F E B R U A R Y 2 0 0 4
by Alex Miller-Mignone
As the Democratic Horde (not to be confused with the Mongol Horde, which was somewhat more polite) rode roughshod through Iowa and New Hampshire in January, two of the Host were picked offCarol Moseley-Braun and Richard Gephardt. Three more, Joe Lieberman, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, staggered on; while four emerged as the leading contenders for the 2004 Democratic nomination for President of the United StatesMassachusetts Senator John Kerry, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, and retired General Wesley Clark. What follows is a Galactic thumbnail sketch of each of the contestants.
John Kerry (11 December 1943), currently serving his fourth term as US Senator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has a long and distinguished career in public service. Two tours of duty with the Navy in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War brought him no less than three Purple hearts, as well as the Silver and Bronze Stars. A co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America, and spokesperson for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Kerry's early work as a prosecutor segued in 1982 into a stint as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, under ill-fated future Democratic nominee for President, Michael Dukakis.
Upon Senator Paul Tsongas' retirement in 1984, Kerry won an upset victory to become the state's junior Senator, a position which he has held through three re-election bids despite heavy competition from former Massachusetts Governor William Weld in 1996. A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry was also instrumental in exposing the activities of Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal.
At well over six feet, Kerry's lean and craggy looks remind one of Abraham Lincoln; he's a good orator as well, and has a reputation for straight talking and acting as an honest broker, whoever's cause he espouses. His Sun at 18 Sagittarius, exactly conjunct a Black Hole, is currently receiving a scouring from Pluto, which may yet bring him into his full power as head of state of the world's last superpower. Certainly the sudden change of fortune and the phoenix-like rebirth of his campaign with his upset win at the Iowa caucuses are Plutonian in character.
Additional galactic contacts include Mercury exactly conjunct a Black Hole, Venus exactly squared another, Mars exactly opposed a third, Jupiter exactly opposed a fourth as well as square a Maser and a Quasar, Saturn conjunct a Pulsar, Uranus exactly conjunct a Maser and square a Black Hole and a Quasar, Neptune conjunct a Quasar and squared a Black Hole polarity, and Pluto conjunct a Black Hole. Whew! That's a lot of Deep Space!
The Sun/Black Hole conjunction indicates one who easily commands the attention and allegiance of others, drawing them into his orbit almost effortlessly, who has vast reserves of energy and discipline at his disposal, and who naturally becomes the focus of all eyes. Saturn's opposition to the Sun from 23 Gemini lends a certain acerbity or taciturn nature to Kerry, but also a great deal of gravitas, or presence; he is someone to take seriously, and who exudes competence and dependability. Its conjunction with a Pulsar, an anomaly informational in nature, assures Kerry's command of the facts.
Chiron at 15 Virgo squares the Sun, making Kerry a Wounded Healer type, something evidenced not only by his Purple Heart decorations, but by the establishment of the Vietnam Veterans association and his ongoing work with veteran affairs, including health care, research into Agent Orange-related illnesses, and developing employment opportunities.
His distinguished service record is also reflected in the broad opposition of the Sun to the 10 Gemini Mars; his sense of honor, justice and equality for all appears in the 27 Leo Jupiter, which in addition to the contacts mentioned above is tightly trine the Galactic Center, evoking a universality of message which others find compelling.
If Kerry has a weakness, it may be in the 4/5 Libra Neptune/Quasar conjunction squaring the 5 Capricorn Mercury conjunct a Black Hole. It took Kerry a little while to break ranks with the "me, too" field of Democratic hopefuls and find his own unique voice. This is partly a manifestation of Neptune/Mercury, which may become confused or disoriented and find it hard to "stay on message," and partly a result of Mercury in combination with a Black Hole, which many natives find lends a feeling of having one's message trapped within the confines of the anomaly's supergravity, making reaching out to others difficult.
Kerry's stunning upset of the "Dean Machine" in Iowa may have been overseen by Deep Space activity as well. Poll numbers really began to shift the weekend before the caucus, with the Sun traveling from 26 through 29 Capricorn. At 26/27 Capricorn, the weekend of the 17th and 18th, the Sun was activating a Pulsar by conjunction, and an Aries Black Hole by square, indicating a change in the wind and new information flooding the planet; at 28 Capricorn on Monday the 19th, the day of the caucus, the Sun opposed another Black Hole, evoking the upset, while at 29 Capricorn on Tuesday the Sun was conjunct another Pulsar and squared a Black Hole in Libra, neatly cementing Kerry's new front-runner status.
Howard Dean (17 November 1948, 7:21 PM, New York City) has the odd distinction of being born the same day and year as the Prince of Wales. Although the likelihood of Prince Charles becoming king before Dean would finish two terms as US President is far from assured, that would indeed make an interesting spectacleboth the US and the UK singing 'Happy Birthday' to their heads of state on the same day!
Dean, a former medical doctor who once shared a practice with his wife, entered politics in 1982 as a member of the Vermont House of Representatives, was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1986, and succeeded to the highest office in the state upon the death of incumbent Governor Richard Snelling in 1991, a position he held until January 2003. In Vermont he worked to cut taxes, improve health coverage, paid off a $70 million deficit, cleaned up landfills, and signed the nation's first civil unions legislation, allowing gays and lesbians full rights as domestic partners.
Rough and abrasive in character, Dean speaksand misspeaksplainly, a trait which endears him to some and annoys others. The first of the Democratic front-runners to oppose Bush's War on Iraq, Dean benefited early from an angry, no-holds-barred stance that energized the party base and netted him millions in Internet contributions from small donors, while most of his opponents were still foundering financially and searching for a message. Dean's supporters, clad in eye-catching orange ski caps, are a diverse cross-section of Americans, though much of his support comes from young people and others who had previously opted out of the political process.
Dean's energizing rhetoric and fundraising abilities propelled him into a position of inevitability, as far as the media were concerned. As Iowa approached, congressman Richard Gephardt, who was making his last political stand, began some Dean-bashing that was soon echoed by most of the other potential nominees. The infighting knocked the stuffing out of both campaigns, and both Dean and Gephardt slipped dramatically in the polls, while the 'nice guys,' Kerry and Edwards, were for once allowed to finish first instead of last. Dean's bizarre, flag-and-coattail-waving victory rant on the night he lost badly in Iowa (coming in a very weak third behind both Kerry and Edwards; at 18% he pulled less than half Kerry's 38%) sent more than a murmur through Democratic ranks, especially when followed up the following morning by a more-than-reticent Dean policy speech. Voters began to wonder, is this guy bipolar or what?
No, not bipolar, just galactically afflicted, and not handling it too well. Dean's Sun/Chiron conjunction at 25 and 28 Scorpio is conjoined a Quasar and opposed one Black Hole while square another. Other Black Hole contacts include the Moon opposed, Mercury squared, Venus squared, Mars conjunct, Jupiter squared, Saturn conjunct, Uranus opposed and squared, Neptune conjunct, and Pluto squared.
Sun/Chiron speaks volumes about Dean's early career as a medical doctor, and the Quasar contact here promotes pervasive manifestation and high achievement. The Ascendant at 8 Cancer is also exactly conjunct a Quasar, and together with the Sun gives Dean the image of a go-getter, a no-nonsense, down-to-brass-tacks, cut-to-the-chase kind of guy. The Black Hole with the Sun lends a certain magnetism to Dean; others are attracted by his passion and his persuasiveness, both helped in large part by Mercury's square to a Black Hole.
Mercury is in Scorpio, so Dean tends to sting and comes across as dark and angry, but the square is to Aquarius, so there is also a sense of the visionary and a forward-thinking outlook others find encouraging. Unfortunately, the Black Hole Mercury native can also be blunt, tactless, and is subject to, well, not exactly misspeaking, but maybe saying things too plainly or without enough nuance.
Take for example Dean's statement in early December that the capture of Saddam Hussein did nothing to make America safer. This is demonstrably true, as at the point of his capture, living in a hole, he wasn't much of a threat to anybody (and in fact a good case could be built that he was never a threat to America even when in power), and in the weeks which followed, just as many American servicemen and women died as previously, and the nation was put on high alert for terrorist threats during the holiday season. So what Dean said was factually true, but it was ill-considered, given the mood of the country, and downright foolish, given the obvious fodder a statement like that makes for opponents' attacks.
To his credit, Dean didn't back off from the statement, but explained it, in much the same terms outlined above; unfortunately, it's the five-second sound byte which folks remember and detractors continue to repeat, not the 45-second explanation, which received little air time. Even against such a Master of the Malapropism as George W. Bush, can Dean hold up in a debate setting, or will he come across as merely shrill and antagonistic?
Dean's Mars at 23 Sagittarius, conjunct both a Pulsar and the supermassive Black Hole at the Galactic Center, indicates his message of anger and discontent, as well as the broad appeal that message has had up to this point. But anger will not be enough to turn Bush out of office; moderates will need to be encouraged to the challenger's side as well, not just the party faithful. There is considerable doubt that Dean can move his anger far enough to the center to be acceptable to the uncommitted voters who decide any election. In fact, it was just such strategizing on the part of Iowa caucus participants which tipped the scales in favor of Kerry and EdwardsDemocrats are thinking with their heads for once, and not their hearts, and trying to determine who will do best in a one-on-one with Bush, regardless of the specifics of their campaign platforms.
The 10 Gemini Moon opposed a Black Hole is indicative of excess emotion and wild mood swings, something clearly evident in Dean's "victorious defeat" speech the night of the Iowa caucus (delivered on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the speech is known in some circles as the "I have a scream" speech). His emotions can be very raw, and difficult to restrain; he wears his heart on his sleeve, to some extent. Again, this is a trait which some find refreshing and "real" in a politician, while others find it tiresome and immature. This somewhat manic energy has filtered over to the orange-capped campaign volunteers, who from their faithful, committed, pro-Dean stance are known as "Deaniacs."
Dean endured a hellish week of jokes and parodies about his ill-considered speech, and slipped dramatically in the New Hampshire polls; where once a few weeks before he had held a commanding 30-point lead, Dean now fell well behind Kerry. He handled the week well, however, poking fun at himself with stunts such as appearing on Letterman, where he contributed to the infamous Top Ten list, tailored to 'how Howard Dean can turn his campaign around,' and culminating with 'fewer red-faced rants.' His standing in the polls began to inch higher, but with little more than a week to go, there was not enough time to make up the difference, and the confidence exuded by Kerry following his Iowa victory was making others see him in a new and favorable light.
On January 27 New Hampshire voters spoke, giving Kerry a second important win, neatly trouncing Dean in double digits again, 39% to 26%, with Clark, Edwards and Lieberman bunched in a statistical tie for third (with 13, 12 and 9% of the vote respectively). The Sun at 6 Aquarius was square a Black Hole in Scorpio.
John Edwards (10 June 1953) is a first-term Senator from North Carolina, a former trial lawyer who entered politics in 1998 with his defeat of incumbent Senator Lauch Faircloth. Edwards comes from very modest roots; his father was a textile mill worker, and his mother worked for the Post Office. Edwards was the first member of his family to go to college, and met his wife in Law School. Twenty years of trial experience has served him well on the Senate floor, where he has a reputation for a willingness to compromise with the conservative majority in creating more balanced legislation. A member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Edwards was a key player in writing the bipartisan "Patients' Bill of Rights" and has authored environmental, anti-terrorism and campaign finance reform legislation.
Edwards' Sun at 19 Gemini is exactly opposed a Black Hole (and John Kerry's Sun), and is receiving an opposition from Pluto currently. Edwards certainly has the personal magnetism of so many Sun/Black Hole natives, and at 50, preserves a youthful appearance that belies his age. The opposition to a Black Hole implies that he has the ability to act as a catalyst for others in transition or crisis, which harks back to his years in tort law. Legal expertise is also implied by the tight trine of the 20 Libra Saturn to the Sun, and his defense of the underdog, particularly in health-related cases, may stem from Chiron's exact inconjunct to the Sun from 19 Capricorn. (Each of the current front-runners show significant Sun/Chiron aspects, Kerry in square, Dean conjunct, Edwards inconjunct, and Clark in square, perhaps indicating our collective need to be healed of the current administration.)
Additional galactic contacts include Mercury exactly conjunct a Quasar, Venus exactly conjunct a Quasar and squared a Black Hole, Mars conjunct a Quasar and opposed the Galactic Center, Jupiter conjunct a Maser and squared a Black Hole and a Quasar, Saturn square a Black Hole, Chiron exactly conjunct a Black Hole, Uranus square a Quasar, and Neptune square a Black Hole.
Strong Quasar contacts promote achievement and excellence, and Edwards' career is certainly reflective of that. There is also a boisterous, never-say-die optimism to Edwards that is infectious; folks just like him and find him very "real;" even if they decide to cast their vote elsewhere, they generally come away from an Edwards appearance feeling uplifted and positive. This sunny disposition is typical of natives with strong contacts to Quasars, which are the oldest and brightest objects in the universe; it seems impossible for them to hide their light beneath the proverbial bushel basket, and they tend to excel at whatever they set their hands and minds to.
Edwards' Mercury exactly conjunct a Quasar has doubtless helped his winning trial record, and boosted his showing at the Iowa caucuses, where he came in a close and unexpected second with 32% of the vote (trailing Kerry by just 6% and handily beating the 18% showing by Dean, the acknowledged front-runner only a week before). Mercury/Quasar natives generally have keen intelligence and the ability to absorb facts easily, as well as to integrate them into the existing framework, thus quickly realizing their implications and ramifications.
Edwards' close conjunction of Saturn and Neptune at 20 and 21 Libra could be of concern in an executive capacity, implying possible indecision or ineffectiveness, or an inability to view the facts clearly, although the success of his law career seems to indicate that this is not likely to be a problem. The same conjunction could manifest as a leader with a strong spiritual ethic and the ability to inject his own personal faith and beliefs into his leadership style.
Wesley Clark (23 December 1944) is a retired, highly decorated four-star General with a 38-year career in the military. His last position was as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces during the war which ended Serbian aggression in Kosovo and the Balkans. He won that war without a single allied casualty.
Clark was born Wesley Kanne in Chicago, but upon his father's death when Clark was a young child, his mother moved the family to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Victor Clark became Wesley's stepfather and gave him his name (interestingly, former President Bill Clinton, born William Jefferson Blythe, was also raised in Little Rock, also receiving the name of his adoptive father). Clark graduated from West Point Military Academy at the top of his class, continued his education as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford (another distinction he shares with Clinton), where he earned a Masters in Philosophy, and was an Infantry Captain in Vietnam. He has commanded at every level from Company to Division, but has a reputation for nonconformity and independent thought which has made him unpopular in certain military circles. Then General (now Secretary of State) Colin Powell called Clark an officer of "the rarest potential."
Clark's Sun at 1 Capricorn is exactly square 1 Libra and the supermassive Black Hole at the center of Galaxy M-87, the largest, most powerful anomaly of its type of which we are aware. As a four star General and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, Clark has had extensive opportunity to flex those Black Hole power muscles; his junior officers evince a loyalty that is rare even in the military, another quality accruing to those with the magnetic pull of the Black Hole Sun.
Additional galactic contacts include Mercury in square to a Black Hole, Venus conjunct another and opposed a Maser, Mars conjunct a Black Hole, Jupiter exactly square the Galactic Center, Chiron conjunct one Black Hole (the one at 1 Libra which squares his Sun) and squared two more, Saturn conjunct a Quasar, Uranus exactly opposed a Black Hole, Neptune conjunct a Quasar and squared two Black Holes, and Pluto exactly conjunct a Black Hole.
Clark's entry into the race came significantly later than most of the Democratic contenders, the result of a "draft Clark" movement in late 2003 which was largely a response to those seeking an anti-Dean, who had been the front-runner at the time. Clark himself has only been a Democrat for two years, although he supported both Gore and Clinton in their presidential bids.
His Saturn/Quasar conjunction is the mark of a born leader, a man of considerable executive ability and many of the qualities associated with the office of President. But his early support for and endorsement of Bush's War in Iraq, followed by a staunch denial of these policies, has left lingering doubts as to his authenticity in the Democratic field. Clark's desire to serve his country is demonstrable and obvious, and his credentials in leadership and national security issues impeccable, but he has no voting record, has been accused of flip-flopping on major issues, and may not be as sound on domestic policy as others with more experience.
Mercury square a Black Hole could be the source of some of the double-speak; natives with strong Black Hole contacts can tend towards a chameleon-like changeability, inclining to adapt themselves to their audience. When with one crowd they act and speak one way, and when the crowd changes, so do they. It's also entirely possible that Clark's Capricorn Sun felt it was his duty to support the official administration position while still on the government's payroll, but now retirement has enabled him to be more himself and express his personal views more openly. In either case, the inconsistency is a serious weak spot in an otherwise apparently impressive armor.
Mars conjunct a Black Hole indicates the vast amounts of energy funneled into his military career, as well as the personal sacrifices he endured (constantly on the move as his duty called, Clark cites over 31 residences in his 38 years with the Army). Jupiter in square to the Galactic Center implies a life philosophy and political message which others can easily identify with, and could be indicative of success in working with other nations to form globally effective partnerships, as well as creative problem solving skills on an international level.
And so we move out of the sphere of door-to-door politics, and onto the national stage. Seven states hold primaries on Tuesday, February 3, followed by another 10 before the month is out, and then Super Tuesday, March 2, when almost half the delegates needed to nominate will be selected in primaries across the nation, including New York and California.
It's too early yet to determine a winner, though Kerry can certainly claim front-runner status and has the momentum. But the February 3 contests may not make things any clearer. Kerry is likely to take Missouri, now that Gephardt's departure from the race has left a vacuum there, and the Dean/Gephardt infighting has left a bad taste for Dean among Democrats in the Show Me State. But Edwards could pull South Carolina, his state of birth and neighbor to North Carolina, which he represents as Senator. Dean has the edge in Arizona and New Mexico, Clark is polling well in Oklahoma, and even Lieberman could rally in Delaware, although his prospects for a successful bid for the party's nomination seem unlikely even in that case.
This is something I never do, but I'm going out on a limb here, folkslook for a Kerry win in the primaries, and a Kerry/Edwards ticket in November.
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at firstname.lastname@example.org.