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MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
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.