It's Closing Time

America twice hitched its star to a drunk, albeit a dry one, and now it's coming close to closing time.

"Ah we're drinking and we're dancing/And the band is really happening/And the Johnny Walker wisdom's running high," sings Leonard Cohen in "Closing Time." "All the women tear their blouses off/And the men they dance on the polka-dots/And it's partner found/It's partner lost/And it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops: it's closing time."

Yes, we're coming to closing time for George W. Bush and his Darth Vader vice-president, Dick Cheney, who are now scrambling to get in one more war before they have to fish or cut bait - and in this case, "fish" means leaving office and (hopefully) getting tracked down in whatever jungle they're hiding and dragged before a court of law to answer for their crimes.

And "cut bait" means following the lead of their good friend Pervez Musharraf and suspending the Constitution, declaring martial law and giving themselves unlimited dictatorial powers for the rest of their unnatural lives.

O yes, for a while there the bar was hopping; it was quite a scene. The women were tearing their blouses off and the men were dancing on the polka dots. The rich were getting obscenely rich, the yachts were getting larger, the private jets were flying higher, the diamonds were getting shinier, and the square footage of the houses was growing so large that the help needed roller skates.

It must have been fun for Bush and Cheney, the two of them jerking off on power, and for the fat cats who stuck their hands in our hard-earned tax dollars and stuffed their pockets, and for the dictators and tyrants who took this country for every cent they could.

But now the staff's deserting the ship like the rats they are, and it's going to be hell to pay when the fiddler stops and the bill comes due for the Johnny Walker wisdom of torture and invasion and bloody murder and mayhem abroad and corruption and bankruptcy at home.

"And the whole damn place goes crazy twice," Cohen sings. "And it's once for the devil/ And once for Christ/But the Boss don't like these dizzy heights/We're busted in the blinding lights/Of closing time."

No, the Boss don't like all these babies who got burned and maimed. He don't like seeing those poor deluded souls being taught to blow themselves up in the name of Muhammad. He don't like the way America used its soldiers, who believed in honor and service and thought they were defending their country.

He don't like the mercenaries and the bagmen and the billions of dollars that went "lost" in the sands of Iraq, or the history of mankind that got lost in those very same sands. He don't like the corporate greed that brought about the subprime scandal and will soon shake our country into another Depression.

He's not too fond of the pollution of the Creation, either, or of the rest of the scum and the snakes let loose by Bush, Cheney, Rove and their friends.

No, it's once for the devil and once for Christ, and the devil's already got his due, and Christ? Hell, he's been lost since the beginning of this disastrous enterprise. Turn the other cheek? Just how good did that sound to this "Christian" nation after 9/11?

The question for the ages is simply this: why didn't we stop them? Why didn't we stop them after they stole the first election? Why didn't we stop them when they lied their way into war? Why didn't we stop them in the second election? Why didn't we stop them after we elected a whole slate of candy-assed Democrats to Congress?

Why is this still going on, when impeachment is too good for these bastards?

Was it because we were all drugged with television? Was it because there was no draft, so the cruel wars we recklessly started only affected the military and their families? Was it because the cheap and easy credit let us all live beyond our means? Was it because we thought that, given enough luck and time, we could all get rich and famous - or at least get our own reality shows, be famous for being famous, and have a tank full of sharks in our living rooms?

There's no 12-step program for bombing the world. There's no way to go around apologizing to every man, woman and child we've hurt. One day at time? There aren't enough days. There's no sponge big enough to sop up all the blood on Bush and Cheney's hands.

We didn't stop them. We'll have to live with that. Some of us preached and shouted and wrote polemics, but none of us stopped them. Now we've got a bunch of lame presidential candidates who either haven't got the guts to stop them or who want to jump on the gravy train themselves.

We're counting the days, but we still haven't stopped them. We're busted in the blinding light, and there will be hell to pay when this country staggers out of its drunken, wanton, drugged and destructive stupor.

America, you twice hitched your star to a drunk, albeit a dry one, and now it's closing time, closing time, closing time.

Joyce Marcel is a journalist and columnist in southern Vermont. A collection of her columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," is available through Write her at

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