Only 17 days to go to the presidential election. Obama is in the lead. However, he cautions his followers not to get complacent. Get out and vote. It is well known that the young and minorities vote in lesser percentages than older voters. Even though the Democratic registrations are way up, that doesn't necessarily mean they they will actually go to the polls and vote. The McCain/Palin campaign are pulling out all the stops now. The robocalls have begun which, non to subtly, accuse Obama of being a terrorist. McCain and Palin are continuing the Big Lie that if Obama if election, the middle class will have their taxes increased. McCain has trotted out Joe The Plumber (who in reality turns out to be Sam the Contractor - he doesn't actually have a plumbing license, his name is "Samuel J.", and he has a tax lien on his house - obviously Joe the Plumber doesn't like to pay taxes, something he has in common with the McCain Republicans.) How anybody could vote for four more years of Bush like economics is beyond me. One important factor is the Right to Life issue. Many will vote for McCain solely for this reason and that is understandable. However, if anyone seriously thinks that Sarah Palin, the shrill, moose hunting Alaskan governor, is suited to be vice president is surely drinking the Repug Kool-Aid. But then, they probably realize she is just a blank slate like George W. Bush. The powers behind the throne then could push their own agendas which is more tax cuts for the rich and the decimation of the middle class. Every evening I'm glued to the TV set watching MSNBC and their coverage of the presidential race. I have been fascinated by politics ever since the Fifties when I watched my first political convention on that old Philco TV set we had in our living room on Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. For many years I was a die hard Republican. However, that all changed when I was watching the Republican Convention in 1992 which was held in Houston, Texas. Patrick J. Buchanan gave a hate filled speech in which he stated that the Republican Party had no place for people of a different sexual orientation. What really gave me a chill down my spine was the reaction shots of the well dressed, white cheering Republican convention delegates. They reminded me of the "Good Germans" who saluted "Heil Hitler!" to Adolph Hitler as he paraded through the streets of German cities during the Thirties. At that time I realized that no matter what my conservative views, the modern Republican Party drummed me and my gay brethren out of the Republican party as non persons. Then, a few years later, when I had to apply at the Veterans Administration for health benefits, my opinion of the Republican Party was permanently changed. The Bush administration began a series of moves to discourage veterans like me from applying for benefits. Fortunately for me, there was such a political outcry that my benefits were not affected. I was grandfathered in the system. However, other veterans like me, who delayed their application for VA benefits were denied. The coldness and brutality demonstrated by the Republican party left me with no other choice but to join the Democratic party. To me, the Republicans believe "you're on your own." The Democratic party believes "we're all in this together." Many of my family and friends are Republicans and continue to be True Believers. I respect their views but disagree with them. I am convinced that when Barack Obama is elected president they will see that this is the best thing that could happen to this country. By the way, in the picture of the soldiers I am the second from the left on the bottom row. Basic training, Fort Dix, New Jersey, February 1960. A long, long time ago. I wonder what ever happened to my friend Mike Tine, the young soldier from Massachusetts to my left. Like ships passing in the night. So many lost friendships. So long ago.