiefs of Staff instead of reporting to their own ministries reported instead directly to Churchill. The Joint Planning Committee – a body of professional staff officers of all three services – worked under Churchill as part of the Ministry of Defence rather than under the Chiefs of Staff. Thus by permission of the War Cabinet and Parliament Churchill became the penultimate democratic Leader.

No one can study Churchill’s part in the war without being staggered by the colossal output of interests, dictation’s, orders, speeches, broadcasts, plans, promotions and prunings. In military matters he covered an almost incomprehensible range of activity. When Britain stood alone and the nation was bracing itself for the storm of invasion Churchill was racing about the government demanding attack plans, offensive action and targets of British incursions. He demanded the end of the passive war. Thus the commando raids were born. He participated during the war in every operational plan and strategy demanding full technical elaboration’s and missives to be sent to his attention. “During the war,” the American General Eisenhower later testified, “Churchill maintained such close contact with all operations as to make him a virtual member of the British Chiefs of Staff; I cannot remember any major discussion with them in which he did not participate.”

Churchill’s power was dependent upon the War Cabinet. It is a tribute to his skill of persuasion that unlike Roosevelt or Stalin, who were by their constitutions absolute military leaders of their nation, Churchill exercised his authority only by the permission of the War Cabinet who were willing to grant this authority only so long as Winston commanded the confidence of Parliament. Much of Parliament’s confidence was bolstered by Churchill’s impassioned, humanised and soaring orations. No man or women in the British Commonwealth who heard on June 4 1940 that France was being devoured by the German beast, will forget the tingling of emotion and courage when Churchill uttered in a strange, hoarse voice: “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever he cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle until in God’s good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

Another Leader may have uttered, “We will do what is necessary to win this war and persevere in its struggle until it is won. This government believes in the ultimate ability of our nation to come through to victory.” Or something to that effect. Very few would have evinced the crescendo of emotional “We shall’s” in a peroration. Churchill gave the roar to the British lion and heart to the British public. Romance, history, philosophy and leadership all running in the cloud-burst of Churchill’s speeches and leadership of the war effort. But though he carried his role with pride, prompt execution and relish in no way implies a cold heart or an acceptance of war’s carnage. The suffering that he saw, and he saw a lot with his own eyes as he inspected damage through Britain, on more than one occasion pushed him into tears. When Churchill saw a small shop in ruins and wondered out loud to his private secretary the anguish that the owner must feel to have his whole life exploded and ruptured so completely, he became so visibly upset that he resolved at that moment to compensate all damaged property with state payments. Thus the policy of war damage for private assets came into effect. If Churchill enjoyed the waging of war he certainly suffered from the anguish it induced and endeavoured to share its destruction with the common man and woman.

The second phase of the war lasted from the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7 1941 until the end of the war. Until 1944 the British and Russian armies bore the brunt of the struggle against the demented German race. From early 1944 onwards the Americans assumed a greater share and responsibility of the war effort and began to relegate the British to a supporting role in the drive to victory. Roosevelt and Churchill met nine times during the war establishing a strong if short lived friendship. The Americans including Roosevelt were incorrectly convinced that Churchill and the British wanted to expand their Empire.

This calamitous suspicion allowed the Russians more freedom in Eastern Europe than the British would ever have tolerated. As early as 1943 with victory a matter of time and logistics Churchill implored the American leadership not to let Soviet ambition run unimpeded in Eastern Europe. The American reply was incredibly purblind and vague. It appears in scouring the documents and American communiqués that they trusted the Soviets to behave themselves more than their close allies the British ! Eisenhower and many of his chiefs remarked in letters and in meetings that they could not understand why the British constantly mixed politics and military affairs.

To the British this represented reality and the best hope to avoid another world war with the Soviets after the defeat of Germany. Churchill and his advisors even preached that upon the war’s closing everything necessary should be attempted to revive Germany as a bulwark against the pending Soviet menace. The Americans felt that such targets as Prague, Berlin and Vienna were unnecessary military ventures that would endanger the lives of their men. If the Soviets wanted to shed more life in attacking these seemingly remote locations than the Americans were content to let them. The British just shook their heads in dismay unable to impress the Americans with their superior logic. Victory was attained but it set the stage for the Cold War.

The fact that the British survived the early years of the war when Germany swept all before it and that the British evaded a complete national disaster at Dunkirk and defeated the Nazi’s in the air during the Battle of Britain, issued during the remainder of the war and for a short period after it, an inflated sense of self destiny and strength and even an isolationist mentality. The collective suffering and emotional agony endured by the entire British nation also gave express an imbued spirit of egalitarianism. The depth of this communal desire was the most profound in British history and exercised a new faith in social planning and cohesion. During Churchill’s premiership in the war the most celebrated social reconstruction document of the period was the report by William Beveridge which outlined a radical scheme of comprehensive social security, financed from central taxation. This new state aided social plan included maternity benefits, child allowances, universal health and unemployment insurance, old age pension and death benefits – an entire cradle to grave policy. From 1940-45 Britain moved more rapidly to the left than at any time in history a move marked by the important positions Labour ministers occupied in the war government.

At the end of World War II in 1945, Britain was still one of the Big 3 powers, indeed it was ranked as a great power, an illusion that held until about 1963. The British still had their empire in 1945 and in the ensuing years they could still produce great artists and Nobel prize winners, but much to the chagrin of Churchill and the leadership class British glory was long past. The rapid decolonisation of most of its empire — India, Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka — and parts of Africa shedded from British finance much unneeded expense and worry, and solidified Britain’s secondary role in world affairs subordinate to the USA and Russia.

Success in conflict notwithstanding the British electorate in the 1945 general election shockingly kicked Churchill and the Conservatives from office by an overwhelming share. For the third time the Labour party was called forth to govern. Churchill after leading the democracies to attain the supreme glories and garlands of success instantly found himself shorn of privilege and casted into opposition. It was a role he obviously did not appreciate. For Churchill defeat was only explained by the plain fact that people believed his government to be a war council, unprepared for the extended restructuring of society that peace demanded. Labour presented a sharper and more intelligent platform and catalogue of change. The Conservatives were quite content to rest upon Churchill’s name and ignore the organisation and deliverance of a viable alternative to the Labour programme.

Whilst Churchill harried the Labour government and began the rebuilding of the Conservative party to respond to public and peace-time pressure he began the personal memoirs of the great struggle and in the absence of anything else offered by the other leaders – Stalin, Roosevelt, Truman, or Hitler – Churchill was able to dictate on the best terms and in the most convincing language possible, his and Britannia’s exalted position in the struggle against evil. It was an incomparable success, ensuring that in times forward, historians would favourably compare the works of Thucydides and those of Churchill. Both men represented and recorded their times and events on an unparalleled scale.

What Churchill was able to offer the reader was a glimpse into the details of history’s most horrible man-made disaster. The wicked folly of the conflict was evident at the war’s end. Whole nations lay in ruins. Towns, cities, industrial plants and transportation facilities were erased. Food and life essentials were unavailable to great migratory populations. Cynicism and disillusionment in Europe and elsewhere bred the shift to the political left. Marxism replaced Fascism as an acceptable form of social order. Communism erupting from poverty, spread like an open wound across Asia and Europe. With the complete eradication of Nagasaki and Hiroshima the nuclear age dawned. Moral questionings loudly divided those in the West over the usage of weapons of such finality – especially against a prostrate Japan. Dropping two bombs three days apart on a nation that was in the process of trying to negotiate an exit from the war seemed to many morally reprehensible. It was an inauspicious beginning to the scientific era.

The United States and Russia emerged from the rubble of the war as opponents. Russia was mauled and mutilated by the war with over 20 million dead and whole sections of her country raped. The USA stood at war’s end possessing a massive ego and the greatest economic supremacy in history. The big two were joined by the little third – Great Britain – and the three during the war and after drove the discussions regarding the build up of the United Nations. Most vexing to the Allies in the construction of the United Nations Assembly was whether members were obliged to surrender part or all of their own independence to the new body in order to maintain peace. How would it be possible to invest such a supranational body with enough force to enforce decisions ? How would the large powers relate to the smaller in the decision making of such a forum ? At Moscow in 1943 the Big Three resolved many of these issues and in Washington in 1944, joined by China, hammered out the shape of the new international body. At the Yalta conference in 1945, the Big Three came to terms on the matter of securing for each of the major powers the right to veto decisions of the new international body. This allowed the creation of the UNO charter at San Francisco in April 1945 which clearly identified the principles and responsibilities of the new organisation. Fifty one founding nations signed the document and in September 1945 the UNO opened its headquarters in New York.

Comprising the UNO were principally the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. Most power resided in the Security Council which was given the task of maintaining the peace. Five permanent members sit in the council; the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China and France and six other nations are elected for two year terms as non-permanent members. The permanent members retained veto power with all resolutions needing the consent of the five permanent nations before passing.

In contrast to the Security Council the UNO General Assembly was shaped by all the member states each wielding one nation one vote rights. International problems are to be solved in an open forum and mandates need to be passed by majority vote. This effectively gives the smaller nations more voice in international affairs. The Secretariat acting as the permanent secretary of the UNO concerned itself with internal operations with its Secretary General the highest profiled member of the UNO, exerting wide diplomatic powers emanating from the prestige of the office.

Thus the founding of the UNO was an expression of hope by the survivors of the Second World War. Quickly this vision was marred and jaded by political ineptitude and quivering resolve by the UNO in major affairs. There was little effective work during the Cold War that could be resoundingly accomplished. This war which was contested by two sides that viewed the other as monolithic or controlling inimical forces, could never have been settled via diplomatic channels. The mental straitjackets of both sides; with the Soviet Union believing that the capitalist West controlled by a few monied financiers who desired the destruction of communism and especially the Soviet Union and which would never grant the Russians fair credit in defeating Hitler; and the West believing that Russia controlled the communistic movement world-wide and that communism and especially Russia wanted to overthrow the better functioning liberal states, could only end with the breakdown of one of the combatants. The demise of Marxism gave spring to the hope of a liberal-democratic world.

The major events since 1945 can be summarised in a short list;
– The Collapse of Communism
– The Triumph of Capitalism
– The beginning of the High Tech Era
– The Decline of the USA and the re-emergence of Europe, Japan and China
– The Fragmentation of parts of the world into tribes
– Ecological dislocation
– Growing disparity between the have and have-not nations
– Emerging militant Islamism
– Questioning over the role of the UNO

The most momentous and important event however has been the spread of globalism. Economically, morally, and spiritually people are viewing themselves regardless of race, kin, geography or circumstance as belonging to the entire human race and not a limited defined tribe. Though tribalism in some areas of the world is taking hold even within these identified units a greater consciousness is emanating out to the rest of the globe that though distinct there resides a desire and need to be integrated into a global framework. Economics, peace and ecological salvation commonsensically dictate this. So do the various images from space capturing a small blue ball in the surroundings of space. Somehow this humbles even the largest of egos. So even as, in some parts of the world, balkanisation is shattering mature states, the pieces will still be forced to bond not only together but somehow they will need to align themselves to the greater puzzle that resides outside their narrow borders. It is only by collective effort that the solutioning of poverty, ecological rapine, and the stoppage of war can be peacefully effected.

Churchill died just after the Cuban missile crisis during a bitter period of Cold War strife, which almost pushed the world into a nuclear confrontation. Though he felt certain of liberal-democracy’s triumph he did not see the maturity of his concept. And though he sustained an undying faith in the ability of man to overcome his worst problems we can be sure that without using the leadership skills presented through his example we will have a very difficult time indeed.

C. Read

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Posted by mark - June 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

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