Mercury Retrograde: John McCain Does the Time Warp

Astrologers know that John McCain is a Virgo and the planetary ruler of his sign, Mercury, is in retrograde phase right now. That means its apparent motion, when viewed from the earth, is backward.

Well, McCain appears to be doing his own version of the Time Warp. The Wall Street Journal reported that the GOP Presidential candidate and former prisoner of war addressed a crowd in Pennsylvania as “my fellow prisoners”.

Perhaps he meant “prisoners of debt.” According to the U.S. National Debt Clock, outstanding public debt as of today is $10.2 trillion, and each American’s share of this is $33,547.65. In fact, our debt is so great that the National Debt Clock in Times Square doesn’t have enough digits to report it, according to the Associated Press.

My fellow astrologers, it gets even better. It turns out the blog item on the WSJ’s Web site has a mistake in it. It calls McCain “the Republican vice-presidential candidate” when, of course, he is running for President. I’m sure they’ll fix it soon, but gaffes abound during Mercury retrograde.

Along similar lines, I was reading a fascinating article in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair about Ingrid Betancourt that is missing a byline. In the text of the story, it talks about a school being named for the author, Maureen Orth, the widow of broadcast journalist Tim Russert. Somebody reading those galleys wasn’t doing his job. Orth’s byline is on the Web version of the story, though.

Mother of All Bailouts Rejected; Now What?

The House of Representatives voted against Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s plan to bail out Wall Street and the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 777 points today, Sept. 29. This is a record in the number of points lost in a single day, though not a record in percentage terms.

On the one hand, we’re tempted to celebrate because the fat cats were defeated by Congress. But the reality is that many Americans have pensions, retirement, and mutual funds that own stocks. A lot of retirees have been hurt by the demise of seemingly safe financial companies such as Washington Mutual because they bought the shares for the rich dividends.

As the old saying on Wall Street goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Even if we weren’t raking in the dough, some wealth was trickling down to us from the orgy of debt and speculation, though it may have been nothing more than a government stimulus check.

It’s the least the Republicans could do after having allowed corporations to fleece us in a manner that James Galbraith (son of famed economist John Kenneth Galbraith) has labeled “predatory capitalism” in his new book The Predatory State.

Given that Mercury is retrograde, it’s a good thing the so-called rescue plan wasn’t approved. Anything signed during the period when the Winged Messenger appears to be moving backward from the perspective of Earthlings would have to be revised down the road anyway.

Still, economist Nouriel Roubini is warning that the chance of a total financial meltdown is greater than ever and the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team is being deployed stateside as of Oct. 1, a military buildup ahead of the election that has pundits and ordinary citizens alike concerned.

One blog, UrbanSurvival.com has been talking for some time about a “hot date” of Oct. 7 for an event that will disrupt the U.S.

What are we to make of it all?

As someone who lived through the Y2K buildup and letdown, I’m always leery of dates when the world is going to end or hell is going to freeze over. Having said that, I didn’t live through the Depression, and I’ve never seen a run on a bank. Gas lines, yes, in 1979.

I think the political and financial gridlock we’re experiencing demonstrates the weakness of American-style democracy. If we were in Britain, Germany, Italy, or Israel, there would be a no-confidence vote and Bush and Cheney would be sent packing. Immediately, McCain and Obama would jockey to form a new government, based on the relative strength of Republicans and Democrats in the two chambers, and we’d start all over again.

Instead, we’re stuck with these jokers until Jan. 20 while the markets melt down. The fact is the “no” vote on the bailout proposal is a no-confidence vote for the Bush Administration and its policies. The media is reporting that e-mail and phone calls are running 100-to-1 against the $700 billion plan.

The period we’re in reminds me of when President Nixon had to take the U.S. off the gold standard in August, 1971. He himself would be forced to resign three years later. This de-linking of the dollar and bullion marked the end of the Bretton Woods agreement, a world financial system dominated by the U.S. that was set up in the wake of World War II.

Economists debate about whether we’re in Bretton Woods II or III, but the original chart still bears looking at, if you ask me. It’s set for noon in Washington on Dec. 27, 1945, the day the agreements were signed, with transits of today.

Some would argue that Bretton Woods is already dead and gone. Here’s my humble opinion: The dangers posed by a U.S. financial meltdown are so great that the Group of Eight industrialized powers and the leaders of other key emerging economies such as India, China, and Brazil need to start hammering out the sequel to Bretton Woods. Incidentally, the accord got its name from the town in New Hampshire where the negotiations to form the International Monetary System took place for three weeks in July, 1944.

Even if a modified form of the bailout is approved after Mercury goes direct on Oct. 15, you can see from the Bretton Woods chart that it will soon be “transformed” (read destroyed and reborn) as Pluto in Capricorn goes over its Sun. You’ve heard it all before, but the current economic unraveling in the U.S. and Britain, which also got hooked on debt, is leading up to the Cardinal Climax. That’s when Uranus/Pluto/Saturn will form a T-square in the early degrees of cardinal signs in 2010.

As the Uranus in the New Moon in Libra chart of Sept. 29 indicated, we’re in for some surprises in the short term. Economic panic is possible, though not likely. In any event, the process of cleaning up all the bad debts that are weighing down U.S. financial institutions is going to take years. Just ask the Japanese. They spent 14 years in an economic deep freeze after their real estate bubble burst and the Nikkei crashed in 1991.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We can learn a lot from the Japanese in terms of living in a civilized fashion while conserving our resources and saving for the future. I just don’t think this regimen is what the “Live Free or Die” Republican driving the Ford F-150 pickup had in mind when he voted for George W. Bush.

Do You Know What a TARP Is?

To those not interested in finance or wordsmithery (not sure if it’s a word, but you get the idea), many apologies. I love astrology, but I also love words and financial markets. Sometimes it’s hard to get all three in the same post.

Acronyms are always big in finance and politics. Remember CREEP? That was the unit that got Nixon into trouble — the Committee to Re-Elect the President.

Well, the acronym du jour is TARP. That stands for Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $700 billion bailout proposal that evidently hit a bump in the road after the markets closed Thursday. No surprise there, with Mercury retrograde.

You may recall from an earlier post that the TARP has also been labeled MOAB — the “mother of all buyouts.”

Now, Merriam-Webster informs us that “tarp” is short for “tarpaulin,” which it defines as “a piece of material (as durable plastic) used for protecting exposed objects or areas.” Well, I think that’s a pretty good description of how Wall Street views the TARP.

But the question of the hour is: Will the TARP keep a roof over the head of the American homeowner? Or we will end up living in tarp cities?

Evidently, the Swedes have been through a bank bailout that turned a profit for taxpayers and have some advice for us. Now, if our elected representatives in Washington will only listen.

McCain and Mercury Retrograde

For any skeptics out there who don’t believe that things don’t move forward when Mercury’s apparent motion appears to be backwards, here’s my proof:

GOP Presidential candidate John McCain wants to delay the first Presidential debate, scheduled for Friday.

Interesting to note that McCain is a Virgo, a sign that is ruled by Mercury. No wonder he wants to suspend his campaign. He’s taking a lot of heat for it, I know, but from an astrological point of view it makes perfect sense.

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a health issue that he needs to take care of during this retro period. Just a hunch.

For more on Merc retro, please click on this link.

Meet My New Nephew

My family has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Brayden, who made his entrance into this world via C-section yesterday, June 10, at 5:43 a.m. in Albuquerque, N.M.

Even before Brayden was born, I was sure he was going to have a prominent Venus in his chart. Why? Because his dresser and closet were filled with clothes, some new and some hand-me-downs, that had been given to my sister before he was born.

The kid’s not even here yet and he’s got a great wardrobe, I thought. So here’s his chart, courtesy of Astrodienst:
http://www.astro.com/cgi/chart.cgi?cid=41laaaa19347-s971800598&lang=e&gm=a1&nhor=248&nho2=12&btyp=2&mth=gw&sday=11&smon=6&syr=2008&hsy=-1&zod=&orbp=&rs=0&ast=

Interesting that Uranus in Pisces squares the Mercury/Sun/Venus conjunction on the Ascendant and that Brayden was born through surgical means. Uranus sometimes has to do with cutting.

As a proud aunt, it’s hard to be impartial about this chart. As an astrologer, I wish he didn’t have Mercury retrograde, which can be associated with communication difficulties. Of course, these don’t have to be serious. I have a friend with Merc retro and she’s always coming out with the funniest malaprops, but is a very successful writer, nonetheless.

Braden has a T-square. The Gemini stellium squares the opposition of Uranus in Pisces and Moon in Virgo. My former teacher, New York astrologer Eileen McCabe, always said to look to the “outlet” of the T-square, which in this case is Sagittarius in the seventh house. That’s where the energy wants to escape. The outlet of a T-square is where the fourth point of a grand cross would be. In Braden’s case: Travel, baby, travel or sports, baby, sports!

I have a feeling I’m going to be quite involved in Brayden’s life, as I have no children myself and my Sag stellium opposes his Gemini lineup and falls in his seventh house. My Sun is nearly exactly on his Jupiter in the eighth house of joint resources so he may end up inheriting money from me.

Brayden and his Mom share a Virgo Moon so they will get along nicely. Before he was born, she was already talking about how they were doing household chores together. “Brayden and I raked leaves today,” she would say, or “Brayden and I are going to wash the car.”

Daddy’s a Harley-riding Sag so there are definitely some road trips in Brayden’s future. With all that Gemini energy on the Ascendant, he might find it hard to stay in one place. Maybe he’ll be on the PGA Tour, as his Daddy was in his younger days. Just what we need in this family: another golfer!

Check Out Astro Chatter!

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Astro Chatter to the blogosphere. The new blog, which is listed in my blogroll on the right, is the brainchild of astrologer extraordinaire Pamela Cucinell, who is based in Westchester County, New York. You’ll find her at www.astrochatter.com

In the spirit of disclosure, I’ll note that Pamela and I have shared a few things in the intermittent intersections of our life, including the same university (Syracuse) and most recently, a hotel room at the United Astrology Conference. (Don’t worry, Pam, to paraphrase Shakespeare: Discretion is the better part of valor.)

Pamela’s North Node in Capricorn is on my Sun, so it’s fitting that she was the one who lured me to UAC with a great room rate that we were able to split. The prospect of attending the conference was what motivated me to start Astrology Mundo on Mar. 17. I wanted to have a media outlet to report on the celestial proceedings once I arrived in Denver. Thanks for the cosmic push, Pamela!

Pamela is a forward-thinking Aquarian with Mercury in Aquarius on the world axis, at 15 degrees fixed. For non-astro types, this represents a powerful connection to the zeitgeist. As a result, I think her call-in radio show and podcasts are going to be a real success, not to mention the blog.

Even though she calls her blog Astro Chatter, there’s nothing trivial about this conversation. I was really moved by her post on Memorial Day, Mercury retrograde, and the Indy 500, a subject I also blogged about, from a different perspective.

Unlike me, Pamela caught the absurdity of paying tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives for their country, most recently in the invasion of an oil-producing country, as race car drivers burn up the track and lots of gas at the Indy 500! You can read that post here: http://astrochatter.com/2008/05/25/mercury-retrograde-memorial-day-and-the-indy-500/

Welcome aboard, Pamela!

Merc Retrograde: Back to the Future

Mercury doesn’t actually go retrograde until Monday, May 26, but I’m already noticing wire stories on Yahoo! about revivals and re-issues. This should be particularly noticeable over the weekend as Mercury makes a station in preparation for its backward journey.

Mercury retrograde favors everything that has the prefix “re,” so it’s interesting that’s it’s happening on Memorial Day when we REmember the dead. Don’t be surprised if you REcall something you promised to do but didn’t or REdiscover some lost objects.

Here are a couple of revival stories that I’ve seen so far in the past two days: Farberge will make its first jewel-encrusted egg since 1917. Here’s the link to that story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080523/lf_nm_life/faberge_egg_dc

Yesterday, there were stories moving about General Motors’ retro version of the Camaro, which will be part of its 2010 lineup. This piece of news was near and dear to my heart because I once owned a 1977 Camaro. It was the first new car that I ever bought. Prior to that, I owned a 1966 Mustang, which I purchased used.

Here’s a story on the success of retro cars, including Ford’s Mustang, which was revived for the 2005 model year and has been selling well ever since:

 http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_567928.html?source=rss&feed=4

The rule of thumb in journalism is that you need three things to make a trend. The third revival item I’ve seen is not a product; it’s a decline in driving. The government reports that highway miles driven by Americans fell for the first time in March since 1979. Here’s the story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080523/us_nm/usa_driving_data_dc;_ylt=Alg_.IdY9KtXDZL4Vt_oSUEDW7oF

The last trend has more to do with Saturn in Virgo than with Merc retro, but it’s interesting that we’re hearing about it on the Merc station.  As most readers know, Saturn, the planet of restriction, entered thrifty Virgo last Labor Day. The last time it was there was from 1978-81.

With Mercury retro in Gemini until June 19, it’s a good time to sort through your paperwork and mail things that you’ve been promising to send people. Neptune is also going retrograde this weekend in Aquarius. Once I get back home to Beacon, N.Y., I have to send out a bunch of photos (Neptune rules photography) to a friend’s sister, who is assembling a collage for a 50th birthday party.

I’m also going to my husband’s chiropractor right now to pick up paperwork that must be faxed to the insurance company so we can get reimbursed for out-of-pocket payments that we’ve made. (Neptune also rules medicine.)

Speaking for myself,  this particular retrograde is about mailing and faxing paper, not transmitting information electronically. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your computerized files in order.

In the words of tech investment banker Frank Quattrone: “Clean up your e-mail!” The feds tried to nail him on obstruction-of-justice charges for that directive, but after an extended legal battle that included a hung jury, he reached a deal that allowed him to remain in the industry and stay out of jail. Quattrone’s a hero of mine because he kept on fighting until he won. Normally, I’m not a champion of alleged white-collar criminals but I was won over by Quattrone’s moxie and persistence.

Houston, We Have a Problem

 I got a call from a friend yesterday who said she’s already feeling the Mercury retrograde. So am I! I spent all day in the Houston airport yesterday trying to catch a flight to the United Astrology Conference in Denver. My brother is a pilot with Continental Airlines and I get to fly for “free” – if there are extra seats on the plane.

Yesterday, I had no trouble hopping a flight from Albuquerque to Houston but then my luck changed. I tried to get on five flights from Houston to Denver but I didn’t make it. The flights were oversold so none of the standby passengers could get on. Some of the more geographic-minded among you might be asking: Why not fly directly from Albuquerque to Houston?

The answer is that if you’re traveling Continental, you basically have to go to their hub in Houston for your connecting flights.

To add insult to injury, the mini van that was bringing me to the Clarion Hotel last night overheated on the way so the driver and I had to wait about a half-hour for another van to come rescue us.

The story gets better. In my natal chart, Neptune is on my Sun/Moon midpoint and there is often deception in my relationships. I also have a Venus/Pluto square so there is sometimes triangulation as well.

I planned to tell my husband that I was at UAC once I arrived in Denver. Of course, readers of my blog knew I was heading to the astro confab, so I wasn’t exactly keeping it a secret. Well, one of my readers is a friend of my husband’s and called him yesterday to see how I was getting along in Denver.

When I checked my voicemail while sitting in the broken-down van, I was greeted with the message: “Why didn’t you tell me that you were going to an astrology convention? You made me look like a fool. I don’t care that you’re there, but why did I have to find out from someone else?”

My defense for not being up front about my plans to go up to UAC in Denver after visiting my Mom in Albuquerque was that he wouldn’t understand that I wanted to commune with people who follow the stars and would instead suspect that I was up to some hanky-panky. (His Mars is conjunct my Pluto and squares my Venus.)

Also, with transiting Saturn moving toward my natal Pluto, ruler of my second house of resources, money is an issue right now. My husband confirmed my fears that he would think I was being extravagant by making the sarcastic comment: “I suppose one of your well-heeled gurus is picking up the tab for the convention.”

I thought with transiting Jupiter on my natal Capricorn Sun being sextiled by Uranus in Pisces that I’d be having a great time right now. Yes, I’m making friends with the other standby passengers in the Houston airport. And if I ever make it to UAC, I’ll have fun swapping data and theories with all the astrologers there.

But when it comes to the seventh house (Mars rules mine), things are looking pretty dismal. And Merc in Gemini slowing down in my third isn’t helping matters much. On the bright side, my brother will be back in the Houston airport today so we can have lunch. If I don’t get on a flight to Denver today, I’ll be able to stay at his apartment tonight.

Maybe the silver lining of Mercury preparing to go retrograde in my third house of siblings and communications is an unexpected opportunity to catch up with my little brother. See you in Denver!