CB Review: “Waltz with Bashir” – An Artful Dance with the Trauma of War

When movies usually mix animation and wartime violence, they become action flicks (think GI-Joe cartoons), bloody horror shows or somewhere messy in-between. Yet, Waltz with Bashir (2008) is surprisingly neither of these. Instead, the beautifully done animation makes the difficult issues in the documentary – such as death, torture, post-traumatic stress disorder, war and suffering – a bit easier to swallow, watch and ultimately understand. The cartoon images managed to soften the blow of the sad and troubling story of the first Lebanon War and the Palestinian massacres in Sabra and Shatila.

After hearing about his friend’s recurring dream of being chased by 26 vicious dogs, movie director Ari Folman and his friend connect this nightmare to their experience as soldiers during the 1982 Lebanon War. It is at this point that Folman realizes that his mind is blank. He doesn’t remember his participation in the War, nor his witnessing of the Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinians. This conversation then sparks his first flashback into the times his mind helped him forget.

The movie unfolds beautifully as Folman attempts to bring back his memories of the war and the massacres by interviewing and speaking with others who were involved.

Although an interesting choice to use animation for a film with such deep themes, Folman’s decision turns out to be both extraordinary and appropriate for showing the depth of these issues. The use of animation and cartoons allowed the movie to artistically depict the tricks that the mind can play on people who survive wars and those that witness and commit countless acts of violence.

In Bashir, flashbacks, dreams and moving in and out of the past and present are the name of the game. In fact, the memories create the story – they are the story. There is a naked blue woman who appears out of the sea to rescue a soldier who then climbs upon her stomach and leaves his fellow soldiers back on a ship. This boat is then blown to pieces in an attack as the soldier wearily looks on. These types of flashbacks, or the mind’s attempts to move past traumatic events, are woven into the storyline, which addresses the wounds of soldiers and the pains of war. The movie’s animation gives us, the viewer, an up close and personal look at post-traumatic stress disorder, without the sharp vivid images of real pictures and images. However, Folman does choose to show a few minutes of the actual video footage of the Palestinian massacre. These powerful images will be painted into the minds of the audience, and serve to reinforce the very depths of horror and trauma endured.

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Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoes at Bush

Although having someone look at the bottom of your shoe is one of the BIGGEST insults in Arab culture, Bush says he was not offended when an Iraqi journalist (Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a reporter for the TV channel Al-Baghdadia) threw his shoes at him on Sunday. The journalist also called Bush a “dog” for all of the death and terror he imposed upon the Iraqi people. Is Bush simply not aware of the meaning of the shoe throwing? Or does Bush still refuse to believe that the war has done more harm than good in Iraq? For some Iraqis, Bush’s farewell visit couldn’t come a moment too soon.

-The Caramel Bella




WASSUP Obama

With a week before the presidential election, Dookie and the “WASSUP” boys are back after spending 8 years in hibernation with a new comedy. Only this time, they aren’t just pushing a beer but have jumped on the pro-Obama bus. Their latest video critiques the current state of the economy, the Iraq war, the Hurricane Katrina disaster and gives a big shout-out to Obama.




CB Thoughts on the First Presidential Debate: Obama Wins on Foreign Policy, Economy & National Security

According to most national polls and surveys, Democratic presidential nominee Obama is the assumptive winner of Friday’s 2008 presidential debate, the first in the series of three. The Republican nominee John McCain and Obama debated foreign policy, national security and spent half the time discussing the current economic crisis.

This debate clarified three keys issues for Americans to consider in this presidential selection process.

First, the discussion revealed that McCain’s policy and thinking is rooted in the past. And Obama’s orientation is towards the future. McCain wanted the American viewers to remember his record on national security, and foreign policy and service. The problem is that Americans already know his record because that’s what his two decades in the Senate reflect. And his Vietnam P.O.W. experience is undisputed. However, what McCain seemed to forget is that Americans want to know what he is going to do for them in the future. Obama was smart to spend most of his two minutes detailing the components of his economic plan and simultaneously overcame criticisms of him being too vague or gives lofty speeches.

Obama: What I do is I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we’re giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage.

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McCain’s Straight Talk Express Needed on Torture

So where does McCain really stand on the issue of torture? Is the Republican presidential candidate and former prisoner of war in Vietnam, in favor of the use of torture or against it.

When asked by Marie Claire magazine recently which celebrity he identifies with most, McCain said:

“Kiefer Sutherland. [laughs, imitates a voice from the show 24] ‘It’s Jack Bauer.’ We have a lot in common because he escapes all the time.”

However, when reminded of Jack Bauer’s use of torture in the show, McCain does a Hollywood Retake. He says:

Yeah, that’s right. That’s where Jack and I disagree. He believes in torture, but I don’t. He says, “Tell me where the weapons are.” The person says, “I won’t.” Bam! “OK, I’ll tell.”

I’m not sure which is more disconcerting. McCain’s choice of Jack Bauer from “24” as the character he most identifies with. The fact that policymakers like McCain are actually influenced by fictional television characters. (Who said TV doesn’t affect the viewers?) Or maybe McCain’s choice of Bower was a Freudian slip on his torture views?

Yet despite his denial, McCain’s record on torture belies another story. According to his voting record, McCain voted against a bill banning the use of waterboarding by the CIA. And after the bill passed, he asked Bush to veto it.

So, let’s ask the question again. Is McCain for or against torture? Here is a little refresher of McCain’s stance on torture back in February 2008, courtesy of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann.




Reality TV Star, Omarosa, talks presidential politics with the Caramel Bella

She’s no Sarah Palin, but in the reality television world Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth can also be described as tough, dogged and a fearsome competitor. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Omarosa, who first appeared on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” show. Some of you may remember her from season one, in which many viewers felt she stabbed fellow African-American competitor, Kwame Jackson, in the back during the final round. Omarosa, who has appeared on two seasons of “The Apprentice,” VH1’s “Surreal Life” and on “I Love New York” was very clear with me about the three most important issues to consider in this presidential election. Let’s listen to her dish.

Interview: Brooke-Sidney Gavins
Multimedia Producer: Sharifa Johka
Video editing: Brooke-Sidney Gavins




Caramel Bella @ DNC: Can Obama & the Dems beat the GOP on National Security?

Joe Klein of TIME Magazine at Truman National Security Event (DNC)

Today’s theme at the DNC is “Securing America’s Future,” a topic made more urgent by the Iraq war and the simmering Russian-Georgian conflict.

Like me, I am sure you are wondering what national security will look like if Barack Obama is elected president. And I wonder how the democrats will face the challenge that Obama is losing to McCain on the issues of national security.

The CNN and Opinion Research Corporation poll released today “indicates that the American public considers presumed Republican presidential nominee John McCain better than Obama on terrorism and Iraq, and voters consider McCain a stronger leader who would have better judgment in an international crisis.”

In fact, the poll shows that 78 percent feel McCain can handle the responsibilities of commander-in-chief with only 58 percent who feel Obama can. McCain also led Obama on perception as a stronger leader and who would have best judgment in an international crisis by 10 percent or more spread.

So, I recently attended the “Next Administration’s National Security & Defense Priorities” event presented by the Truman National Security Project to answer these questions about Obama as the next commander-in-chief. The presentation featured Obama advisors former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig and Joe Klein of TIME magazine was the moderator.

At the outset, I was surprised to find a discussion held by progressives on national security. Many people seem to think that Republicans are the only ones concerned about defense, military capabilities, national security and foreign policy. This misconception couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Truman event showed that Democrats and Progressives across the country have been developing alternative ways to structure national security discussions, but who is listening? Is their message getting through to the voting America public?

The former Secretary of Defense William Perry began the event by stating national security involves more than the use of military force, but a cohesive and comprehensive national security agenda to develop tactical initiatives. Former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig agreed and believes the Bush Administration went wrong in this area.

“The Iraq surge was ill-conceived because it was simply tactical without an overall national security strategy,” said Danzig.

Danzig proposed America make investments in a broad range of national security goals, not a single wartime event or military tactic.

He proposed that America consider a new paradigm on national security policy and cited three components of Obama’s national security proposal.

  1. We (U.S.) can’t do all of this ourselves. We must work with others. – The world is multilateral. We can’t handle all of the world’s problems alone.
  2. Other nations must be in the forefront. – The U.S. needs allies to take the lead.
  3. We (U.S.) must understand the huge political dimensions in the world. – Our actions don’t exist in a vacuum, so we must understand their political ramifications. We must also respect and understand the politics of other nations.

Obviously, Danzig supports Obama’s thoughts on national security but he also believes that character matters heavily in selecting our next commander-in-chief.

“A sense of trust in the candidate to be commander-in-chief is important,” said Danzig. “Obama has the quality of character required.”

Danzig said the key qualities are an evenness of temperament, an ability to listen and an awareness of the phenomena of the 21st century. All of these qualities Obama possesses said Danzig.

“I’ve seen Obama under a great amount of pressure and I’ve never seen Obama lose his temper and balance,” said Danzig. “And McCain is well known for ‘losing it.’”

Obama also talks with people that both agree and disagree with his positions, which Danzig said is key to a great commander-in-chief. “Obama’s position is that he wants people to disagree with him so he can understand their perspective.”

Danzig noted that McCain does not have these same character traits. And he said “McCain often arrives at views too quickly, digs in very deeply and this quality is very destructive.”

And although youthfulness is not a requirement for our next president, Danzig thinks it’s a good idea for our next commander-in-chief to understand the century that we are living in and modern technology.

McCain doesn’t use a blackberry. And when asked about the Internet, McCain said he is going to check out “the Google,” said Danzig. Will McCain comprehend cyber security and other more technologically advanced security threats?

After hearing an hour and a half of discussions on national security and the strengths and weakness of Obama and McCain, my biggest realization was that the Democratic Party has some serious work to do. For some reason, Americans seem to trust Republicans more in times of war and foreign policy, which is surprising in light of the Iraq war. And the democrats, Danzig, Perry and Truman policy analysts may have some great ideas, but who is really listening? Can Obama’s choice of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as VP level the playing field?

Obama and Biden have some serious work to breakthrough misconceptions on Democrats and national security and even more work to lead the discussions. Let’s get cracking boys!




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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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