Tuesday, December 30, 2008


In several weeks, President Bush's horrible reign of incompetence will be over. However, the White House PR effort to spin history is in full effect.

Well, we know now that Bush can duck thrown shoes pretty well....but he can't duck responsibility for what he and his cronies have done...

He can't go away fast enough...his administration's PR effort to whitewash his eight horrible years...is pathetic. He is one of the the worst of lame ducks in history doing little or nothing as the economy continues to collapse. Bush is very reminiscent of another Republican -- Herbert Hoover -- in the midst of the Great Depression.

Historians will be brutal in detailing Bush's years of arrogance, hypocrisy, corruption, callousness, false piety, incompetence, deceitfulness....subversion of our democratic ideals...

here's a couple poems about that...Thank God...it is almost over.




It's your problem.
I am not responsible.
I am only running the country.

Lost a city.
So sorry.

Lost a son or daughter.
My condolences.

Costly wars, hurricanes,
terrorist attacks.

Oh well.

Just fodder so I have more
fictions about freedom &
Democracy to sell.

It's your problem.
Isn't that clear.

The buck stops anywhere but here.

It's your problem.
Got no safety net.
Can't count on our help.

You're on your own

Your government is out on loan
to line the pockets
of everyone I know.

You're on your own.



Who's that on my telephone line?
A government spy?

Snooping in my records and files
saying it's all justified
using that tired
terrorism line.

What you do in my name is already
a crime before you tapped my telephone line.

A collect call.

This is Al Queda calling

We never imagined we'd have so much
success turning America against itself.

With all this spying we don't have to do a thing.

Got you living scared
and questioning and turning
against your own values.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Poem About Christmas Heartbreak and Greed on Black Friday

I greatly enjoy the Christmas season. I always have since childhood, and not for the presents, but for the chance to give to those around me.

That's why I so despise Christmas greed. Black Friday is a day that truly disgusts me. The idiots that line up in front of Best Buy and other retailers -- even sleeping in tents -- need to get a fucking life! Come on. Is it really worth it to sleep in the cold for a cheaper HD TV set?

Haven't we learned anything from the recent economic crisis? Less is more. It is time to cut back and reduce spending. Uncontrolled spending in Washington and around the country (and globally, too) is how we got into this mess.

But the worst news from this year's Black Friday is that a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in a stampede by overzealous and greedy shoppers.

It was the Blackest of Fridays for his family.
What were the shoppers thinking?
What was Wal-Mart thinking by allowing something like that to happen?

Is this the true Christmas Spirit in action?

However, it is not the first time for Wal-Mart, though.

A few years ago, I read a ridiculous story about how a woman in Florida was nearly trampled to death at another Wal-Mart as people fought to get an opportunity to buy a $29 DVD player. It happened during the Christmas season, too, which seemed fitting to me..The story struck me then as the epitome of stupidity and greed...

Later it was discovered the woman was faking and had done this a number of times in an attempt to sue for damages. It didn't change the story all that much for me. It was still about naked greed, which the recent more deadly Wal-Mart incident drove home for me.

Merry Christmas? Good will to all men? Apparently not.

The whole ugly incident inspired this following poem..



The other day
a woman was
by a crowd of
Christmas shoppers
at a Wal-Mart.

They were making
a mad
dash to buy
$29 DVD players.

consumer lust
no one stopped to
help her.

So much for the
Christmas spirit.

This was real life

When the crowd
the woman was found
laying unconscious
on top of a DVD player.

A Wal-Mart spokesman
said he hoped
the trampled woman
would continue
to be a customer
after she recovered
from her injuries.

Maybe next time
she'll lose her life
over a TV.

All in the name
of rabid consumerism.

File this under the horror section
in your local reality store.

Later it was discovered
the woman may have intended to
fake the whole thing as she done previously,
but this time things went horribly awry.

Sometimes justice does come to those who wait.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Oh! Obama!" -- A You Tube Video Victory Celebration

It has been quite an historic week with Barack Obama's amazing ascent to the U.S. Presidency. I think many of us are still stunned that it actually happened, but in one night the real possibility offered by America became so apparent for all to see. Barack's unlikely journey is more than inspirational. It is the great American success story. His rise from humble circumstances will inspire and galvanize countless future leaders in this country and around the world for years to come.

His impact on African Americans can't be measured. Watching Jesse Jackson with tears flowing down his face at Barack's acceptance speech was very moving. Jackson ran for the presidency in 1984 and now he was seeing his dream come true and also his mentor's dream -- Martin Luther King Jr. Jackson witnessed history when he saw King shot down in Memphis more than forty years ago. This week like the rest of us he witnessed history again, but this time it was the culmination of his dream and that of so many other African Americans. No longer would the presidency be locked out to people of color. Obama truly fulfilled King's wish and dream of a man being judged by the content of his character not by the color of his skin.

Living under eight years of misery brought about by the inept, callous, indifferent, greedy, ignorant, reckless Bush Administration is over. We will once again have a president who is thoughtful and who understands the problems we face. It won't easy to clean up the horrible mess the Bush legacy has left this country. But Obama seems the right man at the right time to pull it off. We need to all give him the support he needs regardless of our political views.

In celebration of his historic presidential victory, my songwriting friend Bruce Baert and I have created a YouTube video celebration "Oh! Obama! that had its debut today.

You can watch it at the beginning of the post
or here's a link -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX8VlkGjpZo

Video was directed by Los Angeles songwriter Bruce Baert, who wrote the lyrics. I produced the song and video and added some lyrics as did Bruce's mother Dorothy Baert. Storyteller Productions in Long Beach, Calif. helped us edit the video. Adding their talents to this project were Los Angeles guitarist and singer Emerson Kris and vocalist Ronna Jones. We recorded the song at Virlouise Studios in Anaheim, Calif.

This video and song truly captures the wonder of Obama's journey. It is story we can all take pride in and inspiration from in our own lives as we seek to regain America's place in the world as a force of true liberty, freedom, justice and opportunity.

Or as our song so aptly puts it..."As always we'll be victorious by Dawn's Early Light."

George Pappas

There is more information about this project below

“Oh Obama!” Tribute Song and YouTube Video Seek to Relieve Voters from Long Campaign & Help Americans Revel in Change, Unity and Bottle their American Spirit & Celebrate--From Election Day to Inauguration Day

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – November 8, 2008, – As a lifelong registered Non-Partisan Party member, Los Angeles area songwriter Bruce Baert was and is one of those “independent voters” both political parties court. But Baert, like millions of Americans, grew to admire Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s ideas, ideals, and leadership. Banking on Obama to win the Presidency and make history, Baert was so inspired he said he “had” to write this catchy tribute song about Obama’s rise. He says the “song lyrics combined with the YouTube video are classy, unique, smart, tempered, interesting and engaging--Just like Barack Obama.”
The song debuts on Election Day, the video featuring the song launches this week.

Baert, (pronounced “Bear-t”), said: “Americans may wake up after this 21-month election marathon with a 2008 Election Hangover...I want my song to alleviate that and bottle the enthusiasm into an American celebration that begins now and ends on Inauguration Day: Tuesday, Jan., 20, 2009, the day after MLK Day is observed honoring MLK’s would-be 80th Birthday, and the day before so much official hard work begins.” Baert, a former Hillary Clinton supporter, adds: “There will be some serious work ahead to tackle…Barack’s acceptance line should be: ‘We can only get better from here!’”

Some lyrics include:
Oh he came from Hawaii with his heart upon his sleeve,
He’s goin’ to the White House, the top job in D.C.
The man with the funny name, they said he shouldn’t try,
“Fear” so taught, eight Bush Years bad, Obama’s Battle Cry.
Oh! Obama! Our Nation turns to thee
Already making history, along with Hillary.
Oh! Obama! You’ll be the first to be,
Only in the USA; In the Land of Liberty!

“When someone just gives our song a listen, they will love the words, the tune, the musicianship and singing. It doesn’t get overly political or at all negative, and only mentions Obama, not others. We try to stay above the fray, but enjoy this new time,” Baert said. “Oh! Obama!” is like nothing else out there. It is to the 1848 folksy old standard “Oh! Susanna!” Perhaps ironically, “Oh! Susanna!” was originally sometimes performed by minstrels, a racist tradition, but a product of its time. Baert is a resident of the nearby Los Angeles suburb Whittier, which is former President Richard Nixon’s hometown.

Millions of Americans are weary of the almost two-year U.S. Presidential campaign, yet are excited about the change and fresh start of an Obama Administration. “Doesn’t that sound good? An Obama Administration,” Baert added. This song/video is free online, and it is a non-profit production.

“Who knows? Maybe the Obama-Biden Campaign will play our anthem-like song or maybe Jay Leno or David Letterman,” Baert said.

Baert has a rare hat-trick of election process experience: He has worked as a clerk at and for his local L.A. County precincts as a poll worker, or “paid volunteer” ---for many general elections. He worked as a newspaper reporter writing about some local elections. Finally, he has covered for that newspaper immediate results released at and from the County Registrar’s Office. His mother, Dorothy Baert, passed on to him that tradition, working as a Judge and Inspector at her local voting precinct for tiny, medium and large turnout elections, being cited by the Registrar’s Office for 40 years of service. Dorothy, along with Bruce’s Journalism and college friend George Pappas, wrote additional lyrics for “Oh! Obama!”

“This election is the most polarized we’ve all seen in our lives, man have I argued with people, and they with me,” Baert said, adding: “But Republican or Democrat or another party, they all care, and that’s good and what’s important. This election isn’t just history, it’s Uber-history.”

Please note:
• MP3 and/or CD available upon request, and are online. Video on YouTube and DVDs available upon request
• Baert and/or others are available for interviews.
• Please see attached tribute song lyrics, and also attached original “Oh! Susanna!” song lyrics (for comparison.)


For more information:
Publicist: George Pappas
Office: (562) 439-2575 Mobile: (562) 857-5680, Email: gmpwrite@gmail.com

Monday, November 3, 2008


This has been one of the most interesting and important elections of my lifetime. It seems there is so much more at stake after eight long miserable years of living with the misguided policies of the Bush Administration. However, I am very hopeful we will get it right this time with the election of Barack Obama.

Obama has inspired me like no political figure in many years. It is not just his galvanizing speeches and spirited approach, but I believe Obama also shows the intelligence, temperament, fortitude, graciousness and determination to help bring our country back from the brink.

My friend Los Angeles songwriter Bruce Baert has been similarly inspired. However, he wanted to do more to show his support for Obama than pulling the lever in the voting booth or working as a volunteer in this historic election. He decided to add his voice to Obama's growing list of supporters in a unique fashion.

Baert has created a new election tribute song "Oh! Obama!" It is based on the traditional song "Oh, Susanna" with all new lyrics that include Baert's prediction for Obama's victory. The lyrics are clever, classy and timely. I have posted the lyrics at the end of this post.

The track also features stellar performances from L.A. based artists -- guitarist and singer Emerson Kris and vocalist Ronna Jones.

Baert is a former Hillary Clinton supporter that became inspired by Obama in recent months.

Bruce's previous projects have included the tribute songs and videos "Paul McCartney is 64" and "The Crocodile Hunter Tribute."

Here are links to them:


We are also working on a video for the song "Oh! Obama!" that we will launch on You Tube after the election if Obama wins.

And this time we hope it is not only wishful thinking.

George Pappas


Copyright 3/07, 10/08 Bruce Baert, © with Library of Congress
Lyrics by Bruce Baert
Additional Lyrics by Dorothy Baert, George Pappas
Vocal Performances by Ronna Jones, Emerson Kris
Guitar Performance by Emerson Kris
Recorded at Virlouise Studios, Anaheim, Calif.
Based on “Oh! Susanna!” by Stephen Foster (pub. 1848)

“Oh! Obama!”

Oh he came from Hawaii with his heart upon his sleeve,
He’s goin’ to the White House, the top job in D.C.
The man with the funny name they said he shouldn’t try,
“Fear” so taught, eight Bush Years bad, Obama’s Battle Cry.

Chorus #1:

Oh! Obama! Our Nation turns to thee,
Already making history, along with Hillary

Wall Street bailout, six-year war, economy downhill,
Americans have a dream in sight, we’ll make it up that hill.
“Yes” we need Change, new ideas, think outside the box,
End divisiveness, Red agin’ Blue, CNN ‘gainst FOX.

Chorus #2:

Oh! Obama! We face a serious plight,
“As” Always we’ll be victorious by Dawn’s Early Light.

He’s a-headin’ for that honor, Country bestowed on he,
Let’s pray he learns from Lincoln, FDR, and Kennedy.
And if we get fooled again, then I’ll surely cry,
For those who fought with honor, our Democracy must survive

Chorus #3:

Oh! Obama! You’ll be the first to be…
Only in the USA; In-the-Land-of-Liberty! Yee-haw!!!

Repeat Chorus #1 and #3

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This has been a long and unpredictable election season. I would have never predicted what has happened, but I couldn't be more pleased. The Bush Years....eight years of misery, cynicism and greed are almost over.

Still, I have no idea how the candidates can endure this constant political warfare.

So as the election nears, I thought I'd post a poem about the emptiness of the election process and what it brings us ultimately.

I hope this time with the election of Barack Obama it will different and that we will finally have someone in the White House again who gives a damn about where this country is heading and wants to do something about it.

Let's certainly hope so.




Am I just a figment of your populist imagination?

Another blurred face in the crowd?

Another voice drowned
by the political process?

You aim your TV commercials at my heart
and attempt to inspire my imagination
with flaccid speeches.

Hoping to hook us again
into believing you'll finally make a difference in our lives.

Until after election time,
when we realize we are left like
jilted lovers
with broken hearts
wondering how you rendered us so powerless.

Our pleas
and rage
die in a vacuum
of political expediency.

Washington listens to its own heartbeats
as we wonder what could have been
and live and die in the shadows of our failed dreams.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A PAPPAS VIEW PREDICTION -- Obama Will be Our Next President

In 15 days, we get a chance to take our country back from the cynical, the fearful, the shortsighted, the vengeful, and the greedy ... after eight years of misery.

I meant to make this prediction a week or so ago, but I've been too busy to post this blog.

I am confident Barack Obama will be our next president ... barring a horrible event I will not even mention or think about.

In all of the debates, Obama has come across as cool, calm, knowledgeable, smart, visionary and above all, presidential.

By stark contrast, McCain has appeared erratic, cantankerous, disrespectful, angry, frustrated, shortsighted, tired and lacking in ideas or vision. McBush as I like to call him is quick to fall back on his checkered past in Congress and on his war experience.

However, McCain has no real solutions for getting us out of this economic mess or our foreign entanglements. In fact, his lame policies would only continue Bush' s debacle. He doesn't have a firm grasp of the economy, which is all the public is thinking about right now.

Even his campaign's latest hail mary ploy -- appealing to Joe the Plumber backfired. Joe would benefit under a Obama's tax plan not McCain's.

McCain's health plan is a joke and won't do anything to change the existing broken system. He will also tax benefits which makes no sense.
Obama offers a health plan that promise universal health care to everyone. It will not fine small businesses -- that's another McCain lie.

Also it was so obvious in the last debate that all McCain has left is to attack Obama for past associations with Bill Ayers and ACORN. It is so pathetic. Obama explained his association with both well. They are non issues. I mean McCain has had troubling associations with Nixon stooge G. Gordon Liddy, who plotted his own terrorist acts and went to jail, and Oliver North who sponsored the Contra terrorists in El Salvador who tortured and killed thousands.

Obama will also seek policies to develop alternative energy and to get us out a wasteful and costly war in Iraq. He is offering new ideas and a fresh perspective.

McCain represents where we've already been. Obama represents where we want to go. He reminds me of the promise of Bill Clinton in 1992.

I hope Obama can help our country regain its economic power and repair our tattered standing around the world. I believe Obama is as Colin Powell described him this morning as a "transformational figure" who can bring this country together after years of contentious, partisan battles that have accomplished nothing.

McCain's temperament, and his anger issues are troublesome to say the least. We've seen what off the cuff cowboy diplomacy can do. The definition of a maverick is one who is masterless and roams on their own heeding no counsel.

Is this the kind of person we want running our country in what may be one of the most pivotal times in our history?

The challenge for Obama is immense. I have no illusions about that, but he is more than up to the job. Today Powell endorsed him and so did a number of newspapers that have rarely if ever supported a Democratic candidate -- L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, New York Times...the list goes on.

But I knew it earlier this year during his primary battles with Hillary Clinton. He offers a fresh perspective, a more inclusive approach and he just plain inspired me like no politician has in many years. People may have thought they wanted to have a beer with George W. Bush, but is that who you want running your country -- your fun beer buddy. I don't think so. Didn't work out so well.

I want someone like Obama who is thoughtful, calm, intelligent and willing to work with others to get things done on our behalf. Not someone who is stuck in divisive ideology and beholden to corporate interests like Bush and his cronies.

Only time will tell what kind of president Barack Obama will be, but this is an opportunity to change our country in such a fundamental way from the business as usual in Washington.

This is not only the change we need...it is the kind of change that America was created for.

George Pappas

Thursday, October 2, 2008

MONEY...and the failings of the U.S. Economy

Our country is facing its worst economic crisis since the depression. Even my own bank Washington Mutual had to be bailed out by JP Morgan Chase and who even knows if that will last. I am hesisitant to put my money in the bank for the first time in my life.

With a serious recession looming, and the idiots in Congress grandstanding over bailing out (or rescuing?) the corporate stooges and thieves while the rest of us go without, I thought I would post a poem about something on a lot people' s minds (mine included) these days -- money. The power we give this necessary tool to rule our lives is incredibly sad at times. We worship billionaires and millionaires while also loathing them at the same time.

Yet we give money -- a man made creation -- its power through defining its worth and the worth of the people who have obtained it.

Still, even money has its limits -- it can't fend off death ultimately or buy true happiness or piece of mind.

Or maybe the Beatles had it right after all ... money can't buy you love ...




Money is irrelevant
until you don't have any
and the threat of bankruptcy looms.

Then it become a twisted obsession
choking off creativity.

Money is not creative.
It can be earned creatively
or you can buy
creative ventures and
creative freedom with money.

But money is an empty tool
except for the power and significance
we place on money.

Broke, busted and bankrupt
are a few of the ways we talk about
our money problems.

Rich, well off, well heeled
all refer those successful with money.
Their lives are supposed to be rich
with experiences and opportunities.
Yet money has not given these people more life,
wisdom, intelligence or prowess.

We do that through hyping the power of money.

The economics of language confounds us,
haunt us, and defines us.
No denying that.

Empty pockets remain empty pockets.
That hunger gives money its real power.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A View From the Santa Barbara Pier

Santa Barbara, Calif., is one of my favorite places. It is a literal paradise. Every few months I try to escape there to get away and focus on my writing and life.

I wrote this poem a long time ago while sitting on the Santa Barbara pier, but as with all joyful and beautiful places in this world even life intrudes.




Shadows and sunlight
flicker on the ocean surface,
creating strange dark figures.

An impressionist painting of oceanic bodies and faces.

The scene hints of something mysterious and
inexplicable underneath the calm ocean surface.
A nature ancient and unchanging.

Nothing it seems could break into this
prehistoric silence,
this portal into a past world.

Not the fleet of fishing and merchant boats
floating and clinging to the ocean
like forlorn lovers
the seagulls and pigeons
armies of feathers,
searching for food.

A jet skier,
in all his water splashing glory,
finally breaks the spell,
creating waves
with each aggressive throttle burst.

His machine's engine
at the past,
at the calm,
at the majestic beauty
of the ocean and mountains
and drowns out the
steady quiet
of waves embracing the beach
and lapping and brushing against my soul.

Life is a lot like that jet skier,
disturbing my illusionary calm,
splashing my dreams,
churning me into turmoil
and engulfing me in waves of regret.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008


A few years ago, while I was visiting Santa Barbara, I saw a homeless man holding up a sign with the phrase "This Economy is Set on Stupid."

This week we truly found out just how prescient his message was as we watched in disbelief as our country's economic situation rapidly deteriorated into the worst near collapse since the depression.
How could this happen?
Very simple -- greed, rampant greed.
These past 8 years the Bush Administration was worse than drunken sailors on leave -- spending out of control...all the while unraveling the government oversight functions and safeguards and encouraging the banks to hand out loans to anyone regardless if they could handle the financial terms.
Didn't we learn anything from the depression? How could we remove bank regulations...and let Wall Street run rampant?

And now the government is handing out corporate bailouts while the rest of us do without.

Everywhere you look....unemployment, gas prices, layoffs...homelessness are on the rise....
everything but our incomes....




The homeless and wayward
are everywhere in Santa Barbara

They walk across streets wearing blankets
creating tents on the sidewalks
to escape from the cold.

One homeless man held a sign that
read "Please help. This economy is set
on stupid."

The dark side of life never far from view
on the picturesque beaches.
Human forms huddled under blankets
in front of fashionable stores.

The city father's gentrification effort is not
They can't sweep these broken people under
the proverbial rug.

With gentrification comes alienation
and economic decimation.

Yes...the man was right.
This economy is set on stupid.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008


A few years ago, a famous poet got into trouble for writing a poem in response to 9/11 asking who bombed America? He seemed to implicate the Israelis and maybe some others.

However, I was more interested in Why they bombed America? What triggered such an attack? Was it really our freedom or way of life as the government claimed?
Or was it more to the point....our foreign policy? Our nasty habit of messing in the affairs of other countries?

Of course, that doesn't excuse or condone the vicious and cruel acts of Martyrs, Inc. Ultimately, al qaeda accomplished nothing but causing more war, bloodshed, hatred and fear.
It is really up the rest of us to expose them for what they really are -- opportunistic thugs not holy warriors.

Seven years later, unfortunately I don't think our leaders have learned anything. And yet they stand on the ashes of those who died on 9/11 and since and make solemn speeches signifying anything but understanding. The GOP reached a recent low point recently when they showed graphic images of the attacks as a political ploy at their convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Still, I wonder why in hopes that we will someday learn from all of this pain, rage and heartbreak.




It matters less…
Who bombed America?
Who knew?
Who knew to stay away on the that fateful day?
Who laughed while filming it?

Those are all troubling questions to be sure.

But the real important questions

It is the only question that truly matters in the end.


This question is a shot into the heart of our blind notions of security, safety and strength.

Why do we still kill in the name of religion?
Why do we still justify revenge?
Why do we take such pride and joy in killing?
Why are we so quick to turn to violence as a means to solve our
complicated problems?
Why are we so divided and entrenched in ancient Holy Wars?

Thousands of years of so called civilization
with numerous atrocities.

Where is God in our actions?

The faces
are always the same.

Torn and
without pity,
without hope.
Feeding on rage.
Choking on hatred

They are us
and we are them.


Brothers under the skin
but always apart.
Divided by the pettiness
and the cruelty
that has infected our souls.


The answer mocks us.

What has changed since the Crucifixion?
We still without hesitation kill the holy part in us
in the name of God.


The silence is deafening.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008


Seven years ago, I sat on the beach at Belmont Shore in Long Beach, Calif and wrote the following poem. I was in shock struggling to take in the events of 9/11. I felt numb, furious, hurt and vulnerable as the rest of the country. For weeks, all I could write about was 9/11 and its aftermath.

Now, I am no longer shocked by what happened, but I haven't forgotten that pain and hurt and even more importantly, the souls who were lost that day....

This is what I struggled to write on 9/11/2001 ... a day where a lot in this country lost their sense of security and invulnerability of living in America.
That's when we joined the rest of the world...and realized no place is safe..




No peace anywhere.
Wracked with rage.
Torn apart from fear
escalating into constant wars.

Surely, this unending sorrow
can't be all we are living for?

Under mountains rubble
so many lost dreams.

Under mountains of rubble
struggling to define what civilization means.

Under mountains of rubble
when does the healing begin?

They are rattling their sabres.
It's revenge we savor.
Dust and blood
clouds our eyes
and chokes our hearts
but eye for an eye
leaves us blind every time.

We can't lose our
hearts and compassion
under the rubble of
our shattered hopes.

Under mountains of rubble
so many lost lives,
lost futures

Under mountains of rubble
lies our love and understanding.

Under mountains of rubble
when does the healing begin?

Will we create new mountains of rubble
in a never ending cycle of retribution?

Who will rescue of our tattered notions
of peace on Earth
mountains of rubble?

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Collateral Damage?

Lost in all the recent weeks of election coverage was another tragedy in Afghanistan involving the bombing of civilians.

An Afghan government commission has said 90 civilians, including 60 children and 15 women, died in Aug. 22 U.S. bombings, a finding that the U.N. backed in its own initial report.

But a U.S. investigation released soon afterward said only up to seven civilians and 35 militants were killed in the operation in the western province of Herat.

Later they conceded it was much high of a death toll. Give me a break.

They call it collateral damage...military and political speak for dead civilians caught in the crossfire..I despise that term since it doesn't accurately describe the real devastating loss of war...

I was reminded that I wrote a poem about the ridiculous notion of collateral damage in reference to the Kosovo bombings in the late 1990s.....

Seems very timely now..



When missiles go astray
and innocent lives
happen to get in the way,
they call it an accident,
an unfortunate circumstance of war,
collateral damage,
a necessary risk.

What is accidental about:
torn limbs?
bodies mangled and twisted
beyond recognition?
shell shocked eyes staring silent?
hollow faces?
lifeless fingers clinging
to fading life?
bombed out homes?
shattered hopes?
fractured lives?
dreams blown apart?

It's then you realize
are not enough
to mend
the hearts and minds
of those caught in the crossfire,
their futures exploded
and strewn across the cold ground
like bomb fragments,
giving new meaning to the word

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Tonight at the GOP Convention I heard more of the same fear, ignorance and lies that have divided this country for the past eight years.

Everyone was impressed with VP candidate Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. However, if you listened closely all you heard was the same fear and hate mongering that has come to represent the Bush Years. Her speech was rife with bile and lies.

Palin couldn't get own record right let alone Barack Obama's. She supported Senator Ted Stevens' "Bridge to Nowhere" before being so called against it. Isn't that what got John Kerry in trouble in 2004 (not to mention Hilary Clinton during the primary campaign) -- his being for the Iraq War before being against it.

Palin characterized Obama's economic plan as intending to raise taxes and expand government. This from the same party that has run our debt to record deficits and decimated our economy, particularly the prospects of the middle class these Republicans profess to care about. What a joke. All their tax cuts favored the rich. It doesn't take an inexperienced governor from Alaska to figure that out. According to some recent reports, Palin also raised taxes as governor in Alaska and left a debt as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

Worst thing about her speech? She offered no new solutions and wrapped her and her party in the flag with such sanctimonous fervor...that it was scary....like a Dick Cheney speech.

In fact, Palin never mentioned Bush at all as if we had forgotten the damage he and his cronies had done these past years.

Can we afford another four years of ignorance, stubborness, and malice exhibited by these fools that currently occupy the White House as our guests. They treat us as unworthy, blind idiots who don't know any better.
They even treat the the other branches of our government with such contempt.

And now the ticket of McCain and Palin want to give us four more years of the same....Will we ever learn as the GOP keeps rolling out their greatest hits of fear and loathing?

I hope so ....here is a poem about the lowlights...of the Bush Years....that won't go away




Is there something you're hiding
behind your perfect smile?
As your facade crumbles
so does our self respect.

You're not a comedian
but you are laughable all the same.
No one is laughing
as you roll out your greatest hits

"9/11 changed us forever."
"Freedom from terror."
"We fight them there so we won't
have to fight them here."
"He was a dictator that threatened
our security."
"We're helping the Iraqis escape tyranny."

In the end, all your excuses and declarations
amount to nothing at all except more misery, pain
and shame.

You turned freedom into a punch line of
a cruel and twisted joke.
And the joke is on all of us.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008


Apparently, President Bush is speaking at the Republican Convention on Tuesday night in St. Paul via satellite. Just what does he have say about his faded legacy?

The GOP is probably not happy as they want to distance themselves from Bush as much as possible. Good luck with that. McCain is nearly a carbon copy of Bush when it comes to his policies

As we slowly but surely come to the close to one of the worst presidential administrations in recent memory (it even rivals Nixon which I thought was by far the worst), Bush and his cronies will still try to spin their legacy -- all to no avail. His idiotic war in Iraq, failed economic policies and misguided response to 9/11 will ultimately be his legacy.

Like McCain, Bush doesn't get it. He works for us not corporate interests and rich contributors.

And just think of all of the lives that could have been saved if we had only talked to and not bombed Saddam. Now, McCain wants to demonize Iran in a similar fashion. Here's hoping he won't be in the White House except as a visiting member of congress.

Thankfully Bush will be gone in January...but his failed legacy won't.




No one wants to be forgotten
even after things turn rotten.

Holding on to that familiar misery
becomes second nature.
Clapping for yourself
and your fading dreams
but no one is listening anymore.
Don't know what you do it for.

Thought you could turn your little battles
into a private war
All meaning eludes you
All understanding defies you
Never realized all the damage you've done

Looking to history that won't record
your deeds
with the affection you believe.
Under siege
by your legacy of lies
no matter how you try
you can hide from your failed schemes.

No one can tell you anything.
Stubborn to history's bitter end.
You can only break.
Never will bend,
but some hearts will never mend
no matter how much political capital you spend.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama's amazing speech, Katrina three years ago

Tonight's Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech in Denver by Barack Obama was remarkable. He showed why he is the nominee with a visionary and tough performance about what he will do to turn around this country. He is truly an inspiration.

Three years ago today Hurricane Katrina made landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi border, and it soon became apparent what happens when the federal government is unprepared or indifferent in time of need.

With the advance of Tropical Storm Gustav across the Caribbean Sea this week - it presents an opportunity to consider how Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain would have handled the Katrina disaster. I believe Barack would have been on the ground within hours and would have marshaled the government's resources to save lives. Barack even mentioned the government's tepid response to Katrina in his speech. He wouldn't have made excuses, but instead took the action that was needed. Lame fools wouldn't have been in charge of FEMA either.

I can still vividly remember the embarrassment and rage I felt as I watched the events unfold on my TV screen the horrible suffering in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

These were fellow Americans, human beings neglected and forgotten, left to wilter away in the hot, humid sun. Many dying or being preyed upon.

And where was the government?...where was FEMA? Those are the questions that haunted a lot of us.

They were nowhere to be found...making excuses...passing the blame...passing the buck...

yeah..."Good job...Brownie"...you saved NO ONE....

New Orleans is still dying a slow death today...a great city and its people neglected...by fools that have turned our heritage and great culture into a cesspool of rage and disappointment...

we're in this thing together...when will we (and the politicians!!) ever get that point...

This city has given us so much...so much great music and great culture...

and yet we can just let it die? we can just turn our backs and ignore it??

I don't think Obama will let that happen....

In the meantime...here's my feelings about this tragedy...in a poem..




No relief.
No one had our backs.
No safety net.

Now, we know we're
truly on our own.

Listening to politicians making excuses
as we fester and burn
our homes washed away.

Our lives in ruins.
Got no hope.

Our dreams reduced to devastation.
Scenes of a third world country
in the heart of America.

And still politicians making excuses.

Our hearts in ruins.

Living like animals in the Superdome.
No room.
No air conditioning in the suffocating heat.
No water.
No food.
No hope.

A sweltering hellish nightmare.

And still politicians are making excuses
as our city lies in ruins.

Now, we know.

We're truly
on our own.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

WORSE THAN APATHY -- Comments on the Obama Presidential Run and the start of the Democratic Convention

Tomorrow will mark the start of the Democratic National Convention where we soon witness political history as the first African-American candidate, Barack Obama, will secure the Democratic nomination. He has run a superb campaign so far and his recent addition of Senator Joe Biden was another wise move.

Despite the recent polls, Obama has a strong chance of securing the presidency as he's faced with John McCain alias McBush who embraces the failed policies of the current president.

Obama's message has been one of hope and change, but I think it is a lot deeper than that. His speech on race relations a couple months ago was one of the most remarkable speeches I've ever heard a presidential candidate give. It was honest, understanding and open about our country's sorry human rights track record without sounding bitter or entrenched in the past. Still, Obama's candidacy has been met with intense hostility and disrespect by the Clintons. The Republican slime machine has already starting slinging a lot more ugly slime and dirt on Obama and his aspirations.

I can't remember the last time I've been inspired by a political candidate like Obama.
But in the end, Obama's message of hope and looking for something beyond business of usual will win out I believe.

Still, it troubles me that someone trying to change our troubled country in a positive manner could met with so much hostility.

I hope his speech on Thursday night starts to change people's minds about Obama and just how important this election is after eight horrible and damaging years of the Bush Administration.

This poem reflects some of disappointment in the politics of hate and my hope that we can get past it. This year marked the 40th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination in L.A. He was another candidate trying to change things for the better in a dark time.

Let's hope we learned our lessons from the past.

Watch the convention, think about our future...and vote...




History weighs us
down with despair.
Suspicious of hope.
Pretending not to care,
living by rote.

So many trials and
that lead nowhere.

Half baked solutions
with nothing
real to share.

You call it politics.

Just another excuse
to do nothing at all.

Worse than apathy.
It is resignation
and an early death.

Is there anything worse
than dying inside
before you've actually died?

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Hometown Refugee -- The Plight of Homeless Vets

Been thinking a lot about our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan lately and wondering what will happen to them when they finally come home.

Will they be taken care of and appreciated or will they be forgotten and marginalized like the Vietnam veterans were?

The signs are already heartbreaking. Just this week they found mold in another veteran's hospital.

Recently, it was found nearly one in five, or about 300,000, soldiers who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan has post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression -- illnesses that could cost the U.S. as much as $6.2 billion over two years in care, lost productivity and lost lives through suicide, according to a RAND report. This is tragic.

The wounds of war are not always visible and stay with soldiers for the rest of their lives.

One day while driving to work a few years ago, I saw one of our brave veterans at the side of a freeway off ramp homeless and begging for food.

And I wondered what kind of society turns its back on its soldiers that fought for our so called freedom?

That question haunted me and sparked this poem...




He's lost.
A refugee of this country.

and discarded
at freeway exits
like trash.

His grizzled
broken face
as he holds up a cardboard sign

He has a million mile stare,
gazing beyond the passing cars,
the freeway and concrete
into a world only he knows.

It's a place
beyond sadness,
beyond anger.

His is a soul obliterated
beyond recognition.

His tattered clothes
hang loosely from his bony frame.

He's waiting,
for some sign of charity.

On patrol,
he springs into action,
deceptively quick,
grabbing meager
offerings from the drivers
waiting at the stoplight.

His reconnaissance continues throughout the day.

There are no cameras documenting his plight
as with the refugees in far away lands.

Where's CNN and all the
other cable and TV channels?

Here's a refugee
in a country
he once defended.

A defender of our broken shame
even if he no longer has a home to defend.

Just what does the
ultimate sacrifice
mean to him now?

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Close of "Children of Men" Movie: a Musical Revelation -- Bring on the Lucie, John Lennon

I originally wrote this post last year to Dave Marsh and Lee Ballinger at Rock and Rap Confidential -- a great, honest and compelling online music publication:


I thought I would also post it on my blog. Seems appropriate.


Recently, I experienced a musical revelation at the end of an excellent recent movie, "Children of Men."

As the movie closes and the credits start to roll, a slide guitar signals the start of a raw song I thought I had never heard before. I recognize John Lennon's voice ringing out ... so timely it stuns me ... "we don't care what flag you're waving ... we don't even want to know your name ... we don't care where you are from or where you are going ... all we know is that you came ... you're making all of our decisions ... we just have one request of you ... free the people right now...."

It is all the rage and heartbreak I've been feeling over our Iraq
debacle and so many foolish mistakes this government has made in our name now and in the past. However, at the same time this is a call to stop the killing in Darfur, in the Congo and all over the world.

Later I discovered I had heard the song -- "Bring on the Lucie" -- before in a different version on the album “Mind Games.” Not sure why the song didn't hit me the same before.

But the version on the Children of Men soundtrack is a rehearsal take full of passion and rage that the Mind Games version mutes with slicker production and back up singers.

When he shouts out "so while you're jerking off each other … you better keep this thought in mind … your time has come … you better know it … maybe you can't just read the signs."

It is for me a howl at this administration and all the others that forget they work for us not the corporations and the special interests.

The clincher is the final lines of the song..."well...you were caught
with your hands in the kill … but you still got to swallow your
pill as you slip and slide down the hill on the blood of the people you killed … stop the killing now!”

How can this song be any more timely? Written more thirty years ago and we are still experiencing the same heartbreaking problems by the descendants of the same people who tried to crush John Lennon and deport him in the early 1970s, but ideas are hard to kill.

I played the end of this DVD over and over to listen to this
song … before I got the soundtrack.

Then it hit me -- the movie is about a society that discovers the value of life the hard way by completely losing the ability to reproduce.

While in this current world...people can't call genocide "genocide" even in Darfur where so many have lost their lives and life is cheap.

But it is Lennon's biting lyrics and this raw version's slide
guitar that haunted me for weeks as I probably drove my neighbors
crazy ... playing this song over and over as it fed my own writing … my own musings about our current situation of paranoia, hatred, death, war and fear.

In fact, I sometimes wonder if the fear has become us in wake of such 9/11 paranoia.

Yet Lennon's shout from the past once again shows me not only his
greatness, but how important it is not to cave into to despair and to
realize that through voicing our rage, our concerns, there is a first
step toward resolution or as I try to always remind myself … in
action ... there truly is resolution.

John Lennon never forgot that.

Stop the killing ... indeed.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Witnessed a strange thing this week.

Our foolish president speaking out…for peace?! and against Russia’s misguided invasion of Georgia.

Bush is right of course in this case, but he’s also a hypocrite.

How can this country lecture Russia to pull back in their invasion of a sovereign country after what we did in Iraq?

Iraq was also a sovereign country when we sent our troops in. How is that any different?

Just shows how America has lost its moral authority around the world....with our bungled foriegn policy.

So now another dangerous war breaks out in different country….but it seems all the same to me….

It is familiar path that we as a civilization have traveled far too many times in our history….the same virulent strain of violence, rage, hatred, nationalism, ignorance…

When will we ever learn? as Pete Seeger sang so many years ago...

We are still waiting for that answer...as the body counts rise and the heartbreak continues...all over the world…

I wrote this poem about war that keeps comes back like cancer…slowly killing off our hopes and dreams…

Let's hope this latest war ends quickly and the cease fire holds...but unfortunately... I have my doubts...




War is a cancer
eating away
at our humanity.

We try to deny it
We try to eradicate it
We try to cure it.
Just when we think war is in remission
it keeps coming back
more virulent and deadly than before
to kill
our hopes
our dreams
our hearts and souls.

War is a recurring disease
eating away
our so called veneer of civilization.

War is a spreading affliction
stripping away
our compassion
our justice
our kindness
leaving us
of any lasting emotions
but greed, fear and hatred.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Passing of a Soul Man -- Isaac Hayes

Another influential figure from my childhood -- songwriter and musician Isaac Hayes -- is gone. I especially loved his soundtrack for the movie Shaft in the early 1970s. My parents played the soundtrack on 8-track?! as we went on a family vacation driving from L.A. to Utah to San Francisco and Mt. Shasta. The funky guitar and bass, soulful horns and piano moved me more than I can write. It was really my first introduction to the power of soul music.

At the time, I had no idea who Isaac Hayes was. I just loved the music which just mesmerized me. I still can't believe my parents bought that soundtrack. They were hardly music enthusiasts. I can't remember much soul being played around my house growing up in Orange County, Calif. (Earth, Wind and Fire was the only other exception.)

Later I found out he co-wrote all those great hits with David Porter for Sam & Dave at Stax Records -- "Soul Man," "Hold On I'm Coming," "I Thank You," and "You Don't Know Like I Know" and many others.

His "Hot Buttered Soul" record in 1969 and Shaft soundtrack in 1972 changed soul music with its long experimental songs and Hayes' low voiced rapping style of singing.

In fact, a lot articles on his passing have stated that Hayes created the foundation for what later became disco and for the popularity of Barry White. I don't think is entirely true. Although he was an influence on White and the best of disco (Donna Summer, Bee Gees), Hayes' music had a funky, soulfulness that both truly lacked. His real influence was felt in the emergence of rap and hip hop. His influence is everywhere in rap from Ice Cube, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre to Jay Z and Kanye West and too many others to mention.

Before his death, Hayes even joked about it. Hayes recalled telling a record executive who asked him what he had done lately to turn on the radio..and you'll hear his latest work....in a recent hip hop hit...

That will his latest legacy -- the influence he had on other musicians....and artists....

I will remember Isaac Hayes for his musical accomplishments not for his South Park character of Chef. Although I have to admit it was funny and clever.

RIP ... Isaac Hayes.

As he sang in the "Theme from Shaft", he was a "bad mother......" He will be missed.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

8-8-08 -- The Bonds of Superstition: It ain't the way

Now, like many who watched last night's opening Olympics ceremonies in China, I was impressed. It was a very beautiful and breathtaking display. It should be a great Olympics, but that doesn't encourage me to ignore the Chinese government's many human rights violations through the years or how it denies its people politcal and free speech freedoms many of us take for granted in this country.

Also I was puzzled by the people in China and around the world who believe that the date -- 8/8/08 -- would bring good fortune to the festivities. Some I heard even got married on the date for the same reason. Sounds like superstition to me.

More often than not I am baffled by the motivation of so called sane and rational
people. they even reduce marriage and love down to some superstitious game...Where's reason and rational thought?

last summer couples rushed to Vegas and other places to get married on 7/07/07 for luck..
seemed strange to me...so foolish that I had to write about it...

what were these people thinking? or were they? I also wonder how many of these couples are still together ...not too many I would guess...

it is like Stevie Wonder sang in his great song, "Superstition," "when you believe in things you don't understand/then you suffer/Supersition ain't the way...

I updated a poem I wrote then about 7/7/07 to fit the new date of superstitious nonsense.



8/8/08 -- The Bonds of Superstition

The lemmings.
The culturally controlled
rushed out to get married
on 8/8/08
convinced it would bring
them luck.


It is never wise to be superstitious
about anything let alone

All the luck in the world
can't save a bad marriage.

I wonder how many of these
people will still be together
by 8/8/09?

Only time will tell.
Luck has nothing to do with it.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

John Edwards' Affair -- Monogamy Boredom Strikes Again?

What's worse?

That John Edwards had an affair? or that he lied about it throughout his presidential campaign?

He has effectively ended his political career regardless.

Still, let's face it. This is another example of how difficult monogamy is to deal with. Temptation is always there whether we want to admit it or not.

One of the reasons I am single is that I hate monogamy so much.

For me, monogamy is an outmoded ritual ... that chokes off the spontaneity and passion that is so important for a relationship to survive over the long run.

Rather be single than a liar.

My feelings about monogamy and its failings will be explored more in my second novel that will come out in the next year or two.

In the meantime ... here's a poem I wrote about my misgivings about monogamy.



Monogamy is a noose
choking off the joys of love
and the discovery of wild passion
and lust.

leaves us feeling so guilty for
wanting more

We are so tortured
for desiring another
when faced with
relationship ennui.

Anyone who suggests a
way out of this predicament –
staying single,
an open relationship
or more tolerance
is met with disdain
and even called a freak of nature.

But who is the real freak?

The one who ignores the limitations
of our dead rituals and lives in unhappiness
and dishonesty?

Or the one who tries to live honestly
and explores variety and life's
pleasures without lies
and with an open heart?

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Real life imitates art -- the flimsy FBI Anthrax Case -- The close of the Parallax View?

Real life imitated art the past couple of days as I listened in amazement to the FBI paint the late Dr. Bruce Ivins as a lone crazy Anthrax killing scientist. Their proof seems pretty flimsy to me. All circumstantial. Seems that they are doing all they can to close this case as quickly as possible.

It all reminds me of the close of the great movie "The Parallax View" when an unnamed government commission announces that Warren Beatty's reporter character was the lone gunman in a political assassination although we -- the audience -- know he's a patsy -- like Dr. Ivins perhaps? or Lee Harvey Oswald? (that's a whole other story).

Just as with Alan Pakula's movie there is more than meets the eye here with this case as with so many others in the past (i.e. JFK, RFK, MLK...)

Don't buy the government's case. Ask questions. Remain skeptical. They count on our ignorant compliance every time.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Small White Crosses of Santa Barbara

"Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths...I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" – Barbara Bush

As John Lennon so accurately wrote: "War Is Not the Answer."

If you ever find yourself in Santa Barbara on a Sunday, make your way over to the pier area. There you will see an impressive and moving display put on a group of veterans against war that is comprised of rows and row of white crosses. Each one represents a brave American serviceman or servicewoman that has died in Iraq.

As you look across that beautiful beach at those endless rows of crosses, you begin to realize what has truly been lost. So many souls that will never be able to enjoy a summer day or look at such a beautiful beach. I was so moved by this display four summers ago while visiting Santa Barbara, a poem just poured out of me. It was more like a torrent.

Back then the we had lost 912 soldiers in Iraq. As of today, we have lost 4,131 soldiers and no one really knows how many Iraqis have died. They stopped their crosses at 3,000 at Santa Barbara's Arlington West, but still display is more than powerful in conveying the ultimate loss.

I have posted a video at the end of this post and included photos I shot of the display. I also posted an interesting photo I created using one of the postcards from the veterans group that puts on the display and a picture of a smiling George W. Bush. Seems appropriate.

Here's also a poem I wrote about the white crosses of Santa Barbara. Please visit there soon and give the veterans alive and dead the support and respect they deserve. You can also check out the Veterans for Peace Santa Barbara Chapter Web site for more information:


Peace is the answer....




It's Sunday morning
of the rest of our lives.

Small white crosses
lined up in neat
rows in the sand.

More set up each week.

representing more
than mere words can convey.

A soul extinguished.
So much lost.

Memories erected
now for spirits
struck down far too soon.

Dreams vanishing daily in the sands
another world away

Small white crosses
back home
on different sands.

Nearby volleyball players
and sunbathers
enjoy another warm Sunday
in the middle of the summer.

So many walk past
oblivious to
the small white crosses
the passing
of those who will never
strike a volleyball again
or enjoy the pleasures
of a summer day.

Feeling selfish.
Justifications fail me.

The sacrifice
seems more than
we can ask.

More than we can bear.

Looking across this beach
that used to bring me so much joy.
Tears well up in my eyes,
but they won’t come
only the rage
coming in waves
choking me.

A freedom
to breathe in this summer day
to those of the small white crosses.

Their lives loom so much larger
than the markers.

They admonish us in the silence.

Their memories
reaching out to us
across this serene stretch of Santa Barbara beach.

The waves,
the sand
so deceptively calm.

Yet evoking
the sad lessons of war
all the same.

The small white crosses
a sort of Sunday service.

Speaking to us
across the sands of time
reminding us of other losses
in other wars.

Leaving us lost in the silence
of our consciences.

Where are our tears
for the small white crosses?

912 and counting.

Each day,
each night,
each week,
the small white crosses
in sorrow and pain.

When will it stop?
When will it ever stop?

Hollowed ground
in the sand
this Sunday
and all the Sundays to come.

The vigil will continue.
The prayers never cease.

This line of small white crosses
looms ever larger
in our imaginations.

Their voices speaking to us
in our nightmares
and our dreams.

Our anger and our sorrow doesn't seem large enough somehow.

The small white crosses
of Santa Barbara
haunt me daily
and in the wee hours of the morning
trouble me to my core.

Each one leading
to so many other
the families will bear forever.

This is my Vietnam
but what have I done to stop it?

What have I done?

Nothing at all
as the small white crosses
of Santa Barbara beach
multiply in number each Sabbath.

somber reminders
of our broken
our broken hearts,
our large and looming

Our hopes
buried in
the sand a world away
and here today.

No trace left
except for
the white markers
to reawaken our
heartaches for an eternity.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008