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Say a prayer that the Yanks are coming


Jimmy Cagney high-stepping George Cohan through World War I in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” on July 4 caught me up in patriotic fervor. The trucks and sirens from the Big Parade had just cleared Lakeshore Drive.

Send the word, send the word over there

That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,

The drums rum-tumming everywhere.

The movie came out in 1942, after Pearl Harbor. Grab your guns, boys. We were going over there to defend freedom. I was raised to believe that by a veteran. It was our national ethic. You tramp on freedom, we will come over there and kick your butt. Don’t make us. (Along came Vietnam.)

This cinematic trip into yesteryear rolled just days after the US Supreme Court ruled that the president is immune from criminal liability for official actions, and might be immune for other stuff as the justices see fit in this lifetime. Otherwise, the president is not immune for private actions (presumably like consorting with a porn star and then using fraud to cover it up).

I am okay with my fantasies of the president taking out Putin with a laser beam while the maniac is out riding bare-chested on his steed. Same with the lunatic running North Korea. Just get rid of them discreetly. The Bay of Pigs was a fiasco but we didn’t lock up JFK.

As for trying to overthrow our own government, that would be a whole different fish. The Supreme Court is making certain that Donald Trump does not pay the price for the Jan. 6 insurrection, or even that the case is heard by a jury of peers.

Who didn’t see that coming?

After all, the justices fly the flag that they are on the take. Persuadables.


Who didn’t think that the Iowa Supreme Court would stand with Gov. Kim Reynolds by upholding the ban on abortion after six weeks? Dark money unseated three justices over a decade ago and the court went right-wing. The chief justice put on a good show with a dissent to make believe there was an argument.

Or who actually believed that the Iowa Utilities Board controlled by Reynolds would stand in the way of carbon-dioxide pipelines? The lorded clans of Iowa — Branstads and Vilsacks and Grassleys among them — are all aboard. Property control is in the eye of the beholder (ask any member of the Ioway, Sac, Fox or Dakota tribes). This pipeline was greased from the gitgo, and yeah we told you so. Go ahead and appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Last week a bunch of bigshots went behind closed doors to talk about how to relieve the Iowa Great Lakes area from flooding. The public was barred. Earlier, the bigshots thought they might just breach a road to let the backed up waters fly down the Little Sioux toward Sioux Rapids. Not much money in Sioux Rapids. But something funny happened on the way to democracy: A big crowd showed up in Dickinson County to protest unleashing the waters on Cherokee and Spencer again. It scared the deciders behind closed doors to come up with something they can float.

In Storm Lake, the city and county are in court fighting over more than $5 million in tax funds that vanished into thin air. The officials dare not audit or explain themselves when they can get reelected and reappointed almost automatically.

People think it’s rigged. Trump lied enough to fool them that he is not an alligator.

Iowans know the government is going to do what it is going to do — ban slot machines in bars to protect casinos, for example — why bother to vote? When the Branstads and Grassleys are fetching it for the Rastetters and the consolidators, and the loyal opposition remains loyal to that order of things, you might just as well blow it up.

Joe Biden was born in 1942. He’s having a hard time taking the hill to fly the flag for freedom. Trump is beyond reproach. He promises to stifle dissent and jail his critics. He will deport the immigrants, like the Cohans from County Cork in Ireland. Iowa is four-square with Trump. The pipeline will get shoved through your farm, there’s no stopping the money train. If the donors with mansions on West Okoboji ask the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to step aside from lake management, the governor will make sure of it.

That is why people feel anxious and left out — because they are left out and they know that money and power talk. The good news is that when a big crowd occasionally shows up, democracy can prevail over a stacked deck. The road was not breached to unleash the water because the people peaceably assembled in public. We can reclaim democracy. Freedom demands our vigilance.

I'm no cranky hanky panky,

I'm a dead square, honest Yankee.

Editor's Notebook, Art Cullen


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