I was very pleased to read Rochelle’s “From the Publisher” in which she noted just how fundamental a free press is to our representative democracy. And that is precisely why it pains me to see the Empire-Tribune serve as a mouthpiece of mendacity, which is precisely what happened when — without investigation and without comment — it passed off as an article what was nothing more than a self-serving “Press Release” of Congressman Carter.

Freedom is not free. It never has been, and it never will be. Rather, it carries with it certain burdens. And those who are charged with the responsibility of shepherding certain of these freedoms — e.g., the freedom of the press — bear a special burden. As Rochelle noted, a free press “keep[s] the public informed, as well as bring[s] positive change, and helps hold our government and officials accountable when making decisions.” But, I must ask, how well does the Empire-Tribune shoulder this burden when it allows Mr. Carter to assert — unchecked even for basic, factual correctness — things like the following: “Democrats said, ‘Republicans are the problem, throw the bums out,’ and a lot of people listened. Now, here we are, a year later and gas prices are still preposterously high, our borders are still broken…”

Taking each of these in-turn:

1. It is not “a year later.” The Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007, which, by my calculation, is only six months. Not a year! Surely, Mr. Carter knows this? So, at least as far as I can see, he is just purposely attempting to deceive people for political gain. (Either that or he can’t count.)

2. Yes, our borders are broken. But the question is, why? The answer is simple. For the past twelve years, the Republican Congress did absolutely nothing to secure our borders. In fact, the leader of Mr. Carter’s own party, President Bush, has done almost nothing to enforce the federal laws “already on the books” against employers who unlawfully employ people in this country illegally nor has he moved forward to build the border fence — a mandate which the Republicans, themselves, passed and appropriated. Mr. Carter knows (or should know) this. So, he is either purposively deceiving folks or he is incompetent (or both).

3. Yes, gas prices are high, but I must wonder how much Mr. Carter cares about this when he, himself, owns — as of his May 23, 2007 filing — somewhere between $1,000,00 and $5,000,000 in Exxon stock! Where the big five oil and gas companies made a net profit of $97 billion in 2006 and are projected to bring in even more in 2007, I think it is fair to question Mr. Carter’s sincerity about “preposterously high” gas prices. Particularly, when you consider these profits are the direct result of the favorable legislation (read, tax subsidies) enacted under the Republican-controlled Congress. Again, Mr. Carter knows all of this. So, when he tries to lay the cause of high gas prices at the doorstep of congressional Democrats, he is just purposively deceiving people for political gain.

Now, I do not necessarily object to Mr. Carter’s attempt to deceive his constituents; in fact, I kind of expect it from him. But I do object to the Empire-Tribune’s failure to live up to its own, stated standards of “hold[ing] our government and officials accountable….” As Rochelle pointed out in her article, our representative democracy, indeed, depends on it.

Alvis Yardley, Chairman

Erath County Democratic Party