JUNE 2008 GALACTIC
by Alex Miller-Mignone
“You know that old Beach Boys song? Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran....”
GOP presidential candidate
South Carolina Town Hall Meeting
18 April 2007
2008 will be a precedent-setting election year, whoever wins in November. Hillary Clinton would be the first female president, and Barack Obama would be the first African American. John McCain will have no less than three claims to Guinness Book of Records fame—as the oldest president elected to a first term, the first former POW, and the first not born on US soil. Born 29 August 1936 at the Coco Solo Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone, McCain will be 72 when sworn in (three years older than Reagan at his first inauguration), and a veteran of five and half years’ imprisonment at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War. His Sun at 6 Virgo exactly conjoins a Black Hole, and the effect of this, plus his Maser-conjoined Mars at 12 Leo, will be the principal focus of this article (for a full biography of McCain, please see my prior piece in the March 2007 Daykeeper Journal).
Black Hole Sun natives can be very magnetic, attracting others into their orbits almost effortlessly, and have the chameleon-like ability to adapt to circumstances, becoming all things to all people, and presenting themselves in whatever guise suits their purpose. They are adept at assuming a false persona or projecting a facade which has little more substance than a magician’s smoke and mirrors, then, as in a kaleidoscope, breaking down these components and reassembling them into something completely different. McCain, a flip-flopper’s flip flopper who has stood on both sides of most issues over his career (even voting against co-sponsored legislation which bears his name), has nevertheless managed to portray himself as a straight talker, a no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip maverick who is the perennial political outsider, despite 25 years in Washington. The Press have aided and abetted this falsehood for decades, and are still extremely loathe to call him on his “misstatements,” inconsistencies, and changing positions.
But Black Hole Sun is more than this will-o-the-wisp vacillator; it is highly acquisitive, desiring power above all things. It internally destroys and recreates its host, attracting transformative life experience which would break an ordinary man, and then alchemically transmuting this in the crucible of the Black Hole, transforming the lead of hard life lessons into the gold of self knowledge, the cosmic equivalent of making lemonade out of lemons. This enables the Black Hole Sun to create his own subjective reality, and often to persuade others that it is in fact an objective one, a Universal Truth which cannot be denied.
This sense of unreality masquerading as the genuine article, of a parallel universe of fantasy which attempts to intrude itself into our own and supplant it, is aptly illustrated by McCain’s visit to a Baghdad open air market on 1 April 2007. The fact that this was April Fool’s Day just underscores the trickster elements of the incident. McCain, in the company of General David Petraeus and a congressional delegation, toured the Shorja Market in an attempt to show the progress being made by the US occupation of Iraq. Stating that “Americans are not getting the full story” on improving conditions, McCain invited a film crew to document his discussions with local merchants. Unfortunately for him, their cameras also caught the other members of the Arizona Senator’s little outing—a company of 100 soldiers, with air cover provided by three Blackhawk helicopters and 2 Apache gunships, not to mention the body armor which Petraeus insisted McCain wear. This was McCain’s Black Hole parallel universe idea of a “safe” Sunday stroll at the local market; on the day after, sniper fire resumed at Shorja.
This insistence that black is white and up is down, and “who ya gonna believe, me or your lying senses?”, is typical of Black Hole Sun’s inability to accept reality as it is, its overwhelming desire to remake reality in its own image. This is particularly strong when allied with Black Hole Mercury, as is McCain’s, which at 2 Libra conjoins the supermassive Black Hole center of Galaxy M-87, the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware. Black Hole Mercury also explains not only the continual changing of positions, as obsessive rethinking and 180 degree directional shifts are endemic of this combination; but also his ability to persuade others that he is consistent and steadfast in his opinions, despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary, as no one obfuscates, confuses, and misdirects better than Mercury allied with a Black Hole. For example, McCain twice voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, calling them “irresponsible” in a time of war, but now campaigns to make them permanent; in his 2000 presidential campaign he termed fundamentalist Christian leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson “agents of intolerance,” but in his 2008 run embraced both, and has actively sought the endorsement of another of their ilk, John Hagee, who has stated that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for sin in New Orleans. For McCain, reality is "what I say it is, and never mind what I said a moment ago." This was further exemplified in May 2008 when McCain made an off the cuff remark about “never again” sending our servicemen to die in a war for oil, implying that this had in fact been the basis for the Iraq invasion. Pressed for clarification, his spokesperson suggested that McCain had been referring to the causes of the first Gulf War in 1991, a tidy solution which the Senator at first rejected, then finally acceded to as the lesser of two evils.
There is probably no better example of the power of McCain’s Black Hole Sun than his POW experience, which has turned out to be the defining event of his life. Elements of this can be attributed to Mars on a Maser as well, but we will analyze these separately.
With a Black Hole Sun in Virgo, it is not surprising that McCain’s theater of transformation should be in the realm of service to others, and military service in particular, both of which Virgo rules. Shot down and captured while on a bombing mission over Hanoi on 26 October 1967, McCain endured almost five and a half years of abuse and torture until his release on 14 March 1973. Beaten at least twice a week, the injuries have left McCain incapable of raising his arms above his head, which, should he win the presidency, will provide the bizarre, alternate reality spectacle of the most powerful man on the planet unable to comb his own hair. Transits for the date of capture include Saturn at 7 Aries retrograde inconjunct the natal Sun, indicating a restriction or limitation on personal freedom, and Pluto at 21 Virgo opposing natal Saturn at 20 Pisces, both forming a T-Square with the Black Hole at 19 Sagittarius, depicting the sudden reversal in status and utter powerlessness of his new condition, being completely under the control of others. But significantly, Mars at 2 Capricorn has just crossed the 1 Capricorn North Node—from this hellish wartime experience of brutality and torture would come McCain’s future apotheosis and salvation, for without it, he would never have had the political career that has brought him to the pinnacle of success in American life, as a major party candidate for the presidency.
McCain took those Hanoi Hilton lemons and made for himself political lemonade, winning a congressional seat in Arizona’s first district in 1982. At that time McCain was a recent transplant to Arizona, where his second wife Cindy’s family money helped to fund his campaign (his father-in-law Jim Hensley’s Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship was based in Phoenix), and he was subjected to allegations that he was a carpetbagger. His response is typical of the edgy fractiousness and tetchiness which pervades McCain’s dialogue when irritated or threatened: “Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the First District of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.” (McCain continues to trade shamelessly on his POW experience; in a 2007 GOP debate, in reference to the summer of love in Woodstock in 1968, McCain regretted being unable to attend, stating, “I was tied up at the time.”) McCain squeaked by in the GOP primary, largely on the strength of that military sacrifice, then easily won the general election that November in the heavily Republican district; after two terms in the House of Representatives, McCain replaced retiring Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater in 1986, and has remained there ever since.
Of particular interest in defining his character is McCain’s Mars, which at 12 Leo conjoins the 13 Leo Maser. Maser energy is volatile and sometimes violent, provoking controversy and fractiousness, but also capable of engendering excitement or enthusiasm. McCain has always had a loyal cadre of press and populace who idolize his maverick stances and willingness to break with the party position. In his 2000 presidential campaign, his “Straight Talk Express,” a tour bus with which he traveled from one town hall meeting to another, made him a media darling, and he very nearly unseated George W. Bush for the GOP nomination, winning an upset victory in New Hampshire by appealing to independents, trouncing Bush Jr by 49%-30%. “McCain fever” had caught on, and that fire had to be put out.
An illustration of the blowback possible from Mars/Maser is the resulting primary campaign in South Carolina, where Bush and establishment forces rallied evangelical voters, always suspicious of McCain’s ideological impurity, with such execrable tactics as push polling and whisper campaigns. The South Carolina primary has gone down as one of the dirtiest in recent memory, with the opposition alleging that McCain’s wife was a drug addict, that he himself was a brainwashed “Manchurian candidate” from his POW treatment, and that he had fathered an illegitimate black child (McCain and his wife had adopted a dark-skinned daughter from Bangladesh). McCain went down to defeat, losing 42%-53% to Bush, and the campaign faltered.
These slurs show the virulence to which the Mars/Maser native can be subjected, but McCain is quite capable of giving as good as he gets. His reputation as a grousy, short-tempered hothead is well earned, and not diminished by the incidence of natal Uranus at 9 Taurus in square to Mars, and itself conjunct another Maser at 7 Taurus. This greatly increases McCain’s impulsiveness and lack of self control, as well as reiterating his unpredictable nature and the explosive quality he exhibits. McCain has himself recounted in his memoirs how, as a toddler, he would become so exercised with frustration and fury as to hold his breath until he fainted. He was known for the chip on his shoulder in the many schools he attended as the family moved from post to post, earning the nicknames “McNasty” and “Punk,” and he has acknowledged, “I acted like a jerk.”
That characterization fits all too well with much of his Senate behavior. McCain has engaged in shouting and shoving matches with fellow GOP Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) in one committee meeting and hurled profanity at Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in another; he screamed in public at Senator Richard Shelby (R-LA) when he felt the latter had reneged on a voting commitment, and twice called Senator Pete Domenici (R-NX) an “earthy expletive” at a Senate luncheon. Former Senate colleague Bob Smith (R-NH) has stated, “His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him.” Senator Thad Cochrin (R-MS) has averred that the thought of McCain in the Oval Office “sends a cold chill down my spine.” Please note, all these incidents and comments involve fellow Republicans.
He is not above verbally eviscerating underlings, as when he reamed out a young staffer on the night of his first Senate race victory in 1986, for failing to assure that the podium was the right height, calling him an “incompetent little shit.” And he carries a grudge; years after Karen Johnson, in her capacity as secretary to Arizona Governor John Meacham, defended her boss against a McCain tirade, he lobbied against her with a prospective employer, who was stupefied that the Senator would have even remembered the incident, much less gone out of his way to ruin her career. When challenged or threatened, he attacks, a tendency which has become more marked since suffering the abuse of his captors in North Vietnam.
That five-year episode is directly attributable to Mars/Maser; the weekly beatings and torture, cracked ribs, teeth broken off at the gum line, extreme privation, all point to the volatile quality of the Maser when in contact with Mars, and wielded by one with a will to harm. At one point, after abuse so severe that he broke down and signed a confession forced by his captors, stating he was a war criminal, the humiliated and exhausted McCain even attempted suicide, which was prevented by the timely arrival of one of his guards. McCain has been examined by Department of Defense psychiatrists on at least three occasions for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental condition created by the occurrence or imminent threat of physical harm. Although many servicemen experience the condition, POWs are more susceptible than most, particularly those who have been exposed to the type of brutality which McCain has suffered. These individuals have difficulty controlling intense emotion, and may not function properly when stressed, often reliving the traumatic incident and unable to move past their experiences even decades later. McCain’s medical records are sealed by privacy laws, but it is difficult to imagine how anyone who has endured more than five years of torture and beatings could return unscathed.
Another feature of PTSD is the inability to distinguish genuine threats from perceived ones, and in this light, McCain’s staunch support for the Iraq war and obsessive bellicosity towards Iran make all too much sense. Is it a risk to national security to give access to a nuclear arsenal to a man who may well have deep psychological trauma?
McCain’s birthchart makes three dramatic conjunctions with that of the USA. Venus at 22 Virgo exactly conjoins the USA Neptune, lending perhaps some credence to his statement, later retracted, that he doesn’t really understand the economy. The contact also lends a gloss to his public image; Americans have a fantasy about who McCain is, what his core values are, and how he relates to others—they simply do not see him clearly.
McCain’s Chiron at 22 Gemini conjoins the USA Mars at 21 Gemini. This might seem to argue for a healing or redemption in military matters, but is more likely to manifest as the re-opening of unhealed wounds, perhaps those stemming from McCain’s POW experience and the national humiliation of the Vietnam War. It could also refer to a maverick use of the nation’s military might.
Finally, and most striking, is McCain’s natal Moon at 27 Capricorn exactly conjunct the USA Pluto. This could conceivably be devastating (Pluto) to the American public (Moon), as a third term of Bush policies would certainly be, but is surely poised to wreak havoc on McCain’s emotional state during his presidency. With the pressures this contact will apply, and given McCain’s likely PTSD, is he a risk we can afford to take?
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at Alixilamirorim@aol.com.