We like Rick Steves.
Steves is a wildly successful capitalist and entrepreneur who's made a darn good business writing all those downscale/upconscience guide books, selling tours, luggage, backpacks, and money belts.
What's more, he's richer than God, lives in Edmonds, and is very out about the very liberal perspective he's gained from all that traveling.
This weekend he's stirring up the msm biddies by addressing Hempfest, the wacko tobacco celebration held annually at Myrtle Edwards Park. Hempfest is a smoke binge tolerated by Seattle law enforcement, and is ostensibly a political rally for reforming pot laws.
Steves is no hippy, but he's been a member of NORML for years, and stands steadfast for the legalization of marijuana.
He told the Seattle Times Nicole Brodeur last year: "Nobody should think that Europe is down on hard drugs," Steves said. "They just don't clog their legal system with a lot of innocent pot smokers. Our program is so laughable, wasteful and counterproductive."
"I'm not going to sit at (Edmonds') Fifth and Main streets and smoke a joint," Steves said, in an interview last week with the P-I's Susan Paynter, "but 800,000 people in the U.S. were arrested last year for marijuana while in Berne (Switzerland) they're in public, smoking and playing backgammon and not bothering anyone. It (criminal prosecution) forces people into the street to deal with scary people. It's just so wrong."
But that's not the only thing he stands up for. He spoke out against the Iraqi war, and stuck his neck out way before it turned into the reviled conflagration it is today. He wrote local and national op-eds and dared face the right-wing xenophobes with John Carlson on KVI.
It's time for patriots to stand up to fear-mongering and broaden our definition of "sanctity of life" and "homeland security." It's time for some courage and eloquence on the left. And it's time for our electorate to wake up and see the real threats to our for-the-time-being-still-great nation. If we rose to this challenge, I think we could report that "the state of our union is strong" — and it would be true.
What we like is that he dares speak out despite he's in retail. He has a high national profile with a clientele who could very well be run off by his well-publicized, well-articulated, outspoken and decidedly progressive views.
Business people are usually known for being so risk averse that their toilet habits would be more likely uttered in public than their politics.
Steves told Paynter that even though being anti-war and legalization isn''t easy: "... I won't be quiet because it's better for business. Why would I compromise my ideals just to make more? I marvel at those who are 10 times as wealthy as me who don't speak out because they want to make even more. I'm having too much fun with my work to worry if a few people wonder, 'Can I trust this pot head?'
When we hear Michael Medved say he hates to travel outside the U.S.; that he despises the very idea of Europe, and refuses to leave the homeland, we begin to understand how his neoconservativism could have come to be.
Seeing ourselves through the eyes of others or from an off-shore vantage is life-changing. One of the most attractive things about Barack Obama is his realistic international perspectives gained by growing up outside the continental U.S.
There's a realistic patriotism to Steves that we also gained after spending time outside the country. Steves says: "I have many friends in Europe named 'Frankie' or 'Johnny' who were born in the late 1940s. Every time I see them, I'm reminded that there was a time when our allies in Europe gave their children Yankee names in gratitude for what America meant to them. This can happen once again across the world: America can become a superpower in a positive sense — so appreciated that other nations would fund their militaries to protect us.