Tag Archives: Maury Meyers

Bye, bye Rush … don’t hurry back

I posted something to my Facebook feed the other day about Rush Limbaugh losing yet another radio station from his shrinking audience.

The post prompted an interesting exchange among several individuals with whom I’m “friends,” actual friends — and it included one of my sons.

One of the individuals encouraged another respondent to actually listen to Limbaugh’s radio show before making a judgment about his message.

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/09/rush_limbaugh_is_cooked_the_stunning_fall_of_the_rights_angriest_bloviator_partner/

It reminded me a bit of a similar exchange I had in the pre-Internet days with a man I admired greatly.

The late Maury Meyers, who once served as mayor of Beaumont and who once ran unsuccessfully for Congress against the Irascible Man, the late Rep. Jack Brooks. Meyers was a Republican, Brooks a Democrat.

Meyers was a fine individual, a progressive, pro-business mayor.

He also was a fan of Rush Limbaugh.

I wrote a column about Limbaugh’s short-lived TV show in which he’d rant for 30 minutes, sign off, then come back the day and rant some more. I couldn’t take it and I said so in my column, which ended with this: “Rush Limbaugh is to TV political commentary what Willard Scott is to TV weather predicting, with one difference: Scott makes me laugh; Limbaugh makes me sick.”

Meyers called me and invited me to listen more intently to Limbaugh. Tune in to his radio show, Maury implored me. Listen to him over a period of time and tell me if you still feel the same way, he said.

I took him up on it.

Limbaugh was worse than I thought. I wrote a follow-up column, stating that Limbaugh’s radio show was the worst piece of broadcasting I’d ever heard. OK, I’ve heard worse since then, but at that time, Limbaugh was the gold standard for right-wing trash-talk.

The term “Dittohead” was meant to be worn as a badge of honor by the man’s radio listeners who proclaim themselves to be among them. It’s an interesting term, when you think about it. To me, it more or less connotes an inability or unwillingness to think for one’s self.

That, I reckon, is Limbaugh’s audience.

And it appears to be dwindling.

 

 

Changing a political culture

Maury Meyers’s death in Beaumont this week reminded me of how one politician — in this case a mayor — can seek change in a region’s political culture.

Meyers did that during his two tours of duty as mayor of a significant city along the Texas Gulf Coast. He sought to instill a more business-friendly climate in a city that had been perceived as “anti-business” because of its strong union influence in local politics.

I am not anti-union by any stretch of the imagination, but the city did languish at times because of the belief that its population was inherently unfriendly to Big Bidness.

Meyers, who grew up in New York, came to Beaumont and entered the public arena with a fresh outlook that shook up the status quo.

Many communities occasionally become stuck in the old way.

Amarillo is an example.

For too-long a time, the city’s governing body took a hands-off approach to economic development — or even certain elements of public safety. In recent years, that notion changed with a city council (which used to be called a “city commission”) that decided to make a public commitment to downtown redevelopment and also to try cracking down on lawbreakers who ignore red lights’ command to stop at intersections.

The downtown redevelopment initiative — including a tax increment reinvestment zone and its commitment to working with a developer that’s supposed to spearhead the work — remains a work in progress. The red-light camera surveillance program is more established, even though critics still complain about its effectiveness. Government, it turns out, does have a role to play in developing a community.

Maury Meyers wasn’t the archetypical political trailblazer. I’ve watched others shake up the norm in uncomfortable ways. My hometown of Portland, Ore., had a mayor, Neil Goldschmidt, in the early 1970s who put the brakes on new highway construction and committed the city to redeveloping a first-class mass transit system that would enhance downtown’s growth. He succeeded wildly.

The larger point here is that individuals, or small groups of elected officials, can make a difference.

Cities need more forward-thinkers like Maury Meyers.

R.I.P., Maury Meyers

This brief message will be of interest perhaps only to my friends in Beaumont, Texas. But I need to express some sadness today over news that a former mayor of the city where I lived and worked for nearly 11 years has died.

Maurice “Maury” Meyers served two stints as mayor of Beaumont — in the 1970s and again in the late 1980s. He was quite a visionary fellow who veered far from what I understand had been the norm for Southeast Texas politics.

http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/Former-Beaumont-mayor-Maurice-Meyers-dies-5554661.php

A region that prides itself on homegrown talent and achievers welcomed this New York-born and bred Yankee into public life. Meyers obviously didn’t speak with that distinctive Southeast Texas combination of Texas drawl and Cajun inflection that is so common in a region I’ve referred to over the years as Baja Louisiana. No, he spoke the language of a New Yorker as he campaigned for public office and then made pronouncements from his mayoral bully pulpit.

Meyers sought always to promote Beaumont as a business-friendly city, which at times was a difficult sell in a region known to this day as a haven for plaintiffs seeking judgments against businesses. The region’s historically high membership in trade and crafts unions often was seen as an “anti-business.” Meyers sought to change that perception.

I think he succeeded to some degree.

Perhaps the apex of Meyers’s political career came when he challenged the late long-time U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks in 1990. Meyers ran as a Republican against the cantankerous Democratic lawmaker. Meyers lost, which was no surprise, given Brooks’s huge reservoir of support among African-Americans and union members. The newspaper where I worked, the Beaumont Enterprise, endorsed Meyers over Brooks — a decision we didn’t make lightly. Suffice to say it angered “Sweet Ol’ Brooks” greatly.

I respected Meyers greatly for the courage he showed in trying to reform what I thought then was a stagnant political culture.

He was a good man who fought like hell for the city and the region he adopted as his own.

Listen carefully to Fox News

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/06/living-world-fox-news-built

The above link is a short essay posted on Mother Jones, a left-wing political website.

The blog posted here is from a guy named Kevin Drum, who invites viewers to watch Fox News for an extended period to fully understand how the network has helped redefine the American political conservative movement.

Drum writes: “Over the years, the more that I’ve thought about the evolution of conservative politics over the past few decades, the more I become convinced that Fox News is really at the center of it. Sure, it all started with a base of Reagan and the Christian Right and talk radio and the Republican takeover of the South. But Newt Gingrich was the game changer. He’s the one who brought conservative politics to a truly new, truly unprecedented level of toxic rancor.”

I don’t watch Fox News much any longer. I used to tune in to a few news shows. Then I, too, became disinterested in the Fox bias, which of course ran counter to my own bias — which I admit to freely and without apology.

This notion of watching a media outlet with which one disagrees takes me back to a time, back in Beaumont, when I did the same thing.

I was talking at the time to the then-mayor of Beaumont, Maury Meyers, a fine gentleman with whom I had a nice relationship. I complained to Meyers about Rush Limbaugh’s TV show, which aired briefly in the early 1990s. Maury invited me to watch more than a single episode before passing judgment on Limbaugh’s show.

I did as Meyers suggested — and concluded after a week of watching Rush’s rants that he was worse than I imagined.

I wrote in a column, after subjecting myself to the ordeal, that Limbaugh was to political commentary what Willard Scott was to weather forecasting. Neither man really knew anything about the subjects with which they dealt. “Willard Scott makes me laugh,” I wrote at the time, “Rush Limbaugh makes me sick.”

Fox News is a major player these days in the on-going American political drama. Drum concludes:

“Yes, the tea party has won. But it won because of support from Fox News. In reality, it’s Fox News that won. And for all that Fox gets a lot of attention, I still wonder how many non-conservatives really watch it. Not just the occasional clip on Jon Stewart or Media Matters that’s good for a laugh or an eye roll. How many really sit down occasionally and take in a full evening? Or a whole day? Because that’s the only way you’ll really understand.”

Yep. I do understand.