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New York, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012
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Let's Not Do That Again

Dear Friend and Reader:

The presidential election of 2012 has ended like waking up from a bad dream. For many it was more like a nightmare. For the past 18 months, we have endured a parade of fools served up by the Republican party, a pageant that rivaled the best efforts of The Onion or Saturday Night Live to make fun of it.

Planet Waves
Mitt Romney walks off of the national stage, shocked that he lost, with his wife Ann Romney after giving his concession speech at his election night rally in Boston on Nov. 7, 2012. Photo by Charles Dharapak.
Mercury stationing retrograde on Election Day did not knock the election down like 10-pins, but it threatened to. Between voter suppression efforts, rigged voting machines, and a vicious campaign where nothing was too personal to be out of bounds, we had our hands full. Add Hurricane Sandy, Koch brothers mischief and Karl Rove with $300 million to spend, I consider us all very fortunate.

That said, Mercury is always Mercury, and we need to remain vigilant for the ways this unprecedented astrological event can manifest, toward the end of the retrograde later this month and beyond. The United States is not on solid ground, spiritually or financially. The fiscal cliff showdown looms ahead, as does the next battle over the debt ceiling. The losers may have conceded the election as a kind of technicality, though the denial and rhetoric have not tamped down. There is no evidence that this was a self-reflective moment for those who did not get elected.

And we met a lot of losers. In the 'truth comes out' theme of a Mercury station, we also peered into the dark heart of so-called conservatism. Beneath the absurdity of Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan coming out of a video game, Rick Perry forgetting which federal agencies he would shut down (Ron Paul helped him remember) and Michele Bachmann's flamboyant husband's 'psychology' clinic where you can go (or take your kid, or your husband) to be cured of being gay, there was a disgusting ooze seeping out of the crevices.

We got a whiff of the obvious racism behind many of the critiques of Obama. Another was a toxic mix of fundamentalist Christianity mixed with political ambition, aggression and misogyny, the result of a movement that's been on the rise since the early 1980s. This was the 'new conservatism' that turned churches into political clubhouses, and raised social issues (the government getting in your pants) to the top level of priorities. Appealing to those who are wounded, in denial and repressed, the non-issue of gayness and a perverse interest in women's bodies took precedence over the most critical affairs of the nation.

In retrospect, the parade of egos we have witnessed since the summer of 2011 may have been designed as a distraction, to deflect attention from real issues, of which there are many: global warming, GMOs infesting the biosphere, banksters still running Wall Street, fracking and many more. Clearly this campaign against women was not designed to raise the vibration of society. In the end it may have had that effect, though at a high cost.

Imagine that you're the survivor of a sexual attack or incest. You also follow the news, and night after night you're hearing about candidates for the highest offices in the land making comments about "legitimate rape," the rapist's impregnation of a woman being a gift from "god," how "the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down," and how having a child out of wedlock is similar to rape -- all of this being used to collect votes and campaign contributions.

Planet Waves
Those crazy Democrats! This is not an ad for interracial gay marriage, but sure does look like one. The Obamas and the Bidens in Chicago after the election. Official White House photo.
Rape is about power and rage; anyone to whom it's happened knows that. Listening to these psychologically damaged, emotionally violent delusional people vie for unlimited power would be pretty creepy. They're backed by billions of dollars, being taken seriously by some TV newscasters and getting actual public support no matter how disgusting their ideas.

Personally I cannot imagine the pain that would flush through my body and emotions if I were a survivor of sexual trauma and heard any of these gasbags vent their opinions on women and what happens to them, thanks or no thanks to "god." I would be questioning not just why this was happening, but what planet I was on and whether I wanted to be here if these people continued to take power.

Maybe you're someone whose life was saved by an abortion, or who made a difficult and deeply painful decision to terminate a pregnancy that would not have been correct for you. You know how critical it was that you made this choice on your own, and now you're hearing a bunch of people say that this should not have been your right, and it shouldn't be your daughter's prerogative either.

There is no secular, scientific, legal, medical or logical argument against early-term abortion. There are only religious and emotional arguments, and what we've been listening to was both: people motivated by religion intending to stir up the emotions of vulnerable people, and get them to give up their rights. And these are the arguments of hypocrites. Nothing would stop a wealthy person or a politician from seeking an abortion if someone in their family needed one. And there is no pro-life argument that cannot be applied to the death penalty, but when ever is it?

This mob has been talking about reversing more than just Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision affirming that women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. That's been going on for a while; more recently, Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 decision blocking states from making birth control illegal, has come up as an issue. Most people don't even know that this decision exists; they take for granted that reproductive health services are legal and available. Why exactly wouldn't they be?

Most people don't know that Mitt Romney personally said he believed Griswold was decided wrongly, and he didn't mean the subtle legal reasoning -- he meant the result of the decision, which makes family planning a constitutionally protected right. Both of these decisions are founded on the right to privacy, which I guess according to this theory is something reserved for men.

There were nine candidates who comprised what MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow called the "creepy rape and abortion comments caucus," and all of them lost their election bids Tuesday, including Paul Ryan, who was running for vice president. [Her segment on this issue from Wednesday night's program is worth watching.] If we include Mitt Romney for his comments about the 'personhood amendment' and reversing Griswold, that makes an even 10.

Planet Waves
The Creepy Rape and Abortion Caucus -- all of its members lost their election bids Tuesday. Graphic from The Rachel Maddow Show.
It's reassuring that many Democrats, some Republicans and some in the press called them out on this. It also became clear that banning abortion meant criminalizing abortion and miscarriage, which after all might be an illegal abortion. The word got out and it's gratifying that there was a decisive political response.

Yet this whole disgusting scenario, whether a red herring or not, was too close for comfort. The viewpoints that make it possible still exist, and are likely to persist in both state and federal politics -- and in communities across the United States. It is reassuring, with respect to this one issue, that Barack Obama will appoint the two or three Supreme Court vacancies that are likely to occur during his presidency, and that a Senate with a Democratic majority will be there to approve those nominees.

There are still likely to be confirmation battles, as there are a good few anti-choice Democrats who might caucus with the Republicans on this issue. At least it's not a done deal. For now we've been able to dodge this blatant attack on women, on civility and on common sense.

Many other good things happened on Tuesday. A years-long voter suppression campaign failed. More young people voted in 2012 than they did in 2008. Citizens of two states had a revelation and voted for legalization of cannabis. Two other states voted for legalization of marriage for all people. There was bad news as well. California's Proposition 37, which would have mandated labeling of genetically modified 'foods', failed substantially, falling to a campaign funded by the GMO industry itself.

Speaking of GMO: this is now the number one issue that we must focus on. Obama is a friend to this madness, and a friend to Monsanto, therefore we must be vigilant. We don't have a second planet to go to if GMO destroys the biology here. And each of us are issued only one body.

It would be great if we could do something about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Obama signed into effect last Dec. 31. That's the law that turns the domestic United States into a battlefield in the "war on terror," and allows for the military to make illegal arrests and imprisonment of American citizens, bypassing the normal judicial process. I will be happy when I start to see so-called conservatives complain about this obvious issue.

The Mercury Retrograde Factor

For a year now, Planet Waves has been sounding the alarm that Mercury would be stationing retrograde on Election Day 2012.

We knew this would happen at the culmination of what seemed to be a national movement to suppress the vote, in particular, the Democratic vote. The Republicans have long known that their ever-more absurd point of view is the relic of another era -- and that they were losing ground in the increasingly diverse demographics of the United States. Therefore, as the months went on, no effort to mess with the election seemed too bold, and there was an orchestrated campaign to do so.

Planet Waves
Mercury (in green, at the center of the image) the moment it stations retrograde. It's conjunct asteroid Isis, which is about fragmentation or 'putting the pieces together'.
Voter roll purges, blocking early voting, demanding unnecessary ID, jury-rigged voting machines, voting systems in a swing state owned by a candidate, misinforming the public in certain areas about the date of the election -- we watched a dirty-tricks campaign develop on a scale that Dick Nixon would have been proud of.

The last and only time there was a Mercury station on the day of a presidential election (in 2000), the results were horrendous and have been seemingly never-ending. These include a stolen election, which led to purported terrorist attacks the administration well knew were coming, followed by two wars that continue to cause grief and suffering, tax cuts for the wealthy and giveaways to pharmaceutical companies.

This culminated in a real estate and banking crash that resulted in a handout of trillions of dollars to some of the wealthiest men in the country. An administration that owes nothing to the people is extremely dangerous.

Meanwhile, 2012 was the first presidential election with the Citizens' United decision in effect, the one allowing the infusion of limitless anonymous cash into television and radio advertising.

The fabled notion of campaign finance reform gave way to the notion that corporations are people and that money is free speech. One of the most amazing things is that the billionaires who financed the Romney campaign and those of dozens of other candidates for federal office got nothing for their money. Democrats won the presidency and gained seats in both houses of Congress.

One issue that I have not seen discussed is the way that the same media that often conducts and then reports on the polls invites a flood of cash by doing so. The closer the polls are, the more money is spent in a given region. Media companies profited to the tune of $6 billion on this campaign. On the long list of conflicts of interest to address, this one must be included.

Prior to Election Day, there was a major disruption, following timing that I described in my articles; this consisted of a storm that served mainly to wreak some havoc in parts of New York and the mid-Atlantic states -- and to disrupt the Romney campaign. On Friday, Oct. 26, the lead news item was about pregnancy from rape allegedly being a gift from 'god'. By Monday, Oct. 29, Mitt Romney was reduced to irrelevancy, all but banned from the East Coast. I know this factor is being disputed as something that changed or even influenced the outcome, and it's the excuse that Karl Rove is giving to his donors, though I suggest that we not count it out as a factor.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had been the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention, said he was "not interested" in touring New Jersey with Romney, and gushed praise for Obama on every news program he could appear on. (When nobody was listening he said he would be voting for Romney.)

On Election Day there were long lines and many reports of issues. But this time, people seemed determined not to be fooled again. We were ready for the lines, and keeping track of the early voting rules that changed day by day in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Planet Waves
The Pennsylvania voting machine that cast the ballot for Romney when Obama was selected went viral in a matter of minutes.
When a voting machine in Pennsylvania repeatedly recorded an Obama vote for Romney, the voter was armed with a weapon he would not have had in 2000 or 2004: an iPhone video camera. The video went viral in a matter of minutes, and soon after landed on network and cable news. I received it from my readers at least five times.

Despite the many problems (synthetic and otherwise), the election process functioned and appears to have gone as fairly as possible, given the circumstances involved. I have no doubt in my mind that it was the vigilance of the public and the press on these issues, particularly voter suppression in Republican-controlled states, that helped.

In the end, it was Mitt Romney deciding to concede the election that put a stop to any prolonged problems. In my coverage of the Mercury retrograde, I noted that Mercury and Jupiter would be in one another's signs -- a fairly rare condition called mutual reception.

I offered a few interpretations, including how this can indicate "a situation in which seemingly different political theories and approaches actually support one another. In an election, we're supposed to be differentiating between the candidates, but we don't usually notice the ways in which their approaches and conduct are similar, identical, or where the ideologies are codependent. An influence of this could be that whatever happened is being planned, or at least accepted, by both sides in the election."

Mercury can be tricky, and the fact of Obama being elected under a retrograde will influence his entire second term. Given the distinction of this event, we need to keep an eye out for the Mercury retrograde factor, which means never counting anything as a done deal. It's the government itself that we must ensure does not come unraveled, despite the best efforts of some to do so.

Still, the fact that there was not a train wreck this week was reassuring. As Brian Cechony, one of my readers, astutely pointed out in an email this week, "Election night seemed to go by without a speed bump or roadblock. Now that it's done it seems to me that retrograde seems to have fallen not on the election itself, but on the Republican Party and -- to a larger extent -- the right wing view of the world."

The focus of the astrology was in Sagittarius, and Mercury stationing retrograde in Sagittarius seemed to illustrate a changing view or opinion.

Planet Waves
Thursday's Presidential results map, showing Florida as undecided. Romney finally conceded Florida, though votes were still being counted after Gov. Scott messed with early voting.
Cechony continued, "Almost from the start the Republicans appeared to be in shock that the way they imagined the world to be was not true. Karl Rove's meltdown on Fox News about calling Ohio early was a great 'stormy' station event. There was 'shock and awe' (whether real or feigned) from the likes of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. Now today [Wednesday] the news is full of dire 'change or die' predictions from inside and outside the Republican party.

"I don't know if it will stick, but I feel like there was a collective shift, a collective line drawn in the sand and a collective muttering from all across America that said, 'enough of this -- we don't love the president, but this other guy scares the shit out of us'."

One of our research team members, who we identify with the handle Astrodem because he's a political consultant in Washington, D.C., was influential in our coverage of this event. He even predicted a weather event disrupting the election, which unfortunately did not get into print.

Tuesday night, he posted this message to his Facebook page:
I cannot tell you how relieved I am that this election did not turn into a 2000-style fiasco with a contested outcome in the presidential race. This election had the strong potential to go in that direction. For most of the past two years, it looked like it was being set up to go in precisely that direction. And when historians tell the story of this election, they will be missing a huge part of that story if they fail to call attention to this plainly evident potential.

During that hour last night when the Romney campaign was refusing to concede, when Karl Rove was contesting Fox News' electoral math for Ohio, and when Donald Trump was calling for revolution, we caught a glimpse of just how much American self-government depends upon the consent and legitimation of the minority, the opposition, the losing party. For a brief time, the major institutional leaders on the right appeared prepared to withhold that consent. Luckily, their better angels prevailed.

When thinking about what happened last night, understand that this all could have gone very differently. We are truly blessed as a nation that it didn't.

Scorpio Solar Eclipse: The Tantalus Factor

The next super-interesting event on the astrological radar is a total eclipse of the Sun in Scorpio. That's on Tuesday [view chart here]. I've been saying that this is the first solar eclipse in Scorpio in about a decade; that's usually how the eclipses run, in a nine-year cycle. I got curious about when the most recent solar eclipse in Scorpio was. I scanned through my book-style Aureas ephemeris, and didn't find any in the mid-2000s when they should have been.

I checked four times and could find no Scorpio solar eclipses any time during the 2000s. So then I used a power tool -- my friend Tracy's online resource, -- and called up a search on all solar eclipses between 1989 and 2012, and it turns out that there hasn't been a solar eclipse in Scorpio since Oct. 24, 1995.

Planet Waves
The Sun's corona surrounds the total solar eclipse in Leo on Aug. 1, 2008. Photo by Anthony Ayiomamitis.
The last time the lunar nodes passed through Taurus and Scorpio was in 2003-2004. However, as occasionally happens, the cosmos served up a series of lunar eclipses in Scorpio but no solar eclipses. (We were in a similar situation with the total solar eclipse of Aug. 11, 1999, in Leo.)

All eclipses shake up the energy; solar eclipses do it in their special way, happening when the Sun is in a particular sign, and initiating a kind of reset sequence on the creative and expressive energy associated with that sign. Eclipses typically shift or disrupt the continuity and the flow of events. This carries the theme of the sign where they appear. They tend to accelerate and concentrate experience, and can come with the sense that more karma is at stake than usual. In this way they are both dependable and useful.

The realm of Scorpio is about sexuality, reproduction, the exchange of resources, and a relationship to death; hence, it's sometimes called the sign of 'death and transformation'. I think of it as the sign of the mysteries of birth and death, including the ultimate merging of resources -- reproduction. When Aleister Crowley designed the Death card in his tarot deck (the one associated with Scorpio), he had it illustrated with a long spiral strand of DNA extending from the distant past into the present (not bad for the 1930s, given that the double helix was not discovered until 1953).

Seventeen years is a long time for there to be no solar eclipses in a sign -- especially one as close to the core of human experience and consciousness as is Scorpio. And now we're about to have one, which is sure to flush some of that rich silt up from the bottom of the river and out onto the flood plain, as well as a good bit of fear.

Scorpio is sensitive territory for most people; it contains all that taboo subject matter that makes most people squirm, and that we secretly crave. The astrology, including this eclipse and Saturn in Scorpio, suggests that this is indeed the correct time for a long-overdue catharsis on the issue of sexuality, on every level -- something that's already begun and that many are noticing.

This eclipse is conjunct a minor planet called Tantalus. There is a reminder here that most of how we express sex in our society involves a never-ending tease, or the lure of fulfillment that seems to be constantly elusive.

Often it seems like there's a conspiracy against getting free from this tease. It involves encountering stuck, unquestioned values in others, the web of those who would shame us or the fear of gossip -- one of the most common forms of sexual repression.

The tease can manifest as the sexy but no sex phenomenon, as sex being used as part of a bait and switch tactic, turning sex into a commodity (in advertising, for example) or the approach-avoid situation that's so typical of those who struggle with sexual guilt and shame. It can also appear in those who feel their only power (including over themselves) is their ability to withhold pleasure.

Planet Waves
Death trump, designed by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Frieda Harris. The card, painted in the 1930s, illustrates the double helix structure of DNA, which wasn't discovered until 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick. There are clues that the skeleton illustrates the life process rather than death: it's active and animated, rather than passive and decaying; real bones are more whitish in color -- this skeleton is black.
There's something happening on what you might call the metaphysical level. Scorpio reminds us that there is a relationship between sex and death. That nexus may be the essence of Scorpio, leading so many to be so fearful of intimacy. Physical death happens once, but it's an idea that follows us every day of our lives. Sex happens many times for most people, and it is stalked by the concept of death, which we try so hard to push into the background.

What they have in common is the inevitability of change and the profound allure of surrender. Intimacy is a form of release, and it also portends the 'death' of the self we were prior to the experience of connection. There is the meeting with the person we regard as 'the other', with all of the mixed emotions, desire and passion that otherness represents.

Every sexual encounter is a new creative moment and opportunity for self-discovery, which contains within it a message that the experience is transient and will eventually be let go of. I've observed that we have the choice to make peace with this transience, or resort to lives dominated by envy, jealousy and control. We're taught to think of these things as virtues; I would say the virtue would come in working through the underlying material -- signified by this event.

This eclipse is square the centaur planet Nessus in Aquarius, which reminds us to be aware of the sexual abuse legacy lurking just beneath the gloss of the sexiness and the tease. Our abuse legacy is held by individuals and then spreads on a collective (group, Aquarius) level. It may be the most significant thing we encounter in the seeming conspiracy against sex, though the connection is difficult to make.

Consider that half the people you meet have experienced some form of rape or sexual abuse; many more have experienced the effects of a parent who has had this experience. Few people want to discuss this openly, though the time has arrived.

Mercury is about to retrograde back into Scorpio. Before it does so, it makes an exact square to Neptune on the day of the total solar eclipse. The square extends from Sagittarius to Pisces, and this contact of Mercury and Neptune is inviting an inquiry into the lies that are sold to us as spirituality and religion. Neptune for its part is stationing direct as this square happens, as if it's willing to release some of its secrets.

As we investigate and question our (perhaps cherished) beliefs, ideals and tendency to denial, Mercury plunges back into Scorpio, encouraging you to find a new depth of honesty with yourself about the issues and topics that are the most challenging to contemplate and that often seem impossible to talk about.

That is the next step, as Mercury explores the sensitive last degrees of Scorpio, encouraging us to take that inner honesty out into the world and use it as a means to make contact with others, embracing change, contact and depth. In the search for meaning, this counts for getting real.


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Planet Waves
Total Solar Eclipse, with Mars on the Galactic Core

Tuesday at 5:09 pm EST is the first solar eclipse in Scorpio since 1995. That's a while, if you consider that I wrote my first horoscope column in April 1995. When there are no solar eclipses in a sign for a long time, the feeling can be like pent-up energy behind a dam, which suddenly bursts when the eclipse happens. With Scorpio, as mentioned above, this will include deeply personal material related to sex, death and the exchange of resources.

Planet Waves
Chart for the total solar eclipse. See larger version here. This is also the chart I used for the weekly horoscope, below.
The eclipse seems to illustrate the release of aggressive instincts into something more constructively passionate. There is also the message not to take things so personally. We see this in Mars, the ruler of Scorpio (and thus of the eclipse) in Sagittarius -- placed on the Galactic Core. Mars is a personal planet; the Galactic Core offers a wide perspective, even on a global or cosmic level. The GC operates in the background of everything.

One message here is that desire is cosmic in nature. It's not a moral issue any more than breathing is, and like breath, it represents the forward movement of existence. What contacts the Galactic Core can have an exotic feeling, even seeming to be unattainable, impossible to describe or even feel in the usual sense. When you combine this with Mars, the result can be cosmic desire that's yearning for expression in a human, physical and emotional way.

Meanwhile, Mercury is also in Sagittarius, in an especially interesting position: it's square both Neptune and a hypothetical point called Transpluto. This is a message to question one specific lie: that your existence is wrong. This is a lie propagated by religion, for example in the form of 'original sin'. Going back further into Jewish tradition, we have the idea of an omniscient God who is concerned with every last detail of what we do; the Jews thus invented guilt. If you're Muslim, you would get the idea that your existence is wrong if you're female (and there are plenty of messages coming through Judaism and Christianity to the same effect).

The alignment of retrograde Mercury, Neptune and Transpluto is an invitation to question this assault on nature in general and on your own nature. To do so, you will need to stay awake, stay with your feelings and know that self-criticism is the problem and not the solution. When in doubt, open up to yourself first and then to others.

As of Friday morning EST, the Moon is in Virgo, about to make a square to Mars in Sagittarius (and also making squares to a variety of subtle planets, such as Ixion). Once again this is a caution against getting caught in mental frustration. Focus on one task and get it done. Cleaning and organizing might actually help you clear your mind. Remember that Mercury is retrograde; what you think is a problem may not actually be one. Apply gentle effort and give it some time to work out. Don't fix what is not broken.

The Moon ingresses Libra overnight Friday to Saturday EST (at 4:35 am EST), where it will take a trip on the cardinal cross -- opposing Uranus, squaring Pluto and making a conjunction to Pluto-like Typhon Saturday and into Sunday.

The Moon ingresses Scorpio at 6:10 am EST Monday, where it picks up on Neptune and Chiron in Pisces and makes a conjunction to Saturn in Scorpio. This series of aspects has a clairvoyant feeling -- just make sure that if you have your remote sensors on, you are willing to deal with any information you pick up. On the other side, the mix of Neptune, Chiron and Saturn can have the feeling of giving tangible form to your imagination.

Finally, the solar eclipse happens Tuesday, in a conjunction to Tantalus, opposite Sphinx and square Nessus (see last section of lead article for delineation).

Planet Waves
Election Day Grab Bag

Astrologers all over have had their eyes on this week's presidential race and Mercury's retrograde station on Election Day for more than a year, holding their collective breath in anticipation of ballot machine funny business, recounts and perhaps a stolen presidency, but the day served up a number of smaller-scale surprises, many of them positive.

Election Day 2012 turned out to be a good day for women in politics. The two GOP ‘rape guys' were defeated in their bids for U.S. Senate: Todd Akin, of "legitimate rape" fame, lost to female incumbent Claire McCaskill in Missouri; Richard Mourdock, who declared rape pregnancies to be "God's will," lost to Joe Donnelly in Indiana. In Florida, voters defeated a measure that called for amending the state constitution to restrict abortion rights and bar public funds from funding abortions.

Women will hold 20 out of 100 seats in the Senate, the most ever, as five new women won seats. Elizabeth Warren, who had been blocked by Republicans from her nomination by Obama to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, defeated incumbent Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

Current Democratic Representatives Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and Mazie Hirono in Hawaii were both elected to the Senate. Hirono becomes the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, Hawaii's first woman senator, the Senate's first Buddhist and the first U.S. senator born in Japan -- Fukushima, no less. Baldwin will be the first openly gay member of the Senate. The other new women senators are Republican Nebraska state legislator Deb Fischer and former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein finished her bid for president with more than 400,000 votes in 37 states as of Thursday -- or about 0.5 percent of those states' popular vote totals. Among other factors, the tight race between Obama and Romney likely scared away those Democrats wanting to make a ‘protest vote' against some Obama's policies. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico, won about 1.2 million votes, or a about 1.2 percent of the total popular presidential vote in the 48 states in which he ran.

In addition to the ballot initiatives highlighted in other sections of this issue, two states legalized recreational use of marijuana. Seventeen states plus Washington, D.C., currently approve and regulate the medical use of cannabis. But on Tuesday, Washington State and Colorado set themselves up to go head to head with the federal government on its recreational use.

"Marijuana policy reform remains an issue where the people lead and the politicians follow," said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which opposes the ‘War on Drugs'. "But Washington State shows that many politicians are beginning to catch up." The measure establishes a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where you can buy up to an ounce if you're over 21. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence. Once rules are set to govern the weed industry, taxes on pot are projected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Colorado voters also approved a measure backing a constitutional amendment that would call for the limiting of corporate spending on elections, flying in the face of the Citizens' United ruling that opened the floodgates to unprecedented campaign spending. Montana voters overwhelmingly approved a similar measure.

Not all of the surprises were good news, however. Among the higher-profile disappointments, California voted not to repeal the death penalty. California voters also failed to pass Prop 37, a measure aimed at labeling GMO foods. That initiative faced tremendous spending to sway voters by the opposition, which included major corporations such as Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Pepsi and Coke.

In the end, there were in fact Mercury-retrograde glitches and incidents of interference with voters in several states (you can read a brief summary here) -- even without the widespread chaos, delays and lack of resources in the parts of New York and New Jersey worst hit by Sandy. But so far, it seems Mercury was fairly kind to us Tuesday. As everything unfolds, the question becomes how to stay involved past the ballot box.

Planet Waves
Bradley Manning Offers Partial Plea

On Wednesday, accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning offered to submit a partial guilty plea on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, in return for the government agreeing to pursue lesser charges. Manning is reportedly ready to admit to leaking the documents to WikiLeaks but is refusing to plead guilty to the charges of espionage or aiding the enemy, which carry harsh penalties. He has been held in military custody since May 2010, following his arrest while serving in Iraq, but the current proceedings are still only in preparation for a court-martial. The presiding judge may or may not decide to consider the plea bargain to be legally permissible; if so, the U.S. government may still choose to "prove up the charged offenses," according to Manning's attorney, Denver Nicks.

Planet Waves
Four for Four: Marriage Equality in 2012

Ballot initiatives in four states established or in some way protected same-sex marriage on Tuesday. Maine became the first state to establish same-sex marriage by popular vote through a ballot initiative explicitly in support of allowing it, rather than by voting down a proposed repeal. In May 2009, Maine was temporarily the first state to establish same-sex marriage through the legislature with the governor's signature (rather than following a judicial ruling), until the measure was repealed by referendum six months later, after opponents gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

Maryland's governor signed a same-sex marriage act into law in March 2012, and it was upheld Tuesday by popular vote, defeating a repeal placed on the ballot by opponents. Voters in Washington State upheld a bill signed by the governor in February 2012 legalizing same-sex marriage, in a process similar to Maryland's. In Minnesota, same-sex marriage is still not legal, but voters did successfully vote down a measure that would have enacted a constitutional amendment banning recognition of such unions.

Planet Waves
Sun in Scorpio + Mercury in Retrograde = Condoms in Porn

Activists in the highly regulated Los Angeles porn industry were shocked by the passage of Measure B, which will make condom use in pornography mandatory there. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which put the measure on the ballot, believes it will protect performers in the adult entertainment industry from HIV/AIDS and other STIs. Opponents argue that the porn industry's testing guidelines and practice of self-reporting when tests are positive are not only effective, but create much safer conditions than most people encounter when they take someone home from a bar.

Planet Waves
WTF -- goggles, gloves and a dental dam? James Deen and Jessica Drake made a point, but it was lost on voters Tuesday. Image: video still from No on B PSA.
Performers James Deen and Jessica Drake had spoofed what a porn shoot might become if Measure B passed, with crew in full safety gear and a health inspector watching the proceedings.

But their very real concerns include that the higher cost to taxpayers under these regulations (to pay for the health inspectors) -- and the fact that condom-only porn is not financially viable -- may drive the industry out of L.A., to areas where there are no health protections or regulations, such as internally initiated shutdowns if someone tests positive. The measure also points to the deeper prejudices toward sex workers underlying Measure B's passage.

"In the years that we spent documenting performers' stories, we were consistently faced with the commonly accepted stereotypes that performers are victims, substance abusers, or damaged individuals who need to be saved or rehabilitated," explained Paul Sarkis, whose book Off the Set examines the lives of ten porn stars. He remarked that stereotypes are "often used to dehumanize them," but those he spoke to represented "an acutely self-aware community of individuals struggling to express themselves on their own terms."

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Maddow Sums it Up in One Minute

RACHEL MADDOW: And thanks to you for staying with us this hour.

That happened! That really happened. We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade. There will be no more Antonin Scalias and Samuel Alitos added to this court.

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Rachel Maddow; photo: NY Magazine.
We're not going to repeal health reform. Nobody is going to kill Medicare and make old people in this generation or any other generation fight it out on the open market to try to get themselves health insurance. We are not going to do that.

We are not going to give a 20 percent tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs ike food stamps and kids' insurance to cover the cost of that tax cut.

We're not going to make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control under the insurance plan that you're on.

We are not going to redefine rape.

We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay people from getting married.

We are not going to double Guantanamo.

We are not eliminating the Department of Energy or the Department of Education or housing at the federal level.

We are not going to spend $2 trillion on the military that the military does not want. We are not scaling back on student loans, because the country's new plan is that you should borrow money from your parents.

We are not vetoing the DREAM Act. We are not self-deporting. We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt.

We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January. We are not going to have, as a president, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared, gay kid, to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help and there was no apology, not ever.

We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton. We are not bringing Dick Cheney back. We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraq war. We are not going to do it.

We had the chance to do that if we wanted to do that, as a country. And we said no, last night, loudly.

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A little something from -- though one Facebook user says it was originally posted by True American Dog without the Fierth logo. Either way, it about sums things up.

Planet Waves
Looking Back at the Election

In this week's edition of Planet Waves FM, I recap the election and the surrounding political issues. I don't cover as much of the astrology as I was planning, but have covered it thoroughly in this issue's lead article above -- specifically Tuesday's total solar eclipse in Scorpio.

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Your Monthly Horoscopes -- and our Publishing Schedule Notes

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscopes provide a broader perspective that surveys the themes of the coming month and often, weeks that follow. Inner Space for November was published Tuesday, Oct. 30. The November Monthly Horoscope was published Friday, Oct. 26. I recommend reviewing the monthly horoscope at the end of the month. The October Moonshine Horoscope was published Tuesday, Oct. 16. Please note that the longer monthly horoscope is being incorporated into the Friday issue after the Sun has entered a new sign; Inner Space still publishes on Tuesdays.

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Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 #925 | By Eric Francis

Scorpio Birthdays Near the Eclipse

If you have a birthday anywhere near Tuesday's eclipse -- arguably, all Scorpios -- now is the time to stop flirting with life, and to start living the way you want to live. Making a decision may seem like giving up on all the other options, but not doing so equates to the same thing. There is a reminder in your solar chart to investigate the factor that all your relationships seem to have in common, and to notice where this came from; it's not especially difficult to see. It may be difficult to acknowledge, especially if you define something as a problem (so that you can solve it) -- but people around you don't see it that way. One of the inherent messages of Scorpio is to sort out what is your business from that of someone else. You don't need all those other people in order to be happy, and at the same time there really is not a conspiracy to prevent you from gaining your contentment or peace of mind. It would help if you realize that your values are actually different from those of many of the people you surround yourself with, and you will feel little in the way of actual support until you choose to surround yourself with significant others who support who you're becoming and not who you were in the past. Note to Scorpios: On the day of Hurricane Sandy, right at the peak of the Full Moon, I recorded your birthday reading. It includes two sections of astrology, and a bonus section of financial astrology in a third section, along with your tarot card reading. You may purchase that affordably priced reading here.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- It's time to take the high road, no matter what anyone else is doing, saying or trying to convince you of. By that, I mean a peaceful approach, and one that's connected to the 'something much larger than yourself' that you're likely to be feeling right now. Stay in contact with that feeling, and the perspective that it can offer you. This will help you see the personal events of your life in context, including how you respond to people in your environment and how they respond to you. You seem to be grappling with a question of sincerity, perhaps on your own part. If you're feeling uneasy about anything, ask yourself if you're in denial of what should be an obvious fact. Then ask yourself what might be motivating you to feel this way. Is it wishful thinking? Are you afraid to admit something? Are you concerned you might offend someone? Whatever the reason may be, keep your wide perspective. Remember that we are in a kind of dance of growth and evolution and that everyone is involved, including you.

Hello Aries -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). If you would like to hear your Aries birthday reading, please visit this link.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- You are encountering the mystical aspect of sexuality -- likely through a partner or partners. Yes, you also have a direct connection, though currently your experience involves what you might think of as transcending yourself through someone else and your experience of him or her. If this doesn't have a specifically erotic feeling, you might notice it in other relational experiences that involve deep bonding. Yet with so much happening in your opposite sign Scorpio right now, sexuality is on the radar. One theme to watch is 'what you cannot have' or 'what you're denied' or possibly 'what you deny yourself'. This is the very thing that may be acting as the enticement or portal for you to go further. It's essential that you explore your relationship to withholding or denying, because through doing that you will better understand your willingness to give, to share and to offer. You have it in you right now to discover just how unlimited you are.

Hello Taurus -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). If you would like to hear your Taurus birthday reading, please visit this link.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- Are you being driven by a false sense of survivalism? It may be disguised as defending your values, though I suggest you question whether you're motivated by fear. This may be pushing you (for example) to believe the side of the story that goes against your interests. In any event, you need to be more skeptical of your point of view, at least for a few weeks, and be open to what facts come your way. Give everything and everyone a fair hearing, and allow an opportunity for reconsideration. Your tendency at the moment is to believe what sounds convincing rather than what is true. You may even forget that there's a difference -- and when that happens, usually there is something behind the scenes driving the impulse. This might be wishful thinking. You might be resisting looking within. You might prefer your fantasy over reality. In the end, there is no power in illusions.

Hello Gemini -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). Have you listened to your birthday reading? Click here for an hour of astrology plus a tarot reading by Eric.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- Next week's total solar eclipse is a reminder that you have a potent desire nature, and that it's directly connected to your emotional body. For you this eclipse is a sexy chart, full of tension, curiosity and craving to explore. There's also the theme of what you allow yourself to have, what you share with others, and the subtleties of the ways you withhold. Indeed, this chart is like an experiment in the differences between allowing and denying; offering and actually giving; wanting and receiving. I would caution you that this subtle discussion is often plastered over with various social rules (not wanting to be seen as a slut), culturally-acceptable motives and values that deny the emotional and sensory levels of experience (such as being turned on by money), and a general prohibition on curiosity. This is the day, the week and the season of your life when curiosity is your best friend. And if you have another best friend or two, you can create a space for, and share, that curiosity. It's a force of nature -- as are you.

Hello Cancer -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). To hear your birthday reading for the year ahead, please visit this link.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- There is no place like home, and home is a feeling as well as a place. The feeling these days is about clearing out space, both psychic and physical clutter of the past. Whether you start with three-dimensional space or emotional space, opening up one is likely to lead to the other. Cleaning closets is an emotional process, whether it be subtle or profound. When you're moving energy on the inner planes, you may just find yourself cleaning out the attic or digging out the basement. In all respects, think of this as claiming back what is yours, and taking control over your environment. You may start to get the sensation that you're looking for something specific, which you're not certain even exists. It may be a physical object, a memory, a feeling or an idea -- be open, and treat anything you're doing as a simultaneous inner and outer exploration. Notice how you treat things or feelings that evoke negativity in any form. Pause before you 'throw anything away' with the conscious intention of seeking understanding and making peace.

Hello Leo -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). To hear your birthday reading for the year ahead, please visit this link.

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Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- You are reaching into the meaning of honesty, in particular where your emotions meet your communication in your relationships, and where this shapes your experience of yourself. All of these things exist within a dynamic energy system: that is, all of the forces shape one another and the movements guide one another. You can think of this as exploring within yourself for the space of perfect honesty, the spot where you can admit to yourself exactly what you feel. Explore gently and when you find the warm current, follow it in. And then -- if and when the moment is right -- use words and feelings to reach to another person and make contact. They don't necessarily have to be present in your space; long-distance modes of communication count. And even if this experience is wholly 'self-contained', spoken to no other, the sense of completion and inner communion will be palpable. I believe that it's this inner self-immersion you are craving, and each time you go there, the feeling will ripple out into your environment.

Hello Virgo -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). To hear your birthday reading for the year ahead, please visit this link.

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- How you feel about yourself, what you feel about yourself -- this is the nature of your quest now. I say this knowing that you are experiencing dark and light spots, many questions and a quest for self-discovery. Everything in your life surrounds this investigation -- and that's what it is. On one level, you're experimenting with your identity, and how you project yourself into the world. On another, there's a kind of emotional vortex that's opening up, where you can immerse yourself in some of the deepest questions about the meaning and value of your existence. Imagine you're sailing around an island, looking for an alcove that's difficult to spot, and that few people ever find. Then you see it, and then you go in, not knowing what you will discover. Go in gently, honoring the fact that some of what you find will be frightening, some will mystify you and other elements will embrace you passionately. This thing known as a 'self' is vastly complex, and you no longer need to deny or avoid that complexity; this is your moment to indulge in its beauty, which is the beauty that you contain within you.

Hello Libra -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). To hear your birthday reading for the year ahead, please visit this link .

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Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- Teasing is not a way of life -- and if you find that you're going in that direction, you might want to reconsider. By teasing, I mean offering anything to yourself (particularly an emotional or erotic experience) but not coming through; using your appeal to lead anyone on, for some 'other purpose'; or any situation where your presentation and your intention do not align fully. I suggest you avoid teasing yourself with what you want, a kind of drama that reenacts a family situation (playing out in your own head) about what you're 'supposed to be', versus what you actually want to do. You may be trying to lure yourself with promises, or with various benefits from a proposed compromise, all of which are likely to leave you just out of reach of fulfillment. I suggest you take a more straightforward approach to your desires, and those of others. If you set an ethical code, "Someone's desire is not an opportunity for me to focus power," you and the people you care about will be a lot happier. There's another side to this -- your desire is not an opportunity for someone else to focus their power over you.

Hello Scorpio -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- Desire is the activating principle of the universe, at least where humans are concerned. This is one reason why honest desire is so taboo, and why it's so often shuffled into pointless materialism rather than true aspiration. Because both expressions of desire manifest and focus energy, both come with a mystical sensation. Few people would say that acquiring a pair of shoes is some kind of spiritual experience, though the same basic laws apply to self-understanding, gaining worldly knowledge or expressing yourself in a way that has meaning to others. Simply, you know what you want and you concentrate your energy in that direction. Often, it will actually happen, or at least something interesting will develop. It's just that where physical objects and even money are concerned, the methods are fairly obvious and direct. Where spiritual matters are concerned, the guiding principles are less tangible, though it's helpful if you keep love and desire in the same gesture. Your chart tells me you can now distinguish these levels of experience -- and choose the one you want. Here is a clue: if it happens to be about shoes, the message is about where you will walk in them.

Hello Sagittarius -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- For the next week or so, notice how you feel being seen, particularly in public places. 'Being seen' may translate to the sensation of being felt, and being responded to, which even under normal circumstances is an experience that can arrive with depth and vulnerability. It's as if you feel naked in public, which may soon feel like naked and under a spotlight. What's different about this moment is the influence you're having on your environment, and the way that the vibes you exchange with others can influence your perception of yourself. The sensation factor is going up: deeper feelings, with a more poignant effect, and it's like a feedback loop. There's a word for it, which is biophilia. For a concise explanation from one who knows what's she's talking about, play the recording at the bottom of Meanwhile, as you navigate this territory, it's best to make small, subtle moves. There's no point running for the shadows when you can adjust your posture by a millimeter or two and get a much better effect.

Hello Capricorn -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- You can do what you want in this lifetime; the question for now is how you get there. There's an aspect of this related to how you conduct yourself in the world -- the agreements and commitments you make (and whether you keep them), your ability to focus on what you want, indeed, your ability even to know what you want -- which leads to the internal part of the process. Your necessity now is to align your most important goals with your most deeply held values. This is not merely a spiritual exercise. It's about focusing your intentions and your energy and making choices from a centered place. Here is the problem: lately you seem to doubt what you've decided really matters. New ambitions are pushing aside long-held goals, and you may not be sure of them, or confident of where they will lead you. You are approaching a point of contact within yourself; a point of clarity. A lot will start to make sense in a short period of time, as long as you don't resist. Be flexible. You will not break.

Hello Aquarius -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- This is a rich creative moment for you, and you're what's being created. Everything you make, illustrate, sing, write, touch and see is an extension of that same creative process, though it starts with you. So put the fruit into the juicer and give yourself a squeeze. In whatever you're doing, emphasize beauty. That's what will bring you the greatest pleasure, and nourish your whole environment. This may have the feeling of a search for truth, which is an accurate description of the astrology involved. Express beauty and do so all the time. Become this message. I mean this in the most pragmatic ways -- whether you're on a date, in a job interview or up at 3:30 am covered in paint (or sweat). Next week's eclipse in Scorpio is a reminder to all those with a Pisces soul, indeed all those who have made contact with their soul, that the ultimate creativity and expression of mysticism is sexuality in any compassionate form. We think we have many reasons to contradict this, though they melt when met with a direct experience.

Hello Pisces -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

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