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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
I have stared at them over meals, And in between, for three months now: A full gallery of American presidents Assembled–on a paper place mat. I can tell them apart now in any crowd. I could greet them on a first-name basis: George, James, Calvin, and Andrew, Zachary, Rutherford, and Bill. Nearly all the early […]

American Presidents

by M. Shahid Alam

I have stared at them over meals,
And in between, for three months now:
A full gallery of American presidents
Assembled–on a paper place mat.

I can tell them apart now in any crowd.
I could greet them on a first-name basis:
George, James, Calvin, and Andrew,
Zachary, Rutherford, and Bill.

Nearly all the early presidents
Would be decidedly unelectable today.
Four of the first eight­the Johns, James, Martin–
Might join the Hair Club For Men.

It was Abe Lincoln who started the fashion
For facial hair. Nine of the next eleven
Had beards, moustaches, or sideburns.
It took Wilson to reverse the trend.

A serious look was de rigueur for presidential
Portraits: there are a few who look grim.
The smiles first appear with Herbert.
After him, they stretch into a grin.

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston. His second book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations was published by Palgrave (2000). He may be reached at m.alam@neu.edu.

Copyright: M. Shahid Alam.