Category Archives: Interview

Colbert on O’Reilly’s…

Make that “on O’Reilly’s sack.”

In a match of wits, the two TV pundits exchange pleasantries and insights as Colbert offers his full adulation to his idol: the one and only Papa Bear.

What’s amazing is that Colbert not once breaks character as a staunch advocate of conservative politics, even as he’s taking the piss like a horse, and production assistants behind the cameras giggle audibly, and that O’Reilly, in turn,  not once breaks the Fox News mold of naive sternness, alternating with helpless puzzlement at the world as a whole. O’Reilly seems so hellbent to not be pulled in by Colbert and win the shiny, imaginary Fox News trophy of non-satire, he can’t even manage a single funny comeback. It’s like watching a professional carpenter bringing a file to a nailing.

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Auf die Kleinen…

Seit längerem wieder mal ein Interview gefunden, das mit erhellenden Einsichten zum Verhalten der Schweizer StimmbürgerInnen an der Urne aufwartet. So zum Unterschied zwischen Wut und Ressentiments, warum sich der Frust nicht gegen die Mächtigen, sondern gegen die Machtlosen richtet, und was die Fasnacht allenfalls zu bieten hätte, um Abhilfe zu schaffen.

Wenn es nur etwas mehr Leute rechtzeitig gelesen hätten. (Auszüge weiter unten.)

Gerade hinsichtlich des heutigen Stimmergebnisses, das zeigt, dass ausgerechnet die Leute von Genf, den ganzen Jurabogen hoch bis Basel (plus ZH) der Bedrohung einer Bodeninvasion von ennet der Grenze eher gelassen entgegensehen, während die Bewohner des Reduits in den fernen Alpentälern die Vorstellung, ohne ihre – ungeladene – Armeewaffe sein zu  müssen, eher beunruhigend finden. So zumindest versteh ich das Ergebnis der Initiative “Für den Schutz vor Waffengewalt,” wenn ich mal von rationellen Überlegungen ausgehe. Aber gerade darin könnte ich falsch liegen..

Mehr dazu im Interview:

Rachel Vogt interviewt Daniel Strassberg in der WOZ.

Auszüge gibt’s hier:

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Gil Scott-Heron is back with the devil

Gil Scott-Heron ist back. For those who don’t know him, he was one of the most outspoken black poets and social critics of the 70ties. He is widely considered to be a frontrunner for modern hiphop. His most famous poem is “The revolution will not be televised”.

The Guardian has an interview up now:

“People keep saying I disappeared,” the singer tells me, laughing heartily, when I speak to him. “Well, that’s a gift I didn’t know I had. You ever see someone disappear? That makes me a superhero, right?”

The humour, though, conceals a great deal of heartbreak and an epic struggle with addiction, both of which are referred to obliquely on his raggedly brilliant version of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil” on the new album. “Early this mornin’, when you knocked upon my door”, he sings, “And I said, “Hello, Satan, I believe it’s time to go.”

Though Gil Scott-Heron insists he did not disappear, that he kept playing club gigs in America and did the occasional tour, that he was writing, if not recording, the news that kept on filtering back from his long winter in America was always bleak. It seemed at times as if the most astute musical social commentator of the 70s and 80s had metamorphosed into a character from one of his own sad songs of suffering and struggle. On the sombre and still-startling “Home Is Where The Hatred Is”, recorded in 1971, he described a junkie trapped in a blighted inner-city ghetto who lived inside “white powder dreams”. Thirty-odd years later, he seemed to be living those lyrics.

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Stewart and O’Reilly

Even though they might be considered (and somehow are) opponents in the media field, I keep wondering how the two, who make it their daily business to slag off the other’s show and audience, manage to keep such a civil and good-natured tone when they guest on the other’s programme every once in a while. It’s like playing the dozens. Both are hitting the punchlines, but will only go so far as the other’s dignity isn’t hurt. Which is normal for Jon, but an exception for Bill. So kudos for sucking it in, Bill.  Stewart shows his superiority (and implicitly Bill’s boneheadedness) by going the self-deprecating route, cracking jokes at his own expense, which Bill is very reluctant to  do. Not that he couldn’t, it’s just that his audience doesn’t get irony. It’s probably the Fox News network’s policy to not get people thinking by throwing them off with irony and satire.

Currently, Jon is going to be interviewed on The O’Reilly Factor today and tomorrow night (CET) and I’d be curious how that goes.

For old time’s sake, here’s an appearance Jon made on The O’Reilly Factor 6 years ago (when the US were one year into the Iraq invasion.) Great stuff.

For the brandnew interview, peep O’Reilly. The interview is in three parts.

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David Simon is the man

This here is a nice interview with “The Wire” creator David Simon. As you might know “The Wire” ist the greatest TV-show ever made – at least in my book.  It’s a pretty long interview about the show, writing for TV and the state of the US. Here’s a good quote:

“Good” being the operative word there. I don’t want to reduce The Wire to one big theme, but would you say that a major thrust of the series was the idea of institutions versus individuals?
Yeah, that permeated it. One of the things we were saying was that reform was becoming more and more problematic as moneyed interests—capitalism, which is sort of the ultimate Olympian god—become more entrenched in the postmodern world. Reform becomes more and more problematic because the status quo is arranged in such a way as to maximize profit and to exalt profit—particularly short-term profit—over long-term societal benefit and/or human beings.

Which is kind of the classic problem that comes up with capitalism and industry.
But I’m not a Marxist. I am often mistaken for a Marxist.

Oh, no, I wouldn’t guess that about you. I think of you as being, besides a writer, more of a critic and an observer.
It’s one thing to recognize capitalism for the powerful economic tool it is and to acknowledge that, for better or for worse, we’re stuck with it and, hey, thank God we have it. There’s not a lot else that can produce mass wealth with the dexterity that capitalism can. But to mistake it for a social framework is an incredible intellectual corruption and it’s one that the West has accepted as a given since 1980—since Reagan. Human beings—in this country in particular—are worth less and less. When capitalism triumphs unequivocally, labor is diminished. It’s a zero-sum game. People paid a much higher tax rate when Eisenhower was president, a much higher tax rate for the benefit of society, and all of us had more of a sense that we were included. But this is not what you really want to talk about, I know.

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What is the problem with Michael Jackson?

10 years later, we still haven’t a clue, to be honest.

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Mister Amnesia

There’s a terrible disease out there which is predominantly found in politicians and other public figures. I’m not a doctor, but my diagnosis is that it’s a dangerously widespread case of instant nostalgia favoured by selective memory loss and a deep wish to be loved after all with which passing statesmen look back onto their careers and manage to not only directly contradict everything they’ve ever done while they still had the power to get things sorted out,  but also have the nerve to build themselves an instant monument in the hope of being remembered as one of the well-meaners, and not as the cheap, lying cowards and corrupted bastards they really were.

Exhibit A: Ehud Olmert. (The list is long. Let’s start out small.)

Former mayor of Jerusalem, now about to end his short-cut career as interim Prime Minister of Israel. He was put in charge after Ariel Sharon fell into a coma in 2006 (speaking of whom, here’s a way of dodging criticism…) Recurring allegations of corruption have made Olmert choose to call for new elections a bit earlier. (Not that the next batch of old faces is any better, mind you.)

First, from the NY Review of Books:

Olmert, who served as deputy prime minister in the Kadima-led government, assumed the premiership in 2006 when Sharon suffered a stroke. He announced his intention to resign this July amid a growing corruption scandal and a dismal public approval rating that never recovered from his failed 2006 war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

[…]

Olmert: “I said it five years ago, in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, and I’ll say it to you today: we have a window of opportunity—a short amount of time before we enter an extremely dangerous situation—in which to take a historic step in our relations with the Palestinians and a historic step in our relations with the Syrians. In both instances, the decision we have to make is the decision we’ve spent forty years refusing to look at with our eyes open.

We must make these decisions, and yet we are not prepared to say to ourselves, “Yes, this is what we must do.” We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians, meaning a withdrawal from nearly all, if not all, of the [occupied] territories. Some percentage of these territories would remain in our hands, but we must give the Palestinians the same percentage [of territory elsewhere]—without this, there will be no peace.”

Despite this case of unblinking revisionism and blatant repositioning at a time when he just missed the opportunity to maybe NOT build the odd settlement for a change, and he’s had a lot of settlements built and extended, each new house being another “no way dude” in the face of Israeli withdrawal,  Time Magazine ends up buying his crocodile tears and makes Olmert’s look back a “swan song of historical importance.” As if the Palestinians needed yet another instance of teary-eyed lip services.

The realism behind Olmert’s change of heart is of tremendous import, summed up by one sentence: “The international community is starting to view Israel as a future binational state.” In other words, forget about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats to wipe Israel off the map. Echoing views he initially expressed in 2003, Olmert reasons that without an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the Jewish state faces the self-inflicted, mortal danger of being destroyed by demographics, overwhelmed by Muslim and Christian Arabs demanding political representation. Olmert fears that the international community could ultimately favor a one-state solution, thus spelling the death of the two-state partition that has been at the core of an acceptable Israeli-Palestinian solution for decades. “Time is not on Israel’s side,” Olmert says. “I used to believe that everything from the Jordan River bank to the Mediterranean Sea was ours … But eventually, after great internal conflict, I’ve realized we have to share this land with the people who dwell here — that is, if we don’t want to be a binational state.”

How cute to realize that time is not on Israel’s side. I bet waiting for better times is 100 times easier to take while you’re floating in your swimming pool in your state-subsidised settlement home, surrounded by green lawns and palmtrees and the army watching your ass than standing outside on the road, enduring the umpteenth cavity search so you can go see your aunt on the other side of town.

But there’s hope that not everybody’s buying Olmert’s sob story. In fact, it seems that everybody in Israel and the Territories has his own reason for exclaiming “good riddance.” Four views on bitterlemons.org.

Or to just quote from Ghassan Khatib’s farewell:

Ehud Olmert, who was elected three years ago as prime minister of Israel, will be remembered here as someone with an unprecedented and unique ability to combine peaceful and positive rhetoric with hostile and aggressive action vis-a-vis the Palestinians and Arabs in general.

A veteran supporter of the “greater Israel” ideology, Olmert nevertheless declared his intention to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and allow for the emergence of a Palestinian state after he was elected prime minister. In practical terms, however, he proved to be among those who did the most on the ground to prevent the possibility of two states ever emerging.

[…]

Olmert probably got away with the many contradictions between his rhetoric and actions because of the presence of an extremely biased American president. President Bush managed to confuse the terrorist organizations responsible for the September 11 attacks on the US–who were roundly condemned by everyone, including in the Arab and Muslim world–with the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to end the illegal and belligerent military occupation of their homeland. As a result he was exploited fully by the Israeli leaders present during his term in office, Sharon and Olmert.

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Understanding finance… and kicking it in the shin.

To refute the common excuse that nobody saw the financial crisis coming once and for all, here’s a pair of videos for your bitter enjoyment.

First off, it’s a brilliant visualization of the “Crisis of Credit”, by Jonathan Jarvis. He produced this film as part of his thesis in a Media Design Program and the result sure gets a “pass” from me.

Ever wondered how this giant muck up was possible? Or you kinda know but couldn’t really explain? Here’s a great way to do so.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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And now, since we’re slowly getting back on top of the issue, let’s watch how Mr. Funnyman, Jon Stewart, goes deep for a show, and that’s in the double sense of the term. He faces off with MSNBC’s Jim Cramer to give him and his audience the down-low on just how much of a crap job Jim is doing on his show “Mad Money”. And while serving up exhibit A-Z with video evidence, he effortlessly but thoroughly rips Jim a new a*hole. It’s both upsetting and refreshing to watch. The Daily Show should do this more often. The whole show with the complete setup to the duel is here (and the interview can even be watched in unedited segments, with a few extra minutes and more personal comments) and well worth peeping. Below is just a main segment to give you an idea.

The Daily Show: Brawl Street

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As bad as Jim Cramer ends up looking with his past as a hedge fund manager and current job posing as a market analyst on TV, it’s remarkable how both stay very civil and respectful of each other. That shows that he could probably do a lot better if he tried a bit.

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Things in the US: Workers unite

So, been quiet lately. Sorry, but I had some stuff on my mind. I’ll get into this with another post.

Nevertheless the world keeps moving, and we do indeed life in o so interesting times. Just found this piece of news from the motherland of capitalism:

Firing The Boss: An Interview with Chicago Factory Occupation Organizer

On December 5, 2008 over 200 recently-fired workers at the Republic Window and Doors factory in Chicago occupied their plant, demanding that they be paid their vacation and severance checks. The occupation ended victoriously six days later when the Bank of America and other lenders to Republic agreed to pay the workers the approximately $2 million owed to them.

But the workers didn’t stop there. They are now seeking ways to restart the factory and potentially operate it as a worker-run cooperative. The workers are also filing charges against their former employer for failing to give the workers sufficient notice of plans to shut the factory down; the workers were only given three days’ notice, and the management refused to negotiate with the workers’ union about the closure.

Benjamin Dangl: First, please briefly describe your role in the union, in the occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory, and the ongoing struggle of the Republic workers.

Mark Meinster: I’m an International Representative for the United Electrical Workers (UE).  My primary responsibility is to oversee the union’s organizing work and staff in Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI.  I was the lead organizer on the effort to organize the Republic workers into UE in 2004 and led negotiations for a first contract in 2005.  Since then I and UE Field Organizer Leah Fried have worked with the local on leadership and steward training, grievance handling and contract negotiations.   I coordinated the plant occupation at Republic Windows and Doors and participated in negotiations with the employer and the financial institutions involved and continue to work on efforts to reopen the plant.

BD: Could you please talk about some of the connections you see between the Republic workers’ struggle and actions, and the strategies and experiences of similar workers groups in Argentina and Venezuela and the landless farmers in Brazil? How did you learn about these struggles and come to apply them in Chicago as a union organizer?

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“Ein Rückfall in die Zeit vor der Gründung des Bundesstaats 1848”

Das angebliche Problem mit der Einbürgerung in der Schweiz leuchtet auch Regula Argast nicht ein. Sie ist Historikerin und Wissenschaftliche Assistentin an der Forschungsstelle für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Uni Zürich. Sie hat übrigens auch ein Buch über Staatsbürgerschaft und Nation geschrieben.

In einem Interview mit der WOZ gibt sie etwas Hintergrundinfo zu den letzten rund 100 Jahren Einbürgerung in der Schweiz.

Das Interview kann man entweder ganz lesen, oder, für die Vielbeschäftigten, sich auch vorlesen lassen:

Hier einige interessante Auszüge aus dem Interview:

In der Schweiz entscheiden die Gemeinden und Kantone über Einbürgerungen. Warum eigentlich nicht der Bund allein?

Der Grund liegt im Armenrecht, das seit dem 16. Jahrhundert mit dem Gemeindebürgerrecht verknüpft war. Die Gemeinden mussten die Verantwortung übernehmen für ihre verarmten Bürgerinnen und Bürger. Das hat sich erst im 20. Jahrhundert geändert, in den sechziger Jahren gab es die letzten sogenannten Heimschaffungen von Schweizern in ihre Heimatkantone. Erst seit 1975 bezieht man in der ganzen Schweiz Sozialhilfe am Wohnsitz und nicht in der Heimatgemeinde.

[…]

Die SVP fordert «demokratische» Einbürgerungen.

Das Demokratieverständnis der SVP ist ein ganz anderes als dasjenige, das dem liberalen Bundesstaat von 1848 zugrunde lag. Die demokratische Basis wurde laufend erneuert und erweitert. Nur ein Beispiel: 1856 und 1874 erhielten die Schweizer Juden die staatsbürgerlichen Rechte, die ihnen 1848 noch verwehrt worden waren.

Und was versteht die SVP unter Demokratie?

Die SVP versteht darunter etwas Statisches, Abschliessendes. Ziel ist nicht die Integration und die Erweiterung der demokratischen Basis. Das beisst sich mit den direktdemokratischen Argumenten der SVP.

[…]

Was würde es bedeuten, wenn die Initiative angenommen würde?

Stellt man die direkte Demokratie über den Rechtsstaat, landet man bei einer Diktatur der Mehrheit. Dann kehren wir zurück in die Zeit vor die Gründung des Schweizerischen Bundesstaates 1848 mit seinen rechtsstaatlichen Maximen wie Gleichheit vor dem Gesetz, Gewaltenteilung und Minderheitenschutz. Das wäre verheerend.

Die SVP will den Demokratiebegriff besetzen. Beim Begriff Nation hat sie das bereits geschafft.

Die SVP kreiert immer wieder das Bild einer wehrhaften Schweiz, beruft sich auf Mythen, antimodernistische, antiurbanistische Bilder. Betont wird das Bodenständige. Die Nation soll vor dem Fremden geschützt werden. Dabei wird die eigene Geschichte gerne ausgeblendet: Ein Vorfahre von Christoph Blocher etwa wurde im 19. Jahrhundert eingebürgert.

[…]

Vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg betrachtete man die Einbürgerung als eine Integrationsmassnahme?

Ja, absolut. Man wollte eine, wie man es nannte, Überfremdung verhindern – der Begriff taucht zu jener Zeit erstmals auf. Und zwar, indem man die Menschen einbürgerte und ihnen die gleichen Rechte und Pflichten gab. Die Schweiz braucht die Einwanderung, wirtschaftlich wie demografisch.

Dann ging es weniger darum, dass jemand «schweizerisch» sein musste, um eingebürgert zu werden?

Die Schweiz sah sich als Willensnation von männlichen Staatsbürgern. Die Einbürgerung diente der Integration, sie sollte daher grosszügiger gehandhabt werden. Während des Ersten Weltkriegs kam es zu einer radikalen Wende. Die Schweiz sah sich nun als eine ethnisch-kulturell definierte Nation. Dies bedeutete, dass Einbürgerungen restriktiver gehandhabt wurden, sie sollten erst nach der Integration stattfinden. Es wurde gefordert, dass die Ausländer sich erst einmal assimilieren, sich wie Schweizer verhalten, wie Schweizer denken. Das galt lange Zeit. Noch 1968 stand in einem hundertseitigen Leitfaden des damaligen Berner Fremdenpolizeichefs, dass ein Ausländer, der Rioja trinkt, assimiliert sein könne, einer, der Vogelfallen aufstellt, hingegen nicht. Bescheiden soll er sein, rechtschaffen. Es war wie immer: Wenn man definiert, wie jemand sein soll, der den Pass erhalten darf, zeichnet man ein Wunschbild von sich selber.

[…]

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