President Obama and the Pope

This week in Rome, President Obama will meet with Pope Francis for the first time.

Since his election last year, Pope Francis has made numerous proclamations that many have found to be unusually liberal minded for the Church, both politically and even when it comes to social issues like gay marriage. During their closed door meeting on Thursday, President Obama and the Pope are expected to discuss an issue that's been of great concern to both of them: the problem of growing inequality and lack of opportunity among the poor. In the U.S., some in the right-wing media have gone so far as to label the Pope a communist or, even worse, a LIBERAL. They've come to expect such talk from the President, but when the leader of the Catholic Church starts talking about the failure of 'trickle-down economics', he's simply gone too far. According to Rush Limbaugh, "this pope makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism." God forbid that the Church voice an opinion on unchecked greed and the plight of the poor.

While it's true that President Obama and Pope Francis have plenty of common ground when it comes to helping the poor, there are also some areas where the two disagree. Obama's use of drones and the civilian casualties that sometimes result are one. Legalized abortion is another. Still, Pope Francis has made it clear in words and actions that world poverty is his overriding concern and that's what's expected to be the focus of tomorrow's meeting.

Change comes slow to government and even slower to the Church, but for progressives, it's encouraging to see the subjects of inequality and world poverty even being discussed at all.

Barack Obama: The Illustrated Man



When I started this illustration, I planned to show President Obama as "The Illustrated Man" from the Ray Bradbury stories, covered with tattoos representing the major events of his term thus far. For now, I've limited the focus to the two major environmental catastrophies which occurred this past year, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the nuclear radiation leak in Japan. Both continue to cause untold damage to the human, animal and plant life in ever-widening areas surrounding the disasters and are leading many to reconsider the safety of offshore oil drilling and nuclear energy.Not surprisingly, most of the damage control by the industries involved seem to be in the area of PR, with assurances that these are freak occurrences that couldn't happen again. BP has even requested permission to resume offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico less than a year after the explosion of the rig that lead to the largest spill in U.S. history. And nuclear power companies are continuing their push to expand plants here in the U.S. and worldwide. As of last week, Japan declared the Fukushima crisis a Level 7 event (the maximum) on the international system for rating nuclear accidents Tuesday, putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union.