Tag archive: Pandora

titan sub cover

Lost at Sea: The OceanGate Disaster

On Sunday, 18 June 2023, the Titan submersible, some 13,000 feet under the waters of the North Atlantic, lost contact with its support vessel on the surface.  The craft was carrying a crew of five, including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and four others who had paid $250,000 apiece for a chance to view the wreckage of the Titanic, part of OceanGate’s underwater tourism service.  Last contact came at 9:45 AM local time (11:45 AM UT), and a multi-nation search was instituted after the sub failed to return to the surface at about 3 PM as expected.  With an estimated 96 hours of reserve oxygen, by Thursday the 22nd, the operation became one of recovery rather than rescue, as little hope was offered for survivors.

Continue reading

TN members

Tennessee Turmoil

On 6 April 2023, the lower chamber of the Tennessee State House took an unprecedented step – voting on the expulsion of three members who had violated floor protocols by joining an anti-gun demonstration during a lag in official proceedings.  State representatives Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson briefly took a bullhorn to the well of the House to express solidarity and support for hundreds of students and others who had come to protest lax gun laws in the Volunteer State, in the wake of a mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville the week before, that had left six dead, including three nine-year-olds.

Continue reading

putin cover

AAA Profile: Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin has dominated Russian politics for almost a quarter century.  A former KGB officer, Putin entered politics after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event he describes as the greatest tragedy of the Twentieth Century.  In 1996 he joined Boris Yeltsin’s administration; appointed as prime minister in 1999, he filled the role of acting president when Yeltsin resigned later that year, being elected to the office in 2000.  At the time, Russia had a prohibition on an individual serving more than two consecutive terms as president, so after being reelected in 2004, in 2008 Putin swapped jobs with then prime minister Dmitry Medvedev for a term, only to assume the top spot again in the following election, four years later.  That would have entitled him to two more terms, but Putin changed the law to allow himself to run for an additional two terms uninterrupted, potentially continuing his occupancy of the presidency indefinitely.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A Liz in Blunderland By Alex Miller House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) must feel as if she’s gone down the rabbit hole these days. The conservative stalwart, daughter of former VP Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney, with a 78% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union and a record of voting with President Donald Trump 98% of the time, is being booted from her leadership position, likely to be replaced by a woman with a 44% ACU rating, who only voted 77% with Trump. The reason for Cheney’s fall from GOP grace? Her apostacy in refusing to accept and promulgate the Big Lie, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election in a landslide and had it stolen out from under him. Liz also voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th assault on the US Capitol, and has called him to account for his role in that abortive coup, for which she is now paying the penalty. Liz Cheney’s major political blunder is in being a truth-sayer, at a time when Truth is out of fashion in the Republican party. Having the third-ranking Member speaking uncomfortable truths is admittedly an awkward position for GOP House leadership to find itself in, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, eyeing the return of the gavel in 2022 should Republicans regain control, has lost patience with the recalcitrant Cheney, who refuses to budge from her principled stance. Cheney easily survived a similar “no confidence” vote in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, a period where Trumpist loyalties had been shaken, but times have changed, and most Republican lawmakers have reverted to their default deification of The Donald. Not so Liz Cheney, who calls it as she sees it, and she sees it clearly, stating in plain English that Donald Trump is responsible for the insurrection, that he lost the election fair and square, and that she will not support him should he become the nominee in 2024. For this heresy she has been banned from the GOP leadership, and will likely lose her seat in the Midterm Election. Born 28 July 1966 (no time available) Elizabeth “Liz” Cheney sports an exact Sun/Mercury conjunction at 5 Leo, so she’s an “ideas person”, intelligent, intellectual, a born rhetorician. Saturn’s out-of-Sign trine from 29 Pisces leans her toward conservatism, but its exact opposition to Pandora at 29 Virgo suggests an inability to leave well enough alone, to insist on probing into a matter, perhaps with dire consequences for herself and others. Saturn conjoins asteroid America at 26 Pisces, making Cheney one of the country’s leading conservative voices. Also with the Sun and Mercury is asteroid House, marking the US House of Representatives as Cheney’s political venue of choice, and a defining part of her self-image, as a House member. House with Mercury indicates Cheney’s ultimate goal, which seems a dream in the present circumstances: House Speaker. Her position as third in House GOP leadership was a stepping stone to that goal, which also likely explains why Cheney refused a Senate run recently which she would certainly have won – she preferred to cement her position in the Lower Chamber to being an undistinguished newbie in the Upper. But House Speaker, lofty as that is, might not be the extent of Cheney’s ambitions. Asteroid Whitehouse at 8 Aries is trine the Sun, and embedded at station (turning retrograde six days after her birth), so the pull to the Oval Office is strong in her psyche. There’s another pair of asteroids with the Sun worth discussing: Godiva and McCarthy, both at 9 Leo. Godiva is a point I’ve previously used only in reference to public nudity, but based on the legend, fellow asteroid obsessive Mark Andrew Homes reflates this point to “ruthlessness in action, the willingness to do whatever is necessary to accomplish an objective; the willingness to take any consequences for one's beliefs*.” This certainly seems to apply to Cheney’s current predicament, unwilling to back down and raising the ante whenever criticized. The night before her ouster, Cheney went to the House floor and gave a blistering attack on the Trumpist forces arrayed against her, refusing to give so much as in inch even when in extremis politically. Her Republican colleagues exited the chamber and declined to give her so much as a hearing. McCarthy here indicates the close contact between herself and current Minority Leader, would-be Speaker, Kevin McCarthy. PNAs conjoined the Sun indicate individuals who will be formative in our development, for good or ill. Godiva’s “ruthless” qualities might be applied here to McCarthy, willing to jettison his lieutenant when politically expedient. These also square a combination of asteroids Nemesis and Elisabetha (closest to Elizabeth) at 9 and 10 Scorpio. Having her own PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) in connection to the Sun is the most common placement, so Cheney fits that pattern here. The square to McCarthy suggests friction or conflict between them, and McCarthy’s exact square to Nemesis identifies the Minority Leader as a source of ruin or destruction for Cheney. But with Elisabetha conjoined Nemesis, Cheney has a personal connection to divine justice herself, and could conceivably turn those cosmic tables at some future point. McCarthy’s treatment of her could come back to haunt him. The likelihood of this is reiterated in a cluster of asteroids Kevin, Karma and Troemper at 20, 23 and 28 Gemini, which portrays the basic dynamics of the current contretemps. Fate (Karma) is binding McCarthy (Kevin) and Trump (Troemper) in Cheney’s bio, and the fact that this T-Squares the Saturn/Pandora polarity defines her predicament. If she opens that fatal box of speaking truth about Trump’s (Troemper) culpability in the insurrection and duplicity about the election, she reaps the unintended negative consequences (Pandora) to her career (Saturn), facilitated by McCarthy (Kevin), but the situation is unavoidable and somehow fated (Karma). Cheney’s propensity for truth-telling in a political context is foreshadowed by a combination of asteroids Truth and Veritas (Latin for “truth”) at 15 and 19 Cancer, enclosing Jupiter, ruling politics, at 18 Cancer. Also here is Mars at 11 Cancer, making Cheney an aggressive, forceful champion of truth, but also engendering argument and conflict. These square TNO Eris at 11 Aries, suggesting that Cheney’s principled stances in politics cast her as a lightning rod for strife and division. Cementing Cheney’s personal connection to the truth is an opposition from asteroid Lizrao at 20 Capricorn, a compound-name asteroid which can be severed into its parts and used as a marker for either first or last name. Asteroid Lie at 13 Aquarius conjoins Damocles at 17 and opposes Sun/Mercury. To be her authentic self (Sun), Cheney must speak out (Mercury) against (opposition) deception and falsehood (Lie), but her inability to embrace the Big Lie of Trump’s stolen electoral victory now constitutes the doom hanging overhead (Damocles). There is another stationary point in Cheney’s birth chart: asteroid Elisa at 12 Sagittarius, which turned direct a week prior. Elisa represents Elise Stefanik (R-NY) the congresswoman most likely to replace Cheyne in her leadership role. As with solar connections, stationary points indicate persons, places or themes which are pivotal in the native’s character or biography, and here Elisa at station represents the literal “turning point” in Cheney’s career, as her successor. When Liz Cheney was ousted from her position on May 12, 2021, the skies once again reflect the temporal reality. In an incredibly brave move, Kevin McCarthy called a voice vote, so none of the members would have their votes recorded for posterity. After her removal, Cheney continued her lone fight for the soul of the Republican Party, stating, “We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution.” Asked about a potential Trump run in 2024, Cheney stuck to her guns: “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.” Donald Trump replied, “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our country.” Must have been looking in a mirror. Two points were at station for the vote: asteroids Stefani (for likely replacement Elise Stefanik) and Kevin (for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy), identifying the twin poles in the struggle against Cheney. Stefani turned retrograde May 13th, the day after the vote, and at 25 Capricorn conjoins Pluto at 26 Cap, indicating the power play to ensue. Stefani is also squared by asteroid Elisabetha at 26 Libra, showing the conflict between them, and is at the fulcrum of a T-Square with asteroid America exactly conjoined TNO Eris at 24 Aries, representing the strife and division in the country generally, and the Republican Party specifically, over this issue. Also here is asteroid Achilles at 20 Aries, portraying both Liz’s fighting stance and the weakness and vulnerability of her position. Kevin at 27 Virgo turned direct May 15th, three days later, and is also involved in a T-Square, opposing Neptune (fraud, deception, and fanaticism or zealotry) at 22 Pisces, and asteroid Truth at 25 Gemini, underscoring McCarthy’s weakness (Neptune) in refusing to support truth (Truth) over falsehood (Neptune). Cheney is currently undergoing a Mars Return, with the planet of argument and conflict exactly returned to its natal degree of 11 Cancer for the vote against her. This time it’s accompanied by asteroid Troemper at 8 Cancer, showing Trump as the root cause of the kerfuffle, with asteroid McCarthy at 6 Aries in square, depicting his inimical stance. Transit Saturn at 13 Aquarius, ruling both career and loss or diminution, exactly conjoins Cheney’s natal asteroid Lie, defining her inability to embrace the Big Lie as the source of her demotion and damage to her career. Transit asteroid Nemesis, a source of ruin or undoing, often self-created, falls at 8 Sagittarius, T-Squaring a stellium of transit asteroids Elisa, Washingtonia, and Lie at 4, 6 and 14 Virgo, and transit Lizrao at 6 Pisces, reinforcing the sense that lies (Lie) are at the root of Liz’s (Lizrao) fall (Nemesis) from DC (Washingtonia) grace, facilitated by Elise Stefanik (Elisa). The embedded opposition from Lizrao to Elisa and Washingtonia says all you need to know about Liz Cheney’s embattled position among her colleagues in the Capitol, but just to be cosmically clear, a Grand Cross created by a Venus/Mercury conjunction at 4 and 13 Gemini reiterates the circumstances, asserting a vote (Mercury) regarding a female (Venus). What looks like a setback for Liz Cheney now, may in fact be the road to redemption for herself and her beleaguered party, if it ever comes to its senses. Regardless, one thing is clear: if the male members of the DC Republican delegation had half the balls Liz Cheney does regarding the former president, we wouldn’t be in this predicament now.

A Liz in Blunderland

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) must feel as if she’s gone down the rabbit hole these days.  The conservative stalwart, daughter of former VP Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney, with a 78% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union and a record of voting with President Donald Trump 98% of the time, is being booted from her leadership position, likely to be replaced by a woman with a 44% ACU rating, who only voted 77% with Trump.  The reason for Cheney’s fall from GOP grace?  Her apostacy in refusing to accept and promulgate the Big Lie, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election in a landslide and had it stolen out from under him.  Liz also voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th assault on the US Capitol, and has called him to account for his role in that abortive coup, for which she is now paying the penalty.

Continue reading

BA cover

AAA Profile: The Biden Administration

By Constitutional fiat, all US administrations begin at 12 Noon on the January 20th following a general election, regardless of when the oath of office is actually sworn.  This provides a celestial continuity from decade to decade, with all administrations having an early Aquarius Sun conjunct a late Capricorn MC, and a mid-Taurus Ascendant (unless begun by the death or resignation of the previous office holder).  But within that rigid framework, the permutations are virtually endless, especially when asteroids are considered.

Continue reading