Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yeah, But Should the FOX Say It?

Sometimes known as the "Fourth Estate", the press has a long history of keeping the government in "check" in its role as the ears of the people. So important a role, that it is even referenced in one of the pinnacles of our constitutional rights:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

For one sentence, that statement covers a lot of ground! Unfortunately, with such a sentence, there is a lot of room for interpretation. For instance: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" can be taken that Congress shall make no law that respects a religion, one that respects an establishment of religion (like a church building), or one that respects the establishment of a religion (like coming up with a new one, or making a state religion like "The Church of England"). What about the inverse? Can Congress make a law that disrespects one?

Also included is the abridgement of the freedom of speech or of the press. Abridgement means a shortened or condensed form, or a limiting of someone's rights. Cliff Notes are study tools that give a good idea of the first definition. The focus in the amendment is the second definition. We have the right to say what we want. However, we have laws against slander and libel. Slander deals with making false statements against someone. Libel is a false statement against someone that is published. We have freedom to say what we want, even if it offends someone. It's just that that statement cannot be false. You have the right to have an opinion. Heck, the name of this blog is "My Humble But Accurate Opinion". Opinions are views or judgments made, but not necessarily based on facts.

If I say, "The President of the United States dresses in drag and chases neighborhood children," that would be slander. If I published it, that would be libel. But if I say, "The President of the United States has policies that I think are detrimental to the well being of this country," I am giving an opinion. The first is punishable according to the law. The other is protected speech. As a blogger, I have the freedom to give my opinion. Hopefully that also means that I've given my opinion at least a little research background prior to giving it to my readers.

Can I see a show of hands from all of you that hate FOX News? Okay, how about those of you that hate MSNBC? I'm sure you all have your reasons, and I probably will agree with you on them. Here's my point: why are these types of "journalists", members of the "press", allowed to make such outrageous, may I even go far as to call them slanderous, statements and hide under the umbrella of "freedom of the press"?

As I stated above, the press was designed to keep the government in check. It has a responsibility to keep the government honest by holding them accountable to the people (you know, their constituents - a.k.a. "the voters"). But there is a major problem when the press stops reporting the news and just gives us their opinions PORTRAYED as news. There is a major problem when the press buries a story it doesn't like because it goes against their opinions or beliefs as to how the government should be doing things. There is also a major problem when the press reports things that in turn can cause detriment to our armed forces. You know: acts of treason.

What is the difference between a blogger and a journalist when both are simply giving opinions? Do bloggers fall under the same protections of the freedom of the press?

But is it the fault of the press? With the news networks being all owned by the entertainment industry, and ratings and advertising dollars the focus, is it any wonder that they act like they do?

Many are the solutions to fix this. Here's one that I think will help: change the name of the news organizations and make sure they are clear on when they are giving facts versus their opinions.

Change "FOX News" to "FOX News and Opinion".

© Emittravel 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

The "Last" Day of Summer!

Okay. As I write this, it's NOT the last day of summer. According to the calendar on the fridge, the autumnal equinox, or first day of fall, isn't until September 23 (over two weeks away), but around our house, the dog days of summer have come and gone. Let me explain.

We own a 2004 Jeep Wrangler. This baby is road-salt grey, with full doors, and a soft top.

Some time in early spring, we unzip and remove the side windows and back window, and store them in the basement. That's right. We don't keep them around in case of sour weather. What we do is that whenever rain is probable, we try to park facing west, roll up the glass windows, and rock the seats forward. One time I left the Jeep too close to my house (this was before Lisa and I got married and we bought the house we have now). The gutters didn't have that much of a pitch, so in heavy rains more water would flow over the sides of the gutters than make it down the downspouts. There was a really bad storm overnight and the water came over the sides of the gutters - right into the Jeep. When I left for work, I found about eight inches of water in the driver's side floor. I took an industrial vacuum and removed the water, went to work, and then looked up every drainage plug that resides under the carpet. At lunch I grabbed some needle-nosed pliers and proceeded to remove all of them. Now, when it rains, any water that gets in drains. Of course, this means no driving through rivers …

With the seats rocked forward, we have had very little issue with the seats or dashboard getting wet. It takes a Hell of a storm for the rain to blow that far in.

The Jeep is a soft top. As I like to say, there is only one kind of Jeep: the Wrangler. The others are just SUVs with Jeep logos. And I don't like the removable hard top Wranglers either. They are too much hassle to take on and off (and store when off). If you are going to buy a Wrangler with a hard top, just go ahead and buy one of the SUV versions.

It's not like I take the top off that much though. Most people who know me know that I rarely go outside without a hat. I own quite a few. I like to say that I own more hats than my wife does shoes (but she's working on it!) I have 21 hats (which includes only one baseball cap - not including winter "ski" caps used for shoveling. I'm referring only to those with brims.). The thing about hats and open air Jeeps, is that when you go over about 35 mph, there is usually enough wind to take the hat right off your head. One of those hats I keep in the center column of the Jeep - you know the kind: has one of those strings that go under your chin - for those times without the top.



My wife isn't "hatless"!

We leave the Jeep windows out until just after Labor Day weekend. At this point it is (usually) warm enough to reinstall the windows. If we wait until it gets too cold to put the windows back in, everything becomes too stiff and reinstalling them is a pain! Today was not one of those days. It hit over 90 degrees today. Though I have to admit, putting the windows back in when it is 90 degrees is also a pain.

Do you have any end of the season rituals? When is summer over for you?

© Emittravel 2014