Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An homage to John Kavanagh, principal badger of the AZ House GOP caucus

I've been pleased that over the last few months, state Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD23/Fountain Hills), chairman of the House Appropriations committee -- who I first met during state redistricting -- has shown great interest in reading the Arizona Eagletarian.

Not only has he become an avid reader, but he has graced our pages (posts) here with his always modest "insight." He takes it upon himself to direct my research, judge my efforts and assess... well, assess everything he reads here, pretty much, as "pathetic," that I'm "illiterate" and to be generally evasive when he's caught in a vise.

Oh, yes, he has also labeled me unprofessional. And he has attempted to give me lessons in journalism. It's fair to say that if I had an employer, he would have already advocated for my termination. I've been there too many times before to expect otherwise. Power hates being challenged.

John has instructed me to read books on argument and rhetoric and take classes on critical reading.
The community colleges have a course named CRE101: Critical Reading and the title speaks for itself. You need to take it.
This despite his acknowledgement that I was correct in citing the distinction between "may" and "shall" when he explained the information he obtained from the Department of Public Safety regarding the bet he and his comrades made in last year's session in providing a work around for people with expired fingerprint clearance cards.

When he doesn't like the words I use (e.g. "hubris" which he has in abundance; "corruption" which he took offense at another commenter calling him and his Republican colleagues in general and specific; and, of course, "Chicago politics") he objects if I don't cite a dictionary definition... AND when I do.

This all, of course, adds up to that John Kavanagh pounds his chest and roars, apparently hoping I (and anyone else with whom he disagrees) will seize up like a deer in headlights. He claims to be an expert at argument, but really is more like the Monty Python characters, a caricature of a sound debater who only wins because he's the big voice of legislative Republicans. And when any of his comrades dare leave the confines of Tea-publican orthodoxy, he shouts about Chicago politics.

John, if you want to make sound arguments supporting your viewpoints and your proposed legislation, I welcome your input. But when you conduct yourself like a cartoon character, don't get bent out of shape when that's how people respond to you.

By the way, I don't completely blow off all of Kavanagh's suggestions.

I have been writing for more than 20 years, having first been published in the early 1990s. Obviously, plenty of readers appreciate my perspective. But it's always available to learn and do better. To that end, I'm taking a MOOC at titled Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.  That's where I got the Monty Python clip.

The bottom line about argument is that strong arguments do not always persuade, and don't always even intend to pursuade.

Here's feedback one student posted in a discussion forum during a previous session of the MOOC.

The bottom line in this homage is that I DO appreciate Kavanagh's interest in the Arizona Eagletarian. Since my interest is in following the legislature, I follow Kavanagh. But when he wins, it usually is not based on the strength of his arguments. It's usually because he musters the most bluster, intimidates his opponents and has enough Tea-publicans voting with him most of the time that the strength of his arguments rarely matter.

I appreciate that he has introduced HB2023, to tighten up the gap in coverage for those working with children and vulnerable adults with expired fingerprint clearance cards. The bill could (and SHOULD) be made better, by amending it to specify the frequency (daily) for the database cross check (people with clearance cards against arrest records, hopefully throughout the entire state) and to REQUIRE the results of the cross check to be reported.

In the meantime, whether Kavanagh continues to read the Arizona Eagletarian or not (and I hope he does), he can rest assured that I will be paying attention to him.


So far, 156 House bills and resolutions, and 93 Senate bills and resolutions have been filed. Some good, too many not so good, and at least 65 of which are striker buses (technical correction bills). SB1070 is a striker bus sponsored only by Senate President Andy Biggs(hot). There are bad gun bills and good voting bills; school funding bills (maybe good) and a bill to allow (but not require) people hired to trade securities at for Arizona State Retirement System to undergo criminal background checks.

I will highlight some of the most egregious as well as keeping people like Yarbrough under a magnifying glass (think Phoenix summer sidewalks). As always, I will keep you posted.


  1. He is so condescending towards the average Arizona citizen. This Monty Python clip is a nicer version of what it's like to meet with him if he doesn't find you useful to him.
    His continuous attacks on state workers and pensions are some of the most reprehensible and hypocritical in the Legislature and that's saying something!
    Thank you for not backing down to his bullying.

  2. As always, Steve, you get your facts right and Kavanagh just bullies his way to leadership. I was stunned to hear that he doesn't believe that paying for students to attend college just because they may currently be working in retail or fast food restaurants. What he hasn't learned is that it is a whole lot cheaper to pay for their education, which could get them that better job when one opens up, than paying for them to spend their adult lives in prison. Unfortunately, he won't understand the math of that prospect. Keep up the good work.