“Barnum’s biographer Arthur H. Saxon tried to track down when Barnum had uttered this phrase but was unable to verify it. According to Saxon, “There’s no contemporary account of it, or even any suggestion that the word ‘sucker’ was used in the derogatory sense in his day. Barnum was just not the type to disparage his patrons.”
Some sources claim that it is most likely from famous con-man Joseph (“Paper Collar Joe”) Bessimer, and other sources say that it was actually uttered by David Hannum in reference to Barnum’s part in the Cardiff Giant hoax. Hannum was exhibiting the “original” giant and had unsuccessfully sued Barnum for exhibiting a copy and claiming that it was the original. Crowds continued to pay to see Barnum’s exhibit, even after both it and the original had been proven to be fakes.
Another source credits late 1860s Chicago saloon owner Michael Cassius McDonald as the originator of the aphorism. According to the book Gem of the Prairie: Chicago Underworld (1940) by Herbert Asbury, McDonald was equipping his gambling house known as The Store when his partner expressed concern over the large number of roulette wheels and faro tables being installed and their ability to get enough players. McDonald then allegedly said, “Don’t worry about that, there’s a sucker born every minute.”
Well, it is a useful phrase no matter its author. I thought of it this morning as “Morning Joe” carried news clips of the crowd streaming into another Trump Rally. Among those interviewed, most were proud of having had their suspicions confirmed by “Q” and “Q-Anon.”
The level of ignorance among the American populace seems to be growing like a raging brain cancer. Truth is probably otherwise. In all likelihood, ignorance is not more prevalent than ever but there may be a couple of contemporary reasons for it to seem so. We live longer now than we did decades ago. Suckers live longer too, so it may seem that they’ve increased. Social media and the Internet can now draw larger crowds than a Barnum ‘barker’ could assemble patrons to see the Bearded Lady.
So it is probably same crowd flocking to be fascinated by a similar fake attraction. But they certain do look like my neighbors.
Sammy Kaye, with vocal by Billy Williams, had the most popular version of the song about the time I was in the first grade in 1946.
By the 60s, The Browns made it a country pop hit.
The song is a sentimental stroll along memory lane as we observe the Lamplighters turning on the gas-powered streetlamps at dusk and extinguishing them when the sun came up.
“Gaslighting” is not about sentimental journeys. It is about vicious plots to destroy. It comes from a movie in which a husband maliciously turns the gas lamps off and on while trying to convince his wife that she is crazy for thinking she sees the lights flicker. He wants her institutionalized and out of the way.
Gaslighting is telling you that you are delusional for believing what you plainly see.
In the current Congressional hearing, phase one in the Trump impeachment, the Republicans have developed group gaslighting to a theatrical art. The President’s high crime( high as in above and more serious than codified law) of using diplomatic conversation for personal political dirty tricks did not really happen, those gaslighters insist. You are delusional to even think so.
And if their gaslighting cameos do not convince you, those congresscritters are rehearsed with lines labeled ‘whatabout,’ with which they want to get your attention to turn stage-left (OK, stage-right) to focus on some supposed distraction.
The only thing missing from the Republican burlesque cabaret is scantily clad women and Barr on stage singing Mack the Knife. It is song and dance, but it is not entertaining.
I recently exchanged a riding mower for $500. There was nothing wrong with the transaction, except maybe I let it go for a bit less than it was worth. I didn’t need the mower any more so I had something to trade for something. Something for something. This for that. If I were into Latin I could say ‘quid pro quo.’ It is the simplest three word description for a transaction. You have something I want and I’ll give you something you want for it.
There is no question that a businessman become U.S. President does not understand that concept. If perhaps, you do not agree that any businessman would know the meaning of the phrase and the process it describes, can you possibly doubt that a U.S. President who understands all negotiations as transactions could not know what he is doing in a ‘something for something’ conversation.
President A: It is my hope and expectation that we can obtain more of your military equipment.
President B: Uhum, and I have a favor to ask. Could you expedite an investigation in your country of one of my political opponents?
What could possibly be simpler to understand? Something for something. This for that.
On July 26, 1920, H. L. Mencken wrote in the Baltimore Evening Sun: “As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents more and more closely the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, an the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron.”
That ‘great and glorious day’ has arrived! Mencken’s wit has been appreciated for a long time but it has taken nearly a hundred years for his clairvoyance to be proved. Can a ‘complete narcissistic moron’ be impeached? I hope so.
No, I have not erred in titling this post. I have not misspelled the first word. Yes, that other phrase is often appropriate, but what I want to say is a kind of counter response to that other phrase.
It is now 4PM on August 26, 2019. Fifty-seven years ago, within the past thirty minutes, Jane’s pastor asked us to plight our troth and spoke the words that announced us husband and wife. Nineteen thousand eight hundred and five days, plus the leap days in the leap years, we have been married. That is nearly five hundred thousand, nearly half a million, hours!
I am not the boy, nor is she the girl who answered those questions and spoke those promises. We have changed. She no longer appears to be the wasp-waisted nymph, nor do I appear the trim, flat-topped lad of 1962.
We have changed. Who can identify the metamorphoses? Neither of us can. We have each noticed the differences. We have even welcomed most of those new selves our partner has become. And those we’d rather not have had to greet, we have accepted or just ignored.
Perhaps that is a part of the secret to a long and happy marriage. We have both, with little more than a nod, pledged that troth over and over again in a kind of serial monogamy.
I am glad to have experienced what the Buddha identified. Nothing remains the same. Shift happens.
New countries are usually created by their inhabitants or by some political process involving treaties and boundaries. This week though, the lines on international maps have been re-aligned by a Tweet. The Tweetie-Bird who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia has designated three new political boundaries.
The city of Cincinnati, once the main hog slaughtering and beer brewing municipality in the State of Ohio, is now The Principality of Cincinnati. The W.H.O. (White House Occupant) by his own royal declaration has identified this shit-hole of a country as the place to which Rep. Amanda Pressley should return.
Now I have lived in Cincinnati, across the way from the Over-the-Rhine, in the Northside, on Chase Avenue. Two of our sons, Steven and Sean, were born in Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati before it became the more recently designated shit-hole Principality. Granted Cincinnati has had its flirtations with odd politicians (Jerry Springer was once mayor and while in that office wrote a check to a prostitute to cover her services; yes that Jerry Springer), but by and large, run-of-the-mill Republicans have dominated politics to bring it to its shitty state. When I last drove through on I-71, we passed through no border point; it was still a city on the north bank of a river. I did not have to show my Passport to cross the Ohio River into Kentucky. Hmmm, Kentucky the home ground of the jowly visage that could one day face you on, say, a Two-Dollar Bill.
I’ve never lived in Detroit, but everyone knows that it has seen better days, as has Flint. But a shit-hole “Le Etat du Nord-Detroit,” I don’t think so. I don’t even think Canada would take it on as one of its Provinces. It remains in the State of Michigan and needs all the help it can get. Perhaps Rep. Tlaib might want, someday to go home, but it will not be back to another country.
And finally AOC’s home country, the newly designated Trumphate of Bronx-Queens. If the WHO (no, not the World Health Organization, Bronx and Queens probably have their own Health Departments as Burroughs) could borrow enough from Deutsche Bank to buy up all the real estate and put in a couple of successful casinos he does not bankrupt, they might function independently as Sovereign. But Amazon isn’t so far allowed to create a sovereign currency, so I doubt the Trumphate can either. Meanwhile AOC is back where she came from.
Dear Madam Secretary Devos,
Bless your Dutch Capitalist heart, the President has thrown you under the bus, countering your intention to defund Special Olympics. He is going to fund it because he cares for … no, he cares not a whit for developmentally disabled kids and adults. He cares only and always for his name and his BRAND. Your thoughtless decision to leave the Special Olympics out of your budget was very bad optics for Trump and his BRAND. So under the bus you go!
I cannot imagine that you were, in any way, surprised. He is simply following the business model of your pyramid sales scheme AmWay, that cared not a whit for all those franchise buyers. You readily threw them under the bus and came out of it criminally wealthy. Few have succeeded like you and your family since the days of Charlie Ponzi. You should have known to glance up to see what the guy at the next level above you was up to. As our Liar-in-Chief said, “My people” are going to fund Special Olympics. Guess you are no longer one of ‘my people.’
I’d say I’m sorry that you got flim-flammed but I cannot find it in me to have any pity for you and your kind. Whatever happens to diminish your reputation, all I can imagine is that ‘it couldn’t have happened to a better person.’
Yes, Tricky Dick was personally involved in a break-in to the opposition political party’s office. His Republican contemporaries persuaded him to resign as President of the USA, because his Petty Criminal involvement really amounted to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” bar of impeachment language.
Compared to Trump’s self-interested actions, Trump’s daily lies, Trump’s continued alignment with Putin, Nixon was someone whose crime was the equivalent of spitting on the sidewalk or urinating in an alley.
Is it really a a violation of national security to have oral sex with an intern? OK, the cigar thing was more than an embarrassment, but no one really thought Clinton had violated the Nation by his sexual addictions and crude behavior.
But Trump?? Who can even begin to imagine that Trump is not guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors? ” Of course, Trump’s base does not think so. That surprises no one. Trump’s base is as base as is humanly possible.
Both sides of Republican and Democratic legislators agree on an agreement that will keep the government open, and both have compromised to reach this agreement. Still though, our President, OK, your President, does not find such compromise acceptable.
What can one discern from this? Only that Trump is interested ONLY in his self-serving proposition. Of course, the Freedom Caucus does not agree with the compromise, that merely means that the compromise is what is in the best interest of the country. Mitch and Nancy KNOW what works in our country!
Only the most deluded agree with our Liar in Chief, Donald J. Trump!!
Let’s not criticize POTUS 45 for spending 60% of his time in “executive time,” ie, watching TV and tweeting. Think of the problems he could create if he tried to actually govern! TV and Tweets six days a week, and 18 holes four times a week are exactly the best we can hope for. Incompetence in the Oval Office could not be better restrained. Mr. President, you deserve all the executive time you want! We deserve it Too!
I do not know anything really about vampires. I think I remember that if one bites you, then you become one.
Well, it seems that someone or something bit Lindsay Graham. Right before our eyes, we saw him transformed from one of the most rational of our Senators, best friend of the late Senator McCain, into a raging, vicious persona that could startle a person awake as in a nightmare. That face dripping with venom was, well it was like the Honorable Mr. Kavanaugh.
We’ve seen this face before; POTUS 45 in a rage.
Hmmm, the Honorable Mr. Kavanaugh is said to have spent several days huddled in the White House in preparation for his hearing. Senator Graham spends lots of time close to the President too, of late. Could they both have been exposed and infected?
Maybe #MeToo has set loose a virulence of WMP [yes, sounds like ‘wimp,’ [White Male Privilege]?
One can hope that the gall spewing from the Judge and the Senator are the death rattles of elite privilege!