Posts by Alex Miller

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COVID Turns Two

It’s hard to believe, but January 7 marks the second anniversary of the day the Chinese government announced it had identified a new coronavirus that was ravaging the city of Wuhan.  It was also the day that asteroid Apollo, named for deity noted mythically as the bringer of plague, conjoined asteroid Koronis, closest celestial match to coronavirus.  And just five days before the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, with its theme of “pervasive structural change.”

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Aster-Obit: Betty White

Just as the year 2021 came to its close, so did the life of Betty White, one of the most beloved entertainers in America.  Fate was oftentimes a friend to Betty throughout her long life, but unkind to her at its end – she expired barely two weeks before her 100th birthday.  Just days before her passing, she had tweeted her eager anticipation of the star-studded celebrations planned to commemorate her centennial. 

White, who enjoyed the longest career of any female entertainer, was an actor and singer noted for her comedic talents.  From the sugar-spiked sexpot Sue Ann Nivens in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, to the naïve sexagenarian ingenue Rose Nylund of “The Golden Girls” and the acerbic house caretaker Elka Ostrovsky on “Hot in Cleveland”, White continued to delight TV audiences for over seven decades with her unique brand of charm and humor. 

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Manchin Mishigas, Sinema Tsuris* By Alex Miller In the delicate 50-50 balance of the current US Senate, every Democrat vote is needed to pass legislation, and every Republican vote is needed to block it. As usual, the GOP is better at closing ranks than the Dems, but despite the potential Kingmaker/Spoiler role any member of the majority Party could choose to adopt, only two are playing that card: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Joe Manchin has been a thorn in the side of the administration’s “human infrastructure” signature legislation, the “Build Back Better” plan, since its inception. Arguing the dangers of inflation generally, when so much money is pumped into the economy (the bill for COVID relief has come to $4.5 trillion, plus the recent $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the lost revenue of $2.3 trillion from the Trump tax cuts, all added to the staggering $28.9 trillion national debt), Manchin has watched and “negotiated” as progressives dropped the price tag from the original $6 trillion to $3 trillion, and then passed an anemic $1.75 trillion bill in the House, largely at his insistence, now being haggled over in the Senate. Manchin has also expressed concern over some specific provisions of the bill (such as the enhanced Child Tax Credit, set to expire unless renewed in this package, which lifted 3 million children out of poverty, but which Manchin believes might be spent on drugs by parents, if made permanent). Kyrsten Sinema’s objections, on the other hand, appear to be motivated solely by a contrarian streak. Unable to clearly articulate her concerns or suggest amendments to the proposed legislation, Sinema’s roadblocking tactics come to bear most strongly in the realms of modifications to the Senate’s filibuster rules. Sinema opposes changes to the rules which would eliminate the filibuster, a parliamentary tactic which allows any single Senator to delay or torpedo any legislation that cannot receive the support of at least 60 others. Sinema is also unsupportive of temporary changes which would carve out exceptions to the filibuster rule for essential legislation, on a case-by-case basis, allowing a simple majority to pass its agenda. In addition to the investments in human infrastructure represented by the “Build Back Better Act”, vital voting rights legislation is in the balance, needed to overturn recent state GOP legislation which limits voter access or threatens to overturn voting outcomes viewed as inimical to Republicans, based in the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election but had it stolen from him. Manchin seems better disposed to filibuster modifications (if not elimination) than Sinema, who even refuses to discuss amending the rule to return to the “talking filibuster”, which required Senators to actually hold forth on the debate floor to prevent passage of a bill, until exhaustion overcame them, and their filibuster was broken (in modern times, a simple head count is taken, and any bill without 60 in support is deemed to have been “filibustered”, without any action taken). Both have recently voted to set the rule aside in order to increase the debt ceiling without GOP support, but Sinema balks at utilizing this method to pass any legislation that isn’t bipartisan. What accounts for this contrariness and refusal to cooperate from these two? Both charts have strong signatures around stubbornness, pride and willfulness. Joe Manchin (born 24 August 1947, no time available) doesn’t find himself in his current job by accident. Born with an exact conjunction of the Sun and asteroid Senator at 0 Virgo, with asteroid Washingtonia close by at 4 Virgo, it’s no shock that he gravitated to the Upper Chamber in DC. Manchin’s role as senator is very self-defining for him, a vital part of his essential core. Also with the Sun is asteroid Pandora at 7 Virgo, and Mercury at 25 Leo. Manchin is a thinker, a debater, someone concerned with the details rather than the broad outlines (all Mercury). Pandora suggests that his utterances and plans have the potential to unleash unexpected consequences. The Sun/Senator/Washingtonia complex sits atop the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjunct aspects to asteroid NOT with Old Joe at 28 Capricorn and 2 Aquarius, and TNO Chaos with asteroid Loke at 24 and 28 Pisces. This suggests a degree of fatedness (Yod) to his contrarian (NOT) interactions with President Biden (Old Joe), stemming from a desire to do mischief (Loke, named for Norse Trickster God Loki), resulting in disorder or confusion (Chaos). Old Joe also refers to Manchin himself, and the connection with NOT suggests that his contrarian streak increases with age. West Virginia’s pivotal role in his career (he was that state’s Secretary of State 2001-2005, Governor from 2005-2010, and its senator ever since) is seen in a Grand Trine Kite pattern, with a Saturn/Pluto conjunction at 13 and 14 Leo, trine asteroid Virginia at 15 Sagittarius and TNO Eris at 6 Aries, which opposes asteroid West on the “string” of the Kite, at 10 Libra, with Neptune at 9 Libra. Saturn/Pluto suggests power (Pluto) as the goal of Manchin’s career (Saturn), with the Mountain State (West, Virginia) as the venue and populist discontent (Eris) as the means to that end. Neptune indicates that Manchin’s motives may not always be obvious, with hidden agendas, misdirection, and some degree of deception or subterfuge. Along this spine we also see asteroid Bida at 13 Libra, and Demokritos at 0 Aries. Manchin has been a source of disappointment, delay and erosion of goals (all Neptune) for the Biden administration (Bida), and a goad or thorn in the side and source of contention and discord (all Eris) for his Party (Demokritos), with Manchin seemingly disguised (Neptune) as a Democrat (Demokritos), but considerably less progressive than the base of the Party. It is Biden’s presidency that has allowed him to fully actualize the drive to power represented in Saturn/Pluto, as Manchin feels his oats and the ability to obstruct or call the tune overwhelms him. Manchin is a prideful individual, with a combination of asteroids Hybris (named for the Greek god of prideful arrogance) and Josephina (feminine variant of Joseph) at 28 Libra and 1 Scorpio, sextile the Sun; and asteroid Josefa (another Joseph variation) at 18 Scorpio with an exact Jupiter/Niobe pairing at 19 Scorpio (Niobe also noted for her pride, which brought about her destruction). This last grouping, allied with asteroid America at 15 Scorpio, squares the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, bringing pride fully to bear in career matters affecting the nation. If pride is the signature energy of Manchin’s chart, obstinacy and contrarianism is the leitmotif for Kyrsten Sinema. Born 12 July 1976 at 12:10 PM MST in Tucson, Arizona (Rodden Rating A), Sinema’s 20 Cancer Sun conjoins an exact pairing of Mercury with asteroid Achilles at 17 Cancer, all on full display at the Midheaven, 16 Cancer. As with Manchin, Sinema lives in her thoughts, thrives on debate, and formulates plans of action that support her sense of self-importance or image. The exact pairing of Mercury with Achilles is very telling, named for a mythic character noted in part for his mulish obstinacy, vindictive vengeance, sulkiness when offended, and inability to cooperate or work well with others in a team setting. Achilles also represents weakness or vulnerability, and the individual with a strong placement can demonstrate those qualities, or expose them in others. Sextile to the Sun (and broadly semisquare Saturn at 4 Leo) is a grouping of asteroids Toro, Senator and Washingtonia at 19, 24 and 25 Virgo. Remarkably, Sinema sports the same Senator/Washingtonia conjunction as Manchin, but the more tentative solar connection suggests that, unlike her West Virginian counterpart, Sinema’s senate career may be more fleeting, though still a self-identifying factor. Toro here is another indicator of stubbornness, inflexibility and pigheadedness, allied to a bullying nature; these qualities come to the fore in the setting of the nation’s capital (Washingtonia) and her senate seat (Senator). Further personalizing this energy to her is asteroid Kirstinemeyer (a CNA – Compound-Name Asteroid – which approximates her first name) at 14 Virgo. Sinema’s potential role in Congress can be seen in a T-Square from the Sun/Mercury/Achilles conjunction to asteroid Kirstenwright (another Kyrsten variant) with America at 27 and 29 Libra, opposing asteroid Niobe with TNO Chaos at 28 and 29 Libra. Again we see an emphasis on Sinema’s (Kirstenwright) pride (Niobe) as a source of disorder and disarray (Chaos) for the nation (America). Doubling down on this energy is a grouping of Hybris and Loke at 2 Scorpio, conjoined Uranus at 3 Scorpio, all within orb of Kirstenwright, with its emphasis on arrogance (Hybris), mischief-making (Loke) and disruption (Uranus). But the prime signature of Sinema’s contrarian streak comes in a T-Square based in these early Scorpio points, which includes asteroid NOT at 4 Scorpio, personalized by an opposition to asteroid Kristan (another Kyrsten variation) at 6 Taurus, with a Moon/Nemesis conjunction at 6 and 7 Aquarius on the fulcrum. The Moon here provides an emotional component to Sinema’s obstruction, as well as making it habitual, something difficult to shake, while Nemesis identifies her as a roadblock, a source of ruin or undoing, an opponent or archenemy. And whose enemy, you ask? That’s defined by asteroids Josefa and Josephina, at 5 and 9 Aquarius, bracketing Moon/Nemesis, and identifying Joe Biden as the object of her hindrance. Further establishing her inimical role in stonewalling the President’s agenda is asteroid Bida, which at 24 Leo exactly opposes Damocles at 24 Aquarius, representing the looming threat of disaster hanging overhead. This forms a T-Square with a Jupiter/Demokritos union at 24 and 26 Taurus, also incorporating asteroid Whitehouse at 19 Taurus, specifying the Democratic Party (Demokritos) and the administration (Whitehouse) as the political entities (Jupiter) most affected by her nonconformist stances. Also with Bida is asteroid Arizona at 23 Leo; in square to Jupiter, this portrays a politician (Jupiter) from the Grand Canyon State (Arizona). A focus on acquiring power via discord and division is seen in an opposition from Pluto at 9 Libra on the 14 Libra Ascendant to TNO Eris exact on the 14 Aries Descendant, with asteroid Jose at 12 Cancer and asteroid Icarus at 10 Capricorn forming a Grand Cross. This depicts Biden (Jose, the Spanish equivalent of Joseph) as caught in the backlash of Sinema’s rash, reckless acts, heedless of their consequences (Icarus), in her quest for personal power (Pluto) by dividing (Eris) the Democratic Party. Progressive ire at this pair is quite understandable, but the response needs to be balanced by the obviously precarious state of the Democratic majority in the Congress. If too much blowback is received, it’s conceivable that either, or both, senators could defect to the GOP. Indeed, Manchin is being assiduously wooed by Republican leadership in public pronouncements and private text messages of late, as better suited to the conservative side of the aisle. Such a move would instantly shift the balance of power in the Senate, reinstating Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Majority Leader immediately, without even the grace period currently granted until the November Midterm Elections, which will likely shift control of at least one chamber. Giving vent to justifiable frustration may feel good in the moment, but could have long-term dire repercussions. * “Mishigas” is a Yiddish term meaning “craziness” or “nonsense”; “tsuris” is Yiddish for “aggravation” or “worries”.

Manchin Mishigas, Sinema Tsuris*

In the delicate 50-50 balance of the current US Senate, every Democrat vote is needed to pass legislation, and every Republican vote is needed to block it.  As usual, the GOP is better at closing ranks than the Dems, but despite the potential Kingmaker/Spoiler role any member of the majority Party could choose to adopt, only two are playing that card:  Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

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Reflections: Yule 2021

It’s hard to believe 2022 is knocking on the door.  2021 was a rough one, I’m not sorry to see it go, but somehow, the thought of 2022 doesn’t bring much comfort.  I lost two dear feline companions this year, Cleo and Charcoal, and my own health has been precarious at times.  I’ve had to bring in more help for the yard, and moving masses of heavy boxes of decorations up from the basement, but the masterplan for the garden proceeds on schedule, and the seasons continue to unfold inside just as they have always done, even if climate change makes the outside landscape a less reliable predicter of the times.

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Attack of the Killer Tornadoes

On Friday evening, 10 December 2010, some 30 tornadoes smashed through six mid-West states, creating havoc and spreading devastation, claiming upwards of 100 lives.  The outbreak, apart from being one of the worst recorded, is all the more historic given the unseasonable timing, with most tornadoes occurring in the spring.  Normally, cooler temperatures preclude the formation of tornadoes, and this December rampage is yet another sign of increasing weather instability stemming from unchecked climate change globally.

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“Rust” Never Sleeps: The Strange Case of Alec Baldwin

On October 21, 2021, police were called to the set of “Rust”, a western being filmed in Bonanza City, New Mexico.  An accidental shooting with a prop gun, discharged by star Alec Baldwin, had killed the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and wounded director Joel Souza.  The cause of the incident is still under investigation, but somehow, live ammunition was loaded into a real revolver, not blanks in a prop gun.  While setting up the next shot, with the gun pointed at the camera and the cinematographer, the weapon discharged; Baldwin’s statement is that he had cocked the gun, based on Hutchins’ instructions, but did not pull the trigger.

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