OCTOBER 2008 GALACTIC
by Alex Miller-Mignone
On August 29, 2008, his seventy-second birthday, John McCain stunned the American political universe when he announced his choice for running mate, 44-year-old Sarah Palin, Alaska’s eleventh governor and a rising star in the Republican party (the date was also her twentieth wedding anniversary). Hockey mom, PTA member, city councilman turned small hometown mayor, mother of five, moose hunter, lifetime NRA member, beauty queen runner-up, with a husband who is part Yup’ik Eskimo, a son about to deploy to Iraq and an infant with Downs syndrome—Palin is a PR bonanza, a down-to-earth, girl-next-door, engaging and attractive candidate whom voters appear prepared to take an instant liking to.
So much for the public face. Palin is also a devout fundamentalist Christian, who believes in creationism, denies human culpability in global warming, is against gun control and same sex marriage, and supports outlawing all abortions, even in the case of rape or incest, except when the mother’s life is in danger. The facts of her past and her record may be otherwise than presented, but the first impression she has made, particularly on the GOP base, is unreservedly positive, and her nomination has breathed new life into the desicated McCain candidacy, formerly only tepidly endorsed by party stalwarts.
How did this obscure wilderness denizen rise so quickly to become potentially one heartbeat away from the American presidency? Deep Space contacts to success-inducing Quasars may hold the key.
Born in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1964, Sarah is the daughter of Sarah “Sally” Sheeran and Charles Heath. The family moved to Alaska when Sarah was just two months old. Both parents worked at Wasilla High School, her mother as a secretary and her father as science teacher and track coach. Sarah was the point guard and captain of Wasilla’s girls’ basketball team, and led the players in group prayers before games (a perhaps natural outgrowth of her position as head of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter). Her aggressiveness and tenacity on the court (Palin once scored the winning free throw in the last moments of a crucial game, playing with a stress-fractured ankle) gave rise to the nickname “Sarah Barracuda,” a sobriquet which resurfaced years later in her political career.
With her sights set on college, in 1984 Palin made a run at the scholarships offered in the Miss Alaska beauty contest, first winning Miss Wasilla before going on to place second in the statewide competition. Her runner-up status garnered her a “Miss Congeniality” title and a scholarship which sent her on to a degree in journalism at the University of Idaho. After a brief stint as a sportscaster for an Anchorage TV station in 1988, Sarah married high school sweetheart Todd Palin on August 29, 1988, and settled in to raise a family. The couple eloped unexpectedly, ostensibly to save their families the cost of the wedding, but son Track (named for her favorite sport, which her father coached) arrived just eight months later, perhaps indicating an alternate motive for the sudden nuptials. Track was followed by daughters Bristol (named for Todd’s hometown of Bristol Bay), Willow and Piper, and lastly, this April, by their second son Trig, whom Sarah carried to term despite the knowledge that he was afflicted with Downs syndrome.
While Todd operated a small fishing business and worked in the oil industry on Alaska’s North Shore, as well as becoming a world-class competitive snowmobile racer (he has won the 2000-mile “Iron Dog” race four times), Sarah joined the Wasilla PTA and the local gym, where she met and befriended Wasilla mayor John Stein. In an almost eerie foreshadowing of her single preliminary meeting with John McCain before being chosen as his running mate, Palin was invited to just one meeting of the city council and was immediately urged to run for office in the upcoming elections. With the support of Stein, she handily gained a seat in 1992, serving two terms.
Then in 1996 she ran against her mentor, replacing three-term incumbent Stein, whom she accused of wasteful spending, as Wasilla’s mayor. While reform was her public message, there was also a lot of anti-abortion, pro-gun talk, and an unofficial whisper campaign urging voters to choose a “Christian mayor,” an insinuation that Stein was Jewish (despite his patronym, Stein was raised Lutheran). She won, and quickly gained a reputation for fiscal conservatism when she cut property taxes by 40% (though she also raised the city sales tax and issued municipal bonds to fund a new sports complex, a move that was endorsed by a referendum vote of the citizens), and fulfilled a campaign promise when she cut her own salary. She fired the city’s Police Chief and library director, replacing them with her own people, a habit that was to become even more pronounced later as governor (Alaskan wags quip that if you need a directory of government officials, all you need do is locate a copy of Palin’s high school yearbook). She beat Stein by an even higher margin in a re-election rematch in 1999, and was shortly after elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors. It was at this time that she first came to the attention of Republican party elders.
At the end of her second term in 2002, Palin ran an unsuccessful campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, challenging party insiders for the nomination. With almost no fundraising operations to speak of, Palin essentially operated her campaign from her briefcase out of the back of her car, relying on the force of her personality to make an impact with voters. Even with these limited resources, Palin ran a close second, losing by a margin of just 2000 votes and beating 3 out of 4 more experienced primary contenders.
Her increased public profile, however, did not go to waste, and led to her appointment by Governor Frank Murkowski (who had briefly considered appointing her to a US Senate seat, before giving the nod to his own daughter) to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003, where ethics oversight was her special bailiwick. She blew the whistle on alleged conflicts of interest and legal violations among other members of the commission, eventually resigning in protest in 2004 when the party hierarchy ignored her reports. The resulting scandal and exposure forced the resignations of the Alaska Republican Party Chairman and the state Attorney General. Her reputation as an anti-corruption, clean government advocate grew exponentially, and she ran for governor in 2006. History repeated itself when she defeated another mentor, incumbent Governor Murkowski, in the GOP primary, and went on to defeat former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles that November.
At 42, Palin was Alaska’s first female governor, its youngest, and the first born after it had achieved statehood. As with her Wasilla mayoral tenure, Palin began her term with several gestures to public opinion, selling the private jet Murkowski had used as governor, and dispensing with the services of the official car and driver, and a private cook (who was later reassigned, but still cooks for the governor’s family). Her continued thrust to promote open government, as in exhorting US Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) to cooperate with federal probes into his finances and allegations of bribery, made her very popular with Alaskans. With approval ratings consistently above 80%, Palin is the most popular governor in the US.
On a personal level, however, there is another side to Palin. Allegations swiftly emerged that she had applied pressure on Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to fire her ex-brother-in-law State Trooper Mike Wooten—who at the time was embroiled in a bitter divorce and custody battle with her sister—and that she fired Monegan when he failed to comply with her wishes. Although initially supportive of a bipartisan probe into the facts of this case, Palin is no longer cooperating with the investigation, and spokesmen for the McCain campaign cite its use by political opponents as the reason for this reticence. Although Palin has seriously curtailed the number of earmarks in federal monies which Alaska receives, she has not eliminated them. And while it is true that she withdrew her support for the infamous $398 million “Bridge to Nowhere,” she did so only after it had become a political liability, and she retained the funds for other infrastructure projects. Her anti-lobbyist stance is belied by the $27 million in federal dollars which her paid lobbyist received for Wasilla during her tenure as its mayor.
In 2007 Palin renegotiated a $26 billion gas pipeline deal authored by her predecessor Murkowski, and in the process enacted a windfall profits tax on Alaskan oil and gas companies, the surplus from which has allowed her to return $1200 to every man, woman and child in Alaska, which may have something to do with her high approval ratings. Taking advantage of a loophole in federal wildlife protection laws which granted Alaska 700 shooting permits, she also approved a $150/head bounty on wolves for aerial gunner-pilot teams in a “predator control” program in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The program was heavily criticized by wildlife advocates, and legislation banning the practice was proposed in the US House of Representatives, but failed to pass. She has also lobbied to have polar bears removed from the endangered species list, alleging they interfere with oil production.
Palin’s nomination as Vice President sent an electric shock through the GOP base, particularly among the religious right, who have long watched her career with approval. Palin is a member of an Assemblies of God Church, a Pentecostal denomination which believes in baptism by the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, and holds a worldview that insists we are living in “the End Times.” Palin herself has stated that she believes Christ will return in her lifetime. She has received accolades and strong support from James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, all far right religiously-based conservative groups. Personable and attractive, with a folksy style appealing to many middle-class voters, Palin may be largely responsible for the bump in McCain’s polling numbers which has led him to consistently, if narrowly, outpace Obama in almost every national poll in the weeks following the conventions.
Born in Sandpoint, Idaho on February 11, 1964, at 4:40 PM (time unconfirmed), Sarah Palin sports a conjunction of the Sun, Mars and Saturn at 22, 23 and 25 Aquarius, conjunct the Quasar at 25 Aquarius, within the event horizon, or orb of influence, of a Black Hole at 27 Aquarius, and square to a second Black Hole at 24 Taurus. This powerful combination betrays a great deal of energy, feistiness, discipline and focus; its conjunction with the USA Moon at 26 Aquarius virtually ensures a positive, emotional response from the American people, at least initially. This strong Aquarian strain (Moon and Mercury reside here also, of which more later) supports her image as a maverick reformer, a woman of the people, concerned with the public weal; rebellious, an individualistic, free spirit who isn’t afraid of making waves in a just cause. The conjunction of Saturn with the Sun indicates her conservative, possibly reactionary, nature, and Mars here tends to fight its battles in career and with a high public profile. Forceful and dynamic as only Sun/Mars can be, Sun/Saturn also means that Palin is easily seen as a leader or Chief Executive. Palin is a force to be reckoned with, whatever happens in November.
The Quasar conjunction is much stronger than either Black Hole contact, and is illustrative of one who just seems to have a knack for getting things done. Accomplishment and success comes easily to these people, often seemingly without due effort (as in her city council run and now the VP nomination), and early in life. These individuals stand out in a crowd, like a beacon on a hilltop; they are notable networkers, as seen in Palin’s nodding acquaintance with Wasilla’s mayor at the local gym, which led directly to her political career. Career matters in general are likely to be smoothed with Saturn’s conjunction to the Quasar, which often allows the native to readily gain recognition and reward for her efforts, and to rise to the top of her profession. While the Black Hole may throw a few curves, it also opens doors unexpectedly, doors which would normally be closed to the native, allowing the Quasar to take its effectiveness to an entirely new and higher level of functioning.
When a Black Hole and a Quasar are working effectively in tandem, they are hard to beat. If there is an Achilles heel to this placement, it is that strong Quasar individuals, used to quick, easy accomplishment, may never develop the fortitude to withstand opposition, allowing the Black Hole to pull the rug out from under them in times of stress, reversing their circumstances and eroding their successes in the blink of an eye. The Black Hole with Saturn also indicates one who channels an enormous amount of energy into work and career matters, and Palin is noted for having taken only a single day off work for the birth of her third daughter while she was Wasilla’s mayor. As governor, she eturned to the job just three days after her youngest son’s arrival, with baby in tow, placed in a cradle under her desk.
The late Aquarian combination is broadly squared by Neptune at 17 Scorpio. Palin doesn’t always see herself clearly, but she also has the ability to project an image to others which they find appealing, a gift greatly enhanced by the Black Hole contacts. These enable her to adopt a persona useful to the occasion, and project it with confidence and aplomb, allowing others to see just what she wants them to see. Natural actors, Sun/Neptune natives have a facility for smoothly fitting into a role and casting a certain aura of glamour, a distraction mechanism which aids in pulling the wool over others’ eyes. However, Neptune is also famous for unexpectedly parting the veils and allowing a moment of clarity. Should Palin be “found out” in this manner, her popularity could plummet dramatically.
The Moon at 3 Aquarius and Mercury at 1 Aquarius both oppose the Black Hole at 2 Leo; this allows Palin to communicate with others on a gut level, from emotion, about issues of everyday concern and shared social concerns, and encourages their positive response. She appears authentic and connects with her audience. The Black Hole with Mercury can be extremely persuasive, but is also capable of extreme subterfuge: one should not automatically assume that Palin actually holds all the positions she espouses. Many Black Hole Moon females become pregnant unexpectedly, which appears to be the case with her first son, and many others find that the demands of parenthood can be extremely taxing, which Palin is likely to experience with her second son’s special needs as a Downs syndrome sufferer.
Venus at 1 Aries exactly opposes the supermassive Black Hole at the center of Galaxy M-87 at 1 Libra, the largest anomaly of its kind of which we are aware. Black Hole Venus can attract vast amounts of money, although it can also result in huge expenditures, so that the native is often living hand-to-mouth, whatever her income level. Palin’s entry into the race coincided with a windfall of more than $7 million in contributions to the McCain coffers, a record for the campaign, within 24 hours of her nomination (Obama’s Venus at 1 Cancer, in exact square to this same anomaly, has certainly served him well in his fundraising efforts thus far). This Black Hole Venus can also be related to the budget-cutting mania, the reputation for fiscal reform and solvency, and, with its exact sextile to Mercury, her staunch espousal of “small town values.”
Jupiter at 16 Aries opposes a Quasar at 15 Libra and is conjoined the 21 Aries Midheaven from the Ninth House. This could indicate considerable political savvy and success, but may also encourage her to over-reach in these efforts, biting off more than she can chew, which would seem to be the case with her vice presidential nomination. An angular Jupiter, however, also inspires confidence, both in the native and in how others view her, so she may be able to bluff it out and mask or downplay the apparent gap between her current experience and her possible future responsibilities.
The 8 Leo Ascendant gives her a fiery, outgoing persona, and its conjunction with a Black Hole at 9 Leo allows her to draw others into her orbit almost effortlessly, garnering their support and marshaling their resources. The fact that the Solar Eclipse of 1 August, just four weeks before her nomination, unexpectedly propelled her into the national spotlight, fell exactly on this Black Hole at the Ascendant, encourages me to believe that the 4:40 PM birth time is an accurate one.
Asteroids are instructive as well. Palin’s Sun/Mars/Saturn conjunction opposes asteroid Washingtonia at 21 Leo, perhaps indicative of the lodestar of her career and personal goals. Asteroid Alaska at 9 Sagittarius conjoins a Black Hole at 10 Sagittarius and tightly trines the 8 Leo Ascendant, illustrative of the supportive, life-changing role that state would play in her life, and in how others see her. Trans-Neptunian Object Quaoar at 24 Libra conjoins the 21 Libra Nadir and trines the solar stellium; as my research shows (see the August 2003 Daykeeper), this point is often prominent in the charts of reproductive issues, both pro and con, and may influence her strong, uncompromising anti-abortion stance.
All the McCain asteroids are prominent as well. Johnny at 18 Scorpio conjoins Neptune at 17 Scorpio; Johannes at 17 Pisces conjoins Chiron at 13 Pisces and exactly trines Neptune; Johanna at 4 Aries conjoins Venus (and in that light it is interesting that McCain has called her his “soul mate”); Asteroid McCann at 3 Capricorn squares Venus and Johanna. Palin’s Icarus placement at 25 Capricorn conjoins McCain’s natal Moon at 27 Capricorn, perhaps eliciting the sudden decision to choose her as his running mate, a seemingly rash choice which, so far, seems to be paying off.
When McCain made the announcement, at noon on August 29 in Dayton, Ohio, a pair of Quasars was exactly rising and setting at 5 Scorpio and Taurus, another indicator of the importance of these cosmic path-smoothers in Palin’s life. The Midheaven at the time was 11 Leo, closely conjunct her natal Ascendant at 8 Leo, bringing her to prominence. The Sun and Saturn conjoined at 6 and 11 Virgo in the Tenth House of career, and were squared by asteroid Alaska on a Black Hole at 4 Sagittarius, illustrating the unexpected nature of the announcement and the nominee’s origins. Asteroid Sara at 7 Aquarius was prominently angular on the Nadir at 11 Aquarius, and transit Neptune at 22 Aquarius was precisely on her natal Sun.
On Election Day, asteroid Sara at 10 Aquarius conjoins the North Node, our collective future, at 13 Aquarius; and asteroid Alaska at 23 Sagittarius conjoins both Venus at 19 Sagittarius and Pluto at 29 Sagittarius, forming a square with the Saturn/Uranus opposition at 18 Virgo and Pisces which dominates the day.
If the Republican ticket wins in November, considering McCain’s age (he will be older for his first inauguration than any previous president) and his health issues (McCain has had four battles with skin cancer), there is a fair likelihood that Sarah Palin may succeed him before the end of the first term. The best we can hope for is that this eventuality, should it arise, comes later in the term, rather than earlier, allowing Palin to garner some on-the-job experience first. In the meantime, following upon the Cheney vice presidency, which fundamentally altered the ways that office functions, transforming it from a cipher into a virtual co-presidency, it will be interesting to see how things play out.
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.