The Illusion and the Reality of Conservatism

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s chair in the Supreme Court chambers draped in black. He had served on the court for more than 29 years, since September 1986. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, Antonin Scalia, who had served on the Supreme Court for 29 years, died while on a hunting vacation in Texas. The spiritual leader of the neoconservative movement, Scalia was taking a little romantic getaway and died sometime overnight or in the morning.

From my review of the astrology, I don’t think he was murdered, and from my reading of his death chart, I do think it’s possible that he had company and died in the saddle, like other great men before him. We have seen news reports that was traveling with a companion, not his wife.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Photo via Democracy Now!

Scalia had served on the court since September 1986. That is one full cycle of Saturn, beginning when Saturn was in Sagittarius, and ending on its return to that position. There could be no better astrology to describe Scalia’s patriarchal, fundamentalist religion-based view of the law than this. That he lasted one full Saturn orbit is striking; it really says that a long cycle is complete.

Scalia was appointed by Ronnie Reagan in the days before we knew about the Iran-Contra scandal. At the time, Scalia was a relatively new federal district court judge, and was nominated to the Supreme Court to replace William Rehnquist, whom Reagan had elevated to chief justice. Scalia was so influential, and around for so long, it seemed like he had been there forever, and would be there forever.

Writing in The Jewish Daily Forward in 2009, J.J. Goldberg described Scalia as “the intellectual anchor of the court’s conservative majority.” If you’ve been listening to television news, you’ve been hearing him revered not just as the charismatic, affable guy that he was, but also as a titan of American jurisprudence. To me, Scalia is what gave the neoconservative movement the illusion of legitimacy.

He wrote the decision in Bush v. Gore that stopped the Florida recount in the contested 2000 election. He gave the election to Bush, who had lost the popular vote, and true to his legal style included a line about how the decision does not set legal precedent. That, of course, is one of the Supreme Court’s most important roles, but Scalia dissed it when it suited his ends.

Scalia was considered the divining oracle of what he called “originalism,” meaning that the Constitution’s meaning is fixed at the time of enactment, and that’s what we must consider. He touted the idea that you have to follow the original text, not what the courts had interpreted over the next few centuries.

Hanging chad guy, counting votes in Florida. Photo by Alan Diaz.

This is called the Common Law, or the living history of how the courts interpret the law. The advantage of this is that it brings interpretation into a contemporary context; generally, the history of interpretation is the history of progress.

What he really meant was that he got to be original in his interpretations of the Constitution, stretching them to mean anything he wanted. There are many examples, which always fit with what we now think of as the conservative agenda: anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-minority, pro-gun, pro-wealthy, pro-religion (if Christian) and pro-death penalty.

If you’ve ever wondered how this particular set of issues came to be grouped together as what we think of as “conservative,” you don’t need to look much further than Scalia as the primary arbiter of reality. He was to the judicial system what Rush Limbaugh is to the conservative base of voters. It makes no sense to be “pro life” and “Christian” and also support the death penalty.

Contemporary conservatism is a kind of postmodern pastiche of ideas that one must be versed in deconstructionist philosophy to grasp even vaguely. If you’re Republican and you disagree even with one of them, you’re a potential liberal and considered ineligible to hold public office. But this really took some conjuring, and nonstop brainwashing.

It makes more sense if you take it in the context of what political operative Karl Rove said in 2004 to The New York Times Magazine: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Due to Scalia’s exit, we’re about to see a turning of the tide in American politics. It will manifest first as outwardly expressed conflict. Now for the first time in a generation, the Supreme Court is split evenly between conservative and liberal justices.

Gay pride flags outside the Supreme Court. Photo by Mladen Antonov.

Many of the most important decisions of our lifetimes have been decided on five-to-four votes, and for the moment this conservative era of ruling the country with a majority of justices on the court is over. If a Democrat is elected in November, it will be over for a long time.

If Scalia’s main role was to turn back the clock to some imagined era of purity, moral wholesomeness and American greatness, the hands of judicial time are now frozen in the present moment. The court has a busy calendar this term, with decisions on abortion, contraception, union rights, affirmative action and immigration. The court will be deadlocked on these cases, which means they must be held over until a new justice is appointed, or reargued at that time.

This could not have come at a worse time for Republicans, who are already in chaos (Donald Trump has taken advantage of that fact). There’s a reason that Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said that any Obama nominee was DOA, and that the new president should fill the vacancy. He spoke up even before Scalia’s body had been removed from the hotel room where he died. McConnell knows that nobody like Scalia will get the job. By that I mean such a masterful, magical conjurer of illusions.

Constitutional originalists are always the first people to ignore the document itself; it’s abundantly clear that the president nominates Supreme Court justices and the Senate votes to approve them. There is no exception stated for presidents who still have a year to serve. I think Obama will be clever and send over a nominee whom this Senate has already approved, making it more difficult for them to block the person.

Whatever happens with Obama’s nominee(s), Supreme Court appointments now become the central issue in the presidential election. Typically, appointments to the court are not among the reasons people vote for a candidate. Now this is front and center, where it belongs.

Remember Ronnie? He appointed Scalia to the Supreme Court back in 1986. Scalia continued the Reagan legacy for 29 years.

There are several elderly judges; the next president may get to make three or more appointments, and those jurists may serve for decades. Supreme Court justices, who are appointed for life, are the single most important legacy of any president.

Remember that Scalia was part of Reagan’s legacy, set in motion by voters in the 1980 election, who were swayed by the Iranian hostage crisis. Though nobody knew this at the time, the Reagan campaign essentially bribed the evil, radical Islamic Iranian militants to keep the hostages in captivity just a little longer. He did this by promising them all the weapons they wanted for their war against our then-friend Saddam Hussein of Iraq (while campaigning on a “no arms for hostages” platform). Carter looked ineffective, and Reagan and Bush ‘won’ the 1980 election, from which Scalia was a hangover.

My observation is that what we call modern conservatism is really a form of illusionism. First of all, they never get into office legitimately. Let’s do a brief recap of recent Republican history. Nixon won in 1968 with a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam war. That turned out to be bombing Cambodia and Laos, extending the war five more years.

Nixon won in 1972 due to the activities of CREEP — the Committee to Re-Elect the President, a/k/a, the Watergate criminal enterprise. He resigned just before Republicans had him step out onto the gallows of an impeachment trial in the Senate. Many in his administration were convicted of crimes. Nixon was succeeded by Gerald Ford, who was only an elected congressman. His real credential was having served on the Warren Commission, which whitewashed the then-recent murder of John F. Kennedy.

When Republicans came to power in 1980, they gained their advantage thanks to the shams associated with the Iranian hostage crisis. They then diverted the profits from weapons sales to the Iranians to the Contras in Nicaragua; that whole program became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Reagan and Bush held the White House for 12 years, till early 1993.

Old Dick Nixon speaks at a Republican rally for Sen. George Murphy in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 30, 1970. Photo by AP.

When next Republicans came to power, it was in the divided Bush v. Gore election of 2000. Gore got more actual votes by real-life citizens, though thanks to the Supreme Court majority led by Scalia, the recount was stopped and Bush and Cheney got to take office. I’m not sure how anyone can keep a straight face while calling this democracy.

We get to live with the legacies of these people for decades. This includes someone who could write this and be taken seriously:

“Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as ‘discrimination’ which it is the function of our judgments to deter. So imbued is the Court with the law profession’s anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously ‘mainstream’.”

What Scalia was saying is that the majority has the right to decide what the minority does — but that’s not the purpose of the Constitution. The majority view of any society does not need to be protected. It already has the power. The American system of law is — on its face, anyway — specifically designed to protect those with unpopular views; that’s what free speech means: the freedom to say things people disagree with.

On one level we might describe Scalia as a majoritarian. He believed that the majority should have rights over the minority. The problem was that his own views were not really mainstream, any more than the Moral Majority was a majority. They just claimed to be one.

Among Scalia’s triumphs of “originalism” was his decision in a 2008 landmark case called District of Columbia v. Heller. This led to our current problem with guns, and consecrated the viewpoint that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right to carry a handgun.

Let’s see: if it took Scalia 64 pages to explain, it must not be that clear. Photo from The Blaze, the website of Glenn Beck, originally from AP.

Scalia claimed that you can find out all you need to know from the original text, but he had to write 64 pages to explain what 27 words meant. The Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

“Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command,” he wrote in his decision. So we know he knows logic exists. Then he threw out logic by saying that the first part of the sentence (a well regulated militia) was merely prefatory, and the real substance was in the second part (bearing arms). He “proves” this by elaborating at length on the definitions of ‘keep’, ‘bear’, ‘arms’, and the phrase ‘bear arms’. He might as well have found that the Constitution protects the right to arm bears.

In a dissent from a famous decision on abortion, he wrote, “I am sure it does not,” meaning that the Constitution does not protect that right. Why not? “Because of two simple facts: (1) the Constitution says absolutely nothing about it, and (2) the longstanding traditions of American society have permitted it to be legally proscribed.”

The Constitution also doesn’t mention breathing, eating or flying kites. And “longstanding traditions of American society” goes exactly contrary to the idea of “original intent.” It’s as close to pure hypocrisy as you can get.

When I imagine a real conservative, it’s someone who practices restraint, who leaves their neighbors alone, who follows the law and who respects the idea that everyone gets to pursue their own happiness, as long as they don’t hurt others. It’s someone who conserves the power of government to maintain a stable society, which means using the power of regulation to protect the people, the environment and the interests of the nation.

I don’t think that’s what we got, but it’s certainly what we need.

With love,

Chiron, Threading the Needle of Scalia’s Charts

First let’s begin with a sample of Antonin Scalia’s natal chart. This is his ascendant, which is in Libra — one sign associated with the law. Libra rising puts an attractive face on anything. The chart for 9/11 has Libra rising. It was a beautiful day and the towers fell down elegantly. No matter how ugly anything might be, Libra rising will keep it looking good.

Moon and Pallas Athene in Scorpio rising in Scalia’s chart: Political sex.

The next two planets are more revealing: he had the Moon in Scorpio conjunct Pallas Athene in Scorpio. The Scorpio Moon is nothing if not sexual. Pallas Athene is about politics and law, so we have an image of Scalia as being emotionally obsessed with laws associated with sex. That’s what he made his career on. Sometimes asteroids are hilariously literal.

Scalia was particularly wrapped up in issues related to same-sex people having sex. He did everything he could to stop gay marriage, but he also predicted that ultimately it would be certified by the Supreme Court.

Note the degree of the Moon — it’s at three degrees of Scorpio, and 24 arc minutes. This is exactly opposite the degree where Chiron was discovered, which was at three degrees of Taurus and 8 arc minutes. That’s called the Chiron discovery degree, and it can have the influence of Chiron, even though Chiron has moved on.

It left an energy beacon in the degree where it was discovered, and Scalia’s Moon is opposite this degree. Remember doing Chiron work that the discovery degree can function like Chiron itself.

Right above the horizontal line, the blue H is Uranus in Taurus — in the discovery degree of Chiron.

It happens that Scalia has a natal planet located in that degree — Uranus. You can see it right above the horizontal line, at three degrees of Taurus and five arc minutes. First, this gives him the Moon opposite Uranus, which is a bit outrageous, unpredictable, erratic, radical and inventive. It’s the backbone of his chart, and it casts him as someone who has an emotionally driven intellect.

When Chiron was discovered, it was exactly conjunct his natal Uranus. In a sense, this puts his Uranus into a permanent conjunction with Chiron. This is a healing crisis (Chiron) focused on grounding sexual energy (Uranus, kundalini) in his body (Taurus). It also suggests that in his own sexuality, he was potentially kinky, and also confronted by challenges from his own early wounding. Anyone Catholic has been impregnated with sexual conflict, as the whole religion is based on denying sex and sexual feelings.

Yet these feelings are a natural part of existing in a body. And he had plenty of them — especially when you remember that the Scorpio Moon is being energized by Uranus.

The Moon was rising when Scalia was found, conjunct the discovery degree of Chiron, conjunct his Uranus and exactly opposite his Moon.

When his body was found at about 11 am on Saturday, Feb. 13, the Moon was rising — and it was placed at three degrees of Taurus and 14 arc minutes — right in the Chiron discovery degree.

The reason I am using the chart for his body found is that it’s the only thing we know for sure. The stated time is “just after 11” and I am using 11 am as a starting point. The Moon will be in this degree for about two more hours, remaining conjunct the Chiron discovery degree.

The Moon is also conjunct his natal Uranus at the same degree of Taurus. This describes the suddenness and unexpected quality (Uranus) of his departure. It also describes some kinky, fun sexual activity, since it’s in his relationship zone (natal 7th, whole sign 8th).

We don’t know much about Scalia’s private life, except he was married and that he had nine children. He had the appearance of being a good Catholic. But that doesn’t tell us much at all.

So many things aspecting the Chiron discovery degree tells us that his situation went deep, and that in other ways he was trying to work out his sexuality by issuing rulings and opinions that told others what kind of sex they could and could not have.

by Eric Francis Coppolino

Planet Waves Weekly Horoscope for Feb. 18, 2016, #1088 | By Len Wallick

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You are in a position to prove that fresh starts can be made as well as found. In your case, the best approach is to be creative like a jazz soloist. Begin with a simple, appealing idea that flows naturally from where you have been. Then, develop the idea gradually, one easy step at a time. Don’t rush things. Rather, emphasize a sustainable rhythm. Neither should you over-extend yourself. Instead, know your limits and work within them. Most of all, relax. It’s not necessary to squeeze juice out of yourself. Nor is there a finish line to hasten towards. So long as you feel inspired and enthusiastic, what comes forth from within you will serve both to please and to sustain you. While perspiration has its place, let inspiration have its day for the time being. — by Len Wallick.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — In recent months your hard work has amounted to something, and for good reason. In addition to effort, your big heart and rich soul have enhanced the quality of your endeavors. As a result, your working relationships have been strengthened and you have developed something of a new and improved reputation within your immediate circle. Now, you may want to consider how to widen your circle of both peers and supporters. This is not necessarily about seeking fame or fortune, although it would not be surprising if some exaltation and reward did accrue in due course. What you should focus on at this time is that you have something worthy of sharing with and showing to a wider audience. Presently they are waiting with a need only you will be able to fill. — by Len Wallick.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Don’t be intimidated if something looks like it’s going to take a lot of work. An energetic challenge is exactly the situation you want. Whether you are faced with restoring something tangible or developing a skill from scratch, throw yourself into whatever effort presents itself to you. Go at your most difficult tasks like there is no tomorrow, and you’ll soon find yourself the beneficiary of some very gratifying fringe benefits. Among the gains that acting industriously will probably incur for you is a greater sense of wellbeing, both physically and financially. In addition, the harder you work in the short run, the more likely you will find ways to save labor in the long run. Last, but not least, those to whom you lend your hands will ultimately offer their hearts in return. — by Len Wallick.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Attend to your health. Even if you are feeling hale and hearty enough, look to improve your physical wellbeing even further. Good times are coming and you will want to be able to enjoy them to the fullest. Place a special emphasis on eliminating any bad habits before they take a perceptible toll. Think of yourself as an athlete going into training in preparation for a successful new season of competition, and you will be on the right track. There will be no need to put yourself through any pain or strain. Rather, realize that you are special rather than ordinary, and treat yourself that way. Sleep well. Eat well. Live well, and make yourself an example of wellness so that you can do the very best with whatever is about to bless you. — by Len Wallick.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Envy does not become you. Don’t let a desire for what others possess bring you down at a time when you should be lifting yourself up. In your lion heart, you understand fully that quality of character is a greater asset than anything that is measured by quantity. Intellectually you also know that the goods of the material world do not remain in any one place for long. Tangible wealth is not intrinsically evil, but being consumed by an obsession to acquire and accumulate riches can lead to no good. Have faith that the intangible values you have been so faithfully cultivating in yourself for so long will bring you all you need of this world sooner rather than later — without your having to sacrifice what no amount of money can ever buy back. — by Len Wallick.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Some of the long labors you so lovingly, selflessly and courageously chose to take on so long ago are finally nearing their completion. You have done well, but you should not allow yourself to be exclusively defined by what you have almost finished. There is more to you than you have been able to show, and the time for some of it to be shown has finally come. There is more in this world for you to do, and at least some of it should be for yourself. Whatever your good conscience has dictated that you put off deserves another look. More to the point, you deserve at long last to receive as much as you have given. This is no time to doubt your worthiness. Let yourself enjoy the good karma you have accumulated, without thinking yourself selfish or vain. — by Len Wallick.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Before yielding to impatience and impulsiveness by making big changes in your life, give small adjustments a chance first. It could very well be that a little tweak here and a small toggle there will get the results you want, without the unintended consequences that often come with a huge shakeup. You have lived long enough to know that a sense of proportion is important. You have sufficient experience with life to have acquired some perspective. Therefore, trust your hard-earned wisdom and give moderation a chance to succeed. If it turns out that only big changes will do, the option to make them will almost certainly remain available should smaller and less disruptive actions not succeed in making your life what you want it to be. — by Len Wallick.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Whether you know it or not, you currently enjoy a deep and intimate connection with the entire Universe. This bond you have with all that is has not come about by accident. You have been doing something (likely a lot of things) right for a long time. As a matter of fact, the only way you can break the cosmically energetic ties you have forged is by overreaction. For this reason, it is now important to be especially aware of what triggers might cause you to lose your temper and act rashly as result. With awareness and some practice, you can build on and strengthen your connections in the world, channeling whatever fires you up into something constructive. By doing so, you prove you are a master of the fire within that animates you, rather than the other way around. — by Len Wallick.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — If you have a home, take good care of it. Show your appreciation for both the places and people with whom you find comfort and safety. It is no small thing to have a place of your own in this world, and if you are lucky enough to be among those who do, be present to your good fortune. If you either do not feel at home where you are, or do not happen to desire at present to put down roots, note within yourself all that is worthy of shelter and care. Then honor that worthiness in everything you do, by taking the best care of yourself you possibly can. If you care for whatever you do have, and whatever you most deeply value, you will be bringing a sense of ‘home’ to wherever you are. At the same time, you’ll likely also attract what amounts to better residential and relational circumstances than ever before. — by Len Wallick.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You have demonstrated a better ability to make and keep commitments to others than you probably give yourself credit for. Just because others have not always been satisfied with what you have done does not mean your efforts have been anything less than satisfactory. As a matter of fact, the time is nigh to make and keep some commitments to satisfy yourself as well as others. Begin with a determination to do what makes you stronger and better able to live the long and prosperous life you deserve. While you need not (indeed, should not) neglect pleasing yourself, it’s now appropriate to do so with discretion. Look beyond indulgences that please only for the short run; keep your eye on benefits that will last. — by Len Wallick.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — This is a rare and special moment for you to make a good impression on both new acquaintances and familiar friends. It is important, however, to do so in such a way as to not spread yourself thin or wear yourself out. Do only what you can with what you have to work with. Do not dwell on what your available time and energy will not allow you to get done. If others do not understand that you cannot possibly please everybody, let that be their problem. Indeed, take heart in the fact that what you offer is valuable enough to be in as much demand as it is. So long as you can go to sleep every night knowing that you have done your best without doing yourself in, let that be enough. — by Len Wallick.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Let the love shine in so that it may also shine out. For every person who takes exception to what is authentically and genuinely you, there are sure to be at least two (and probably more) who want to express their attraction for what you have made yourself to be. For anybody with functional eyes and ears, it should be clear that you, more than most people, have found a way to be true to both yourself and your personal aspirations. That is no small accomplishment, and you need not waste your energy defending yourself against those who are either too blind to perceive what they are looking at, or too deaf to understand what they are hearing. Rather, devote that energy to returning all the affection you deservedly receive. — by Len Wallick.

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