Donald Trump surprised many on Friday, replacing one of his most notorious lies with a brand new one. The Republican, whose entire political persona was built on his racist conspiracy theory about President Obama's birthplace, announced he no longer believes his own nonsense -- which he now falsely blames on Hillary Clinton.
It takes a special kind of candidate to walk back one brazen lie by replacing it with another.
Perhaps thinking they no longer have a choice, Trump's allies hit the Sunday shows yesterday, pretending that the newly manufactured fiction is actually fact. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway insisted yesterday -- repeatedly and falsely -- that the birther conspiracy theory "started with" the Clinton campaign. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who must know better, was equally eager to peddle thesamenonsense.
But no one was quite as brazen in his dishonesty as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who told CNN's Jake Tapper yesterday that the birther garbage has been "done" as an issue "for a long time." The host reminded the viewing audience that Trump kept the conspiracy theory going for five years after President Obama made his long-form birth certificate available to the public. It led to an amazing exchange:
CHRISTIE: Jake, that's just not true. It's not true that he kept it up for five years.
TAPPER: Sure, he did.
CHRISTIE: It's simply not true.
TAPPER: It is true.
CHRISTIE: It wasn't like he was talking -- no, Jake, it wasn't like -- it wasn't like he was talking about it on a regular basis until then.
To the extent that reality matters at all, Donald Trump was not only a birther ringleader in the years leading up to 2011, and he not only rejected the president's birth certificate as a "fake" and a "fraud" in 2011, Trump also proceeded to push the same conspiracy theory in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Fact-checking the New Jersey governor's claim yesterday, the Washington Postconcluded, "This is such bogus spin that we have to wonder how Christie manages to say it with a straight face.... [C]learly Christie is either lying or he is so misinformed that he has no business appearing on television." read more
In contemporary politics, there aren't many lines remaining that political candidates are prohibited from crossing, but the American mainstream tends not to tolerate promoting violence. In a time in which it seems anything goes, this is arguably the final taboo.
It was therefore of great interest yesterday when Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton's running mate, made the case that Donald Trump is encouraging violence against the Democratic presidential nominee.
The Democratic vice-presidential nominee told "Fox News Sunday" that Mr. Trump's recent comments about Mrs. Clinton show he either wants his supporters to turn violent or simply doesn't care if someone is hurt as a result of his words. Asked directly whether he believes Mr. Trump is inciting violence, Mr. Kaine said, "I do."
"He is using language that is an incitement to violence or an encouragement of violence, or at least being cavalier and reckless about violence. And that has no place in any election," Mr. Kaine said. "When you look at a series of these comments he's making, I do believe it is an incitement or at a minimum an expression of indifference whether violence would occur."
The impetus for this came on Friday night when Trump told supporters, in reference to Clinton, "She goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn't want guns.... Let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous."
Substantively, the rhetoric was ridiculous: Clinton hasn't proposed banning guns. Trump is trying to suggest there's some kind of hypocrisy about having armed Secret Service agents protecting Clinton, but his point is plainly absurd.
But note that the Republican candidate went further, speculating about what would happen to her once the Secret Service agents are disarmed. "It would be very dangerous" for Clinton, Trump said.
This follows comments from a month ago in which Trump said "Second Amendment people" could offer some kind of remedy if Clinton wins the presidency.
Though an investigation is still underway, and the facts are still coming together, there was an explosion Saturday night in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, which injured 29 people. Within a few hours, police found a "possible secondary device" a few blocks away.
Early this morning, as NBC News also reported, a backpack that appeared to contain pipe bombs exploded as a police robot examined it near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which is just 20 miles from Manhattan. The explosion reportedly occurred while a bomb-squad robot was cutting into the device. There were no reports of any injuries.
Not surprisingly given the circumstances, the incidents have once again renewed interest in national security as a presidential campaign issue. On Saturday night, soon after the explosion in Chelsea, Hillary Clinton spoke to reporters, extended her best wishes to the affected families and first responders, and said she would have "more to say... when we actually have the facts." Yesterday, Clinton went into far more detail, "strongly condemning the apparent terrorist attacks."
Donald Trump preferred a different approach. The Republican spoke in Colorado late Saturday and, before having any real information, told his audience "a bomb went off in New York." Before quickly transitioning to rhetoric about polls, the GOP nominee added, "We better get very, very tough. We'll find out. It's a terrible thing that's going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant. ... We'll see what it is. We'll see what it is."
Of particular interest, though, was this portion of Trump's speech, as transcribed by CBS News' Sopan Deb:
"So often, they'll ask me, 'How do you defeat ISIS?' I say, 'You know what? I have a real chance of winning. I don't want to tell the enemy how I'm thinking. [...]
"I will give you good results. Don't worry how I get there, okay? Please."
That's awfully close to a perfect encapsulation of Donald Trump's entire policy platform in the 2016 campaign: "I will give you good results. Don't worry how I get there, okay? Please."
Gaia was launched in December of 2013 from the Soyuz Launch Complex in Kourou, French Guiana. It orbits the Sun along with Earth in the L2 lagrange point, meaning it is always on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. Gaia's objective is to measure the positions and velocities of over one billion stars in our galaxy, thereby creating the most detailed 3D map of the Milky Way to date. There are approximately 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, so while Gaia can only observe a fraction of these, it's still orders of magnitude larger than our current surveys. In fact, the vast majority of the stars Gaia is observing have never had their distances accurately determined.
In order to do this, the satellite will observe each star ~70 times during its five year mission with a one billion pixel camera (as compared to your phone camera which has less than 10 million pixels). The accuracy of Gaia's mapping ability is equivalent to measuring the diameter of a human hair from 1000 kilometers away. Not too shabby...
In the annotated version of the map released this week, the disk of the Milky Way is visible as a horizontal dust lane. The labeled objects include open and globular star clusters belonging to our galaxy as well as some of our neighboring galaxies in the Local Group and the Virgo Supercluster.
Gaia's first data release includes positions and brightness measurements for 1142 million stars with distances and velocities for roughly 2 million of them. Mapping our galaxy star by star is important because not all stars are the same. Their motions and compositions can tell us a lot about where they were born and what has happened to them since. We like to think about the Milky Way as a spinning pancake of sorts, but the stars inside it are far from fixed. In fact, a roller or skating rink is much more accurate since each star is moving with respect to each other star. Gaia will enable us to distinguish between pair skating, group skating, and skaters playing crack the whip (with stars instead of skaters of course).
Rachel Maddow reports that the Libertarian Party has submitted enough signatures all 50 states for Gary Johnson to be on the presidential ballot in every state (though he did not qualify for the first presidential debate). watch
Congresswoman Barbara Lee talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump's clumsy lying about his role in promoting birtherism, and why Trump's efforts to delegitimize President Obama that way are seen as racist. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the the complete mess Donald Trump made of his announcement that he now believes President Obama was born in America, by adding a pair of lies to a bizarrely chaotic event. watch
Rachel Maddow shows American racist groups describing at a press conference how they have found comfort and encouragement in the Donald Trump campaign, emboldening them to come out from the darker edges of American politics. watch
WATCH: Trump calls for Clinton's "bodyguards" to drop their weapons and "let's see what happens to her." https://t.co/JXI9oFn5Sl
* A major pipeline spill: "Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Alabama over concerns about fuel shortages in the wake of a gasoline pipeline spill that released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline south of Birmingham and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a similar executive order for his state on Tuesday."
* The ISIS leader "responsible for producing the militant group's often gruesome propaganda videos was killed in an airstrike earlier this month, the Pentagon announced Friday. Wa'il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, also known as 'Dr. Wa'il,' was targeted and killed by coalition forces near Raqqah, Syria, on Sept. 7, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement."
* Pakistan: "At least 23 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in north-western Pakistan, officials say. The attack targeted worshippers during Friday prayers in a remote village in the Mohmand Agency, north of Peshawar. More than 40 people were wounded, many of them children."
* Addiction crisis: "The Justice Department is preparing to launch a renewed strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country."
* It's a do-nothing Congress: "In a huge disappointment to advocates, legislation to reform components of the criminal justice system will not come before the House adjourns this month as previously planned, according to two sources who have worked closely on the effort."
* On a related note, the common Democratic complaint happens to be true: "The U.S. Senate is on track to work the fewest number of days since 1956, a fact that Democrats seized on Wednesday to attack the chamber’s Republican leadership."
* Elizabeth Warren isn't holding back: "The controversy surrounding Wells Fargo gained new momentum on Friday as Democratic lawmakers took aim at the millions in bonuses senior executives earned while thousands of the bank's employees created up to 2 million sham accounts in order to meet sales goals."
If you weren't sure whether or not the presidential campaign exists in some far-fetched Lewis Carroll story, this morning's events should have removed all doubt.
Yesterday, Donald Trump once again refused to say whether or not he believes President Obama was born in the United States. Last night, Trump's campaign issued a bizarre statement claiming that the Republican candidate no longer believes the "birther" conspiracy theory that's come to define much of Trump's political persona. And this morning, well, something very odd happened.
Donald Trump on Friday finally conceded that President Barack Obama was born in the United States and falsely blamed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for starting rumors about the president's citizenship.
Thirty minutes into an event that was billed as a "major announcement" that was in reality just a free advertisement for his new hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump espoused 46 words, addressing the birther issue. He then took no question from the press who stood up, even on chairs, and yelled questions over six rows of Trump-invited guests.
Remember in June, when Trump traveled to Scotland the day after the Brexit vote, and the only thing the GOP candidate wanted to talk about was his new golf resort -- as if it, and not the vote, was the real story? This morning was a bit like that, only slightly more baffling.
Trump called a press conference in D.C., where he spoke at some length about his hotel and how impressed he is with the venue's new ballroom. Eventually, the Republican briefly touched on the subject at hand: "Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean."
Except no one has any idea what he means. The first two relevant sentences in Trump's remarks -- (1) Clinton started the birther controversy and (2) he "finished it" -- are both brazen lies. In reality, the Clinton campaign wasn't responsible for launching this garbage, and Trump wasn't responsible for resolving it.
After years of questioning the president's birthplace and the legitimacy of his birth certificate, Trump added, "President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."
The Republican nominee then ran away, answering no questions.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* The latest national Fox News poll shows Hillary Clinton narrowly leading Donald Trump in a four-way contest, 41% to 40%, while Trump narrowly leads Clinton in a head-to-head match-up, 46% to 45%.
* On the heels of a CNN poll that showed Trump ahead in Ohio, the latest Suffolk poll also found the Republican ahead in the Buckeye State, 42% to 39%, over Clinton.
* Georgia continues to appear surprisingly competitive, with the latest Fox 5 Opinion Savvy poll showing Trump ahead by only four, 46% to 42%, in this Southern "red" state.
* Oddly enough, Clinton is arguably doing better in Georgia than Iowa: the latest Monmouth University poll shows Trump with a surprisingly comfortable lead in the Hawkeye State, 45% to 37%, over Clinton in a four-way contest.
* On a related note, the same poll has Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) cruising past former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D) in Iowa's U.S. Senate race, 56% to 39%.
* Donald Trump Jr. initially defended his unfortunate Holocaust reference yesterday, but he said this morning it was "a poor choice of words, perhaps."
* Donald Trump Sr., meanwhile, complained yesterday that he disapproves of CNN's Anderson Cooper moderating one of the presidential debates. Cooper is scheduled to moderate the second presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 9.
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.