Will the Real Rick Santelli Stand Up?

Ever since CNBC commentator Rick Santelli made his rant heard ’round the world from Chicago’s commodity trading pits, I’ve been searching for his birthdate.

I haven’t succeeded. However, Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture is quoting some persuasive evidence that Santelli is the front-man for a far-right GOP organization. Check it out!

There’s more than meets the eye to Santelli’s seemingly spontaneous eruption against Obamanation and his call for a “Chicago tea party.” Anybody got a birthday on Santelli? Love to hear about it.

The Pen is Mightier than the Shoe

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Among the chattering classes, it’s become hip to salute the Iraqi journalist who hurled a pair of shoes at President George W. Bush during a press conference on Dec. 14.

As much as I opposed the invasion of Iraq, where my nephew is now on his way to Mosul, I can’t feel good about a member of the media throwing anything at a person who is conducting a press conference, even if that person is one of the most incompetent Presidents in U.S. history.

The image above has been making the rounds, thanks to Baydan & Ducati, the manufacturer of the shoes that were thrown at Bush. However, I have to say that I’m with Laura Bush. I think this journalist crossed the line.

Did I think that gave his jailers the right to beat him into writing an apology, as his brother alleges? No. But I think reporters should confine their attacks to words.

Rupert Murdoch and Election Day: The View from Brazil

Here’s the latest report from Gian Paul, our fearless Brazil bureau chief. Gian Paul and I don’t agree on everything, but we both consider Rupert Murdoch to be one of the most powerful men in the world. Over to you, GP:

Rupert Murdoch is a man who fits America like a glove, astrologically speaking. Whoever dislikes him should either not read what follows or read it twice. As the saying goes, “Know your enemy.”

In my life, at least, nothing happens without some stellar connection. Monica was recently teasing me about having rightist tendencies. This is not true at all. I was once a member of a Swiss Communist cell in my youth. I admit that my wallet has subsequently drifted a bit to the right, but not my open mind.

I suspect that Murdoch, the Australian-born media mogul, soon will be in the news himself, and not because of his own making, this time at least. I formed this opinion after studying his horoscope and a few other related ones.

Murdoch was born in Melbourne, Australia on Mar. 11, 1931, at 11:55 p.m. His ascendant is 1 degree 31 minutes of Capricorn. Other features of the chart include a very strong Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Cancer (like another corporate titan, Warren Buffett) that receives a potent Mercury/Sun trine and a Saturn opposition natally.

What gives Murdoch the punch everybody in the media business either fears or appreciates is Uranus conjunct the North Node in Aries, which squares his natal Jupiter/Pluto. Squares with Uranus, for the fearless at least, are extremely productive, and Murdoch has proven that throughout his life.

One reason why Murdoch’s fortunes are so closely tied to those of the U.S. is that his natal Pluto falls on America’s Mercury in my preferred chart. In my experience, the chart that has always yielded very good results is the one set for July 6, 1775, at 11 a.m. LMT in Philadelphia.

Using this chart, Murdoch’s visionary Neptune conjuncts the U.S. Neptune and Mars. His Ascendant conjuncts America’s Pluto while his Venus opposes the U.S. Venus. This may explain why Murdoch’s adversaries say his chief motivation is money.

Now, to unveil a bit of the mystery about why I think Murdoch will soon be making headlines: On Nov. 4, he will experience the following transits: Pluto will be at the midpoint of his Moon and Ascendant. Meanwhile, the Moon will be conjunct his Saturn and opposite his Mars.

In addition, Venus will be conjunct his Moon. Jupiter will be almost exactly opposite his Pluto and natal Jupiter. And finally, Uranus will be conjunct his Mercury/Sun, while Saturn will be making a favorable trine his Saturn. Thanks to his control of The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and what have you, Murdoch around Nov 4 will experience a sense of power that he could never have imagined, even though he is a dreamy Pisces.

Thanks, Gian Paul. We’ll keep our eyes firmly focused on Murdoch as Americans go to the polls on Election Day and Saturn in Virgo opposes Uranus in the sky. By the way, Sky is the name of one of Murdoch’s TV properties.

If you’d like to read a post that I did on Murdoch that gives a lot of background about his life, you can find it here under “Citizen Murdoch.” G’day, mate!

Warren Buffett is Not a Buffet

With the Dow Jones industrial average closing down today 678 points, to 8,579 (a 7% drop), you’d think I’d have something better to rant about than the repeated misspelling of Warren Buffett’s name.

As I like to point out to my astropals, even though the Oracle of Omaha has a cornucopia-like Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Cancer, he is not a “buffet.”

This past week, Buffett’s name has been misspelled by everyone from astrologer Michael WolfStar at StarIQ to The Wall Street Journal, which got the name wrong in an opinion piece by Vernon L. Smith called “There’s no easy way out of a bubble.”

Even though there’s no easy way out of a bubble, there is an easy way to spell Warren Buffett’s name right. Just say to yourself: Warren is not a “buffet.”

Got that, “fellow prisoners”?

Helen Thomas, Queen of the White House Correspondents

Back on Aug. 4, when it was Barack Obama’s birthday and I was busily calculating his solar return, my tipster Gastriques was prodding me to look at the chart of longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas, another Leo born Aug. 4.

I’m catching up with Learning Curve on the Ecliptic and I see this weekend that she featured Thomas as the first in a series of “superwomen” that she plans to write about on Saturdays. So, here you go, Gastriques. Here’s everything you wanted to know about Helen Thomas, together with her natal chart.

So, in true Cindy Adams style, I’ll say: Don’t say I never did anything for you! (I know you wouldn’t, but it’s fun to channel Cindy!)

The Death of Tim Russert and the Spring Equinox Chart

Hindsight is always 20-20 vision, but the sudden death of TV newscaster Tim Russert on June 13 got me thinking about the 2008 Spring Equinox chart.

That chart, set for Washington D.C., has Uranus in Pisces in the third house of media and communications square the Ascendant, a negative aspect that had Nancy over at Nancy’s Blog quite concerned about some surprising event in the nation’s capital.

Here’s the link to the chart: http://www.handclow2012.com/springequinox.htm

My post for the chart said there could be upsetting news, but that the “talking heads on TV will tell us everything will be O.K.” Obviously, I didn’t foresee that the upsetting news was going to concern one of the talking heads. In the words of the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz: “The news swept the capital like a shock wave.” Sounds like Uranus square the Ascendant to me.

Here’s the link to my Spring Equinox post: http://astrologymundo.wordpress.com/2008/03/20/happy-new-year/

Now some people might be skeptical that you could see the death of an individual other than a king or a president in a collective chart. But I would argue that Russert, as host of Face the Nation, was an important figure on a symbolic level to the U.S. In many ways, he was larger than life.

Perhaps his passing in Washington D.C. on June 13 also had to do with Pluto’s retrograde movement back into Sagittarius. Pluto’s previous passage through Sag, which ran from 1995 to 2008, coincided with the restructuring of Big Media. TV network news programs lost viewers, while circulation for newspapers and magazines declined as more people spent time surfing the Net. The current retrograde of Pluto in Sag lasts just a few months, until Nov. 26, and will see the tying up of loose ends, meaning more layoffs for journos.

Pluto was still in the last minutes of Capricorn when Tom Brokaw told viewers of Russert’s death at 3:40 p.m. Eastern time on June 13. It didn’t touch Sag until two hours later.

But the next few hours would be dominated by media coverage of Russert’s accomplishments, which included coining the term “red state-blue state” to describe the political polarization of the U.S. As Pluto, the planet of destruction and transformation, moved back into the sign of Sag, which rules Big Media, the airwaves and the Internet were focusing on the death of a prominent journalist.

Media types and their families always get better obituaries than the general public. When a journalistic brother or sister dies, the remaining members of the media community pull out the stops. Have you ever noticed a prominent obituary in The New York Times for a seemingly ordinary woman who was active in her community and her church? You find yourself wondering why she’s getting all this space until you read the list of survivors and learn that she was the mother, wife, sister, or daughter of an editor on the paper.

Another reason for the outpouring of grief about Russert’s death: Nobody likes it when somebody’s Dad dies right before Father’s Day. This kind of thing gets sentimental media types choked up.

Speaking of obits, here’s a link to WaPo media critic Kurtz’s obituary of Russert: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/13/AR2008061302423_pf.html

If you’re looking for an analysis of Russert’s chart and what the transits were when he died, you’ll find a good one here: http://www.acumind.com/News/Political/RussertTim/russertt.html

Interestingly, last week also saw the death of another important media figure: groundbreaking sportscaster Jim McKay, who passed away at age 86 on June 7. McKay, best known for hosting ABC’s Wide World of Sports , leaves as his legacy his trademark description, “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” I’m pretty sure he coined the phrase because back in those days, TV’s talking heads wrote their own scripts.

By the way, there are still a few days until the Summer Solstice chart kicks in on June 20, so we’re not out of the woods in terms of an unexpected event in Washington D.C., as foreshadowed by the Spring Equinox chart. But I’m hoping Russert’s death is the last of the upsetting news.

Gossip Girls: Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons

During my winter stay in Palm Springs, which is rapidly coming to a close, I’ve been steeping myself in the romance and deception of Old Hollywood, whose denizens would escape to this desert community when the glare of publicity became too harsh.

I’m in the process of reading Hedda and Louella: A dual biography of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons by George Eells. I picked up a first edition of the 1972 book at a used bookstore. At least, I was told it’s a first edition when I asked the proprietor of the Palm Springs Book Exchange why she was charging $15 for a book that originally cost $7.95. I thought used books were supposed to be bargains.

This one is a real gem, though, and worth every penny. It chronicles the catfight of the century, between the rival columnists who ruled Hollywood gossip for roughly 40 years. As some older readers or cinemaphiles may know, Parsons got her start in newspapers and was made into a Hollywood institution by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, actress Marion Davies.

Hopper was an actress first and then took on Parsons as the queen of Hollywood by stealing the show with her flashy wardrobe and signature hats. She also took better care of her health than Parsons, who was a heavy drinker and battled tuberculosis and other serious ailments throughout her life.

Another difference between the two: Hopper made fewer mistakes in her columns than Parsons, who was known for running many corrections. Eells suggests that some of Hopper’s success was due to the studios’ desire for a duopoly, rather than a monopoly, on gossip.

In the beginning, Parsons actually was a booster of Hopper’s and ran favorable items about her in her syndicated column. But once Hopper became a newspaperwoman in her own right and started “scooping” Parsons, the claws came out.

Parsons was a Leo, born Aug. 6, 1881, in Freeport, Ill., according to both the book and the Wiki. Hopper was a Taurus, born May 2, 1885, in Hollidaysburg, Pa. (My sources are the same as for Parsons.) Having reliable data is important because both women lied shamelessly about their ages during their lifetimes.

The periodic feuding between Parsons and Hopper was punctuated by high-profile rapprochements, usually celebrated at a swanky Hollywood restaurant so everyone in town would see they were pals again – until the next battle.  Given this volatile relationship, I was curious to see what the composite or “combined” chart of the two women would tell us.

Here’s the composite, courtesy of Astrodienst: http://www.astro.com/cgi/chart.cgi?cid=41laaaa19347-s971800598&lang=e&gm=a1&nhor=228&nho2=227&btyp=621&mth=gw&sday=13&smon=5&syr=2008&hsy=-1&zod=&orbp=&rs=0&ast=

One of my friends suggested that I  keep my posts shorter so I’ll attempt to be brief here. I’ll note that the huge stellium in Gemini, which rules communications, in the composite chart is squared by electrical Uranus in Virgo, giving the relationship an on-again, off-again character. The inclusion of powerful Pluto in the Gemini lineup tells us this relationship was about mass communication and power struggles.

I couldn’t find birth times for either gossip gal, so I set the charts for noon. As a result, the Ascendant, house cusps, and degree of the Moon are not reliable in their combined chart. Still, it’s likely the composite moon is in Sagittarius.

As the book jacket for Hedda and Louella says, “Their like will never be seen again.” Not even the formidable Liz Smith wields the power that these women did through their relationships with the film studios, which kept stars on a leash back in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Today, nobody can control the Tom Cruises of the world when they want to jump up and down on Oprah’s couch.

30 Days and Counting

I’ve been so busy blogging that I missed Astrology Mundo’s first birthday on Mar. 17. Yes, it’s been a month since I met my new best friend — you, whoever and wherever you are.

I must admit that I’m a little depressed that I share my birthday with St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not because I don’t like the Irish. Indeed, Patrick and Patricia are popular names among my family and friends. It’s just that St. Patrick’s Day is a day best avoided in New York City, where I work and where it isn’t unusual to see people throwing up in public after too many toasts in honor of the Irish.

I guess I’ll be treating Astrology Mundo Day the way I do New Year’s Eve — staying inside with all the curtains drawn. But now I have a URL to call my very own.

I don’t believe in copyright infringement (not knowingly, anyway) so I can’t cut and paste my favorite cartoon about blogging, which ran in The New Yorker a couple of years ago. It’s signed Gregory, and has a picture of two dogs. One dog says to the other: “I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking.” If you Google that quote under Images, you can find it, though.

I’m always going to bark so it’s best to do it in a safe place, as opposed to sending out inappropriate e-mails at work or writing posts to Barbara Ellen at The Observer in London that can be traced back to me.

When I first started reading blogs, I didn’t understand how political they were. I got my feet wet with Instapundit, a blog by Glenn Reynolds, a law school professor at the University of Tennessee. Unlike some bloggers, Reynolds can tolerate viewpoints that differ from his own.

Emboldened by my comments being published on Instapundit, I tried my luck at FreeRepublic.com, when Ann Coulter ended up in a rocking chair on the cover of Time magazine looking like Edith Ann, Lily Tomlin’s character on Saturday Night Live.

I advised Coulter to lighten up, and noted that the cover of Time was the cover of Time, no matter how unhappy you were with your picture. I reminded Coulter that major political figures who were the subjects of caricatures, such as Winston Churchill, probably didn’t lose sleep worrying about how bad they looked.

Well, you can probably guess what happened next. “Astrogirl60″ was branded a “troll,” banned for life from freep.com, and my “offending” post expunged, but not before I got to read lots of hateful posts — all because I had the audacity to poke fun at conservative poster girl Coulter.

Because I was using Astrogirl60 as my handle, one of the conservatives at freep.com said I must be a “real dog,” and pasted a picture of the pup from The Jetsons under his post. Now, that was pretty funny, but clearly astro, as in astrology, doesn’t exist in Coulter’s universe.

Still not ready to throw in the towel, I wrote back under my real name pointing out that my grandfather, father, and two of my brothers had served in the U.S. military and dedicated their careers to fighting for freedom, especially freedom of speech. My parting shot? I pointed out that FreeRepublic.com didn’t seem very free after all.

That was before I learned that blogging and basketball have a lot in common: If you’re going to join a pickup game, it’s best to do it in your own ‘hood. Plus, it’s good to have friends to show you the ropes. Regina at Gastriques has provided lots of valuable advice about the nuts and bolts of blogging. Thanks for your help, Regina!

I was really into blogs at the beginning of the Iraq war, particularly the Baghdad Bulletin, which began publishing on June 9, 2003. In those optimistic days, the staff of the Bulletin thought their publication was going to be the next Prague Post, an informative, unbiased English-language paper for expats. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. The paper had to close down for financial and security reasons after just 70 issues, according to the Wiki.

I hope at least one Baghdad Bulletin veteran got a novel out of it, the way Arthur Phillips did with his breakthrough debut Prague, about a group of writers, adventurers, and fortune-seekers living in Budapest in 1989, right after the fall of Communism. It’s a good read for media types, especially the character who isn’t Rupert Murdoch but really is.

As you can see, blogs are the perfect medium for people who write in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. I’m sure James Joyce would have been a good blogger: Yes I said yes he would yes.

The Bad News about the Newseum

Even though I’ve been a working journalist for more than 30 years, I’m not a true news junkie. I can go cold turkey. I’m perfectly happy to go on vacation and not surf the Net, watch TV, or read the newspaper. In fact, that’s my idea of a perfect vacation. I have to give myself breaks from the onslaught of information (in the old days I would have called it “news” ) or I just burn out.

For a newsie, my sense of timing is a little off. I hate jumping on the bandwagon. I’m perfectly happy to be out of step with the masses, reading about the Civil War when everyone else is focused on World War II or delving deep into Thomas Jefferson’s life when the rest of the gang’s hot and bothered about John Adams.

So don’t be surprised to find me extolling a book that came out last year or dissecting a hurricane that happened nearly three years ago. Why? Because it’s my blog and I can do what I want to. No editor saying, “The competition had that story six weeks ago. Why do you want to write about it now?”

After that running start, which any Journalism 101 professor will tell you belongs in File 13, here’s the real lead: I’m just catching up with the brouhaha surrounding the reopening of the Newseum on Apr. 11. If you had asked me about the original Newseum, which I never visited, I would have told you that it was some outpost of USA Today in Virginia, basically Al Neuharth’s love child.

But after four years in the making and $450 million, the new improved Newseum wants to be a full-fledged member of the museum elite on Washington D.C.’s National Mall. On the eve of its opening, Slate ran a piece by Jack Shafer urging folks to boycott the press pavilion. Here’s the link: http://www.slate.com/id/2188802/ 

Besides noting the $20 admission fee, Shafer’s up in arms about what he calls the “fetishizing of trivial relics,” including the satchel, pencil, and eyeglasses belonging to reporter Mark Kellogg of the Bismarck Tribune, who was killed at Little Big Horn.

Hey, isn’t that what museums do? More to the point, that’s what our society does. Vogue wouldn’t have 800 pages in its September issue each year if we didn’t fetishize consumer products.

Putting Wonkette’s bedroom slippers and other media detritus under glass isn’t what troubles me about the Newseum. As a former typesetter who still likes the feel of newsprint in her hands, I’m worried about the future. Museums usually showcase things that don’t exist anymore, you know, like dinosaurs or the Roman Empire. If they’ve built a shining glass and steel monument to journalism on the Mall, it can only mean one thing: Media, as we know it, is on the verge of extinction.

By the way, I’m not the only newsie who has come to this conclusion. Check at this post at “The Future of News”: http://thefutureofnews.com/2008/04/11/dcs-new-newsoleum-is-the-perfect-monument-to-a-dying-profession/

No question about it: The barbarian bloggers aren’t at the gates; they’re in the newsroom. Strike that. They ARE the newsroom. Say good-bye to fact-checking, spelling, grammar, balance, fairness — that stuff’s so last millennium. 

With the prodigious amount of free content floating around the Web, some of it very well-written, it’s getting harder and harder for journalists to make a buck. I recently asked an editor how much I should bill him for some digital work I did and he informed me that it was customary not to pay contributors at this particular Web site.

Why else do you think I’m doing my best Sybil the Soothsayer (from the film “Network,” for those of you not familiar with the character) with an astrology blog? Folks actually want to pay me to do astrological readings. That’s becoming less true for my journalistic endeavors. As the Ice Age descends over the newsroom, I’m looking at my crystal ball, my tea leaves, my charts — anything to get a read on the future and some money in the bank.

So, on with the show! Let’s look at the Newseum opening chart, set for 9 a.m. on Apr. 11 in Washington D.C.

The talking points: Gemini rising and Mercury the chart ruler are perfect for a museum dedicated to the media. Sun/Mercury in Aries points to the self-aggrandizement that Shafer bemoans in the piece I’ve linked to above. Neptune in Aquarius sextile the Aries stellium, which also includes Venus in Aries — there’s some confusion about mission. I suspect there’s more glamour than substance here.

The real problem is a combative Moon/Mars conjunction in Cancer in the second house of resources. The Cancer planets square the Aries stellium in the 11th house of “hopes and dreams” (a catchall phrase if I ever heard one!) and oppose Jupiter in Capricorn, forming a nice T-square.  Who’s going to pay for all of this? Based on the Jupiter in Cap in the seventh house, the media elite of this country.

It’s a good thing the Newseum has such well-heeled patrons because with a $20 admission charge, they’re not going to get enough visitors to keep the lights on. Yes, there’s backing from the Freedom Forum, Neuharth’s group, and other media family foundations, but some benefactors are going to get fed up about the amount of money required to sustain this — dare I say it? — white elephant.

Most of the museums in Washington D.C. are funded by the government and your tax dollars, even the National Museum of the American Indian, which is part of the Smithsonian. Maybe Old Media needs to cut a deal with the Native Americans, who are using some of the stupendous profits from their casinos to build museums about tribal customs of yesteryear. If not a joint operating agreement, perhaps a reality TV show that takes place in the Newseum: American Media Mogul or Who Wants to be a Newspaper Owner?