August 13th, 2010
02:36 PM ET

If an election falls in the woods

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/27/gal.capitolbldg.file20.gi.jpg caption="In terms of grand trends or prognostications, the votes this week actually meant pretty much nothing." width=300 height=169]

America voted this past week, or at least some Americans did, and if you read any of the nonsense that passed for political analysis in the wake of that, now would be a good time to flush that right out of your system. Like a plate of bad oysters, or any lingering memories of The Tyra Banks Show. Because in terms of grand trends or prognostications, the votes this week actually meant pretty much nothing.

Yes, I’ve said it, and I’m glad I tell you! Glad! (Insert maniacal laughter here. Go ahead. The other people on the subway will give you more room.)

For heaven’s sake, we’re talking about primaries in a fistful of far flung states. Such contests never, I repeat never, get the kind of turnout associated with general elections and have proven at best sketchy guides to how the later voting will go. And yet the bone throwers in DC are trying to exact from this handful of checkmarks 1) How strong the brew is in the Tea Party’s pot, 2) How much trouble incumbents may face, and 3) Whether Levi and Bristol can somehow patch it up and become the happy, young couple Wassila needs in this difficult time.

Part of the problem is that it is summer. There is just nothing else for the Punditeers (like Mouseketeers, only without all the smiling and singing) to do in D.C. Oh sure, there is a reheated debate about immigration reform, but that’s going nowhere. Military cutbacks? Yawn. Even Charlie Rangel’s “crazy from the the heat” rant on the House floor about how they’ll have to drag him out before he’ll quit had trouble rousing the rabble.

But even in the worst of times, the DC crowd loves nothing so much as picking apart polls and polling to predict who might be a winner in the next round of voting. Even if there is really very little at which to pick.

To be fair, one could make the long shot observation that the voting this week suggested a general trend against political insiders; that voters are somewhat more inclined to hold political experience against a candidate than to count it for him or her. But that’s hardly a revelation.

So kick back. Open up another cold one. Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. Democrat, Republican, or Independent, the voting this week came and went like a tree falling in the woods, and we won’t hear the crash, at least until summer is gone.

Filed under: Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
August 13th, 2010
02:22 PM ET

Second hearing set for suspect in Michigan killings

CNN Wire Staff

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/crime/2010/08/13/ga.stabbing.suspect.hearing.cnn.640×360.jpg caption="Elias Abuelazam, 33, is linked to 18 stabbings in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio, police say" width=300 height=169]

Serial killing suspect Elias Abuelazam agreed in an Atlanta court Friday to be sent back to Michigan to face murder charges but will have a chance to change his mind because his lawyer was not present at the hearing.

The judge has scheduled a second session for later in the day.

Abuelazam is suspected of slashing 18 victims in three states, killing five of them.

The suspect agreed to waive an extradition hearing, a court proceeding in which Michigan would have made its case on why he should be returned and Abuelazam could have argued why he should not.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Crime
August 13th, 2010
01:52 PM ET
August 13th, 2010
01:04 PM ET

Opinion: Why we needed an Imams' declaration for peace

Dr. David Liepert
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/08/13/liepert.imams.declaration/tzleft.liepert.david.courtesy.jpg caption="He says declaration repudiates anyone who seeks to use Islam for any purpose but peace" width=300 height=169]

Immediately before 9-11, al Qaeda was considered almost below most Americans' notice. One Washington Post/ABC News poll found that in early 2002, only 14 percent of Americans thought Islam encouraged violence.

These days, the popular perception of Islam is dominated by al Qaeda and its radical agenda. Al Qaeda has grown into a monster that dominates the American psyche, and many non-Muslims fear that the majority of Muslims are bent on violent takeover.

Throughout the last decade, the mainstream majority of Muslims have seemed almost silent, but today that all changes.

As of this writing, 38 of the 50 Islamic scholars who make up Canada's Muslim mainstream leadership have signed the Canadian Council of Imams Declaration, released today. More names will follow. These signatories will lead Muslim communities onto a path of active engagement, taking back Islam and claiming it for multicultural peace.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Islam • Opinion
August 13th, 2010
12:08 PM ET
August 13th, 2010
11:23 AM ET
August 13th, 2010
11:02 AM ET

Before arrest, police had serial killer suspect in custody

CNN Wire Staff

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/crime/2010/08/13/am.meserve.stabbing.suspect.cnn.640×360.jpg caption="Police say Abuelazam, 33, was in custody twice before they knew he was a suspect" width=300 height=169]

Police had suspected serial killer Elias Abuelazam in custody twice in the past month, both within hours of when stabbings were reported, but say he hadn't been linked to the bloody attacks at the time.

Abuelazam, suspected of slashing victims in three states and killing five of them, was arrested last Sunday on a traffic charge and July 29 for giving alcohol to a minor, according to authorities and court documents. He was released both times.

After his August 5 traffic stop in Arlington, Virginia, police learned he had an outstanding warrant for assault and was arrested. They found a knife and hammer in his car - both weapons authorities think were used during a string of knifings in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Crime
August 13th, 2010
10:45 AM ET

Navarrette: 'Terror babies:' The new immigration scare tactic

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/bestoftv/2010/08/12/ac.gohmert.terror.cnn.640×480.jpg caption="Ruben Navarrette says the "terror babies" fear is groundless" width=300 height=169]

By spending a few days here in America's fifth-largest city - which also happens to be at the heart of the nation's immigration debate - I had the chance to see this volatile issue from many different vantage points.

But as far I know, I didn't see any terror babies.

Regular viewers of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" will recognize that term as referring to children born on U.S. soil to illegal immigrants. The children are automatically granted U.S. citizenship under the 14th Amendment and then are smuggled back to their home countries to be raised as pint-sized, America-hating terrorists. Then decades later, when the children have grown into adults, they could easily - because of their U.S. citizenship - re-enter the United States to attack it from within.

So terror babies are sort of like a sleeper cell, one that has to be put down for a nap every few hours or it gets fussy.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Immigration • Opinion • Ruben Navarrette Jr.
August 13th, 2010
10:18 AM ET

Video: Man arrested in serial stabbing case

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Crime
August 13th, 2010
09:58 AM ET

Letter to the President #571: 'Winning wars the quiet way'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cnn.net/cnn/interactive/2010/08/world/gallery.pakistan.flooding.chinook/images/PakistanFlooding06.jpg caption="I think we need to help because the quiet good of helping people in need may move us closer to the victory we want, than many of the forceful moves we have played so far." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama has pledged to find a victory in Afghanistan. I suspect I know where one is: Hiding beneath oceans of water across the border in Pakistan.

Dear Mr. President,

An interesting difference between the way humans and computers play chess is that a human will almost always choose the move that appears the most forceful, while a computer will choose the move that leads most swiftly to checkmate, even if it appears to be minor.

How can such an important moment seem minor? (Oh, wouldn’t Beth Worshinsky like to have known when she turned down my invitation to the Spring Dance!) Let’s say that you and I are playing hide and go seek late in the day. (Which, we can do if you like. Just give me a call. And no letting the Secret Service help you hide!) If I wear a dark sweatshirt and blue jeans, you might not even notice. But if we’re having so much fun that we keep playing well after dark, my “minor” choice of clothing could become a “major” factor as you struggle to see me in the growing shadows.

Which brings us to Pakistan, where 15 million people have been affected by flooding. You have plenty of other pressing issues on your plate: Gay marriage, immigration, the economy, and of course that troubling election this fall. Pakistan, however, has loomed large on the horizon of almost all of our Homeland Security concerns. We have talked endlessly about the need for military cooperation, drone attacks on Taliban camps hidden on Pakistani land, about safeguarding Pakistani nukes, and on and on and on.

And now is the time for a quiet, but critically important, move. I think we need to help. I think we need to help in a big way, in a sustained way, and despite the fact that we are facing our own economic problems here. Not because we’re good folks, or out of any sense of altruism, although those are nice things, too. But because the quiet good of helping people in need may move us closer to the victory we want, than many of the forceful moves we have played so far.

Mind you, I’m not against forceful moves. Sometimes they are absolutely the right choice. (For example, when that bonehead in the blue Saab cut me off on the Beltway, and was just crying to be blocked from the next exit…ha ha ha!) We could hardly have stood by the flaming wreckage of Pearl Harbor and contemplated bigger aid packages to Japan. But tearing down enemies is often best when it is book-ended by building friends, or at least by giving people a reason to want to be our friends.

We can’t be patsies. We can’t fix all the worries of everyone in the world. But in times of duress, when others are facing calamity, we can show our greatness, our generosity, and the American spirit that for so very long made us admired and respected around the globe. That might make the people in Pakistan a little more inclined to support our efforts and in neighboring Afghanistan; a little less inclined to harbor the Taliban.

Sure it is tough, an incremental step, and we can’t ignore our own problems in the process. But it’s worth it. Because big moves make headlines, but sometimes small moves are the ones that win wars.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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