MARCH 2009 BLACK HOLE CASE STUDY
by Alex Miller
For anybody who thought it was all going to be smooth sailing now that the Obama administration has taken office, the events of late January and early February 2009 should prove an eye-opener. In his effort to provide America with a squeaky clean Cabinet, Obama has discovered just how slimy Washington insiders can be, and may begin to realize that slime doesn’t squeak all that well.
All told, three Cabinet or Cabinet-level nominees have had to withdraw; Bill Richardson as Commerce Secretary due to a federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations in New Mexico; Nancy Killefer, Obama’s first choice for the brand new Cabinet-level position of Chief Performance Officer, due to unpaid unemployment compensation taxes for household staff at her DC home; and Tom Daschle, tapped for the Department of Health and Human Services, who withdrew after revealing he had not disclosed all income nor paid tax on the free use of a car and driver. A fourth nominee, Timothy Geithner, managed to be confirmed at Treasury despite owing the IRS, which he will now oversee, some $35,000 in back taxes.
So what’s with this taxing situation? Pluto in Capricorn, for one. Sometimes astrology isn’t so much interpretive, as a matter of simple arithmetic, or a game of cosmic keyword mad-libs. Pluto, the muckraking celestial which delights in revealing secrets and scandals, is associated with Scorpio and the Eighth House, ruling taxes, among other things. And Capricorn governs government officials and top executives like Cabinet secretaries. One plus one equals two high profile withdrawals due to tax problems.
Add to that, Pluto at 2 Capricorn inconjunct the information-evoking and newsworthy Pulsar at 2 Leo, itself exactly conjoined Obama’s natal Mercury, and we have an image of tension and unease (the inconjunct) stemming from the tax status (Pluto) of government officials (Capricorn), requiring adjustments (the inconjunct again) which make big news (the Pulsar), the entire contretemps based in Obama’s decision-making process (his natal Mercury), in choosing flawed nominees in the first place. And "contretemps" is the right word for it, bearing an astrologic implication—it derives from the French, meaning "motion out of time." In picking these tax cheats, Obama has put himself in the position of mis-aligning with the spirit of the times, which with Pluto in Capricorn, is bound to include some governmental scandalmongering.
And Obama has admitted as much himself, with a candor refreshing in a Chief Executive after eight years of George W. Bush, who with disaster raining down from all sides could never quite seem to identify any mistakes he’d made. In several network interviews given February 3, the day both Killefer and Daschle withdrew their nominations, Obama acknowledged his role in the fiasco: "I’ve got to own up to my mistake," he told NBC’s Brian Williams. "Ultimately, it's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules—you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes." That openness and willingness to admit culpability may have defused the situation, and prevented a worse reaction, but Obama only has so many chances to concretize his image as a reformer, and the lingering impression from this incident isn’t a favorable one.
So why did Geithner get a pass, while Killefer and Daschle paid the penalty? For one, Geithner was the first whose tax problems surfaced. One is an anomaly, an aberration, and can be overlooked; three makes a pattern, and reflects on the person making the choices. Also, Geithner’s role at Treasury was deemed vital at this economic juncture, whereas Killefer, and to a lesser extent Daschle, were expendable.
But astrologically, there is also good reason for the difference. No birth data was available for Killefer, but Geithner and Daschle are undergoing very different transits, with dramatically different outcomes from the same basic offense.
Geithner, the administration’s new top financial officer, failed to pay self-employment taxes owed from his work for the International Monetary Fund in 2001-02, even though his employer paid him their half of the amount owed, expecting he would deposit it with the IRS, and he was well aware of the debt. Back taxes and penalties amounted to some $35,000, which Geithner failed to pay until after Obama nominated him for the post of Treasury Secretary. But timing was key here. Although Geithner endured some probing investigations and pointed questions during his confirmation process, while Pluto was at 0 Capricorn trine his Mercury and 1 Capricorn square his Mars, the pivotal moments, his nomination on 24 November 2008 and eventual confirmation on 26 January 2009, were unencumbered by exact Pluto transit pressure. At his nomination Pluto was still at 29 Sagittarius, and by the time he was confirmed, it had passed on to 2 Capricorn, in both instances by mere days. The earlier portion of the intervening period, with Pluto trine Mercury, coincided with inspection (Mercury) of Geithner’s tax (Pluto) filings and records (Mercury), while the latter portion, with Pluto squared Mars, witnessed the actual confirmation battle (Mars).
Overarching this period, and lending heavy support, was an unusual, once-in-12-year event, Geithner’s Jupiter return, occurring in early January. Jupiter’s return to its birth degree often marks a major change in fortune, usually for the better, and allows the native to attain goals and expand his reach, which Geithner certainly did in leaving his old job as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to helm the nation’s finances at Treasury. Ironically, in his former post Geithner had already been very instrumental, though not all that visible, in the governmental buy-outs, bail-outs and guarantees of financial institutions throughout 2008, many of which were approved by the Fed Board itself, but funded via Geithner’s bank.
Daschle wasn’t so lucky. He failed to report income derived from consulting work, and the free use of a car and driver, accruing a tax debt of $128,000 that made Geithner’s pale in comparison. When Daschle withdrew from the nomination process on February 3, Pluto was exactly trine his 2 Virgo Mars, dredging up the tax scandal and inciting opposition and animosity to his candidacy. With Neptune at 23 Aquarius exactly squared his Nodal Axis at 23 Taurus and Scorpio, Daschle’s past (South Node) had come back to haunt him, and his future (North Node) was in jeopardy, with Neptune ultimately dissolving his dream of bringing reform to health care. Further, the Sun at 14 Aquarius, still conjoined the reversal-inclined Black Hole at 13 Aquarius, was exactly opposed Daschle’s natal power center, his Pluto at 14 Leo, itself conjunct an erratic, volatile Maser, yet another image of controversy (Maser) involving taxes (Pluto). The upcoming Lunar Eclipse of February 9 at 20 Leo was poised to dampen Daschle’s natal Saturn at 22 Leo (squelching his executive ambitions), which was also receiving an exact inconjunct (tension and adjustments) from transit Mercury (decisions) at 22 Capricorn, fresh from its powerful station two days before, causing him to rethink the situation.
That same eclipse straddles Obama’s natal Ascendant/Descendant axis at 18 Aquarius/Leo, causing some to begin to question his image (Ascendant) as a competent manager and reformer, and once again highlighting (the eclipse) his associations and affiliations (the relationships entered into voluntarily, via the Descendant), as occurred earlier during the campaign, with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. We’ve already discussed Pluto’s exact inconjunct to Obama’s natal Mercury, eliciting the reappraisal and putting his decision-making process in doubt. The transit Sun’s exact opposition to the 14 Leo Maser brought forth some of the more controversial aspects of its natal conjunction with his Sun, which during the campaign manifested largely as heightened enthusiasm for his candidacy and an ability to electrify his supporters. But it also lent vital support in its concomitant exact trine to the USA Saturn, the presidency, at 14 Libra, affording Obama the opportunity to make his candor and willingness to accept responsibility work in his favor.
Most formative of all, perhaps, was the pending Saturn/Uranus opposition, the second in a series of five, which was exact just two days after the Daschle and Killefer withdrawals, and Obama’s nationally televised mea culpa. This emphasizes once again the struggle between business as usual, the entrenched hierarchy and the status quo in Washington, as exemplified by Saturn; and the desire for change, revolution, and new methodologies, as represented by Uranus. In picking a Washington insider like Daschle, Obama threatens to align with Saturn; in owning and admitting his mistake, he realigns with Uranus, the source of his victory on Election Day, which saw the first exact opposition of this pair. These oppositions continue through the summer of 2010, defining the underpinning dynamic of tension leading to the mid-term elections which will provide Obama’s first "report card" from the nation. The struggle between the old and the new is never more potent than at this time of conflict with Saturn and Uranus, and Obama seems torn between the two. Which side of this polarity he ultimately comes down on may determine his fate, and ours.
Alex Miller (formerly 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.