Trigger Warnings

Photo by Brendan McDermid.

Dear Friend and Reader:

The one item I don’t remember including in any of my election coverage is that this is all happening in the midst of the Uranus-Eris conjunction, so anything is possible. Maybe I mentioned it somewhere. Uranus is the god of ‘expect the unexpected’: developments, revolutions, upsets, inventions, breakthroughs. We got one of those this week. There will be others. The most important ones are in your consciousness.

Trump supporters cheer before his acceptance speech in New York City on Wednesday morning. Photo by Mary Altaffer.

Uranus-Eris — the conjunction of our era, which last happened in 1928 — is the environmental ground and atmosphere we’re now standing on and breathing.

It represents transitions in every aspect of life. It’s not merely about an election; more than anything, it describes the effects of our technological environment, the first of which is to destabilize self-relationship and, therefore, culture.

By this I mean that the takeover of psyche and society by digital technology is, in a sense, making people forget who they are. Usually we remember who we are through conflict, and it would seem that we now have the perfect thing to inspire just that. What happened this week is the perfect motivation for a massive and sustained protest movement.

So yeah, barring some strange and unforeseen circumstances, we will have Pres. Donald Trump. Go figure. I’ve been reading all kinds of analyses about how this happened: how someone who pays no income taxes and won’t publish his tax returns and who wants to bring back stop-and-frisk and who said he could shoot someone on 5th Ave. and not lose any votes, got elected president. How someone who admitted to groping women, was accused of doing so, and was accused of rape, could become the nation’s top law enforcement official. He will appoint the next one or more Supreme Court justices in his image.

Remember that the election was close — much closer than the infamous Kennedy versus Nixon race in 1960, called razor-thin at a 500,000-vote difference. This week, what looks like a landslide victory in the Electoral College (the sea of red on that map) was really based on a popular vote difference of under 300,000 votes.

That’s one-third of a percentage point difference, since about 100 million votes were cast. That’s a statistical tie. It’s not a mandate, but will be taken as one.

Meanwhile, anti-Trump protests took place in many cities last night, including Philadelphia. Photo by Elizabeth Robertson.

Did anyone mention that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote? Am I missing something, or should this be the headline? What kind of “democracy” is it where someone who gets the most votes loses — again? It’s called a representative democracy. Representative of who or what I’m not sure; obviously not the candidate the people want.

Yes, the people who were screaming about elitism (which means minority control) lost the majority of the actual vote, and will now control all three branches of government. The Supreme Court will likely be in conservative hands for yet another generation, and you can bet that the regressive agenda will start running the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2017.

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny,” James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper 47. That was a warning; our government is designed to stop that, but it cannot, if all three branches of government are under the control of the same party, which they will be starting in 2017. So how did this happen? How did “unthinkable” Trump win?

There’s the “leaner” theory — the Trump supporters who, when asked who they were voting for, would lean into one another’s ears and say, because they didn’t want to be called out and condescended to by those liberal elitists who oppose misogyny and homophobia. They were sick of safe zones and trigger warnings.

As one writer claimed, Clinton voters “chose insulting the other side over trying to understand what motivated them.” In the current thin-skinned environment, I could see someone proposing that. Americans are in love with being offended, and at being offended with other people being offended. It’s double the fun, or quadruple.

The theory goes that Trump supporters, wanting a safe zone of their own, didn’t give honest responses when called by pollsters, or hung up. Since Clinton won by a fifth of a point, and the polls have an error margin of about three points, that’s a possibility.

Protesters express anger that Clinton won the popular vote, that is, the actual vote, but lost the election anyway. Photo by Kena Betancur.

What’s so amazing is that the lead story the past 18 months has been the polls. Every last issue has been framed in the polls — and they were all wrong.

Naomi Wolf, a well-regarded feminist author and journalist, told a Dutch newspaper, “This defeat was not about gender in my view at all. I believe Americans are tired of globalization that guts the middle class and that hands over decision-making to a small group of global elites. Also the drive to dilute the nationstate in the interest of globalization backfired.”

Then there’s the “Obama betrayed the liberals” theory. Obama was elected in 2008 by a 10-million-vote margin, with record turnout of blacks and young people, and delivered very little. Banksters went free, existing wars escalated and new ones began, lots of people were deported and lots of pot growers busted. Liberals were so fed up they could not vote for Clinton.

Add to that their perception that the primary was stolen by Clinton and her super-delegates. Many people feel Sanders could have beaten Trump, and a Sanders-Clinton ticket surely would have.

Others described Trump winning as a kind of Reddit Revolution in that extreme elements got in their pickup trucks and voted: Red Pill misogynists, homophobes and wannabe KKK members. Oh, and the real KKK, whose official newspaper endorsed Trump, borrowed his “Make America Great Again” slogan as its headline. Does anyone even remember what the KKK is, besides them? White robes, grand wizards, cross burnings, lynchings?

Another idea is that Trump is so gosh-darned terrific, everyone went for him: all those promises about waking up Wednesday morning in utopia. Or, he tapped into the deeper feelings of his base (meaning rage).

Another photo from protests Wednesday.

He claimed to be a fresh face on the scene: the whole non-politician, I’m-not-like-them routine. And now a bunch of those elite Ivy League-type East Coaster lifelong career office-holders you thought you got rid of are about to control the government again.

I have a message for Southerners and Midwesterners: Donald Trump comes from my town. He’s a New Yorker. He’s been around for decades, and just about everyone here can see through his Tony Baloney. He may seem like an exciting new voice to you; around here, he’s a swaggering, blustery real estate developer who lost a lot of money, and whose casinos stand boarded with plywood.

In the actual Atlantic City, he’s not Park Place or the Boardwalk. He’s Baltic Avenue, rent $2.

Speaking of money, USA Today’s poll results described economic discontent as driving the vote for Trump. Many people feel worse off than they were eight years ago, and wanted a change.

With the margin of victory being under 300,000 votes, it could have been all of them; any of them; electronic votes stolen, tipping certain states; or any other factor we know about or don’t know about. What we do know is that it was close, and that a majority of people who voted chose someone other than the person who is set to take office, amidst great consternation. The past two days protests have erupted across the United States. (Mars moving into Aquarius Wednesday indicated public outrage with the outcome of the election.)

I guess this was only news 16 years ago, in the Bush v. Gore days; now it’s normal. The last time it happened, a Democrat won the vote tally and a Republican took office. Is this a coincidence or a pattern?

Yesterday in Los Angeles. Photo by Keith Birmingham.

What’s more stunning to my sensibilities is that there’s no coalition or sharing of power. We are now in winner-take-all territory — and in keeping with the tenor of the campaign, there’s quite a bit of gloating going on.

I know someone in Tennessee who is the only person in her large office who voted for Clinton, and she’s regularly pushed to tears by her colleagues who think this is funny.

A Trump supporter I know got an email Wednesday about community forums being set up around the country, where women, abuse survivors, Muslims, immigrants, lesbian and gay people and so forth, could express their concerns about what had happened, given Trump’s various statements and commitments.

He called the email hateful. Intelligent person, no irony: concern about being discriminated against is supposedly hateful.

So now we’re trading trigger warnings and safe zones for open season on protected groups? Is it now OK to be intentionally offensive, and not acceptable to be offended? Does anyone at all consider this humane, or rational, or in any way useful?

In a twisted way, it is. Everything has a use, to someone. There is something called the pain body. It’s a term from healing. If the pain body is overactive or takes over the psyche, which it can from repeated unhealed traumas, the only thing that validates the person is the pain of others. All they think can help their own agony is inflicting it on someone else. This is how people become abusers.

People take part in a protest near the Trump tower, against President-elect Donald Trump, in Chicago. Photo by Paul Beatty.

Here’s a few problems with that: for example, many of these people have guns and dream of using them. They also tend to control police and other law enforcement, which seem to be solidly in the Trump camp; why wouldn’t they be?

I’m wondering many things these days, some of them amusing, some not so much. For example, when is this supposed to get scary? What’s the appropriate response? How does this country, so divided, choose its destiny?

I’m friends with a fellow named C.T. Butler, author of Food Not Bombs, and a professional consensus trainer. He teaches people and companies how to use decision-by-agreement. He also does this with couples. Corporations are often led by a board of directors, which is subject to majority rule. In a couple there are two people, so you cannot have a majority. Decision-making between two parties must be by consensus; that is, by reaching an agreement.

I know a dominatrix who proposes that in any couple, someone must be the boss. There must be a leader and a follower, which makes the master-slave relationship common in this genre seem organic and functional. Among willing parties, it might well be. But I don’t think that half the United States should, or needs to, enslave the other half, ideologically or otherwise.

C.T. explained to me the basic principle of consensus, which is agreeing on values first. Once two parties agree on the values, that is, on what’s important and what the goal is, the way of getting to that goal is a much simpler conversation. You can always refer back to your underlying understanding.

Protesters march through downtown along Spring Street during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump. Photo by Keith Birmingham.

It would seem like between the two alleged political camps as they’re divided now, there is no possible agreement on values. Given that, it seems that one side is in a position to enslave the other.

Here’s one of the more amusing bits I’m noticing. It would seem the Trump supporters are against things like globalization: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), NAFTA and other trade agreements. That’s funny — all the freaky left-wing, liberal people they supposedly disagree with were out in the streets protesting that very issue starting in 1999. You have more in common with your adversaries than you may think.

But we live in an age not only where compromise is taboo, but where it’s considered acceptable to use people’s flexibility against them. The tendency to be kind or fair is being weaponized against people.

We need to remember that most voters did not vote for Trump. Indeed, most voters did not vote at all, and therefore a lot of our conversation is with them. This takes building relationships and cultivating involvement. That will take time, patience, growth and learning. It will require a long-term approach to many issues.

People trying to educate others will quickly run into two problems: one is that context is gone. I’ve written about this before, though in the mentality cultivated by Twitter, it’s difficult to get facts to relate to one another. If you want a real idea, you have to rub two facts together.

Protesters hold signs Thursday comparing presidential candidate Donald Trump’s image to the Confederate flag and the Ku Klux Klan near the site of Trump’s new hotel in downtown Washington. Photo by Nadia Dreid.

Does, “Your adversary believes the same thing as you do, on that issue,” mean anything? Or is the position going to be: “If you disagree with me on any one of these 20 issues, you’re unacceptable”?

One thing it would help to understand is the false, hyperbolic polarization created by filtering everything through the media. Everything seems more extreme, louder and simpler than it really is as viewed through TV, or on the internet.

No one side can complain about elitists in bubbles. We live in the age of listen to viewpoints that support what you believe and never question those viewpoints, either. This is also known in psychology as “confirmation bias.” In order to get beyond the place where we are, many more people will need to be open to other viewpoints, and learn how to read, and listen, and respond thoughtfully.

One last thought. There’s a difference between “winning” an election and being right. There’s also a difference between being right and someone else being wrong.

This is going to take a lot of willingness — and a lot of therapy.


Introducing Fetus Funeral Guy

When I was a kid I heard someone say that you should vote for president based on who the vice presidential candidate is. We now have Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is likely to be the next president of the United States.

Donald Trump is vulnerable for many reasons. He’s succeed in winning the electoral vote, but he comes into office with plenty of baggage: pending lawsuits, conflicts of interest, mafia ties, a dodgy campaign tied to the Russians and so forth.

Noon chart for Mike Pence, who was recently the 50th governor of Indiana.

We know next to nothing about Pence, but after he was selected as Trump’s running mate, I took a guess: I started calling him “fetus funeral guy.”

He just seemed like the type: so rabidly into controlling women’s bodies that he would be in favor of a fetus funeral law; you know, just like in A Handmaid’s Tale. Well, little did I know that he had signed just such a law in May. Little did I know that these things existed outside of fiction. Here’s an article from The Atlantic.

So who is Mike Pence? We don’t know his rising sign. But we know his Sun, some important planets and plenty else. There’s a lot in this chart; what I offer today will be a preview (I’ll cover it on Planet Waves FM on Tuesday).

First of all, he has the Sun and Mercury in Gemini. He gleams and has a clever tongue that forks like that of a snake. He reminds me of a rattlesnake, actually: that’s how much respect I have for him. There’s a 50/50 chance he has his Moon in Gemini as well; if he’s a morning birth it will be Gemini. Anyway this describes a clever speaker and fast thinker. He’s also flawless at being a Gemini; that is, there being two, four or six of him, which he can shape-shift while you’re watching, but you don’t notice.

He has Eris on the South Node. He’s coming in with a lot of Eris, which looks like psychic chaos from other factors in the chart. He may have an old beef with the matriarchy, whatever that may be. Eris is met by Juno and Pallas on the North Node. You might call that the politicization of domestic matters. This guy is on a mission, and he has karma to burn.

Man, god or movie star? It’s Mike Pence.

When I’m looking at a chart for the first time, one of the first things I check is Neptune. If Neptune is under stress, that can be a serious situation. He has Mars square Neptune, which can bestow an addictive-type personality. Part of the addiction can be to self-desructive conduct. This can happen with alcohol, meds or power.

Mars, proud and assertive in Leo, describes someone who is driven. Mars in any case needs to be well-regulated. Under the influence of Neptune, that’s difficult, as anyone with the aspect knows, because Neptune can make anything — even Saturn — slip and slide.

Pence has Venus and Mars in a conjunction in Leo, so both are square Neptune. This is just brilliantly delusional. He should be a director of bad porno films rather than a politician — but he didn’t ask me. With Venus and Mars square Neptune, one would likely be obsessed by a fantasy version of sex, and in denial of that fact at the same time. In his fantasy, sex is intriguing, extremely dangerous and of course subject to religious views.

Pence has Saturn retrograde in Capricorn. That’s about as much of a reference to the past as you can put into one chart. But I think Pence is someone of the future. I reckon that within eight to fourteen months, he will be our next president.

Eric Francis Coppolino 

Short Monthly Horoscope for November 2016, #1125 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Progress means change. Sometimes progress happens quickly, and that can be unsettling. Yet given your potential, it would seem that ‘settling’ is the last thing you want, in any sense of the word. You’re in the perfect position to take advantage of this restless, unpredictable moment. Circumstances that might work against other people are opportunities and resources for you. You have the ability to respond to new circumstances quickly, though you must keep an open mind and be willing to take the opinions of others on board. The keys to success are listening and conscious collaboration.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You must keep the lines of communication open in your relationships. It’s easy to pass this off or think that someone else should be responsible. Being intimidated is not an option. Claiming lack of experience does not help you, when experience is the very thing you’re seeking. Put any differences in age or maturity to work for you as an asset. You’re being called to serve as a facilitator of human connections, both in your personal life and your professional affairs. This is not something that just happens; it will take focus and mindfulness — and will be worth the effort.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — All work is creative work. If for some reason you’re feeling bored or overwhelmed, bring more passion and soul into what you’re doing. You might be saving that for some perfect future scenario, yet it’s your own life-force energy that will get you from here to there. Your talent, vision and love are needed where you are, right now, even if you don’t always feel appreciated. Rise to the occasion of every circumstance in your life. Then take the chance to rise above and get some perspective. From there you will see that each seemingly small, loving gesture contributes to much greater progress.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — When you look at a brilliant three-minute music video or clever one-page ad, remember that it took months of effort, and the talent of many people, to pull it together. Then consider your own development in the same light. To get the result you want, you will need to focus your resources, and blend artistic talent and passion with patience, persistence and elbow grease. The good news is that this combination of factors is especially potent now. Maintain your focus and you will actually accomplish something unusual. You’re most of the way there already. Keep going — nice and steady.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Only you can allow yourself to be free. You don’t need anyone’s permission, nor will it be helpful. Your inner consent is on the emotional level, rather than as some idea or concept. For you, the line between free and un-free involves trusting yourself. You have no more important task or personal mission at this time in your life. You don’t need to be fearless, but rather know how to keep making decisions, and taking action, despite any anxiety you might feel. Hope is one thing, though you might remind yourself that there no guarantees. Life is far more exciting without them. 

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You’ll feel better if you let your feelings out, rather than bottle them up. Recent months have come with one inner revelation after the next, and you’re learning to take a positive approach to who you are. You’re not the sum total of your self-critiques. You are, rather, someone on a mission, with many skills and talents, who must be willing to make mistakes to get anything done. Therefore, count any errors as a sign of progress. You can and must put everything to work for you, and be bold about asking for any help you need.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You have many advantages going for you, and you may as well use them. Upcoming developments in your life will more than compensate for any struggles you’ve been through lately. If there is such a thing as luck, you have it on your side. Yet you need more than that. You must be the master of your own motivation, and take action based on what you know to be true. When you put your abundant knowledge and insight to work, you get solid results. You can trust what you’re feeling now, and what you feel inspired to do.


Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You’ve made your way challenging ideas that others hold dear. You’ve also questioned many of your own beliefs, which has helped build your confidence. You no longer need to be in a comfort zone; you don’t need sacred cows or taboos. If something you choose is truly right for you, then those around you must accept that fact. This will help you grow and develop personally like few other things. If you’re direct, sincere and somewhat formal in your challenges of others, they’re likely to respond positively, especially if you show up with a workable plan of action. 

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — People or circumstances you thought could never work together will get you some unusual results. That could be some blend of old and young, serious and freewheeling, traditional and future-oriented. There’s some alchemy happening in your life, and it has nothing to do with what’s worked before. If something is unprecedented, that’s a sign of its potential success. There’s some powerful mojo working behind the scenes of your life, and it will reveal itself in these unusual blends of energy and people. You want to do something new, and that calls for new approaches to what may in truth be very old puzzles.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Your sign has a dual reputation: one for being reserved and cautious on the one hand, and another for being bold and courageous. Lately, your confidence and self-assertiveness have surprised even you, and there’s no turning back from the path you’ve chosen. In life it’s necessary to push back against the world, and get people to move over and make room for you. As you do this, you’ll remind yourself that you actually exist, and that you have desires, and that you seek success and fulfillment. These things are made real in action, not in contemplation. Courage is a muscle — flex it.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You’re having an impact. That much you can trust. It just may not be what you think it is, which includes the potential that you’re reaching further and wider than you imagined possible. You’re a person with a mission now, one that’s close to your heart. Therefore, let nothing stop you. You will do yourself a service by having total faith in what you’ve set out to accomplish. This may not be the easiest road to travel. You are finding out how thick people can be, though this is leading you to develop new ways of getting your message across.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — This year has been about making real gains on the career front. You’ve set your mind to this task, you’re committed and you’re making progress. Yet as a great poet once wrote, “Without love in the dream, it will never come true.” You want your dreams to come true, so include the people you care about in your aspirations. Get their views, involve them, and honor your collaborators like the vital life partners that they are. There’s something special in the air, a sense of abundance that is activated through mutual agreement. Take as your motto, “Let’s do something brilliant, together.”

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