Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany, in 1927, passed away on 31 December 2022, age 95, at his monastic apartments in Vatican City where he had been living since his retirement from the papacy almost a decade before. Ratzinger was elected Pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II, whose enforcer of doctrine he was. Uncompromisingly conservative on social and theological issues, Benedict’s tenure in the Vatican was rocked by continued sexual scandals among the priesthood, by financial irregularities, and by breaches of security. Ratzinger’s health was the avowed reason for giving up the Ring of the Fisherman in 2013, and though he lingered for another ten years, he became increasingly feeble and made few public appearances. His health had taken a dramatic downturn in recent weeks, culminating in his passing on New Year’s Eve.
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Donald J. Trump’s 74th Solar Return occurs at 8:00 AM EDT on 13 June 2020; I’ve set it for Washington, as the normally peripatetic president has been hobbled of late by COVID-19 restrictions, unable to campaign in the traditional mode, though it’s uncertain as of this writing exactly where he’ll spend his birthday. Perhaps at Mar-a-Lago? At 8 AM, however, we can be fairly confident he’ll be in his jammies, tweeting insults at someone.
This may be the most important Solar Return (hereafter abbreviated “SR”) in Trump’s life, determining as it does whether he remains the most powerful man in the world, or is removed from office and translated from the White House to the Big House, no longer immune from prosecution as sitting US President.
So let’s not waste any time in seeing what it says…
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu was indicted on charges of corruption on November 21st, just as asteroid Swindle returned to its natal degree of 26 Virgo. The embattled Netanyahu has been fighting for his political life for months, with two inconclusive general elections in April and September 2019 showing no clear victor, and neither Bibi nor his chief rival, Benny Gantz, able to form a collation government, leaving Israel essentially leaderless. Head of the center-right Likud Party, Netanyahu has been PM since 2009, following an earlier stint in the late ‘90s, but has been under investigation for corruption for almost three years, before Israel’s Attorney General filed charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu, a staunch Trump ally, has characterized the indictment as a “witch hunt” and attempted coup (gee, I wonder where he got that idea from?).
At 5:04 PM EDT on Tuesday, 24 September 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fresh from a Democratic Caucus meeting, stood before the nation and announced that the US Congress was beginning formal impeachment investigations against Donald J. Trump. Critical mass had been building for this step in the caucus for a week, since the revelations of Trump’s outrageous breech of ethics, convention and quite possibly laws, in requesting aid from a foreign government in his 2020 US presidential reelection.
Perhaps more surprising, Mitch McConnell supported a unanimous nonbinding resolution in the Senate requiring the White House to release the full report logged by a national security whistleblower concerning Trump’s interactions with the Ukrainian president. Has the worm truly turned?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is perhaps one of the most disliked, and most effective, politicians in the country. First elected in 1984 in a squeaker election which he won by less than one percent, McConnell has won reelection five times, and faces another race in 2020. He was tapped to replace outgoing Senate Minority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) in 2006, and became Majority Leader when Republicans took over the Senate in 2015.
The self-styled “Grim Reaper” of the Senate, Mitch McConnell is where legislation goes to die. Through a combination of stonewalling, pigheadedness, and obscure parliamentary tactics, McConnell has done his level best to frustrate Democratic administrations and agendas for decades.
If Donald Trump maintains his grasp on the US presidency for the duration of his upcoming solar year, then he will likely complete his first term in office. He may even win reelection. But looking ahead at the year on tap, that’s a huge “if”. This appears to be the pivotal year for Trump, the one that decides how the remainder of his life unfolds.