Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
Ben Carson, one of the top-tier contenders in the GOP presidential primary, has long been known as an ardent creationist. He has debated prominent scientists who defend evolution, and it's no secret that his advocacy of creationism springs from his deep faith in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Christian religion established in the mid-1800s. Creationism is a core belief for many Seventh-day Adventists, and one of the religion's founders, Ellen White, was one of the first purveyors of the notion that the Earth is merely 6,000 years old.
This week, Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, took some heat for his creationism when Buzzfeed reported that during a 2011 lecture that was part of a "Celebration of Creation," Carson decried the Big Bang theory and asserted that Darwin's theory of evolution was "encouraged" by Satan.
In that talk, Carson did take slight issue with White and those creationists who claim the Earth came into existence just several thousand years ago. He noted, "I am not a hard-and-fast person who says the Earth is only 6,000 years old." Yet Carson quickly added, "I do believe in the six-day creation." And he meant literally six days, not metaphorical days—that is, not days that might have lasted millions of years.
It says in the beginning God created the heaven and Earth. It doesn't say when he created them, except for in the beginning. So the Earth could have been here for a long time before he started creating things on it. But when he did start doing that, he made it very specifically clear to us the evening and the morning were the next day because he knew that people would come along and try to say that, "Oh, it was millions and millions of years." And then what else did he say in the very first chapter? That each thing brought forth after its own kind. Because he knew that people would come along and say, you know, this changed into that and this changed into that and this changed into that. So at the very beginning of the Bible, he puts that to rest.
So Carson may not be hard-and-fast on the when of creationism, but he is a biblical literalist on how long it took for the living Earth and all its inhabitants to come into being: six days.
Carson's belief is a personal matter, but his fundamentalist religious views may have a political consequence. If Carson, a political novice who has recently placed second behind Donald Trump in many polls due to the support of evangelical GOP voters, actually believes that Satan actively encourages evolution and other misguided notions, then does he consider his adversaries in political or scientific debates to be the useful idiots of the devil? If so, can he accept the idea of compromise or collaboration with those being encouraged and exploited by the Prince of Darkness? His belief in six-day creationism is not merely a curiosity. It is tied to a deeper belief that may profoundly skew how he sees his opponents and the workings of the political world.
Why would hundreds of the leading minds in the fields of national security, intelligence, and information technology want to be lectured to by former President George W. Bush, who, after all, misused intelligence to launch a war with little preparation for what would come afterward? And why would the US division of one of the world's largest software companies arrange—and perhaps pay—for Bush to address such an audience?
These are questions that this firm, SAP National Security Services, doesn't want to answer.
Roger Stone, the onetime Nixon aide and self-professed dirty trickster, reemerged this past year as a prominent political player, first as an adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign and then, after departing Team Trump, as the billionaire's most passionate advocate in the media. (After the second GOP debate, Stone proclaimed that Trump had a "shining moment" in that 11-person face-off when he slammed the Iraq War, and he dismissed Trump antagonist Carly Fiorina as "strident.") Now Stone is getting deep into the muck with the release of a book apparently designed to smear the Clintons—by depicting Bill as a serial rapist, Hillary as an enabler, and both members of the power couple as a diabolical duo bent on destroying anyone who stands in their way. The book, The Clintons' War on Women, will be released in mid-October. Promotional material for it claims, that "this stunning exposé reveals for the first time how Bill and Hillary Clinton systematically abused women and others—sexually, physically, and psychologically—in their scramble for power and wealth." Moreover, Stone tells me that this personal destruction campaign will extend beyond the book: He has taped interviews of the supposed victims of the Clintons and will release a video sometime before the 2016 primaries begin.
In a July column, Stone provided a preview of the book, claiming, "The Clintons' activities have included Bill's physical rape and sexual assaults on women and Hillary's degradation and psychological rape of women that Bill has assaulted. 'Sluts,' 'whores,' 'bitches,' Hillary has called them, blaming and shaming them for the unwanted physical attentions and violence of her husband."
In between all the theatrics and back-and-forth of the second GOP presidential debate—Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina facing off about his derogatory comment regarding her looks, Ben Carson declining to high-five Trump, Rand Paul calling Trump a junior high school bully—something interesting happened that few seemed to notice: Jeb Bush called for launching a cyber attack against China.
In the middle of the lengthy debate, CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Paul, the senator from Kentucky, if he agreed with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's demand that President Barack Obama cancel the state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping because of China’s currency manipulation and its alleged cyber assaults against the United States. Paul replied, "I don’t think we need to be rash, I don’t think we need to be reckless, and I think need to leave lines of communication open." Walker stuck to his stance: "When it comes to China, why would we be giving an official state visit to a country that’s been involved in a massive cyber attack against the United States?"
Tapper then turned to Bush, the former governor of Florida, and asked, "Your father was the chief diplomatic envoy to China back when Nixon opened relations to China. Is Scott Walker’s approach the right one, canceling the state dinner?" Here's what Bush said:
No, I don’t think so, but we need to be strong against China. We should use offensive tactics as it relates to cyber security, send a deterrent signal to China. There should be super sanctions in what President Obama has proposed. There’s many other tools that we have without canceling a dinner. That’s not going to change anything, but we can be much stronger as it relates to that. [Emphasis added.]
Offensive tactics—what does that mean? I asked a cybersecurity expert, who wishes not to be named, and this person noted that this terminology would generally imply cyber attacks aimed at knocking out Chinese networks and information systems. And Ralph Echemendia, a cybersecurity expert who goes by the handle the Ethical Hacker, said in an email that "to use the word offensive implies to attack the Chinese government."
There is a fine line between the use of technology for intelligence gathering to make a strategic move and actually making a move. Without 'legitimate' proof of attacks by the Chinese, offensive actions could be considered by many as an offensive action on our part. State-sponsored cyber warfare has and will continue. However due to the nature of the digital domain, having proper proof of an attack's source can be tricky. Misinformation is very simple to [spread] and even a teenager with some skills can create a geopolitical situation. Political leaders barely understand how to use their email, much less do they understand the issues surrounding the use of digital weaponry.
US spy agencies have mounted offensive cyber operations—secretly. Public knowledge of what this has entailed is extremely limited. But Bush appeared to be openly calling for a cyber blast on China to deter Beijing. (The unnamed cybersecurity expert quoted above notes, "There's no reason that we need to respond to cyber with cyber. We could always respond in another way of our choosing.") This was a bold—high-energy?—recommendation. Yet it drew no comment at the debate and not much afterward. And a Bush campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
At the GOP debates, Trump is usually the contender talking tough about China. But with this remark, Bush out-hawked Trump. Yet he did so in a sideways manner not likely to win him points from GOP voters. The Chinese, though, probably took heed.
Only a few weeks ago, pundits and political observers roundly proclaimed that Donald Trump, the reality-show tycoon who's mounted a takeover of the GOP, would flame out, fade, implode, or whatever. Jeb Bush's campaign aides were telling journalists that they had no concerns about Trump threatening a third Bush regime. "Trump is, frankly, other people's problem," said Michael Murphy, the chief strategist for Bush's super-PAC. It's becoming clearer, though, that Trump, still dominating the polls and the headlines as the Republican front-runner, could well pose an existential threat to the Grand Old Party (or at least its establishment, including the Bush campaign). But the fundamental problem for the Rs is not Trump; it's Republican voters.
Trump is a brash and arrogant celebrity who is well skilled in pushing buttons, belittling foes, uttering outrageous remarks, causing a ruckus, and drawing attention to one thing: himself. He's a smart marketer and a brilliant self-promoter. His name recognition is over 100 percent. He cooked up a wonderful ready-for-swag tagline: "Make America Great Again." He's incredible. He's yooge. But none of this would matter if there was no demand for his bombastic, anger-fueled, anti-immigrant populism—that is, if Republican voters did not crave a leader who equates undocumented immigrants with rapists and who claims that everyone else in political life is a nincompoop selling out the US of A to the Chinese, the Mexicans, and just about every other government.