Life, an esteemed Glamocracy editor said to me today, "is a suicidal act. It is just a more masochistic suicide than average." What differentiates us, then, is nothing but the barely visible variations of degree to which we flatter ourselves into thinking we are the navigators of that masochism, when really our parents are the only ones who can do that. So! Barack Obama's mom was smart enough to follow spent the summer after their years in Muslimstan with a stint a Jew-y summer camp! Barry read Philip Roth and the Talmud and learned to love Israel in theory. (The "in rationalist political expediency" love came later.) Oh yeah, and tonight Hillary Clinton is about to win a pointless landslide in West Virginia. And the rest of the world...well, it's trapped under the rubble of thirty seismic jolts or newly released from the Kafkaesque numerical metaphor that is the state of being a 20th hijacker, but whatevs. We tell ourselves stories in order to assist our own suicides as they say after the jump!
MOE: Okay so what's going on. I'm feeling especially incompetent today.
MEGAN: Oh, people are voting in West Virginia. Some polls have her ahead by, like 40 points
MEGAN: Wait, I take that back, like, they all have her ahead like that.
MOE: How many delegates? Is this all part of her verisimilitude strategy?
MOE: Logically her candidacy is dead but on a visceral level it seems so obviously winning?
MEGAN: Twenty-eight pledged delegates at stake.
MEGAN: I think that she wants to go out on a high note.
MOE: Okay here's another thing: we just dropped charges against a supposed "20th hijacker" named Mohammed Al-Qahtani whose coerced confession turned out to be less real than Hillary's chances of winning the nom. But I thought Zacarias Moussaoui was the discredited "20th hijacker".... What's the deal with this guy?
MEGAN: I know, I read that and I was totally like, wasn't that the crazy French guy? I love how we convicted that guy when some other prosecutor knew he was just, like, a poseur.
MEGAN: Which is basically was, he's, like, the more attractive, less effective shoe bomber. I recall it coming out that al Qaeda had records where the leaders all laughed at what an idiot he was.
MOE: I love how this new guy has been in Guantanamo for six and a half years! Did he have 20th hijacker overlap with Moussaoui? Moussaoui is still in prison right? He was nuts. And crazy. But not much of a terrorist!
MOE: Oh fuck check this 20th hijacker is just a metaphor
MEGAN: Yeah, good old Zed will be in prison forever.
MEGAN: No, it's not a metaphor, it's a way to keep charging various terrorist guys when we don't have any evidence of what they're really done in order to evoke the American boogeyman and keep American sentiment on the side of continued tribunals. I don't think that's a metaphor by definition.
MOE: I know I always thought that too but look that's what WIKIPEDIA SAYS.
The term is somewhat misleading, as there is no evidence that al-Qaeda ever planned to have exactly 20 hijackers. There were many variations of the 9/11 plot, with the number of terrorists fluctuating with available resources and changing circumstances. In the end, there were 19 hijackers: three of the planes were taken over by five members each and the fourth was hijacked by only four people. One plane, United Airlines Flight 93, had fewer hijackers than the rest, thus the idea of a 20th hijacker came to be widely discussed.
The 9/11 Commission concluded that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed intended to have as many as 25 or 26 hijackers for the plot. It was also reported that 14 members of al-Qaeda, in addition to the 19 known hijackers, attempted to enter the United States to participate in the attacks.
MEGAN: Well, and obviously they're right, especially when it comes to the definition of metaphor.
MEGAN: I mean, it was a terrorist plot and the dudes that did it are all dead. We're never going to know, so 20th hijacker becomes a catch-all.
MEGAN: But, hey, speaking of terrorists, someone asked Obama about Hamas and Israel. He likes Israel, doesn't like Hamas and has told the Palestinians that waiting to get a President that will be on their side about their damn olive trees is pretty dumb.
MOE: Earthquake update: more than 18,000 people are buried in the city of Mianyang, which is near the city of Jiangou, neither of which I'd ever heard of before. China has a lot of cities though. Looking through the Xinhua pictures yesterday I found a lot of orderly pictures of relief preparedness but none, I don't think, from Mianyang. I also love how CNN gets this eyewitness account from an expatriate "business consultant" in Beijing. He said he was at a hotel and he'd never felt anything like it. Tell that to the city of Mianyang, asshole! 30 seismic tremors seems a bit gratuitous.
MOE: The man, he is a fucking genius:
You know, when I think about the Zionist idea, I think about how my feelings about Israel were shaped as a young man — as a child, in fact. I had a camp counselor when I was in sixth grade who was Jewish-American but who had spent time in Israel, and during the course of this two-week camp he shared with me the idea of returning to a homeland and what that meant for people who had suffered from the Holocaust, and he talked about the idea of preserving a culture when a people had been uprooted with the view of eventually returning home. There was something so powerful and compelling for me, maybe because I was a kid who never entirely felt like he was rooted. That was part of my upbringing, to be traveling and always having a sense of values and culture but wanting a place. So that is my first memory of thinking about Israel.
MEGAN: A camp counselor? When was he at camp?
MOE: Hahahah maybe when he was at the Muslim school in Indonesia.
MOE: I love this shit, this is the first we hear about Barry's camp counselor's birthright trip.
MOE: Pretty soon we'll be hearing Barry himself went on birthright.
MEGAN: Well he did, just not to Israel, right?
MOE: Oh man digging out the Yiddish; this is a good (by which I mean dumb) interview!
JG: Go to the kishke question, the gut question: the idea that if Jews know that you love them, then you can say whatever you want about Israel, but if we don't know you — Jim Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski — then everything is suspect. There seems to be in some quarters, in Florida and other places, a sense that you don't feel Jewish worry the way a senator from New York would feel it.
MEGAN: Hahahaha, a "Senator from New York" who grew up in Illinois and spent her entire adult life living anywhere but New York until... oh, wait, shit, that's right, she's never lived in NY full time
MEGAN: Because she was in the White House when she ran for Senate and has been in the Senate since she left the White House. God, I love the smell of revisionist history in the morning.
MOE: Ah! Barry and his Talmudic method.
Sometimes I'm attacked in the press for maybe being too deliberative. My staff teases me sometimes about anguishing over moral questions. I think I learned that partly from Jewish thought, that your actions have consequences and that they matter and that we have moral imperatives.
Now all we need is Barry in a yarmulke and we're set.
MEGAN: Wow, I didn't know you had to read Jewish philosophers to know your actions have consequences. I just thought you had to, like, observe your life.
MOE: Yeah also I don't think you have to be Jewish to look at the situation and think, "Hey, Israel...there were some consequences to that!" But I'm reminding you here there was briefly a meme whereby Barry would be the first Jewish president. Namely on the basis of Michelle's public kvetching.
MEGAN: No one or even two ethnicities are ever going to be good enough. Candidates must be all things to all people.
MOE: Dude check this he even spoke a paragraph with a hyperlink in it.
I want to solve the problem, and so my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we're going to be stuck in the same status quo that we've been stuck in for decades now, and that won't lift that existential dread that David Grossman described in your article.
MEGAN: That must have been quite the tongue twister, I hate trying to say urls.
I want to make sure that the people of Israel, when they kiss their kids and put them on that bus, feel at least no more existential dread than any parent does whenever their kids leave their sight.
So that then becomes the question: is settlement policy conducive to relieving that over the long term, or is it just making the situation worse?
Wait a second, if you substitute "settlement policy" with...Anyway I think Barry just made me understand the mentality of the couple from Boca Raton that buys the bungalow in Gaza for just a second. It's just their way of waiting for death, but in a pleasant climate! Thanks Barry! It's good to have empathy. God I love this guy.
MEGAN: But isn't not feeling existential dread just about blocking out the reality of everything that could happen anyway? Does that mean he wants to expand the export of pharmaceuticals to Israel?
MOE: Oh fuck here's the latest on that weird Pentagon echo chamber project thing.
MEGAN: Oh, sweet Jesus, let us take a moment of silence for the poor intern that had to sit there and watch all that.
MOE: Well yeah that's why he's so fucking awesome dude. He is saying "I understand where your fear of death comes from, Jews. Part of that is the fact that we're all going to die." And that is why humanism might have been a wiser philosophy; sigh.
MEGAN: I mean, we're all going to die anyway. Why fear it? Embrace death. It's like acknowledging that by living you're just assisting in your own suicide. Life is a suicidal act.
MOE: I feel bad that we haven't addressed Hugo Chavez's beef with Angela Merkel btw.
MEGAN: But a more masochistic suicide than average.
MEGAN: I think, like Angela, we're ignoring his significance to the region. Think he'll call us out, too?
MEGAN: I speak German, I must be a descendant of Hitler, too. And you're Slavic and stuff, I'll bet you're descended from bad people, too. Chavez alone is clean of bad historical associations and speaks for all the peoples in all the countries in Latin America.
MOE: That is just the thing, I'm always concerned my life isn't masochistic enough for how it will eventually be, but when I am as miserable as I intend to be later on in life after the revolution and the famine and the war and the ice caps etc. etc. come I will be too cold and unmotivated to go ahead with the suicide. I should actually just move to Israel right now I think. The weather is so nice.
MOE: No, Chavez is one of us. Look, he too anticipates the consequences of his actions. Like the Jews!
"Maybe I'll say something to her and she'll get mad and say 'why don't you shut up?"' he said, referencing Spanish King Juan Carlos' 2007 admonition of the loquacious Chavez that touched off a bilateral dispute with Spain.
MOE: I didn't realize that had "touched off a bilateral dispute" by the way.
MEGAN: The king? Oh, yeah, it was sort of awesome.
MOE: I thought it had touched off a ringtone.
MEGAN: The techno remixes, though? Even fucking better.
MOE: Did it ever occur to you we could blog all day about the news and NEVER RUN OUT OF NEW LINKS and update it CONSTANTLY AND CONTINUOUSLY and some people would ACTUALLY READ IT but at the end of the day none of it would matter???
MEGAN: Aren't I the one that just said that life is a suicidal act?
MOE: Speaking in that realm Obama leads the non-race to amass unsolicited campaign songs!
MOE: Dude I want to hear the "Jamaican reggae tribute"
MEGAN: Um, I'm not sure you do.
MOE: And also in the realm of unsolicited Obama tributes is this thing a Time Inc. creation? Oh, or does Hillary have a superhero too because duh it is an easy pun?
MEGAN: At this point, wouldn't she be, like, a villain? Spoiler, etc?
MOE: Oh man this is so fucking cheesy.
MEGAN: Yes, I hereby apologizing for assaulting the ears of anyone who clicked through.
MOE: Readers: Porque no te callas is a much better audio accompaniment.
MEGAN: Or Barack O'Bollywood.