November 2008 Black hole case study
by Alex Miller-Mignone
Four fairly lackluster debates punctuated the final six weeks before the election, three between presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain, on September 26, October 7, and October 15, and one between running mates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin on October 2. All occurred during the period of Mercury retrograde, with the last on the day of Mercury’s direct station, affording undecided voters the chance to review and revisit the candidates’ positions and temperament, a classic example of the “going back into” an unresolved matter common during Mercury’s backward movement.
Unfortunately, as has become typical of these campaign events, little of note was expressed on either side, leaving voters little choice but to judge the candidates in terms of persona rather than policy. Throughout, Obama remained calm and collected, and kept a fairly tight rein on his tendency to wax professorial when asked a question. McCain appeared tetchy and tense, with a marked lack of desire for direct interaction with Obama, or even acknowledging his presence. Perhaps the most memorable moment came in the second debate, a Town Hall format favorable to McCain, when he slightingly referred to his opponent as “that one.” Most viewers polled gave Obama the edge in all three of his debates, and judged Biden the winner in his.
Mercury, the planet of communication ruling speeches and debating, was in significant galactic alignment on all four occasions. Still at its station degree of 22 Libra for the first presidential debate, Mercury opposed the Black Hole at 25 Aries and squared another at 19 Capricorn. At the second presidential debate Mercury at 13 Libra retrograde was exactly conjunct a Black Hole, and for the third presidential debate, it exactly conjoined the Pulsar at 7 Libra and was squared a Black Hole at 5 Capricorn. Mercury with a Black Hole provided the opportunity to create a game-changing moment, one which would radically flip the direction of the race, provide a memorable quote, or leave a lasting impression defining the speaker or his opponent, but neither candidate succeeded in this.
Modern presidential debates trace their origins to the Lincoln-Douglas Senate debates of 1858, and intriguingly, both Lincoln and Douglas have asteroids named for them. These showed a decided interest in the current debates, with Lincoln shadowing asteroid Johannes, for John McCain, in mid-Virgo, and Douglas aligning with asteroid Barry, for Barack Obama, in late Libra.
For the first debate, Johannes and Lincoln paired at 5 and 11 Virgo, and combined with Saturn at 14 to contend with Douglas and Barry at 16 and 19 Libra, joined by Mercury at 22. At the second debate, Johannes, Lincoln and Saturn at 9, 15 and 16 Virgo respectively faced off with Douglas and Barry at 20 and 25 Libra, and for the third debate, it was Johannes, Saturn and Lincoln at 12, 16 and 19 Virgo with Douglas and Barry at 23 and 28 Libra respectively, joined by the Sun on Mercury’s retrograde station degree of 22 Libra. The asteroids showed admirable Party loyalty, with Republican Lincoln supporting Republican McCain, and Democrat Douglas siding with Democrat Obama. In the original debates, Douglas was judged the winner, as was Obama in this series. At the time, US senators were elected not by the populace directly, but by the state legislature; in the aftermath of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Democrats narrowly won more seats in the Illinois General Assembly, despite having garnered less than half the votes statewide, and Douglas was granted his US Senate seat, though Lincoln went on to eclipse and defeat him two years later in the race for the White House.
The debate between the Vice Presidential candidates had a few more sparks. Held October 2, the occasion was deemed a do-or-die situation for Palin, whose national polling numbers were dropping like a stone following several disastrous interviews with ABC’s Charlie Gibson and NBC’s Katie Couric, where her poor performance threatened to paint her as an empty-headed cipher. Biden was judged the winner, but both candidates did themselves good, with Palin pulling herself out of a dangerous slide. Her wise-cracking, eye-winking, ‘g’-droppin’ folksy manner appeared gimcrack and manipulative to decriers, who viewed it as unsubstantive and non-presidential, but appealed to supporters from the lunchbucket crowd, her real audience. Mercury at 18 Libra was again squared the Black Hole at 19 Capricorn. Asteroids Josefa and Josephine, for Joseph Biden, combined at 27 and 28 Scorpio, conjunct the Quasar at 28 Scorpio and squared the Black Hole at 28 Aquarius, while asteroid Sara at 6 Aquarius squared the Black Hole at 7 Scorpio and Venus at 9 Scorpio.
The Hate Talk Express
As predicted in earlier articles this year, the 2008 campaign has been one of the nastiest in recent memory. Astrologically, this stems from the exact conjunction of Obama’s Sun and McCain’s Mars at 12 Leo, both conjoined the volatile, controversy-provoking Maser at 13 Leo, providing fractious, angry discourse and seething resentments. As the Sun native, Obama has been the primary focus of the attacks (Mars) from McCain and his supporters. McCain’s inability to address Obama directly at their first debate, or so much as look at him, even when prompted to do so by moderator Tom Brokaw, showed clearly the level of antagonism present in the elder statesman, who views his opponent as a rank amateur upstart.
Campaign ads with overt charges of “liar” directed at Obama followed, with an increased focus on his unpreparedness and questionable associations. But such things are common fodder for candidates trailing in the closing days of a campaign. What has crossed the line and made this campaign unique in the annals of political presidential nastiness has been the rhetoric spouted by Sarah Palin in her stump speeches, where she has accused Obama of “palling around” with domestic terrorists such as former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, with whom Obama served on a Chicago school reform board. She further avers that Obama is “not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” explicitly creating a charge of “other” which animates her supporters.
While attack dog is a traditional role for the running mate, Palin in particular is well suited to perform it. With the Sun conjoined Mars in her nativity, Palin on some level “gets” the antagonism and antipathy of the McCain/Obama Mars/Sun synastry, and is a natural mouthpiece for that energy. As she expressed her position to right-wing talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh when controversy over her comments began to heat up, “I have nothing to lose” by making the accusations. The frothy foam of vituperation with which Palin energizes her crowds has led to shouts of “Terrorist!”, “Off with his head!” and “Kill him!” from her audience in response to the mention of Obama’s name. The Secret Service, who awarded Obama protection in May of 1997, far earlier than any other presidential candidate, are investigating several of the incidents.
But the hatred hasn’t restricted itself to speech. At a Palin rally in New Hampshire on October 15, a group of up to 15 female seniors allegedly beat and bruised several young men who were protesting and chanting “Obama!”, giving one of them a black eye. The disgruntled grannies were apparently whipped to fever pitch by the Alaskan governor, who has also opined, when protestors were removed from her rallies, that perhaps they ought to be forced to stay and be ‘taught’ by the crowd.
US Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) compared the McCain campaign comments to the hate-engendering rhetoric of segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace, deploring the heightened tensions and atmosphere of volatility they evoke: “George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.... As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Senator McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all.”
All this is even more disturbing in light of the record of assassination that follows political figures having the Sun/Maser signature so prominent in Obama’s chart [see my article “Masers and Assassination” in the May 2008 Daykeeper Journal]. This heat-up in rhetoric coincided with inflationary Jupiter’s passage through the 13th and 14th degrees of Capricorn, in inconjunct aspect to the Maser at 13 degrees of Leo in Obama’s natal chart, now at 14 degrees in the transit sky.
Caught in Transit
John McCain suffered a series of transits in late September and early October which effectively eroded his experience advantage in the public eye. His vacillating responses to the economic crisis, in particular, called into question his stability and leadership style, with the Obama campaign charging him with “erratic” behavior (code for “senility” in this context). McCain first suspended his campaign and threatened to boycott the first presidential debate, returning to Washington to manage the crisis. A tentative bailout deal which had been in the offing on Thursday afternoon, September 25, appeared to fall through after he injected himself into the proceedings, and the resultant bill failed to pass that Monday. Nevertheless, McCain attended the debate in Mississippi on the 26th as scheduled. In succeeding weeks McCain proposed a variety of solutions to the crisis, several of them contradicting other proposals he had made, until voters were unsure if McCain himself had any real focus or trajectory, let alone any meaningful plan for the economy.
The Mercury retrograde of September 24 at 22 Libra which coincided with the suspension of the campaign was exactly semisextile McCain’s 22 Virgo Venus, which is itself exactly conjunct the nation’s natal Neptune. This inability to speak with clarity or offer substantive proposals (both Mercury) and a lack of focus (Neptune) about financial matters (Venus) seriously damaged McCain’s credibility at a time when national attention was riveted on an area already rife with natural advantages for Democrats. Throughout mid- to late September, transit Uranus was exactly conjunct McCain’s natal Saturn at 20 Pisces, representing his executive capacity and leadership style, evoking the aura of erratic response (Uranus). This was followed hotly in early October by transit Saturn activating McCain’s natal Neptune at 16 Virgo, giving rise to a sense of confused, incoherent (Neptune) leadership (Saturn). McCain’s odd, meandering performance at the Town Hall format debate on October 7, where he crisscrossed the stage in an apparently random manner while his opponent was answering questions, coincided with the day Saturn moved to the exact degree of Neptune in his birth chart, and gave voters a visual image of directionless leadership.
Obama was favored with several Mars transits during the same period which gave him an edge on appearing active and engaged. At the first debate on September 26, transit Mars at 25 Libra was exactly squared his natal Saturn at 25 Capricorn, and Mercury still at its station degree of 22 Libra was in exact semisextile to Obama’s natal Mars at 22 Virgo. Mars played a role at the October 7th debate as well; from 2 Scorpio it exactly squared Obama’s natal Mercury at 2 Leo, again lending force to his communication and message. The Sun’s reiteration of the 22 Libra Mercury station degree on the date of the final debate again highlighted Obama’s natal Mars by semisextile, encouraging viewers to see him as vibrant and forceful. Throughout, transit Pluto at 28 Sagittarius lay in exact semisextile to Obama’s 28 Scorpio Midheaven, bringing out the exact Quasar conjunction there which speaks volumes for his political success and meteoric rise on the national stage.
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 Alixilamirorim@aol.com.