Maryland’s wild primary and other snapshots from the ‘other’ Super Tuesday

Maryland goes to the polls Tuesday – one of five states where the two remaining candidates in the Democratic presidential race and the three in the Republican race are facing off.

The headline: It’s the new Super Tuesday, at least for the Democrats. This could be the day that once and for all determines that Hillary Clinton is the party’s candidate. One of rival Bernie Sanders’ advisers, Tad Devine, hinted last week that if Sanders does not score a major upset, there may be a “reevaluation,” although the campaign manager, Jeffrey Weaver, is vowing to stick it out to the convention in July.

But there are down-ticket primaries as well, and plenty of pro-Israel and Jewish action above and below the surface. Here’s a look at those races.

Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards are not talking about Israel. Or Mars.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., is retiring, and two popular members of the U.S. House of Representatives are vying for her spot: Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen.

A major difference between the two candidates? Israel. Edwards has been an outspoken critic of Israel and the pro-Israel lobby; Van Hollen, except for a blip of criticism after the 2006 Lebanon War, has been solidly in the pro-Israel column.

But it has barely registered in the campaign.

Edwards tried to make Iran an issue a year ago, suggesting Van Hollen did not back the nuclear deal – until he did. Debates between the candidates have focused on identity issues and the ability to get along with others. Edwards would be only the second black woman in the U.S. Senate and Van Hollen from 2007 to 2011 was a popular chairman of the House reelection campaign. (The Intercept reported Monday that Haim Saban, the pro-Israel entertainment mogul, contributed $100,000 to a political action committee backing Van Hollen.)

Pro-Israel rumbling has occurred mainly below the radar, in social media, where Van Hollen supporters are distributing a list showing the lawmaker signing pro-Israel letters and backing pro-Israel resolutions that Edwards abjured or opposed. In 2009, for instance, when 390 lawmakers voted for a resolution backing Israel during its war against Hamas that year, Edwards voted “present.”

Also, curiously, not an issue: Edwards, an ardent supporter of funding for a manned mission to Mars (NASA is headquartered in her district), has said she would go herself, even if she would not be able to return. (The challenges to returning astronauts safely from a Mars mission are considered formidable.)

“If they need somebody who would go to Mars even without a return ticket, I would volunteer,” she said in February 2015 on National Public Radio’s Washington-area affiliate, WAMU.

Just a month later, after she declared her candidacy, WAMU reminded her of her pledge, and asked if she would go even if it meant leaving during her six-year Senate term. Edwards dodged the question.

The ADL did not endorse the wine store guy.

There are 14 candidates — five Republicans and nine Democrats — running to replace Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th District, which encompasses suburbs of Washington, D.C. Three of the Democrats are Jewish, as are two of the Republicans. The district includes a big chunk of Montgomery County, which is estimated to be as much as 10 percent Jewish.

The Republicans are seen as having no chance in the general election. Leading contenders among the Democrats are Jamie Raskin, a state senator who is Jewish, and Kathleen Matthews, a former newscaster who is married to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

And then there’s David Trone, whose wife and children are Jewish and who owns the Total Wine & More chain, and who is self-funding — to the tune of $12.4 million, a national record.

When Trone appears before Jewish audiences, as he did earlier this month at a debate at Kemp Mill Synagogue convened by the Orthodox Union, he mentions that next month, he will receive an Anti-Defamation League award for his charitable work. His mailers also mention the award.

It sounds like an endorsement, but the ADL is at pains to say it’s not.

“He was locked in by ADL as an honoree long before he entered this race,” an official of the organization told JTA. “ADL will be making it crystal clear that we are not endorsing his campaign.”

Know your voters.

Some of the 14 candidates in the race for Maryland’s 8th District have done their research and some have not, and it plays out in interesting ways in the Jewish campaign.

The front-runners, Raskin and Matthews, have accepted J Street’s endorsement, but are also careful at Jewish events to mention that they have plenty of friends at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. They all oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

There have also been some missteps:

Israel is sovereign, and likes it that way.

Speaking at Kemp Hill, Trone may have pandered a bit too much to a crowd proud of Israel’s independence.

“Israel is without question our most important ally,” he said. “We should look at Israel as the 51st state.”

Trone remembered a local favored cause, extending statehood to Montgomery County’s neighbor.

“Or if you count the District of Columbia, the 52nd state.”

There’s always audio or video.

Speaking at an Iranian-American Candidates Forum on March 27, Trone said: “We certainly support the Iranian deal. It’s the right thing.” A blogger caught it on video.

Speaking to the Orthodox Union crowd on April 8, he cast the Obama administration as out of its depth and said it did not get “the right deal.”

“Iran … understands only strength. What was most important to the administration was getting the deal because that was the legacy the administration wanted, getting a deal, and when you approach a situation like that, you don’t get the right deal,” he said.

Another candidate, Joel Rubin, who as the State Department’s liaison to Congress had advocated for the deal, pointed out the discrepancy on Facebook. Trone now maintains he is aligned with popular (and Jewish) Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who voted against the deal, but now says the best way forward is to make sure it is implemented correctly.

Soften ‘em up and then deliver the blow.

Rubin helped found J Street and has been a prominent advocate, in and out of the federal government, for the Iran deal.

At the Kemp Mill synagogue event, he led with fond memories of leading a Zionist Organization of America youth tour of Israel in 1993 before dropping the “J Street” bomb on the Orthodox and politically conservative crowd. There were murmurs, but the room mostly stayed friendly.

Contrast with Ana Sol Gutierrez, a delegate in the state Assembly who chose  the April 17 debate at the JCC in Rockville to announce, in the middle of answering an unrelated question, that she is endorsing Bernie Sanders, hardly the favorite for a mainstream pro-Israel crowd. The room was awash in gasps.

Israel one-upmanship

Did you know Kathleen Matthews spent New Year’s in Israel with husband Chris?

Did you know Jamie Raskin has family in Israel and likes hanging with them when he’s there? Which is frequently?

Did you know Joel Rubin’s bubbe Yetta endorsed him and that he has family in Israel and he’s there, frequently, and that he remembers Yitzhak Rabin saying “There will be peace in the North,” and that he can say it in Hebrew, and will, multiple times? “Yihiyeh shalom betzafon.”

And, oh yes, David Trone is getting an award from the ADL.

Don’t ignore Republicans just because they don’t win.

At least 200 voters turned out for the Orthodox Union’s April 8 Kemp Mill event; barely 20 turned out for the GOP version on April 14 at Young Israel Shomrai Emunah in Silver Spring.

But if you missed it, you missed a question from the audience rare, if not unprecedented, in a congressional primary debate: “How do you define the word Zionism?”

The answers from the three candidates present were poignant:

Aryeh Shudofsky, a financial services analyst who is a graduate of Yeshiva University, described getting to know an Israel where “secular Israeli Jews are as proud of being Israeli as the religious ones are.”

Dan Cox, an attorney and a conservative Christian, recalled walking through Auschwitz and witnessing “the evidence of why we must stand for freedom.”

And Jeff Jones, a local Methodist pastor, said Zionism, for him, was the commandment to share one’s heritage.

“We have got to understand how to share our story with the next generation,” he said. “It takes effort, it takes a family, it takes a community.”

The Iran deal is done: What history should teach us

Thirty-four senators — 32 Democrats plus two Independents who caucus with the Democrats — have come out in favor of the Iran deal, enough to sustain a presidential veto, so approval of the deal with Iran and five American partners is a foregone conclusion. The questions to ask now are what have we learned and how will we go forward?

Permit me to turn to history and to examine Jewish identity in relation to Israel, an identity shaped by age and by history. For Jews in their 80s and 90s, there is the direct recollection of the Holocaust and the overwhelming gratitude that they naturally feel for the establishment of the State of Israel as a haven for the Jewish people, a place of refuge and an insurance policy for oppressed and endangered Jews everywhere.

My generation, which followed these elders, was shaped by the events in Israel of 1967 and 1973, and so, in turn, we created what Jonathan Woocher described in the 1980s as the Judaism of Sacred Survival: remembrance of the Holocaust entwined with a commitment to Israel’s survival. These two elements were central to our being Jewish, whether we were pious or secular, Orthodox or liberal.

The Judaism of Sacred Survival eroded over time. 

For some, the erosion began in 1982 with Israel’s invasion of Lebanon — perceived by many in Israel and in the United States as Israel’s first war of choice — further stained by its bloody and indecisive aftermath. 

For others, the First Intifada changed their perception of Israel from David to Goliath, and raised the Palestinian question to the fore.

For still others, religious Zionists and secular nationalists, a very different segment of Jews in America, the erosion took place in 1993 when the government of Israel established relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization — hitherto Israel’s arch enemy — and it seemed as if Israel might withdraw from areas of the West Bank and compromise the nationalist and messianic dream of the Greater Land of Israel that had fueled them. Some of Israel’s most ardent Jewish-American supporters openly criticized the government of Israel, and a sharp religious division developed between Orthodox Jewish religious Zionists — who were joined later by evangelical Zionists — and more liberal Jews concerned about Israel’s future as both a Jewish and democratic State. Battle lines were drawn, and Israel no longer was a consensus issue for the Jewish-American community. Support for Israel came to be  followed by the question: “What type of Israel?”

For the millennial generation, the experience of Israel has been different, defined by three recent wars — two in Gaza and one in Lebanon, as well as the ongoing battles in the Middle East with and among the Muslim factions of Afghanistan, Iraq, al-Qaida, Syria, Libya and ISIS. More than a dozen years into the crossfire, many of even the most informed American Jews cannot tell you the difference between Shia and Sunni or divide the Muslim populations accordingly. Therefore, many Jews are hesitant about the exercise of military might — American or Israeli — for fear of igniting an even worse outcome, as happened in Iraq.

These various groups of Jews also have major differences in perceptions of Israel. Some perceive Israel as successful and powerful, an economic marvel and a regional military superpower. Others perceive Israel as dependent and vulnerable. They can’t shake the feeling that Jews are always victims, never victors, acted upon in history and not actors in history. The reality is probably that Israel is both. With all its power, Israel has had to confront the limitations of power in each of the post 1967 wars, and with all its pride in Jewish independence, we all live in an interdependent world, and Israel is no exception.

We see the same reality through two very different lenses.

So what have we learned from the Iran deal debate?

It is difficult to defeat the U.S. president on an issue he regards as central to national security. 

Some of us remember how difficult it was to oppose the Vietnam War almost a half century ago. Others will recall the contentious battle and loss in 1981 when Jews attempted to persuade Congress to vote down the newly installed Ronald Reagan administration’s plan (begun by the Jimmy Carter administration) to sell five AWACS (Airborne Warning and Command System) to Saudi Arabia. Still others will note that we still have no congressional action in the war with ISIS. The War Resolution is stalled in Congress, which does not want to assume the responsibility of a vote. Presidential power is significant, and what the U.S. president declares to be in the national interest usually carries the day — this president, any president.

The Israeli prime minister’s speech to Congress failed. 

Invited by Speaker of the House John Boehner, who sought to embarrass the president, at the initiative of Israel’s ambassador to the United States, a former Republican operative, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the joint session of Congress made support for the Iran deal — any deal, because at the time the shape of the deal wasn’t known — a partisan issue. The letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran only made the issue more partisan, and to date, only two Democratic senators — Charles Schumer (New York) and Robert Menendez (New Jersey) — have come out openly against the deal. Someone misjudged the prime minister’s political strategy. The gamble did not work. So, too, the gambles that preceded it of going partisan in the 2012 elections, and of doing battle with the president early on over what seem like peripheral issues, if Iran is indeed an existential issue.

Today, Jewish organizations, which almost uniformly opposed the deal, have a credibility problem. 

For whom do they speak and what do they represent? One now must wonder whether they speak for the Jews of the United States, who, according to multiple surveys, were far more supportive of the deal than the general American populace, or merely for their membership and older donor base. Have they alienated younger Jews, more liberal Jews? Many may have to recalibrate their message if not their programs.

President Barack Obama’s legacy and the fate of the deal are inextricably linked. 

If the deal works, his judgment will be vindicated. If Iran cheats and develops the bomb, if in that event sanctions cannot be reimposed, or he and/or his successor are unable to engage in strong diplomatic action or effective military action, then Obama’s historical reputation is tarnished and his critics will be correct in regarding him as naïve or as having been taken for a sucker, to use a term that Jewish Journal readers are familiar with. This question provides an important convergence of interest between the president and his critics, and one that should be built upon. Assuming that the president is interested in his historical legacy — and few presidents aren’t — this will be significant leverage going forward.

As to Jews, we have to learn once again how to talk with one another without accusations, and how to fight with one another so that, in the end, we can affirm one another’s fears, values and concerns, even as we vehemently disagree over the potential outcome. Otherwise, a deep divide can grow even deeper. Jews do not speak with one voice. Perhaps we never did, and we may have to learn to harmonize discordant tones.

Now that we have the deal, we have to make it better. Because Jews will face significant problems in the future. It is imperative that we can face them together.

Michael Berenbaum is professor of Jewish studies and director of the Sigi Ziering Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Ethics at American Jewish University. Find his A Jew blog at

3 senators urge Obama to let Israel neutralize Hamas ahead of cease-fire

Three senators urged President Obama to ensure that Israel removes Hamas’ military threat before a cease-fire is in place.

“The threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats,” Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lindsey Graham (R- S. C.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter Wednesday. “Any effort to broker a cease-fire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks.”

While expressing sympathy for the death of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, the senators wrote that Hamas’ “primary goal is to destroy Israel. We must do everything possible to ensure they do not succeed.”

Cardin, along with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), also wrote to Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, on Wednesday to express “our strong objections” to his calling Israel’s operations in Gaza an “atrocious action.”

“We respectfully request that your future comments recognize the fact that the ‘atrocious action’ is the deliberate terrorist attack on civilians — not the measured response of a nation-state trying to defend its citizens,” the Cardin and Ayotte wrote.

They said Ban’s pronouncement “lends a degree of perceived legitimacy that terrorist organizations do not deserve” and also “undercuts the legitimate right of the nation-states to defend their citizens.”

In a third letter concerning the war between Israel and Hamas, Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) wrote to Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, to condemn Wednesday’s decision by the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry focusing mostly on Israel’s actions in Gaza without addressing allegations that Hamas hides its weapons and fighters among civilians.

“Hamas’ continued use of civilians as human shields is a direct violation of international law,” the Congress members wrote in a two-page letter that also condemned Hamas’ use of schools, hospitals and mosques “as covers for their rocket launchers and weapons caches.”

Separately, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a physician, called on Israel not to target medical facilities.

“I am distressed by reports that Israel has attacked hospitals, ambulances and medical personnel in its on-going military offensive in the Gaza Strip,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

“Palestinian health and emergency workers are unable to reach the dead and wounded in many parts of Gaza due to the danger of being attacked themselves,” McDermott said. “I call on America’s long-time friend and ally Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and cease all attacks against health facilities and workers.”


Senators chide Clinton on Israel’s exclusion from counterterrorism forum

U.S. Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Mark Kirk have written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing their disappointment with Israel’s exclusion from the inaugural meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

In the letter, Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told Clinton that “there are few countries in the world that have suffered more from terrorism than Israel, and few governments that have more experience combating this threat than that of Israel.”

“One of the stated missions of the GCTF is to ‘provide a needed venue for national [counterterrorism] officials and practitioners to meet with their counterparts from key countries in different regions to share [counterterrorism] experiences, expertise, strategies, capacity needs and capability-building programs.’ We strongly believe that Israel would both benefit from, and contribute enormously to, this kind of exchange,” Lieberman and Kirk wrote. 

Israel had not been invited to the forum allegedly due to objections by Turkey, which also blocked Israel’s participation in the recent NATO summit in Chicago.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Times of Israel that the Israeli government will participate in working groups formed by the forum, and said that Israel had not been planning on attending the meeting.

The rift between Israel and Turkey has been ongoing since the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010. Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish citizens during a hostile exchange after the ship tried to run Israel’s Gaza maritime blockade.

Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January, is still recovering in Chicago, while Lieberman is completing his final term as a U.S. senator.

Senators to urge Obama to make Iranian nukes ‘capability’ a red line

A bipartisan slate of U.S. senators will present a resolution calling on the Obama administration to make a “nuclear-weapons capability” by Iran a red line.

The non-binding resolution, to be introduced Thursday by Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), “urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and to oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.”

Israel and the United States have differed since the last Bush administration over what should trigger a military strike: Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon, which has been the American red line, or the capability to build and deliver such a weapon, which has been the Israeli red line.

However, in recent months there have been signs that the Obama administration is drawing closer to how Israel sees the point of no return.

In a little-noticed joint statement issued in December following a session of the U.S.-Israel security dialogue, William Burns, the deputy U.S. secretary of state, and his Israeli counterpart, Daniel Ayalon, said that “continued efforts by the international community are critical to bringing about change in Iranian behavior and preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.”

Israeli officials at the time welcomed as significant the use of the word “developing” as opposed to “acquiring.” 

Within weeks, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also was using the term.

“Our red line to Iran is to not develop a nuclear weapon,” he told CBS on Jan. 8. “That’s a red line for us.”

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that Iran could achieve capability before the end of this year.

31 senators sign resolution against 1967 borders

U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a resolution calling an Israeli return to 1967 lines “contrary to United States policy and national security.”

The resolution introduced June 9 is co-signed by 29 other senators, including at least two Democrats, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

It declares “that it is the policy of the United States to support and facilitate Israel in maintaining defensible borders and that it is contrary to United States policy and national security to have the borders of Israel return to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967.”

In a major Middle East policy speech last month, President Barack Obama called for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to be restarted on the basis of 1967 borders with “mutually agreed upon land swaps.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected these borders as a starting point, calling them “indefensible.” The Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table unless the 1967 borders are used as the basis for discussing borders in the negotiations.

Senators press Obama on China-Iran

A bipartisan slate of U.S. senators pressed the Obama administration on its policy on China’s dealings with Iran.

The letter, signed by 10 senators and first reported last week in Foreign Policy, lists foreign entities—most of them Chinese—dealing with Iran’s energy sector.

The senators called on the Obama administration to implement a law passed last summer that expands sanctions to third parties dealing with Iran’s energy sector.

“We cannot afford to create the impression that China will be given free rein to conduct economic activity in Iran when more responsible nations have chosen to follow the course we have asked of them,” said the letter, which was initiated by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

The Obama administration had unsuccessfully sought exemptions for China and Russia in last year’s legislation; instead the law includes a national security waiver.

The White House wanted the exemptions because support from China and Russia was key to expanded U.N. Security Council sanctions passed earlier in the year. The U.N. sanctions resolution provided the legal basis for targeting third parties that deal with Iran’s energy sector.

The senators’ letter, the latest in a number of letters from Congress urging the White House to press China on its Iran dealings, asks for clarifications on the criteria the White House would use to trigger a national security waiver.

Marty Kaplan: The senators who dissed baby Jesus

What’s the right word for what Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) was doing when he ” target=”_hplink”>blasted Democrats as “sacrilegious” for wanting the Senate to take up an arms control treaty and a spending bill “right before… the most sacred holiday for Christians”? 

Not “chutzpah.”  Chutzpah is Newt Gingrich and incoming House speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) hammering Democrats in 2010 for the effrontery of convening a lame-duck session of Congress, even though then lame-duck House speaker ” target=”_hplink”>they themselves had larded the appropriation with hundreds of millions of dollars of pork for their states.

“Extortion” isn’t quite it either.  Extortion is Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) ” target=”_hplink”>falsely warning that the DREAM Act will provide “safe harbor for any alien, including criminals”; will be “funded on the backs of hard-working, law-abiding Americans”; and will “give college preference to illegals over citizens.”  (I can’t decide whether Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) running away from the DREAM Act is demagoguery or opportunism.  Maybe both.)

“Obstructionism” comes close to the motive of Kyl and DeMint for camouflaging their partisanship as a battle in the war on Christmas.  But I’d reserve that word to describe the ruthless opposition of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to passage of the 9/11 First Responders bill, and to anything else that President Obama could conceivably call a win.
There’s something “Orwellian” about labeling as sacrilegious the requirement that Congress work a regular week like other Americans fortunate enough to be employed, but I think the Ministry of Truth vibe emanates more purely from the four Republican members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission who voted last week to ” target=”_hplink”>cry-baby confession that he forced the notorious 1995 shutdown of the federal government because Bill Clinton made him sit at the back of Air Force One. 

It feels to me like a critical mass is being reached.  In the same seven days that the sanctimony of Kyl and DeMint was ridiculed even by Republicans ” target=”_hplink”>Joe Scarborough, the reliably somnolent Capitol Hill press corps instead treated the Thune-Cornyn denunciation of earmarks as the cynical Tea Party-pandering stunt that it was.  In that same week, Media Matters published ” target=”_hplink”>another one instructing them to undermine evidence of global warming as junk science – a story actually reported by media that had grown used to yawning at Fox’s avid partisanship.  And also in that week, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Web site PolitiFact named “a government takeover of health care” as 2010’s “” target=”_hplink”>the most misinformed segment of the 2010 electorate—and both reports were covered, except on Fox, as facts.

Now maybe all these dots are outliers; perhaps they don’t really add up to a tipping point.  After all, this was the same week that CNN announced that it would produce the first 2012 Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire, and that it was “teaming up with the Tea Party Express for a first-of-its-kind presidential primary debate” in June 2011.  In the wake of those press releases, I didn’t notice anyone observing that the presidential primary debates of both political parties in 2007 and 2008 turned out to be pretty much colossal wastes of time for their audiences, who – though entertained by putative insights into candidates’ “character”—learned approximately nothing useful about the impending financial crisis, the war in Afghanistan and the rest of the problems that the next president would have to face.  It was also the same week that America learned that when he takes his dog on a South Lawn walk, President Obama himself scoops up Bo’s poop—a reminder (as if we needed one: Look! A tweet from Sarah Palin!) that the trivialization of public discourse in the age of show biz shows no signs of abating.

Even so, I’m sensing a tectonic shift.  Could it really be that politicians once invulnerable to being shamed are increasingly being held accountable for their bad behavior, and that some of the reliable ol’ boogeymen just ain’t what they used to be?  Maybe.  But don’t ask Boehner, and don’t tell McConnell.

Marty Kaplan is the Norman Lear professor of entertainment, media and society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.  Reach him at {encode=”” title=””}.