Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, January 31, 2014

Irony of Ironies -- Why are Kavanagh and Tobin afraid to answer for their communications on SB1070?

On Wednesday, January 29, our good friend John Kavanagh heard HB2366 in House Appropriations. Passed by both chambers on Thursday, January 30, the bill appropriates $100k to provide lawyers for current and former lawmakers subject to subpoenas for documents related to discussions of any kind on the subject of SB1070 (in 2010). From the Arizona Republic,
The Legislature also approved a $100,000 appropriation to fight subpoenas issued to current and former lawmakers about their communications concerning 2010’s Senate Bill 1070. Tobin called the subpoenas “an attack on the legislative process” because they targeted communications lawmakers received and sent while doing their jobs. Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, said an easier and cheaper way to deal with the subpoenas would be to repeal SB1070. (emphasis mine)
One irony is in that both Tobin and Kavanagh voted AYE on SCR1001 in 2011, a direct attack on the judicial branch of Arizona government. That Senate Concurrent Resolution referred Prop 115 to the ballot in 2012. The voters, however, by a nearly 3 to 1 margin (1,446,970 to 553,132) beat back that attack.

More irony lies in the multiple attacks the legislature has launched on the Independent Redistricting Commission, including that one of the issues they used to justify the attempted decapitation of the IRC back in 2001 was the Open Meeting Law which requires all communications, except limited scope authorization for executive session matters, to be out in the open. Discussions about the actual mapping work done by the IRC may not be hidden from public scrutiny.

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How many ways have these buzzards thumbed their noses at Arizona voters? Let's not forget last Friday's oral arguments in federal court because the legislature believes the voters harmed them by establishing the IRC; and action taken by the legislature this week toward eliminating the right of the people to VETO the Voter Suppression Bill.

In the video, Andy Tobin says he was APPALLED by the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union would have the audacity to subpoena legislative records. He must not have much regard for civil liberties, except for those of the gods who get elected to be lawmakers, who should not be subjected to "frivolous lawsuits." That legislators would be compelled to testify, or at minimum disclose prior communications, given that they generally are subject to "legislative privilege" strongly suggests this is not frivolous.

Kavanagh was even more indignant, saying the "subpoena is an extremely dangerous thing for the legislature as an institution, not to mention individual members." He then went on a 5-minute or so diatribe about the over broad nature of this particular demand for documents, calling it a classic "fishing expedition."

He then brought out his shiny object (fishing lure, apparently to distract the viewers),
...they have words like "English" in there, and you're talking about a monumental amount of documents... I teach college, and I send emails to my students who say "what courses should I take?" I say English 101. That email now has to go to the ACLU. It's ridiculous...
What is ridiculous is that because NOW Kavanagh has the gavel, he can say outrageous things -- make arguments that nobody challenges HIM on whether his logic is at all rational.

Did anyone ask John Kavanagh why he is telling college students who ask for his guidance that they should take English 101? Most of the people in that hearing room were either college graduates or current college students. How much would you be willing to bet that quite a few of the people who sat there silently taking it in wondered about why he had to suggest to students to take a course that is UNIVERSALLY a required subject to get any degree from the college at which he teaches (Scottsdale Community College)?

He also complains that the process is incredibly time consuming. The real BOTTOM LINE here is that John Kavanagh appears to completely detest the entire notion that he has to be accountable for his actions and words as a state lawmaker.

Oh, and there's the "chilling effect" on constituent communications if people realize their emails to lawmakers will be disclosed. John, disclosure of emails or other communications with constituents ALREADY is subject to Open Records Law disclosure. The ACLU subpoena is immaterial to that situation.

So, John, methinks thou doth protest too much.

By the way, on my November 19, 2013 blog post Kavanagh said this in a comment on the Arizona Eagletarian,
The legislature is not a debating society. It is a lawmaking body. I debate the issues on Horizon, Politics Unplugged, Sunday Square off, forums like Saturday's Stand Your Ground one and blogs like this. There is a time and place for everything. We debate bills in the legislature that have a chance of passage to improve them, not for sport or to comply with some liberal equal time rule.
No, John, if you allowed actual debate in your committee, you would have been challenged on your shiny object story about counseling students to take the FIRST LISTED REQUIRED course for all degrees at Scottsdale Community College. And you would have had to go on record answering for the inane misdirection tactic.

If the Arizona Legislature actually WERE a debating society, I have to figure that public policy decision processes would IMPROVE dramatically.

John Kavanagh had the audacity to complain that for fear of some court case even years after a vote on a bill, lawmakers should have to censor themselves.

Holy CRAP, John! Do you ever listen to yourself? You have said it with your typing fingers and you've said it with your audible voice, that you believe you do NOT have to answer to ANYONE for your actions and words as a lawmaker.

On my December 7, 2013 blog post, Kavanagh said this,
Finally, the ethics of journalism and I assume you consider yourself a journalist, dictate that a journalist have verified information before leveling a serious charge against another. I should not have had to prove the legislature innocent. The assumption of guilt is bad policy in both law and journalism. (emphasis mine)
I made (and make) no claim as to my credentials. My credentials are irrelevant. My words stand worthy of judgment on their own.

However, John Kavanagh's habit of engaging his mouth (or keyboard) before putting his brain in gear IS relevant. In POLITICS, which is what we are dealing with here, both John Kavanagh and Andy Tobin ARE required to answer to the people. Both are found wanting. In this case, wanting one hundred thousand dollars to keep them and their comrades from having to disclose the viciousness of the racism that was underpinning the SB1070 debate in 2010.

When Kavanagh and his ilk are sufficiently sanctioned for their careless, reckless, and (at minimum) offensive conduct, maybe they will get the idea that they should not just do things willy nilly to get over on voters.


By the way, for entertainment value, at the end of the video clip, Kavanagh gets a kick out of his committee staffer mentioning my name as having signed in to state a position opposed to HB2366.


  1. Steve,

    It is almost like a broken record, isn't it? I am speaking, of course, about the Arizona Legislative Republican's disdain, if not hatred, of the voters of Arizona. At every opportunity, Rep. Kavanagh and his ilk in the Legislature thumb their noses at the voters of Arizona as shown here.

    When will the voters of Arizona wake up and stop the madness?

  2. Response from Kavanagh containing an ad hominem attack and nothing that addresses the substance of your post in 5...4...3...

  3. Steve, it usually takes you a few sentences into a post to say something incorrect or commit a logical fallacy. However, this time you dropped a fallacy in your post’s title. Specifically, your claim that Tobin and I are afraid to answer for our communications. I believe that I gave numerous reasons why I support the narrowing or canceling of the subpoenas during both the Appropriations Committee hearing and at 3rd read of the bill. You even embedded a link to what you call my “5-minute or so diatribe.” You may disagree with my reasons but to say my opposition to the subpoenas is based upon fear of what they contain is a baseless accusation that ignores what you cite in your own blog posting.

    I also fail to see the connection, much less the irony, of our positions on SCR1001 or the IRC and the subpoenas.

    I also suspect that you had no idea what is contained in the subpoenas and the breath of their reach because of your statement, “Did anyone ask John Kavanagh why he is telling college students who ask for his guidance that they should take English 101?” I mentioned that because when I use my non-legislative email accounts to advise my students at SCC, I often tell them that they need to take English 101 and 102 to get their degree. Because the ACLU wants copies of all my communications that contain the word “English” regardless of whether or not they are related to SB1070, I have to turn such non-legislative emails over to the ACLU. That is absurd and that is one reason why we are challenging the subpoenas.

    Finally and once again, ask Chad Campbell whether or not I allow debate in my committee. Then stop denying its existence. You destroy your credibility when you make obviously false and biased statements, such as that I do not allow debate in my committee.

    1. You are correct that I don't know what's in the subpoenas. Had you published a copy, I would certainly have read it. But I very much suspect that your "5-minute or so diatribe" is just as full of fallacy as is much of what you say or write.

      Your example of email advice to students about English 101 is very much nonsense. EVERY student that seeks a degree at SCC learns FIRST THING that the FIRST required course for EVERY single degree is English 101. Clearly, your use of that example obscures understanding of the situation rather than clarifying.

      Did the subpoena say WHY they are looking for the word, English?

      A stronger argument regarding that aspect of the subpoena would have been to restate or at least speculate on the reason the word was specified and then show why it would not be relevant. As is, however, you presented an argument that only makes one wonder what your reasons for reluctance really are.

      In your diatribe (in the video clip), you argue that lawmakers may -- heaven forbid -- have to censor themselves for fear of being held accountable. John, if you're afraid of being held accountable you NEED to be thinking before you speak.

      You have mentioned Chad Campbell more than once. That's an Appeal to Authority fallacy, if I recall correctly.

      Perhaps you deceive yourself as much as you deceive everyone else, but when you made light of people being afraid of Andy Tobin and therefore not having any questions for him, you demonstrated more credibly the falsehood of your claim that you allow debate.

      I haven't counted the different times or ways that you have said I destroy my credibility, but you most certainly overuse the expression... and it's neither logical nor rational for you to do. I suspect that you say that when you want my credibility to be destroyed, but not one time have you supported your claim about my credibility. Therefore, you have fallen far short in every one of your so-called arguments about my credibility.

      Perhaps you would benefit from a Duke University MOOC class on called Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.

      Perhaps you would have already known that, had you dared to read my blog post paying homage to your confrontational style.

      By the way, in your comment, you stated, "but to say my opposition to the subpoenas is based upon fear of what they contain is a baseless accusation..."

      That's a baseless inference on your part. The closest I come to that is when I wrote,
      "He also complains that the process is incredibly time consuming. The real BOTTOM LINE here is that John Kavanagh appears to completely detest the entire notion that he has to be accountable for his actions and words as a state lawmaker."

      The immediate context was your claim that the process is incredibly time consuming. However, are we to now understand that your REAL fear is the content of those communications? You know, because you stated it as such.

      The bottom line, John, is that you have used expressions SUGGESTING you are knowledgeable about constructing strong arguments. But look beneath the surface of those statements and there are lots of weaknesses.

    2. Dear John,
      Sorry you have to go through your emails even though some of those emails are advising students to take a required class. (Your students must really appreciate your good advice.) Since we have spent so much money defending SB1070 and now you and your fellow legislators want more taxpayer money to defend yourselves, it seems prudent that Arizonans get to see what kind of deliberations occurred via private emails regarding SB1070. What looks like absurdity to you, looks like accountability and transparency to me.

  4. I do not have a big problem providing all emails that relate to SB1070 AND contain words like "immigration" or even "English," although some may be concerned about legislative privilege. But as I said in my original post, "Because the ACLU wants copies of all my communications that contain the word “English” regardless of whether or not they are related to SB1070, I have to turn such non-legislative emails over to the ACLU. That is absurd and that is one reason why we are challenging the subpoenas."

    The ACLU subpoena asks for ANY email or written document with the word english from my legislative emails, college emails, private emails and legislative and private documents. Don't you think that that is too broad. If a conservative group were asking a similar request of the Sierra Club or Occupy Phoenix, I suspect you would be crying harassment and witch hunt. Does your logic course cover the fallacy of "logical inconsistency?"

    1. I would have to understand the purpose for the request before I could pronounce it as "too broad."

      If a conservative group initiated a legal action related to SC or OP, I might be concerned, but I would be more interested in the underlying issue said conservative group was getting at with the lawsuit before I could express an opinion.

      Your effort to get me to agree based on commonality (it's ONLY common sense that you would object, and if the shoe was on the other foot, most certainly I would too) falls short of logical consistency.

      I don't recall you addressing the underlying issues that the ACLU is getting at. That would go a long way in whether you're clarifying rather than distracting with your arguments.

      You can find a syllabus for the MOOC at and searching for the class title (Think again...)


      The class syllabus is on that page.

  5. The ACLU is trying to prove that SB1070 was racially motivated. How an email unrelated to SB1070 and its related issues with the word english in it accomplishes that is beyond me. They want to look at any email or document I ever received or sent out in the last several years that has the word english in it.

    Asking you how you would react if one of your sacred cows was being slain is not a a logical fallacy. It is a request (challenge) for you to empathize and differentiate between the two victims. If you have opposite reactions based only upon the ideology of the target, than you are inconsistent. Not a good thing.

    By the way, what do you mean by a commonality fallacy?

    Unfortunately, I do not have time now to check out the course. Between the legislature, my college job, my personal life and answering your posts, my book is full.

    1. Sorry it took me more than a day to get you your comment. I was stricken with H1N1 flu over the weekend and spent last night in the hospital. That's a wicked flu... and I had gotten my flu shot in September. I don't think I'll be up for debating for at least a week.

  6. Looks like a good course but seems light on the fallacies, which drive the theory home. Needs to be augmented with three chapters on fallacies in "Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric" by Khane - b and in its 6,423rd printing.est book on the subject

    1. Building the foundation of sound, rational thinking seems to be important to understanding whether something is fallacious.

  7. Agreed but struggling with the distinction between deductive and inductive reasoning can be worse than having the flu.