If You Don’t Want Your Kids Snatched Away By The Government, Your IQ Better Be High Enough

A couple in Redmond, Oregon has been fighting for nearly four years to get Oregon’s Department of Human Services to give them their two children (ages 4 years and 5 months) back.

Amy Fabbrini, 31, and Eric Ziegler, 38, had their first son, Christopher, taken away shortly after he was born. Their second son, Hunter, was taken from his parents as a newborn infant from the hospital. Events that would devastate any parent.

And why? Because Fabbrini and Ziegler have below average IQs. Fabbrini’s IQ is 72 and Ziegler’s is 66. The average is between 90 and 110.

No abuse was found by officials, nor neglect. Officials in the state simply decided they were not intellectually capable of caring for their children, despite Fabbrini having two older children with her first husband.

Fabbrini told The Oregonian,

“I love kids, I was raised around kids, my mom was a preschool teacher for 20-plus years, and so I’ve always been around kids,” Fabbrini said. “That’s my passion. I love to do things with kids, and that’s what I want to do in the future, something that has to do with kids.”

Ever since their son Christopher was taken from them almost four years ago, the couple has done everything they can to prove they are fit parents. They’ve completed state-approved parenting classes, and CPR and nutrition classes through the non-profit MountainStar, the Women, Infants and Children agency, Healthy Families of the High Desert, and others.

But rather than build a support system around the parents, the state has opted to simply take the children away, allowing only supervised visits, and putting the boys in foster care. Despite Fabbrini’s father being overtly negative about his daughter having children, the couple has supporters from family to a state legislator, and even professionals hired to evaluate their case by the state.

“They are saying they are intellectually incapable without any guidelines to go by,” said Sherrene Hagenbach, a former volunteer with the state agency who oversaw visits with the couple and Christopher from last June through August.

Hagenbach is a professional mediator and a board member of Healthy Families of the High Desert. After she told state caseworkers she thought the couple was capable of raising Christopher, she recalls, she was told her volunteer services were no longer needed.

She’s spent the past year advocating for Fabbrini and Ziegler.

“They’re saying that this foster care provider is better for the child because she can provide more financially, provide better education, things like that,” Hagenbach said. “If we’re going to get on that train, Bill Gates should take my children. There’s always somebody better than us, so it’s a very dangerous position to be in.”

Dangerous, indeed. People who are MENSA members can be horrifically bad parents. The couple’s attorney filed an unsuccessful motion to have Fabbrini and Ziegler’s children returned to them but makes a solid case for the parents.

The couple’s attorney filed an unsuccessful motion to have Fabbrini and Ziegler’s children returned to them but makes a solid case for the parents.

“A cognitively impaired parent can still parent,” attorney Aron Perez-Selsky said. “Their rights cannot be terminated simply because they suffer from cognitive impairment, so long as they are able to put together a plan for how they’re going to safely care for their kids with the support of people in the community.”

IQ has little to do with quality parenting until numbers get much lower, as disabled parenting advocate, Susan Yuan, states,

“They (case workers) have very little experience of people with intellectual disabilities, and because all their orientation is for the safety of the child, they err on the side of overprotecting the child without realizing that the parent can do it,” Yuan said. “It’s coming from a good place, but they need more exposure to people with disabilities.”

She said there are many myths about parents with intellectual disabilities, including the idea that IQ is an important factor in parenting.

“Research literature has found that the IQ really doesn’t correlate with parenting until the IQ is below 50,” she said. “A parent of any IQ, a parent with a 150 IQ, can be a bad parent. … I would say that if the child can be safe and loved in their own family, that this is appropriate parenting and you can put other opportunities in place.”

The Oregonian itself stated,

“Over several in-person and phone interviews with The Oregonian/OregonLive, they seemed like capable and caring adults – frustrated and confused by the state’s intervention, but no more so than any parent would be in their situation.”

And both Fabbrini and Ziegler seem capable in a video interview with the news outlet.

“We’ve just done everything and more than what they’ve asked us to,” Fabbrini said.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s good enough for them,” Ziegler added. “They’re saying, ‘Who would parent Christopher better, the foster parents or the parents?’ is basically what they’re going on.”

As we’ve seen recently with the case of Charlie Gard in the U.K., government’s are taking control over children from their parents for astonishing and dismaying reasons.

A national study estimates that across the country, between 40 to 80 percent of parents with intellectual disabilities wind up losing their rights to their children. Of course, there are likely cases where it does keep the child from neglect or harm, but how many cases are like Fabbrini’s and Ziegler’s?

As Hagenbach said, if the idea we’re going for is “who can best support this child,” and the parents don’t have a natural right and claim, what keeps any parent from having their child taken away by the government?

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Jeff Sessions Comments on Job Tenure Post Trump Criticism

This morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke publicly for the first time since President Trump criticized him to the New York Times. The Times released audio of the interview in which Trump says he wouldn’t have hired Sessions if he’d known he planned to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

When asked, Sessions said he plans to stay on as Attorney General “as long as that’s appropriate” to do so.

The President and others have been vocal about the fact that individuals like the AG and FBI director serve at the pleasure of the president. A fact no one denies. However, Trump’s mercurial attitude and penchant for criticizing those in his administration — along with the narrative Trump himself helped along that he fired former FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation — has many questioning whether the Justice department can do its job with Trump’s constant intrusion with such statements as he made to the New York Times.

Sessions using such careful language as he did this morning certainly indicates that no one except Donald Trump knows how long Jeff Sessions will remain as attorney general.

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Carrier Announces First Round of Layoffs Exactly Six Months After Trump’s Inauguration

Carrier announced the first round of layoffs at their Indianapolis furnace factory on Wednesday. Intentional or not, it coincides with the six-month mark for President Trump — and V.P. Mike Pence — being sworn into office.

The 338 jobs that will be eliminated and picked up by their plant in Monterrey, Mexico are a portion of the total 2,100 positions Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, had originally planned to move, effectively closing down their Indiana plant. The layoffs became a focal point during the Indiana primary and then-Gov. Pence stepped in with Trump and negotiated the best, most beautiful, most clever deal ever with the company. That is, they let the Indiana tax payers foot the bill to keep 1,100 positions in the U.S., including their headquarters.

Pence and Trump negotiated with Carrier a deal that allows them to claim $7 million in tax breaks for keeping the plant open for another 10 years.

Carrier says they are still honoring that deal, but will still be moving forward with outsourcing the production of fan coils.

Carrier in a statement said it “continues to honor its 2016 commitment to employ approximately 1,100 associates in Indianapolis. As announced in November, this includes headquarters and engineering jobs and more than 800 employees supporting our world-class gas furnace manufacturing center.”

Good on Carrier for honoring their commitment, despite the deal being struck largely because a belligerent GOP nominee decided to go after them and sic his toxic supporters against the manufacturer simply for trying to find a more cost effective area to build its products.

Although Trump and Pence have been credited with saving Carrier’s Indianapolis factory, James said employees don’t feel much security.

“They just don’t have any faith in this plant staying in Indianapolis,” he said. “There’s just too much uncertainty.”

The Carrier deal was a band-aid, but it won’t keep the manufacturer in the U.S. any longer than it has to. It was window-dressing during a heated campaign and many of the Carrier employees knew it and have already taken voluntary separation packages.

Sweetheart deals can only do so much to solve the symptoms until people decide to look at the cause and realize that these kinds of manufacturing jobs aren’t going to be the backbone of the U.S. economy again as in the past.

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SNL Writer Responds to Trump Tweets Like Texts and It’s Hilarious

President Trump’s tweets have long been a topic of concern, outrage, and scorn throughout the 2016 election season and particularly since he’s been in the White House. But at least one person has found a way to take Trump’s tweets and make them amusing.

SNL writer, Josh Patten, shared on Sunday his latest “incredibly stupid project,” which at the same time is at least highly amusing for anyone following the duo.

Patten has taken to responding to Trump’s tweets as if their texts. Sending Trump tourist attraction suggestions to simple “Call when you land” replies that we’re all used to receiving and sending.

Patten is taking the attention in stride.

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McConnell Sets Plans For Full Repeal As Women Stand In The Way

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Ky.) laid out plans to attempt a full repeal of Obamacare Tuesday evening, saying it was at the request of the President and Vice President.

“For the information of all senators, at the request of the President [Trump] and Vice President [Pence] and after consulting with our members, we will have the vote on the motion to proceed to the ObamaCare repeal bill early next week,” McConnell said from the Senate floor on Tuesday night.

Full repeal seems unlikely as Senate Republicans need 50 yeas (plus Pence) to pass a repeal and three of the 52 GOP senators have already said they won’t vote for repeal. Sens. Susan Collins (R – Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska), and Shelley Moore Capito (R – W. Va.). The last of which voted for repeal in 2015, but now says she “didn’t come here to hurt people.”


Chicks, man.

What about all the tens of millions Obamacare has hurt? Which is one of the many reasons for why it’s failing.

The one thing above all others that Republicans ran on for almost a decade was repeal, and then repeal and replace, of Obamacare. The failure of the Senate’s replacement has the Right in the extraordinary position of having leadership willing to take repeal to a vote and at least two of the three opposing senators are too enthralled with their positions to follow through.

Sen. Capito should be exceptionally ashamed and worried. Voting for repeal when it didn’t matter and then deciding when it really matters to vote against in a state that voted for Trump 69.7 percent to Clinton’s 26.2 percent. Murkowski isn’t looking much better as Trump cleared more than 14 percentage points over Clinton in Alaska.

The time to repeal is NOW.

By some crazy happenstance, we have Mitch McConnell agreeing to a repeal vote. Honestly, what do Republicans have to lose? Whether they vote to repeal or leave Obamacare in place to fail, Americans (and arguably as importantly, the media) will hold them to blame for any health care catastrophes from here on out.

Full repeal brings back senators like Sens. Mike Lee (R – Utah), Rand Paul (R – Ky.), and Jerry Moran (R – Kan.) into the fold of supporters.

Capito and Murkowski have no better option than to vote for repeal. If repeal goes to the floor and fails, 2018 will be a hard sell for a party made up of notoriously bad salesmen.

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2016 Will. Not. End. Tropical Storms Don and Hilary Could Surround the U.S.

Sometimes truth is better than fiction and if you put something in a story no one would believe it because it’s just a little too on the nose. This week is a perfect example.

Tropical Storm Don has been moving through the Atlantic for less than 24-hours but it already seems to be losing steam. However, not all is calm as a new tropical storm depression in the Pacific, which is likely to be named ‘Hilary,’ is keeping the NOAA busy.

And before you think, “No way. Those names had to be planned,” it’s actually an amusing coincidence. According to the NOAA,

“NOAA’s National Hurricane Center does not control the naming of tropical storms. Instead, there is a strict procedure established by the World Meteorological Organization. For Atlantic hurricanes, there is a list of male and female names which are used on a six-year rotation.”

Of course, people couldn’t help but take note of the hilarity of Tropical Storm Don being chased by Tropical Storm Hilary in a real life oceanic event.


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House Conservatives Carve Out Stakes For Budget Battle

The House Freedom Caucus has announced it’s withholding support of the current Republican budget that is up for a committee vote on Wednesday. The HFC is pushing for doubling the $200 billion in budget cuts to mandatory spending that is the current proposed budget, and they want details of what the tax reform package includes.

The HFC withholding support from the budget has very little impact — their votes won’t keep it from passing committee — on government spending limits. The proposed budget is simply a tool for setting up a fast-track for reconciliation, thereby keeping Senate Democrats from filibustering it, and getting tax reform passed. Which is an issue that has become tantamount in light of the failure to effectively repeal and replace Obamacare.

Prominent HFC member Jim Jordan (R – Ohio) told The Hill,

“The only reason you need a budget is for reconciliation. So if that’s the only reason we’re doing it, we’d like to know what the savings will be like and what tax reform is going to look like,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus leader, told The Hill.

The Freedom Caucus, he added, felt burned by the last budget resolution, which laid out reconciliation instructions for repealing ObamaCare. The caucus, he said, gave its support to a general set of instructions, but disapproved of the way the process has moved forward since then.

“We’ve been down this road before. It’s like the expression: ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,’ ” he said.

Beyond wanting to double the current cuts from $200 billion to $400 billion, the Freedom Caucus wants to make sure that the budget is ultimately a tax cut and not simply shifting spending and staying revenue neutral, which is not what Republicans promised if they gained control of Congress and the White House.

Of course, there will be those who claim the HFC is just trying to hold up legislative progress (again). However, conservative members are simply keeping faith with the American people who voted them in based on promises of reigning in spending.

Congressional Republicans are on the hook for keeping the promises they ran on for seven years, as my colleague, Jay Caruso, wrote earlier. And they can expect little help from the President. Indeed, he’s more likely than not to sully the process than anything.

Whether Obamacare is successfully repealed and replaced down the road, Republicans look fractious and ineffective. Passing an anemic budget that effectually changes nothing for the long term fiscal future of the country was not part of the package.

Getting the wide range of Republicans to agree on a budget deal always requires negotiation, but the Freedom Caucus setting their markers early will hopefully result in a shift toward reduced government spending and taxes across the board.

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Parliament Erupts In Chaos In Taiwan (There Were Water Balloons!)

Giving the South Africans a run for their money, the Taiwanese parliament erupted into a full-scale brawl on Friday, with chairs being thrown along with punches.

This fight seems to be expected by some as members started throwing water balloons they’d brought with them that morning.

The traditional Taiwanese “opposition party” has control of both the presidency and the legislature for the first time. Apparently, this melee broke out over a major infrastructure spending bill the president wants to pass.

Some suggested this is where the United States is headed. I suggest anyone who thinks a fight over a spending bill with water balloons is bad in the context of American history should read up on the issue of slavery and the caning of Sen. Charles Sumner in the well of the Senate in 1856.

From the Senate’s archives:

On May 22, 1856, the “world’s greatest deliberative body” became a combat zone.  In one of the most dramatic and deeply ominous moments in the Senate’s entire history, a member of the House of Representatives entered the Senate chamber and savagely beat a senator into unconsciousness.

The inspiration for this clash came three days earlier when Senator Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts antislavery Republican, addressed the Senate on the explosive issue of whether Kansas should be admitted to the Union as a slave state or a free state.  In his “Crime Against Kansas” speech, Sumner identified two Democratic senators as the principal culprits in this crime—Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina.  He characterized Douglas to his face as a “noise-some, squat, and nameless animal . . . not a proper model for an American senator.”  Andrew Butler, who was not present, received more elaborate treatment.  Mocking the South Carolina senator’s stance as a man of chivalry, the Massachusetts senator charged him with taking “a mistress . . . who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight—I mean,” added Sumner, “the harlot, Slavery.”

Representative Preston Brooks was Butler’s South Carolina kinsman.  If he had believed Sumner to be a gentleman, he might have challenged him to a duel.  Instead, he chose a light cane of the type used to discipline unruly dogs.  Shortly after the Senate had adjourned for the day, Brooks entered the old chamber, where he found Sumner busily attaching his postal frank to copies of his “Crime Against Kansas” speech.

Moving quickly, Brooks slammed his metal-topped cane onto the unsuspecting Sumner’s head.  As Brooks struck again and again, Sumner rose and lurched blindly about the chamber, futilely attempting to protect himself.  After a very long minute, it ended.

Bleeding profusely, Sumner was carried away…

While these types of fights in places like Taiwan and South Africa are stunning (and at times amusing) to watch, we should keep perspective of where we come from before we start pontificating about where we’re headed, and comparing the two.

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If Only! Reason Releases ‘Game of Thrones: Libertarian Edition’ Parody

Fans of HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s series Game of Thrones are filled with excitement over the return of the show this Sunday. In anticipation of the premiere, Reason TV released a hilarious, must-see parody of scenes from the show with characters arguing for libertarian ideas and actions.


Reason releases spot-on parodies often. Their parody of the hyperbole from Democrats over the Republican health care bill was pitch perfect and can be seen here.

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Not The Onion: Man Trapped In An ATM Dispenses S.O.S. Note

This is truly the stuff of nightmares for anyone who has a fear of enclosed spaces. A repairman was found locked in a wall behind an ATM after he sent notes out of the dispenser asking for help.

The Washington Post reports the man was sent to replace a lock on the door to the small service room behind the ATM but forgot to bring his phone and the tool to open the door from the inside. When the door closed on him, he was stuck.

Police in Corpus Christi, Texas were notified and thought it might be a prank. However, when they inspected the ATM they heard a small voice talking back to them.

The man was freed from his hours-long ordeal by police and sent on his way. Surely it’s a lesson only needing to be learned once.

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