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FATTENING WALL STREET — Mike Whitney reports on the rapid metamorphosis of new Fed Chair Janet Yallin into a lackey for the bankers, bond traders and brokers. The New Religious Wars Over the Environment: Joyce Nelson charts the looming confrontation between the Catholic Church and fundamentalists over climate change, extinction and GMOs; A People’s History of Mexican Constitutions: Andrew Smolski on the 200 year-long struggle of Mexico’s peasants, indigenous people and workers to secure legal rights and liberties; Spying on Black Writers: Ron Jacobs uncovers the FBI’s 50 year-long obsession with black poets, novelists and essayists; O Elephant! JoAnn Wypijewski on the grim history of circus elephants; PLUS: Jeffrey St. Clair on birds and climate change; Chris Floyd on the US as nuclear bully; Seth Sandronsky on Van Jones’s blind spot; Lee Ballinger on musicians and the State Department; and Kim Nicolini on the films of JC Chandor.
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.