Franken lays into Focus on the Family leader at hearing

MORNING EDITION

Al Franken had a good time Wednesday in a Senate hearing on repealing DOMA. Testifying before him was Thomas Minnery of Focus on the Family, one of the pillars of the anti-gay quasi-religious establishment. Says Elizabeth Titus of Politico: “Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., took on a Focus on the Family executive at a hearing on same-sex marriage Wednesday, challenging the validity of the witness’ testimony. ‘I frankly don’t really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies this way,’ Franken told Thomas Minnery of Focus on the Family, the conservative Colorado-based group that opposes same-sex marriage. The study in question, published by a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department in 2010, found better health outcomes among children in nuclear families — a point Minnery, senior vice president for public policy, said means children are better off with straight, married parents. But Franken pointed out that the study’s definition of ‘nuclear family’ does not specify the gender of the parents in such families, suggesting a lack of evidence that same-sex couples’ kids are less healthy than the children of straight couples. ‘Sen. Franken is right,’ the lead author of the study told Politico.” Video here.

Some interesting Vikings/stadium bits in Tim Nelson’s MPR story: “ ‘We focused on the Arden Hills site to try to make that work right now,’ [Ted] Mondale said Wednesday morning. ‘The Minneapolis site was ready to go a couple months ago, but right now, the focus is on Arden Hills.’ That plan would likely have the Vikings playing in the Metrodome through 2014, with an inaugural season in Ramsey County in 2015. Backers of a stadium at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market site, though, say they’re hoping to take advantage of a delay. Developer Bruce Lambrecht said it was ‘good news for us’ that the state has taken a pass on the Vikings stadium issue so far.”

Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post’s, “The Fix” blog, talks Bachmann, migraines and disgruntled employees. “Bachmann’s staff turnover is the stuff of legend on Capitol Hill. In the space of her first term in office, [from MinnPost] she had three different chiefs of staff and experienced any number of other staff departures as well. A cavalcade of disgruntled former aides (are there ever ‘gruntled’ former aides?) willing to go public with questions and criticisms of Bachmann is decidedly problematic for her presidential candidacy. After all, if those who know (or knew) her best lack faith in her ability to do the job effectively, it will almost certainly force voters to re-examine their first, generally positive impressions of her. And, if you think that voters won’t hear about the criticisms launched against Bachmann by her former aides, you don’t follow campaigns very closely. It’s a lead pipe lock that her rivals are collecting those quotes in their opposition research files and will use them liberally on television ads if/when the time comes. The question for Bachmann is whether [ex Chief of Staff Ron] Carey’s comments and the migraine stories are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to former staffers venting or represent the full extent of the critique of Bachmann that will be offered by former employees.” We bet, “not.”

Purely by coincidence, T-Paw has thoughts on “fitness for office.” Says Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics: “Pawlenty on Wednesday appeared to inch closer toward raising questions about her fitness to be commander in chief. ‘As to Congresswoman Bachmann … I don’t know enough about the facts about her particular case, and we defer to the medical professionals and their judgment and knowledge about her particular condition,’ Pawlenty told reporters after a town-hall meeting here. ‘But as a general statement, all of the candidates are going to have to be able to demonstrate they can do all of the job of president, all of the time.’ “ Because once you’re elected to a high office, you have a moral responsibility to devote all of your time to THAT office.

Sun Country has a new owner. Says David Phelps of the Strib: “Sun Country Airlines was sold Wednesday to the owners of Cambria, the quartz countertop giant based in Le Sueur, Minn. The Davis family of southern Minnesota paid an undisclosed price for the Mendota Heights-based airline after lengthy negotiations and an auction in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Paul. But the purchase price was described by bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley as ‘substantially above’ a $24 million floor price he set for the airline when he put Sun Country up for sale earlier this year.”

Also in the Strib, Dan Browning follows yet another wave of indictments in the tackier than Petters but no-less fascinating Trevor Cook Ponzi scheme. Says Browning: “Federal authorities have finally dropped the other shoe in the $194 million Ponzi scheme orchestrated by convicted fraudster Trevor Cook, indicting three of his key associates on fraud and money laundering charges two years after an investor lawsuit exposed the scheme. Jason Bo Beckman, a brash Plymouth money manager described by regulators as a ‘ringleader’ in Cook’s scheme, and Patrick Kiley, a conservative Minneapolis radio show host who promoted the scheme on his ‘Follow the Money’ program, were booked Wednesday morning and made their initial appearances at the federal courthouse in St. Paul in the afternoon.” Browning adds, and this is good: “Kiley, 73, of Minneapolis, produced his radio program from a home Cook owned in Burnsville. The program started out on a Christian amateur radio network but eventually became syndicated on more than 200 radio stations. Kiley fomented mistrust of government institutions and the stock market, and invited listeners to call him to learn about ways they could protect their money. … Kiley said he had no choice but to read scripts prepared for him by Cook. He has told federal authorities that he believed in Cook’s currency investment strategy. In court, Kiley told U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Keyes that he had ‘probably $9 to $10’ in the bank and $11 in cash and an as-yet uncashed Social Security check ‘which I live off of … I am not a flight risk.’

Good piece by Tom Horgen of the Strib on Kieran Folliard, who is selling his stake in the Local, Kieran’s and other popular local pubs. “Why? Folliard wants to go into the whiskey business full time. Earlier this year, he replaced much of the top-selling Jameson Irish Whiskey at his pubs with his own brand, called 2 Gingers. Now the 55-year-old wants to take his product out into the marketplace, selling it to liquor stores and other bars. Liquor laws prevent the ownership of both a distillery arm (he imports his brand from Ireland) and a retail outlet (such as a bar). Therefore, he has to leave his pubs behind. He said he anticipates that the move will be scrutinized but insisted that his exit from the pubs is a ‘complete severance.’ He informed the bars’ staff Tuesday of his departure. Folliard’s decision was ‘extremely emotional,’ he said, but he’s restless for a new challenge.”

In its editorial today, the Strib writes: “[T]he budget signed into law still inflicts too much pain. The hurt will be felt most keenly on college campuses and among those who serve low-income disabled and elderly people. Child-care cuts for low-income families are especially shortsighted. That pain and the prospect of more to come should be more than sobering. It also should compel action. Now’s the time for Dayton and legislative leaders to come together to seek ways for state government to produce better results at lower cost, and for state taxes to generate more stable growth in revenue.” There should be a quota on the number times one paper can say, “Now is the time to come together.”

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Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by dean braun on 07/21/2011 - 06:51 am.

    Senator Franken: So what makes you an expert on DOMA? Every time you open your mouth something ridicoulos spews out.

  2. Submitted by Patrick Guernsey on 07/21/2011 - 07:26 am.

    Senator Franken read the study which didn’t say what Focus on the Family testified it said. In short, FOTF was lying. I think its refreshing to have a senator who is paying attention.

  3. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 07/21/2011 - 07:48 am.

    It’s refreshing to find a Senator who not only reads a study, but also understands enough about science to read the basic definitions before jumping right to the conclusions. I bet he can spell ridiculous, too.

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/21/2011 - 08:07 am.

    (#1) The intended purpose of a Senate hearing is to ask pointed questions and challenge witnesses. No special qualifications, other than being a Senator, are required for the questioner.

    If an “expert” from the FOTF misrepresents the makeup of a study group and extrapolates in error from that, and is exposed by a Senators question, who is really the “expert”?

    Do you, in your own life and beliefs, unquestioningly accept all statements by “experts”? I would guess it would only be the “experts” that you already agree with.

  5. Submitted by Tim Walker on 07/21/2011 - 08:29 am.

    Actually, I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, and that there’s a whole lot of it still underwater (and ready to surface).

    So instead of betting “not,” I’d bet “you betcha.”

  6. Submitted by Lance Groth on 07/21/2011 - 12:15 pm.

    Hypocrisy is an endless source of entertainment, isn’t it?

    Mr. Braun asks what makes Franken an expert on DOMA. Apparently respect for the opinion of experts does not extend to scientific expertise when it comes to such topics as anthropogenic global warming or evolution. FOTF doesn’t buy either one, thus rejecting the findings of the only experts available – the scientists who study these things.

    I guess experts are only useful when they agree with one’s preconceptions.

  7. Submitted by Rick Chambers on 07/21/2011 - 12:26 pm.

    ALF is the person who should be questioned here. All that education and he never learned the definition of a nuclear family. Google it Senator if you don’t understand. Perhaps the gleeful liberals here should read this response. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/272406/senator-franken-gets-laugh-he-didnt-deserve-glenn-t-stanton.

  8. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/21/2011 - 01:18 pm.

    #7, do you realize that you did not allow to enter your awareness the last sentence of the paragraph on Franken’s takedown of the FOTF’s Minnery,…

    Namely that ‘Sen. Franken is right,’ the lead author of the study told Politico”?

    Perhaps you’ll want to explore, within your own psyche, why that sentence which contradicts your argument as well as the link you provided completely escaped your notice.

    In my experience, there are large numbers of dysfonic “conservatives” whose perspectives are built entirely on not allowing any verifiable, factual information to enter their awareness if it conflicts with what they “believe” to be true (the very definition of a “true believer”).

    Thus the only way they can remain “true” to what they “believe” is to respond to everything that contradicts what they hold to be true by simply pretending that such information simply does not exist or dismissing it as coming from sources that are not among “us,” and therefore, sources not to trusted as speakers of “truth.”

  9. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/21/2011 - 01:18 pm.

    (#7)

    ….‘Sen. Franken is right,’ the lead author of the study told Politico.”…

  10. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 07/21/2011 - 01:43 pm.

    The study authors confirmed that their use of nuclear family was not gender specific; if you have issues with their definition, take it up with them. Senator Franken did what we teach all physicians and scientists in traning to do: read a paper carefully, and make sure that the subjects and endpoints of a study are clearly defined; don’t just skip the methods section and jump to the final paragraph.

  11. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 07/21/2011 - 01:47 pm.

    Rick (#7):

    I followed your advice to Senator Franken and googled “nuclear family.” One of the first entries was the encyclopedia Britanica definition, which includes:

    “Although such couples are most often a man and a woman, the definition of the nuclear family has expanded with the advent of same-sex marriage. Children in a nuclear family may be the couple’s biological or adopted offspring.”

    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/421619/nuclear-family

    The point here, though, wasn’t the universal definition of the term of the term “nuclear family,” which, if you google it, has a number of different definitions. Rather, the point was the definition of “nuclear family” being used in the study. Franken was pointing out that the FOTF guy was not using the definition used in the study, and that the testimony based on that study was wrong. Again, this wasn’t a definition based on Franken’s ideology or lack of education or googling skills. This was the definition used by the study’s author, who confirmed that Franken was right. Unlike the universal definition of the term, there was a right answer when it comes to the study. Franken, who read the study got it right, and the FOTF guy got it wrong. Franken = right, FOTF = wrong. Franken = true, FOTF = false. Its that simple.

    The link you provided – which is a rebuttal by another FOTF guy – is a testament to the ignorance and dishonesty of people who won’t change their minds regardless of the actual facts. 2 + 2 really does equal 5 with these people. The argument is essentially that the number of same sex couples in the “nuclear family” category is too small to be signficant because of the limited number of states that allow same sex marriage. That may or may not be so (and unlike Franken, FOTF did not check), but that doesn’t mean you can use the study to criticize same sex couples, because that wasn’t a finding of the study. Again, just ask the study’s author.

    Sorry, Rick, but the gleeful liberals can stay gleeful, Al Franken can rest assured that he got it right, and I guess FOTF can keep lying no matter how times people like Al Franken try to straighten them out.

  12. Submitted by Norm Champ on 07/21/2011 - 02:58 pm.

    #11) don’t tell me our Senator is moonlighting for a Stillwater clinic…”Al Franken try to straighten them out”. Weak, I know.

  13. Submitted by Rick Chambers on 07/21/2011 - 03:17 pm.

    Looks to me like it is the liberals who won’t accept the facts.

  14. Submitted by Rick Chambers on 07/21/2011 - 03:20 pm.

    I made a mistake I thought this was a non partisan web site. I was mistaken It should say “MinnPost a liberal approach to news”

  15. Submitted by Kristin Neises on 07/21/2011 - 03:45 pm.

    I don’t totally stay up to date on all MN politics, but following what I do pay attention to and learn about, I think Mr. Franken has done a very decent job. I would hope that everyone could open their mind up to the progress of our politicians and not just judge them on what they were, what they said, what they did, etc., in past lives. It’s what the person does while in office that I am truly concerned about.

    I would hope that each of our Senators and Representatives would only be so vigilant and serious about their jobs that they review all documents and ask “Why”.

  16. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/21/2011 - 04:14 pm.

    Wow! #7, #15, you read all those responses and still had that reaction?!

    I REST MY CASE!

    Oh, and by the way, for dysfons, actual, verifiable, provable, truth does, indeed, have “a liberal bias,” but it’s not actually a bias. It only seems that way because it tweaks the psychological dysfunctions of those dysfons and makes them feel all squirmy and uncomfortable.

    Actual truth makes them uncomfortable, therefore, it must NOT be true (especially since a lot of people feel the same way about things as they do).

    Here’s a clue, dysfons: having people, even large numbers of people agree with you, doesn’t make what you believe true. The fact that something can be reliably demonstrated and verified to be true, makes it true (at least until it can be proved otherwise at a later time by other, verifiable information).

    If you choose to believe something that can’t be verified to be true, it’s a PERSONAL BELIEF, and, lucky for you, our country respects such personal beliefs, but functional, intelligent, emotionally-healthy people NEVER confuse their personal beliefs with “facts” or “truth,” nor are they insecure enough in their beliefs to want to force them on others (although describing them to others is certainly acceptable).

  17. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 07/21/2011 - 04:18 pm.

    “Looks to me like it is the liberals who won’t accept the facts.”

    Really? What facts do you think liberals won’t accept?

  18. Submitted by Rick Chambers on 07/21/2011 - 06:42 pm.

    A nuclear family is defined as a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children, all exclusively sharing living quarters—Wikipedia
    A nuclear family is defined as a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children, all exclusively sharing living quarters –Merriam-Webster
    nuclear family n.
    A family unit consisting of a mother and father and their progeny.–The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
    nuclear family–noun
    a social unit composed of father, mother, and children. Dictionary.com

    nu’clear fam’ily
    a social unit composed of father, mother, and children—info please.com

    “Here is the study’s definition of a nuclear family: “One or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.”

    While Franken may be technically correct — that definition might possibly include two men “married” in Massachusetts who adopted children — to accept Franken’s premise, you have to deny common sense. I strongly suspect, given that homosexuals account for at most roughly 4% of the population and that the survey studied married couples, that there were few, if any, homosexual groupings in this survey.

    This is a good example of what happens when you elect a left-wing comedian to Congress, or a community organizer to the presidency. Whether it is economics (government spending and taxes create jobs) or social policy (mothers and fathers don’t matter), the left is so out-of-touch that when reality conflicts with its ideology, it is reality that has to give way.”– Gary Bauer
    A nuclear family is defined as a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children, all exclusively sharing living quarters—Wikipedia
    A nuclear family is defined as a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children, all exclusively sharing living quarters –Merriam-Webster
    nuclear family n.
    A family unit consisting of a mother and father and their progeny.–The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
    nuclear family–noun
    a social unit composed of father, mother, and children. Dictionary.com

    nu’clear fam’ily
    a social unit composed of father, mother, and children—info please.com

    “Here is the study’s definition of a nuclear family: “One or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.”

    While Franken may be technically correct — that definition might possibly include two men “married” in Massachusetts who adopted children — to accept Franken’s premise, you have to deny common sense. I strongly suspect, given that homosexuals account for at most roughly 4% of the population and that the survey studied married couples, that there were few, if any, homosexual groupings in this survey.

    This is a good example of what happens when you elect a left-wing comedian to Congress, or a community organizer to the presidency. Whether it is economics (government spending and taxes create jobs) or social policy (mothers and fathers don’t matter), the left is so out-of-touch that when reality conflicts with its ideology, it is reality that has to give way.”– Gary Bauer
    A nuclear family is defined as a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children, all exclusively sharing living quarters—Wikipedia
    A nuclear family is defined as a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children, all exclusively sharing living quarters –Merriam-Webster
    nuclear family n.
    A family unit consisting of a mother and father and their progeny.–The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
    nuclear family–noun
    a social unit composed of father, mother, and children. Dictionary.com

    nu’clear fam’ily
    a social unit composed of father, mother, and children—info please.com

    “Here is the study’s definition of a nuclear family: “One or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.”

    While Franken may be technically correct — that definition might possibly include two men “married” in Massachusetts who adopted children — to accept Franken’s premise, you have to deny common sense. I strongly suspect, given that homosexuals account for at most roughly 4% of the population and that the survey studied married couples, that there were few, if any, homosexual groupings in this survey.

    This is a good example of what happens when you elect a left-wing comedian to Congress, or a community organizer to the presidency. Whether it is economics (government spending and taxes create jobs) or social policy (mothers and fathers don’t matter), the left is so out-of-touch that when reality conflicts with its ideology, it is reality that has to give way.”– Gary Bauer

  19. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 07/21/2011 - 11:26 pm.

    Rick (#18) I was aware of the fact that there were definitions of “nuclear family” that did not include same-sex couples. That is why in addition to including one that did, I made the point that there wasn’t a universal definition. You seem to think that Franken was wrong for thinking same-sex couples were part of a nuclear family, but using your test (google) provides support for that position. Not to mention that the study in question also took that position. I realize that in your world gay and lesbian couples will probably never been accepted as normal, but in the real world that is changing, and changing quickly.

    You are able to regurgitate the rebutal by FOTF, but you still can’t make it valid. The fact that the study likely includes few same sex couples doesn’t mean that you can speculate that the data would support a conclusion that isn’t in the study. The study’s author didn’t say that Franken was right, but it didn’t matter same sex couples do worse. She just said that Franken was right, and that is because the study was addressing single-parent families and not same sex families. Putting aside the definition, the bottom line is that the study does not say what FOTF claims it did. FOTF was lying about what the study said and Franken busted them. Sadly, even in the face of a smackdown by Franken, FOTF and other right-wingers are all over the web peddling the sample size argument, and apparently there are plenty of people out there who are too stupid to realize how idiotic the argument is.

    That’s a nice quote by Gary Bauer, but it is probably more appropriate on the right. There have been plenty of studies showing that children raised by same sex couples do just as well as those raised by heterosexual couples, but due to ideoglogical beliefs and flat out bigotry, those studies get ignored. That is why FOTF has to resort to lying about studies like this one to attempt to get scientific support for their position. The same thing is true with economics and specifically to tax cuts, which are the Republican answer to everything. The reality, though, it that tax cuts do not produce much economic growth. The last time we had a really growing economy (and a balanced budged) Bill Clinton was president and the tax rates on the wealthiest Americans had not yet been cut. Historically, the economy (jobs, stock market, GNP) all grow more under Democratic presidents than Republican ones, and while this is not all attributable to the president in power, you would think that Republicans would at least look to see what was working. Instead its just tax cuts all the time. That is ideology taking the place of facts.

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