Phrase of the Moment: “Mother of All Bailouts”

Sometime in the past week, a new phrase entered the American vernacular. It’s “mother of all buyouts,” or MOAB, for short.

I did a little research on the Internet to see who started the ball rolling. It’s hard to tell because this description has shown up in so many blog posts and mainstream media headlines.

He certainly didn’t coin the phrase, but Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, gave MOAB a real boost by using it on Face the Nation on Sept. 21.

Talking about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion proposal to rescue Wall Street, Shelby said:

“You add a trillion here, a trillion there and sooner or later you have a debt for the American people. This is the mother of all bailouts.”

Transiting Jupiter in Capricorn has been opposing the maternal Cancer Sun of the U.S. Is this why we’re getting the “mother of all bailouts”?

Speaking of MOAB, commenter Cynthia sent this post in from AstroWorld. Great stuff on the secret meeting on Jekyll Island, Ga., that preceded the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank. Thanks for the link, Cynthia! It sparked me to write this post.

Pluto Direct in Sagittarius: Yanking the Yakkers

O.K., let me say up front that I get nearly all of my news from mainstream media Web sites and independent blogs. I disconnected my cable TV about a week ago because there’s so much streaming video on the Net.

But I’m shocked that MSNBC has yanked talking heads Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann as political news anchors. Some of my friends who supported Hillary Clinton’s Presidential bid won’t be unhappy about this decision, that’s for sure.

There’s speculation that comments about Palin led to the team’s demotion. But why was it O.K. for them to put Hillary through the wringer?

As an astrological commentator, I’m going to note that this muzzling of the media is occurring as Pluto turning direct in Sagittarius for its final pass. For those who say that Matthews and Olbermann weren’t impartial, I ask: Who is?

I’m going to leave you with these words from John Mayer:

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want

That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

The W-Shaped Recession

This just in, as Paul Harvey likes to say, from Standard & Poor’s Economics. The purveyors of the so-called dismal science are sometimes inadvertantly funny. To wit:

“First-quarter growth was little revised (0.9% from 1.0%), but the 2007 fourth quarter was revised to minus 0.2% from plus 0.6%, making the downturn look much more like a “W”-shaped recession, according to S&P Economics.”

Let’s hope the media remembers to call it the “W” recession once the next President is in office so we’ll remember that this mess is the legacy of George W. Bush.

I couldn’t resist posting this as a comment to Barry Ritholtz’ coverage of the surprising jump in unemployment claims. His site, The Big Picture, is indispensable, in my humble opinion, for its unvarnished coverage of the economic scene.

Did Ryan Seacrest Jump the Shark?

Over in London, where competition among newspapers is still fierce, editors have an expression for the dog days of summer, when there is no real news and wacky stories get prime placement. They call it the “silly season.”

Now, with the triumph of tabloid journalism in a media world that only Rupert Murdoch could have created, some would argue that it’s the silly season all the time, and I wouldn’t disagree.

However, this headline takes the cake: Ryan Seacrest Bit By Shark! For more details, here’s the link:

Folks, I think this is a fish tale and that Seacrest, the host of Fox’s American Idol and his own radio show on KIIS-FM, has jumped the shark! For more information on the origin of the expression “jumping the shark,” see this Wiki entry:

I’m not much of a television watcher so it’s no surprise that I only recently learned that jumping the shark is synonymous with pushing the envelope too far in the plot of a TV series. I’ve been looking for a way to work in the expression somewhere and now I’ve got the perfect opportunity.

The Ryan Seacrest shark bite story seems like a Hollywood publicist’s wet dream. All you have to do is say the word “shark” in the middle of summer and you’re headline news. I know Seacrest is a reliable Capricorn, but this sounds mighty suspicious to me!

Making it even more questionable is the fact that this is “Shark Week,” a much-ballyhooed annual event that generates some of the year’s best ratings at the Discovery Channel. I went looking for a link between Murdoch’s Fox Network, which broadcasts Idol, and the Discovery Channel but I couldn’t find one, so I’ll have to lay that conspiracy theory to rest.

I’ve actually got Seacrest’s chart in my files, though I’m missing a birth time. Why don’t you look at the chart and see if you think he got bit by a shark over the weekend? (Beth Turnage at Astrology Explored, that means you!)

Here’s the link, courtesy of Astrodienst:

Staying Abreast of Big Media

I love astrological symbolism. A little background first. The sign of Cancer rules breasts while Sagittarius has dominion over sports, including the Super Bowl, and media like CBS. A quincunx is the 150-degree aspect that astrologer Eric Francis says has a “wild card” feeling.

So as the Sun in Cancer quincunxes Pluto in Sagittarius, we get the news that a federal appeals court has tossed out the $550,000 fine imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on CBS after Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed by a “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl. You gotta love it!

Here’s a link to an AP story:

For more on the ramifications of Sun in Cancer quincunx Pluto in Sag, check out Francis at PlanetWaves Daily:

It’s good to know that a Cancer country like the U.S. can stomach the fleeting sight of a bare breast on national TV.

Down and Out in Muncie

You know things are bad when you drive into a small Indiana town and the first thing you see is a billboard that says, “Make $240 a month selling plasma.” Whoa! I should have hit the brakes and taken a picture that I could post, but I had two kids in the car and we were on our way to a swimming pool on a hot summer day.

Many people who watch Late Night With David Letterman are familiar with Muncie because it is the home of Ball State, and Letterman often mentions his alma mater on the show. Letterman always gets a laugh by mentioning Ball State, probably because some folks in the audience are old enough to remember when “ball” was the slang du jour for sex.

I have friends who live in Muncie and work for the college. If you stay in the vicinity of the campus, you might imagine that everything is O.K., though there are quite a few homes for sale.

But drive to the country club, where there’s no one in the pool or on the golf course because few people can afford the modest fees to join the club, and you start to get the picture. Go to the mall and see the empty storefronts.

Or pick up a paper and read the panic-infused stories about the closing of a Borg-Warner plant that makes transfer cases for the Ford F-150 truck and Explorer sport-utility vehicle. The 500 or so jobs at the plant are being transferred to Mexico, which offers lower wages and has special trade privileges under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

I Googled Borg-Warner and learned that the company’s roots in Muncie date back to 1901, when its predecessor, the Warner Gear Co., was founded. This is not just a random factory closing; this shutdown strikes at the heart of Muncie’s industrial bedrock.

Where is Ross Perot when you need him? That “sucking sound” of jobs moving to Mexico that he talked about is louder than ever. As Bruce Springsteen wrote, “Those jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back, to your hometown.”

Even before the subprime mortgage disaster, Indiana had one of the highest home foreclosure rates. The homes being lost are owned primarily by workers in the auto parts industry, one of Indiana’s leading employers. A lot of auto parts production has moved to China and Mexico because of lower wages.

I wonder when this country is going to figure out that there’s no such thing as “free trade.” I’m not a protectionist by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we need to move to a system of managed trade where the losers are compensated. We can’t afford to write off whole towns like Muncie. Meanwhile, farmers in Mexico are starving because NAFTA has brought them into direct competition with U.S. agribusiness, which enjoys big government subsidies.

For those free marketeers who believe Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” will take care of everything (not that any of them are reading an astrology blog), let’s recall that government helped prime the pump for those Ford Explorers whose parts were made in Muncie.

How? By giving tax breaks to small-business owners who bought SUVs and used them “exclusively” for business. I’d heard about the SUV tax breaks, but never believed it until I saw them with my own eyes when I started doing my taxes with TurboTax three years ago. (My husband’s Jeep Wrangler didn’t qualify for the deduction because it wasn’t heavy enough, by the way.)

Government has the power to influence consumer and corporate decision-making by offering incentives. Let’s say the local or state government in Gloucester, Mass., where there has been a surge in teen pregnancies, set up full college scholarships for high school girls who don’t have babies. This probably would be hard for government to do under laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender, but a private group might pull it off. Four years from now, the pregnancy rate will have fallen, I guarantee you.

Of course, students who have children shouldn’t be denied scholarships. I know that. But I’m trying to make a point here about the power of financial incentives to change lives. All the evidence shows that the more education a mother receives, the better the life of her child will be. Of course, if a woman spends the majority of her child-bearing years earning postgraduate degrees and working, she may run into fertility problems when she finally does decide to have kids, but that’s another post.

Human beings respond to economic rewards, whether it’s deductions for small-business SUVs, scholarships for at-risk students, or the tax breaks that California has enacted for zero emission vehicles (See “Tesla Motors: California’s Gain is New Mexico’s Loss”. It’s a fact.

Along those lines, how about setting up economic redevelopment zones in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan? Would conservatives who happily spend $12 billion a month or more on the war in Iraq brand efforts to bring new jobs to the industrial Midwest as “socialism”?

I was talking to a friend whose husband is involved in the Beltway media business. She was telling me that in the early Eighties, when we were both in journalism school, she didn’t have a lot of sympathy for workers who were losing steel industry jobs. “I thought they should just move to another town, retrain, and get new jobs,” she admitted.

Now, as she’s watching neighbors and friends get laid off at the Washington Post (see “Wassup with the Washington Post?” ), she says she finally understands the economic pain that job loss inflicts on families. Maybe now that the chattering classes are being affected by downsizings, we’ll be hearing more in the media about the plight of displaced workers.

At the United Astrology Conference in May, astrologers were predicting that this final passage of Pluto through Sagittarius, which ends on Nov. 25, will coincide with the last wave of media cutbacks. And then the ax will fall in banking and financial services as Pluto, which governs restructuring, moves through financially-oriented Capricorn.

Question: How does an out-of-work journo retool? No, this isn’t a joke.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

Who Wants to be an Internet Millionaire?

With so many Old Media jobs going up in smoke, some of my friends have been working on Web site/blog/social networking ideas that they hope will generate enough revenue to support themselves and maybe a few loved ones as well.

I’ll leave it to Silicon Valley investment bankers like Frank Quattrone to decide which ventures deserve funding. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to pull from my files the chart of a real-life Internet millionaire whom I’ll call Barbara. I’ve tweaked a couple of details in her chart to protect her privacy, but the planetary positions and house cusps remain the same.

I’m hoping my readers will help me identify what aspects in her chart allowed her to start her own business and then sell it to an established Internet company for $23 million.

I did Barbara’s chart back in the days when I was still calculating charts by hand so the version that I’m going to link to, courtesy of Astrodienst, has house cusps that vary from the original by minutes. That shouldn’t be a big deal.

Barbara is a dreamy Pisces with a go-getter Sagittarius rising of 12 degrees. Her Sun is conjunct Jupiter in the fourth house, broadly trining the North Node in the eighth house of other people’s money (OPM). The Sun/Jupiter conjunction in Pisces gives some folks the impression that Barbara is lost in a dream or to be less kind, that she is a “space cadet.” Money has always seemed the furthest thing from her mind.

The North Node squares her Libra in the 11th house of friends, and Barbara has a database of contacts to die for. In fact, it was said that her database of 150,000 names was what made her startup so attractive as an acquisition.

Like other Internet millionaires such as Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bezos (Jan. 12, 1964, Albuquerque, N.M., time unknown), Barbara is a member of the revolutionary Uranus/Pluto in Virgo crowd, born during the 1960s. This generational signature falls in Barbara’s ninth house of media and education and is opposed by her Mercury in Pisces in the third house.

Being born with a Uranus/Pluto conjunction in Virgo made it difficult for Barbara to fit in at traditional companies, where she was considered to be a wingnut by the corporate clones who populated the cubicles around her. It wasn’t until she left the corporate world in late 1993, as the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in Capricorn was sextiling her Sun/Jupiter in Pisces, that she was able to find herself.

Another difficult placement for corporate success is Barbara’s Saturn in Aquarius, which has a very egalitarian view of the workplace, and sits in the third house of communications. The strict hierarchical nature of corporations was a real turn-off to this gal, who is known for her directness.

Her Saturn is broadly conjunct Venus in Aquarius, which is back in the second house of resources. Venus in Aquarius sextiles the Ascendant. This bestows an electric beauty and charm upon our Internet millionaire that some in the corporate world found a little quirky. Barbara’s a natural blonde, but when Pluto got to her Ascendant, she dyed her hair dark brown and began wearing retro oversized eyeglasses because she wanted people to “take her seriously.”

Barbara’s Venus opposes sexy Mars in Leo, which sits in the eighth house of sex and OPM. Her networking parties, ostensibly designed to further careers and expand Rolodexes, became a mecca for young media types who wanted to hook up — for a night, a week, whatever.

Here’s the link to Barbara’s chart and transits for the day that she sold her company, in July, 2007, as Jupiter was quite close to her Ascendant.

Wassup with the Washington Post?

I got an e-mail from an old friend of mine earlier this week who lives in the Washington D.C. area. I’ve been subjecting her to my telethon-like pleas to click on Astrology Mundo and she’s been obliging. Now it’s time to return the favor.

She wants to know if it’s possible for a newspaper like the Washington Post to have a natal chart? Yes, indeed it is. My friend asks whether this natal chart yields any clues as to why so many people were laid off from the paper and its sister publication Newsweek on May 31, 2008.

Now, some folks would cast the chart for the founding of the paper, back in 1877.

But I don’t think that’s the right date because the Post went into bankruptcy, meaning it “died” from a financial standpoint and was reborn when it was purchased by financier and Federal Reserve Board governor Eugene Meyer on June 1, 1933. Interesting that my friend’s e-mail arrived on June 2, quite close to the anniversary of this purchase, and that many of the latest layoffs tooks place around this “birthday.”

Birthdays and anniversaries often bring about news or change as the Sun returns to its original position, lighting up the chart.

Most readers may not be familiar with Eugene Meyer, but many have probably heard of his daughter, former Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. A socialite who ended up at the helm of the family-owned paper after her husband committed suicide, Graham took on the Nixon Administration by exposing the Watergate break-in in a series of articles written by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the 1970s.

One of my favorite anecdotes about Graham was how Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, warned Bernstein in 1972 that if the Watergate stories were published, “Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer.” Boys will be boys, even when they’re sitting in the White House.

Graham, who died in 2001 at Herb Allen’s Sun Valley media conference, wrote a poignant biography that won the Pulitzer prize called Personal History. Graham captivates the reader early on with her naivete. She doesn’t realize her family is rich, she doesn’t understand that she’s considered Jewish because her father is a Jew, and she doesn’t acknowledge her mother is an alcoholic. But her masterful recounting of her life lets you mature and ripen along with her.

Somewhere in Personal History, it may mention the time of the bankruptcy auction on June 1, but I lent my copy to somebody who never returned it. I searched the Web but I couldn’t find a time for the auction so I set the chart for the Washington Post’s “birth” for noon.

Here’s the chart with transits to May 31:

I could spend a lot of time analyzing this chart, especially its connections to the U.S. chart and how those were being activated during the early 1970s. But alas, I’m a dilettante and I have a day job.

However, from a cursory glance, I can see that the natal Pluto of the WaPo chart opposes the U.S. Pluto and conjuncts natal Mercury, promising powerful (Pluto) communication (Mercury) concerning secrets (Pluto) like Watergate.

What’s happening now? Saturn in Virgo is eliminating the excess in the the paper’s operations. While a changing of the guard is taking place and many familiar bylines are moving on, I don’t think this is the end of the paper’s influence by any means.

My friend talks about readers feeling as if they are losing old friends. That leads me to believe the bankruptcy auction took place before noon and that transiting Saturn may be closer to the natal Moon than it appears from this chart. Saturn/Moon is about separation and saying good-bye.

Saturn is on the paper’s South Node and is heading for conjunctions with the WaPo’s natal planets in Virgo, including Mars, Moon, and Jupiter, and a square to the natal Sun, Mercury, and Venus conjunction in Gemini. Transiting Uranus is past a square to natal Venus, but will return as it moves retrograde in Pisces.

Keep in mind this isn’t the incorporation or first-day trade chart of the Washington Post Co., which encompasses a wide variety of media interests. Still, looking at the chart of the paper, I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes involving technology, perhaps an expansion of its Internet presence and the acquisition of other Web sites.

Also, when Saturn reaches Jupiter later this year, there could be a real estate transaction, perhaps the sale of the paper’s headquarters. I know nothing about what’s happening in Washington real estate right now, but Saturn/Jupiter conjunctions often mean property is being bought or sold.

If anybody has any thoughts on this chart, I’d love to hear them.

Horoscopes That Help Your Wallet

Back in the early 1990s, when the Uranus/Neptune conjunction was on my Capricorn Sun, I tried my hand at a daily financial astrology column for Knight-Ridder’s wire service. The column had to be live by 7 a.m. and it took me about three hours to do forecasts for all 12 signs of the zodiac.

Sometimes I would write the night before, but usually I got up in the wee hours of the morning, drew my charts by putting the Sun on the ascendant and populating the houses according to the planetary positions as of 7 a.m. Then I would pound out the column, fueled by the adrenaline of the impending deadline.

Writing a daily column is like being a parent. You have to get out of bed in the morning and feed that baby — no ifs, ands, or buts. As parents will attest, this kind of responsibility changes your life irrevocably.

After six months, I went back to a full-time office job so I gave up the column. You can’t do that with a kid, though. You’re signed up for life.

O.K., as usual, I’ve buried the “lede,” as it’s called in journalism. All of this is the running start to my celebration of the new sun sign horoscopes by KT, the astrologer formerly known as Kelli Fox, over at KT (that’s her legal name) is loaded with lots of astrological academic credentials, but she makes all the star (the ones up in the sky and the ones in Hollywood) stuff accessible to the layman. is a sister site to, which covers Wall Street, and there’s a money emphasis to some of KT’s horoscopes. I was surprised at how on target they are, especially about what can motivate each sign to make and save money. Remember that you can also read the one for your rising sign, if you know it. I won’t bore you with the technical detail, but for sun sign columns, the one for your Ascendant may work better.

Here’s the link:

Recently, there’s been a hue and cry in journalism that despite some high-profile exceptions like Maureen Dowd and Ann Coulter (how’s that for liberal/conservative balance?) that there aren’t enough female columnists.

Having a column can destroy your life. If you don’t believe me, read Neal Gabler’s excellent book about Walter Winchell, Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity. In addition to consuming his life, Winchell’s column was directly responsible for the destruction of the lives of his wife, daughter, and son. A very tragic story.

Many people today have never heard of Walter Winchell, but he was once so powerful and ubiquitous that Lucille Ball learned she was pregnant by listening to his radio broadcast. At the time, Ball was a huge star because I Love Lucy was the top-rated show on TV. Winchell had a source at her ob/gyn and got the news before she and then-husband Desi Arnaz did. This was before the days of home pregnancy tests.

After I read Gabler’s book on Winchell, I came up with my own theory about why there aren’t more female columnists. I don’t think it’s because we lack the confidence to speak with a distinctive “voice” (I’ve managed to hang on to my breezy, parenthetical style despite the best efforts of many English teachers) or that in this day and age women are discriminated against in newsrooms.

There’s no question that women have to work hard to prove themselves in arenas where a macho culture prevails, such as science, the military, heart surgery, the auto industry, and the U.S. Presidency. However, I think media truly is an equal-opportunity employer when it comes to gender. Race is another story, but don’t get me started on that.

No, I think the reason why there aren’t more female columnists is that most women want what is popularly known as “work-life balance.” Maybe Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen has been able to maintain a happy home and write a weekly column, but how many women can perform that juggling act?

Whenever someone starts blogging that Mo Dowd hates men so much that she isn’t married, I always think that person doesn’t know what he is talking about. Maureen Dowd IS married: She’s married to her column, which seems to inspire a lot of hate mail and blogger rants, like this:

I hope that with all the work involved in being the new house astrologer for, KT can keep some sanity in her life. Here are some words of wisdom from William Safire, in his farewell op-ed column for The New York Times:

In the meantime, I’m adding KT to the growing ranks of my blogroll! After all, I’ve got my own baby blog to feed!