Sunday, November 11, 2012

Obama wins re-election; faces fiscal cliff negotiations with Boehner

US President Barack Obama won re-election on Tuesday narrowly defeating Republican Mitt Romney to win a second term in the White House.  While Obama won by only 2% in the popular vote, he carried most of the key swing states and hence had a more comfortable margin of victory in the Electoral College.  Obama's win confirmed my prediction made back in June that he would defeat Romney as Obama's horoscope generally looked stronger in November.  While I am obviously happy with this outcome, it's important to acknowledge that as predictions go, it isn't that impressive.  The election only had two candidates and hence only two outcomes.  The race was fairly close but most pollsters had given Obama the edge for most of 2012.   The odds of calling the outcome correctly was therefore a little less than forecasting the outcome of a coin toss.  Fortunately, astrologers can sometimes enhance and add value to that initial prediction by also describing the ups and downs of the race.  While pollsters can deliver some impressive results in the science of public opinion, none has the ability to predict the specific ups and downs of a campaign the way astrology can.   To this end, I offered some observations on the last two debates and the dynamics of the final weeks of the race.  For the most part, these were proven correct as Obama won the last two debates as the momentum shifted towards him in late October.

For all the talk about Mercury turning retrograde on election day, nothing too dramatic or bizarre actually happened.  To be sure, there were some significant voting problems in various states as voters were forced to wait well into the night to cast their vote even after Obama had been declared the winner.  Hurricane Sandy also created problems for many voters in places like New Jersey, although it did not affect the outcome of the race in any significant way.  The vote in Florida was so close that Obama was only declared the winner yesterday -- four days after the fact.  That's the kind of delay one would expect from a Mercury retrograde, so that is a modest reflection of its energy potential.  Overall, however, Mercury did not confound or delay the decision.  Last week, I suggested that the problems would more likely be manageable since the USA chart for the 2012 election was much less afflicted than the chart for the 2000 election. This proved to be correct, although I was still surprised and frankly a little disappointed that we didn't even get a single state recount.  Mercury definitely came in at the very low end of its spectrum of disruption and confusion.  It may be time for the concept of Mercury retrograde to be subjected to a more rigorous Popperian assessment. 

But with the win behind him, Obama must now deal with the fiscal cliff.  Obama must negotiate a deal with House Republicans in order to prevent automatic cuts in spending and tax hikes.  This is a huge issue with major economic implications as failure to come to an agreement may well cause another recession.  The fiscal cliff is also creating jitters on Wall Street as last week's decline was the result of investors weighing the possibility of slower growth and higher taxes if no deal is struck.  The deadline for a deal is December 31, although it is also possible that one could occur after the deadline in January with a retroactive clause to restore funding.  A post-facto January deal would nevertheless cause some profound angst in the financial markets until it actually got done.  With so much on the line, can Obama find common ground with his long-time adversary Republican House Leader John Boehner?

There are any number of ways to delve into this question, all of them indirect and therefore quite inferential and speculative.  But that goes with the territory of astrology.  For me, one of the most intriguing windows on this question concerns the relationship of Obama and Boehner.  When this relationship comes under planetary pressure by malefics like Saturn and Mars, there is more likely to be rancour and discord.  When benefics like Jupiter and Venus are more prominent in the relationship horoscope, then an agreement is more likely.  I have found the Davison relationship chart to be useful in this regard.  Basically, this is a horoscope that is cast from combining the charts of the two individuals.  One takes the the halfway point in between the dates of birth of Boehner and Obama, as well as their  places of birth.  Since we don't know Boehner's birth time, this is a more approximate chart so we have to confine ourselves to planet-to-planet contacts.  Nonetheless, it is still revealing.

Obama and Boehner famously tussled on the debt negotiations in the summer of 2011.  Talks broke off on July 22 as the country careened perilously close to bankruptcy since there was not enough money to cover the US government's debt obligations.  The planets for July 22 show the level of animosity that may have pervaded the relationship of these two men.  Transiting Saturn (17 Virgo) was closely conjunct the natal Venus (16 Virgo) indicating obstacles, delays and the unlikelihood of progress.  Even more problematic was the tight conjunction of Mars and Ketu (SN) with natal Ketu (SN) at 27-28 Taurus.  Mars was also square its natal position at 26 Leo.  It's worth noting that the presence of a natal square between Mars and Rahu/Ketu is one reason why the two men may not get along.   Mars is frequently implicated in disagreements and conflicts, while the nodes Rahu and Ketu often serve as magnifiers for this Mars energy.  The natural tendency of Mars to assert its will can become headstrong and out of control when under the influence of Ketu.  This is more or less what happened when both men angrily denounced the other as unreasonable and intransigent when the talks broke down.  It also probably did help matters that the Uranus-Pluto square had set up just a couple of degrees from the natal Sun.

But cooler heads eventually prevailed and a deal was finally struck nine days later.  By this time, Saturn had moved away from Venus somewhat thus allowing for more progress to occur.  Mars had also moved away from Ketu (both Ketus actually!) and thus defused the animosity between Obama and Boehner.  There was also a boost in positive planetary contacts as the Sun and Venus had moved into aspect with the Moon.  Progress was more likely under the influence of Venus, which is a more sociable and conciliatory energy. 

This time around the prospects look fairly good that a deal will eventually be struck.  Transiting Saturn is not really in the picture (at least this particular picture which is only an approximate chart) as it does not form aspects with any planet. However, there are two contacts in November that suggest there may be some difficulties in this relationship in the short run.  On November 23, Mars and Uranus form a very powerful and intense t-square with the natal Sun.  With Mars in the mix, we should expect some conflict here.  Uranus symbolizes sudden or unexpected developments, so it may come out of the blue.  Perhaps this will coincide with a breakdown of talks, or a sudden change of heart of one of the individuals that is poorly received by the other.  Just four days later on November 27, Mercury will end its retrograde cycle in an exact conjunction with the natal Saturn.  Mercury-Saturn combinations are not usually found in positive situations as they represent heavy or onerous communications that is often met with frustration or disappointment.  Will this be a case of "back to the drawing board"?  It may well highlight a time of blocked progress, especially coming so soon after the Mars-Uranus-Sun pattern. 

The presence of these difficult aspects suggests that a quick deal may be unlikely.  Jupiter will aspect Venus quite closely in early December so perhaps that will mark some substantial progress.  Perhaps they can even work out a deal then -- I'm not sure yet. I will revisit this question in future weekly posts in this space.

Meanwhile, markets reacted negatively to Obama's re-election as it increased the likelihood of the fiscal cliff and higher taxes, especially on capital gains. The Dow lost more than 2% closing at 12,815.  Indian markets fared better, however, as the Sensex suffered only a fractional decline closing at 18,683.  This negative outcome was in keeping with expectations as I thought that the aspect between retrograde Mercury (trading) and Saturn (loss) would likely translate into a fall in the markets. 

This week looks difficult again for the markets as Mercury forms a square aspect with Neptune on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Mercury then continues to run the gauntlet as it enters into a tense alignment with Mars on Thursday.  To add to the reservoir of available energy, there is also a solar eclipse on Tuesday at the tail end of sidereal Libra.  While a mixed week is still somewhat possible here, the most likely outcome would seem to be for more downside.

Transits for Tuesday 13 November 2012 9.30 a.m. New York