Category Archives: Limited Government

Dial ‘O’ for Murder: Should Barack Obama Face Murder Charge When ObamaPhone Used for Criminal Purposes?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a guest post by Paul R. Hollrah, a resident of Oklahoma who writes from the perspective of a veteran conservative politico and retired corporate government relations executive whose life experience includes having served two terms as a member of the Electoral College. Even if you disagree with him, this piece will make you think long and hard.

Mugshot: Skyy Durrell Barrs, 30.

Mugshot: Skyy Durrell Barrs, 30.

On the evening of June 30, my longtime friend Chuck de Caro, a Pentagon consultant, and his wife, Lynne Russell, former anchorwoman for CNN Headline News, checked into a Motel 6 at 6015 Iliff Road, NW, in Albuquerque. Chuck, Lynne and their 12-year- old semi-incontinent Weimerauner, Oliver, were traveling on a combination business and first anniversary road trip from Washington, D.C., to California. They stopped at the well-lighted and apparently-secure motel because of its pet-friendly policy and easy access to the hotel dog park.

After checking into their room and unloading their bags, Chuck prepared to take a shower while Lynne returned to their car for s supply of dog food. However, as Lynne was inserting her key card into the electronic door lock to reenter their room, she was attacked from behind by a large black male, pushed into the room, and thrown onto the bed.

At that instant, Chuck emerged from the shower, naked and soaking wet, only to find Lynne and a black male, Tomorio Walton, facing each other. Walton, a parole violator from Memphis with a long list of felonies to his credit… including 28 guilty pleas in the 7½ years between June 5, 2007, and Dec. 29, 2014… held a shiny, large-frame semi-automatic pistol in his hand and was demanding their money and their valuables.

Both Chuck and Lynne have concealed-carry permits and their handguns were laying side-by-side on a night table next to the bed (Lynne also has two martial arts black belts and is a former deputy sheriff). As Chuck attempted to calm the obviously drug-agitated intruder, Lynne said, “Let me see what I can get you,” and moved to the bedside table to retrieve her purse. However, as she did so, she discreetly placed one of the two handguns inside the purse, handed it to Chuck, and said, “Is there anything in here that you might give him?”

Chuck reached inside the purse, grasped the handgun and waited for the right moment. Then, as Walton seized a computer bag, he began firing at close range. Chuck’s military training kicked in and, although wounded three times, he quickly closed the distance from ten to six feet before emptying his seven-round magazine into Walton, striking him seven times as he staggered toward the door. Seconds later the intruder fell, mortally wounded, in the motel parking lot.

When Albuquerque police later examined surveillance tapes, they saw Walton exit the left rear door of a black 2015 Chevrolet Malibu Sedan. The Chevy is then seen driving slowly through the Motel 6 parking lot with what appeared to be a male driver and a female passenger in the front seat and a third individual in the right rear seat. Surveillance tapes then show Walton proceeding along the walkway in front of the rooms, speaking on a cell phone, while another individual walked nearby, also speaking on a cell phone. Apparently, no one on the Motel 6 staff — not even the motel’s armed security guard — was watching the video monitors.

Albuquerque police were later contacted by a “source” who asked to remain anonymous. The source advised them that the driver of the black 2015 Chevy Malibu was a black male named Skyy Barrs and that the automobile used in the holdup attempt was registered to his girlfriend, Bonica Amarillo. When the occupants of the Chevy Malibu heard gunfire, they drove again through the motel parking lot, and when they saw Walton lying on the pavement, covered with blood, Barrs stopped to examine him. Surveillance tapes show that Barrs held Walton in his arms briefly, and when he concluded that his accomplice was dead, he dropped him onto the pavement, reentered the automobile and drove away.

When police obtained a search warrant for Walton’s cell phone they found an individual named “Ski” on the contact list. They also found that calls were made between Barrs and Walton at 9:06 p.m., 9:07 p.m. and 9:08 p.m., and a missed call from Barrs to Walton at 11:35 p.m., approximately the instant that Walton attacked Lynne Russell and forced her into her room. Police also found a text message from Barrs to Walton, dated Saturday, June 27. The message read, cryptically, “We about to Hite (sic) some licks,” street slang for “we are going to commit a robbery.”

According to the arrest warrant, the source told Albuquerque police that Walton worked as a criminal “slave” for Skyy Barrs, an arrangement in which Barrs provided the planning, the transportation and the weaponry necessary to commit a crime. As such, Barrs is now behind bars, charged with felony murder, kidnapping (two counts), armed robbery (two counts), aggravated battery with great bodily harm, assault with intent to commit a violent felony, felon in possession of a firearm, aggravated burglary and six counts of conspiracy. Under the law, all those who participated in the crime, including Barrs’ girlfriend, Bonica Amarillo, and the unnamed rear seat occupant, will face the same charges when taken into custody.

What causes me to dwell on the exchange of cell phone calls between Walton and Barrs is the fact that the cell phones used in the commission of the robbery and attempted murder were “ObamaPhones,” free cell phones provided with few questions to the “poor” by the Obama administration. So the question arises, if those who provide material support in the commission of a crime, such as transportation and weaponry, are equally as guilty as the person who actually commits the crime, how far does that liability extend?

Under criminal law, an individual is complicit in a crime only if he or she is aware of impending criminal activity and has the ability to either prevent it or report it, but fails to do so. In such an event, the individual effectively allows criminals activity to occur despite being able to prevent it, either directly or indirectly by contacting the authorities.

The offender then becomes a de facto accessory to the crime rather than an innocent bystander.

So, while Barrs, his girlfriend, and an unnamed third party were all aware of Walton’s intended crime and had the ability to either prevent it or report it, the fact that Barack Obama indirectly participated in the commission of the crime by providing the cell phones used in the commission of a crime does not make him “complicit” because he had no personal knowledge of the crime.

A visit to the ObamaPhone website tells us that, “Welfare recipients, and others, can receive a free cell phone, but the program is not funded by the government or taxpayer money… and it’s hardly new.” The website explains that the ObamaPhone program is paid for by the telephone service providers. What they fail to mention is that each and every one of us who has a land line or a cell phone account finds a charge on our monthly statements that covers the cost of the ObamaPhone program. Obama administration “social engineers” fail to understand that government-imposed fees that are ultimately passed on to consumers are, in effect, indirect taxes.

The Obama administration and their supporters are so sensitive to criticism of the ObamaPhone program that they have, as always, attempted to lay the blame elsewhere. The ObamaPhone website goes into great detail, explaining that the program, which has increased from $800 million in 2009 to $2.2 billion in 2012, did not begin with Barack Obama. Although Obama is given credit for it, the website explains that the George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan administrations played significant roles in launching the program, as did the FDR and Woodrow Wilson administrations.

Unaccustomed as the Obama administration is to taking responsibility for any of their actions, the ObamaPhone website tells us that the Safelink Wireless program offered the first free government cell phones in Tennessee in 2008, during the George W. Bush administration, three months before Obama was inaugurated. They lay blame on the Clinton administration, because it was during the 1990s that the Federal Communications Commission authorized a subsidy for landline telephones as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. They lay blame on the Reagan administration, because it was during the 1980s when the FCC created the original Lifeline Assistance program. And they lay blame on the Roosevelt administration, because it was in 1934, during FDR’s first term, that Congress created the FCC, promising “to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, a rapid, efficient, nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.”

And, believe it or not, there are those who insist that the ObamaPhone program began in the early part of the 20th century, during the Woodrow Wilson administration, when the first telephone companies were founded and the phone service offered by a company in one town was often incompatible with the phone service offered by another company in another town. It was then that the Wilson administration gave AT&T a monopoly over phone service, allowing them to set nationwide technology standards and to determine the nation’s future telephone system.

Inasmuch as cell phones did not come into widespread use until very early in the 21st century, Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt might have acted differently had they known what was coming. But Barack Obama sets the rules of the blame game. If his administration believes that it is even remotely reasonable and logical to think that the Wilson administration bears some responsibility for the existence of the ObamaPhone program, then it is equally reasonable and logical to assume that the Obama administration bears some responsibility for the horror that happened to Chuck de Caro and Lynne Russell in Albuquerque.

If they are truly serious about what is good for the poor, why not expand the scope of this $2.2 billion government give-away program by mandating a warning to all who sign for and receive a free cell phone. The warning: “Any person who utilizes this device in the commission of a crime is guilty of a federal offense and is subject to both fine and imprisonment.”

SEE ALSO: Second Amendment’s Value Evident After Motel 6 Incident

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Throwback Thursday: Ferguson Troubles Began in Garden

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Three years ago today, I shared news about a man in Ferguson, Mo., — yes, the same town where the Michael Brown incident took place in August 2014 — who was fighting for the right to grow food in his garden without first obtaining permission from the city. Below I share that story again, along with an update and some observations.

Karl Tricamo received a citation for gardening without permission.

On April 23, 2012, Karl Tricamo received a citation from the city of Ferguson, Mo., for gardening without permission.

During World War I and World War II, it was considered one’s patriotic duty to plant a “victory garden” in order to reduce food costs.  Doing such a thing today, however, could result in one man having to pay a hefty fine or worse if officials in the backward city of Ferguson, Mo., get their way.

According to a news release from Dave Roland at the Freedom Center of Missouri, Karl Tricamo never imagined that it would be especially controversial when he decided to plant a garden in his yard in order to secure cheap, nutritious, organic produce for his family.  Just to be sure, however, he looked up all of the relevant ordinances in the city just north of St. Louis and confirmed that he would not be violating any laws.

Tricamo found that nothing in the ordinances prohibit citizens from growing healthy, organic produce on one’s property.  In fact, the city’s zoning ordinances specifically allow residents to cultivate community gardens and urban agricultural uses in residential areas.

Because he planted the garden in front of his house instead of behind it, Ferguson city officials soon began to pester Tricamo, going so far as suggesting that his garden was illegal.  Roland described the chain of events that followed:

In March, shortly after he had tilled the garden in preparation for planting, the city sent a letter commanding that the yard be covered in straw and planted with grass seed – even though nothing in the city ordinances requires yards to be planted with grass or prohibits the planting of a garden on residential property.

Six weeks later city officials sent another letter demanding the removal of the vegetables from his yard because the property was not zoned for “agricultural” use, but of course the relevant section of Ferguson’s zoning ordinances explicitly allows gardens to be grown in residential areas.  Then the City sent Mr. Tricamo a notice (below) alleging a violation of Ferguson ordinance number 7-133 – but that ordinance addresses the structural elements of residential buildings such as foundations, walls, windows and doors, stairways, chimneys, gutters, roofs, and buildings’ exterior surfaces.  It says nothing about yards.

When Mr. Tricamo confronted the City about this violation notice, they rapidly backtracked and claimed that it had been sent by accident!  The City said he should disregard the notice, but have continued to insist that Tricamo’s garden is illegal.

According to Roland, this situation illustrates a common practice among some city officials; when all else fails in their attempt to control citizens’ behavior, they sometimes just make stuff up.

UPDATE: Barely three weeks after publishing the article above, I received another news release from Roland. Dated July 26, 2012, it contained the paragraph below which summed up the outcome of the case:

The Board of Adjustment took up the matter on Wednesday evening and heard arguments from the City, Mr. Roland, Mr. Tricamo, and several members of the community. In addition to the legal arguments that the Freedom Center advanced, the testimony pointed out the growing movement in favor of organic, locally-grown produce and the well-documented challenges that low-income families face in finding reasonably priced vegetables in grocery stores. In the end, four of the five members of the Board of Adjustment agreed that Ferguson’s zoning laws do not prohibit citizens from growing gardens in residential areas. Ferguson’s residents are free to grow vegetables in their yards as long as they are not violating a specific ordinance or endangering the public health or safety.

In light of events that put Ferguson on the world map for all the wrong reasons some 25 months later, I suspect many city residents and officials wish this gardening fiasco had been the worst of their troubles.

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Book Excerpt: Nation’s First Latino President Takes Office

Coming only days after the passage of a controversial trade agreement, recent Supreme Court Decisions on gay marriage and healthcare have many Americans upset with the folks in Washington, D.C., who claim to represent their interests. If you count yourself among them, I think you’ll enjoy the timely excerpt below from Chapter 11 of my recently-released crime-fiction novel, The National Bet:

Click image above to order a copy of the book.

Click image above to order a copy of the book.

With the line of succession to the presidency obliterated, surviving members of the U.S. House and Senate met for five days straight to discuss a one-time, extra-Constitutional means for resolving this never-before-experienced crisis. They were joined by a select number of individuals from outside the legislative branch who had been instrumental in securing the top-level resignations. Together, they worked to select a successor to serve out the remainder of President Obama’s second term.

Minus any smoke signals, several rounds of papal election-style voting took place during an exhausting three-day period until one man, a proven leader without the baggage of a Beltway insider, emerged from the pack.

Governor Franklin G. Rivera was a second-term governor from Wyoming who some people—but not the man himself—liked to refer to as “FGR.” Far more conservative than the three-term president who, decades earlier, had been associated with a similar three-letter acronym, Governor Rivera’s public approval ratings were higher than any other statewide office holder in the country.

With much trepidation, the governor accepted the job just a few minutes before noon Saturday, July 4, 2015.

After taking the oath of office behind closed doors and without fanfare, the nation’s first Latino president addressed the nation at 3 p.m., delivering the first of many difficult messages he would be called upon to share as Commander- in-Chief:

My fellow Americans, many of you have suffered tremendous losses during the past several months. To you, I offer a sincere apology on behalf of every elected official in Washington.

Members of Congress have, with the cooperation of too many American presidents, gotten away with robbery for far too long. They’ve allowed taxing and spending to get out of control. And they’ve allowed government regulation to trample common sense and decency. As a result, we’ve all paid a price higher than most of us care to calculate.

During the next twelve months, I pledge to work tirelessly to establish legal safeguards in our system via which we will do more than simply prevent members of Congress from increasing the national debt. The safeguards I propose will involve imposing stiff financial penalties on individual members of Congress who choose to waste taxpayers’ dollars on any projects or programs that increase the national debt and the burden on our children and grandchildren.

Even more important than that, however, is my top priority—ensuring that all of your assets, taken from you illegally by the previous administration, are returned to you as quickly as possible.

I’ve set July 4, 2016, as the date by which your money, the money that is rightfully yours, will be returned, with interest, to your bank accounts, to your 401K accounts and to your other retirement savings vehicles. It will be a Financial Independence Day when government no longer has its hands on your money.

President Rivera’s speech resonated with the justifiably jaded American people.

After learning more about the energetic sixty-year-old president’s background via biopic news and feature reports that surfaced following his appointment, most Americans seemed genuinely appreciative of the fact his legal-immigrant parents had set a good example for their oldest son and his five younger siblings, all of whom had been born in the United States.

Not surprisingly, they liked knowing Rivera’s parents had realized success as farmers, growing mostly wheat and soybeans on the flatlands of eastern Colorado. And they liked the fact that the new president’s four adult children seemed to be decent, well-educated people not seeking to ride their father’s political coattails.

In addition, they liked the fact he had become successful through hard work, determination and a steadfast refusal to run with the pack when the pack was heading in the wrong direction. And they liked how he seemed to take time to think before opening his mouth to speak and refused to compromise his Christian faith.

Most importantly, they liked how President Rivera’s early actions spoke even louder than his personal history.

In addition to signing an executive order on Day One that banned the use of taxpayer dollars on inaugural activities, he signed another that prohibited all federal employees from participating in inaugural activities, public or private.

The new president also completed the process of appointing cabinet members within two days and warned members of Congress not to waste any time in approving his nominees, saying, “We have important business to take care of!”

During his first year in office, President Rivera worked too hard and slept too little while waging a gallant effort to restore stability. Not a single round of golf was played, and vacations were off limits for White House staffers and all who remained employed on Capitol Hill.

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from The National Bet. Beyond that, I hope you’ll share it and order a copy to see what happens before and after this presidential moment.

Click here to read other excerpts from The National Bet and my two nonfiction books, The Clapper Memo and Three Days In August.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Retired Navy SEAL Fears Loss of Liberty

EDITOR’S NOTE: Two years ago this week, I shared the piece below under a headline similar to the one above. In light of the continuing assaults on individual freedoms of Americans, I decided to share it again and hope you will, too.

New York Army National Guard Sgt. Adama Ilbouda, left, and NY Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. David Tayler distribute fuel at the Staten Island Armory during the Hurricane Sandy response, Nov. 3, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy.

New York Army National Guard Sgt. Adama Ilbouda, left, and NY Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. David Tayler distribute fuel at the Staten Island Armory during the Hurricane Sandy response, Nov. 3, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy.

On May 13, a “Final Rule” on “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies,” according to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, took effect.  I became aware of it today after a retired U.S. Navy SEAL friend sent me a note containing this link to a Government Printing Office web page on which the rule was published online April 12.  His note appears below:

“I had to contact my lawyer to translate this,” he wrote, “but in a nutshell, our liberty is shrinking faster than most folks think and this regime is setting itself up to subjugate us all…  Please read and forward to anyone who you think gives a shit about losing this country to socialists.”

Anytime someone like this, a guy who’s “been there and done that,” uses this kind of pointed language to describe something he finds troubling, I tend to pay attention and take his advice.

The main portions of the published language of this Final Rule appear below, modified only slightly in format and accompanied by the language of two published comments as well as DoD’s responses to those comments:

Executive Summary

I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

a. The purpose of this rule is to implement the statutory requirements for the Department of Defense support of civilian law enforcement agencies. This rule provides specific policy direction and assigns responsibilities to Department of Defense key individuals providing support to Federal, State, Tribal, and local law enforcement agencies, including response to civil disturbances within the United States, including the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any territory or possession of the United States or any other political subdivision thereof.

b. The legal authority for this rule is 10 U.S.C. 375, “Restriction on participation by Military Personnel.”

II. Summary of the Major Provisions of the Rule

a. Support in Accordance With the Posse Comitatus Act — The primary restriction on DoD participation in civilian law enforcement activities is the Posse Comitatus Act. It provides that whoever willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute U.S. laws, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, shall be fined under title 18, U.S.C., or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. Section 182.6 (a) describes in detail the assistance that the Department of Defense may and may not provide civilian law enforcement agencies.

b. Support During Civil Disturbances — The President is authorized by the Constitution and laws of the United States to employ the Armed Forces of the United States to suppress insurrections, rebellions, and domestic violence under various conditions and circumstances. Planning and preparedness by the Federal Government, including the Department of Defense, for civil disturbances is important due to the potential severity of the consequences of such events for the Nation and the population. The employment of Federal military forces to control civil disturbances shall only occur in a specified civil jurisdiction under specific circumstances as authorized by the President, normally through issuance of an Executive order or other Presidential directive authorizing and directing the Secretary of Defense to provide for the restoration of law and order in a specific State or locality.

III. Costs and Benefits

This rule does not have a significant effect on the economy.  However, the Department of Defense may provide support to civilian law enforcement entities on either a reimbursable or non-reimbursable basis depending on the authority under which the support is provided. The benefit to the elements of the Department of Defense providing such support may include a benefit that is substantially equivalent to that derived from military operations or training. Additionally, the recipient civilian law enforcement agencies benefit from the Department of Defense’s substantial capabilities when those capabilities are not needed for Department of Defense missions.

Public Comments

On Tuesday, December 28, 2010, the Department of Defense published a proposed rule (75 FR 81547) requesting public comment. Two comments were received. Below are the comments and responses.

Comment #1. Comment on Proposed Rule: 32 CFR Part 182 DOD-2009-OS-0038. The definition given in Sec.  182.3 of “civil disturbance” is overly broad and encompasses any number of situations that the Legislature and DOD entities might not have in mind at the time of drafting this rule. It is my recommendation that specific reference be made to DOD Directive 3025.12 within Sec.  182.3 to allay any possible misreading of 32 CFR part 182. If Posse Comitatus is going to be suspended in times other than those specifically authorized by the Constitution, Congress must act to make the language clear and unambiguous. In addition, the definition of “Emergency Authority” in Sec. 182.3 and DOD 3025.12 is unclear. In what sort of a civil emergency can prior Presidential authorization be “impossible” to obtain. These two definitions read together give an extraordinary degree of latitude to DOD entities within the borders of the United States. Finally, I question whether a rule is the appropriate venue for an expansion of this nature. Perhaps this is a task best left to congress for full public scrutiny and debate. Should this really be a task left to the DOD to make a rule essentially gutting 10 U.S.C.A. 331-4? Despite the fact that this rule has received certification by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), I seriously question whether there are not significant implications for its enactment under Executive Order 13132 (Federalism). If it is left to the DOD to determine when force is necessary, absent a Presidential order and absent the cooperation of local authorities, Posse Comitatus is for all intents and purposes at an end.

DoD Response: No action required. This instruction cancels DoD Directive 3025.12. “Civil disturbance” is an approved definition in the DoD Dictionary and makes no reference to the Posse Comitatus Act being “suspended.” Also this rule does not make reference to the suspension of Posse Comitatus Act. It lists those actions that are permissible and restricted under the Act. The author also recommends that Congress, rather than DoD, make the language “clear and unambiguous.”

Comment #2. The Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S.C. 1385, clearly applies to National Guard troops which have been federalized and are deployed under Title 10 authority within the United States. However, the courts have not definitively ruled on whether the Act applies to troops deployed under Title 32, and generally it is assumed that the act does not apply under those circumstances. If Sec.  182.4(b) of this rule is meant to clearly state that the National Guard is, in fact, to act in compliance with the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act while in support of civilian law enforcement officials while deployed under Title 32 authority as well as Title 10, then this is a welcome clarification of DoD policy.

DoD Response:  No action required. National Guard forces operating under Title 32 are under State control, and the Posse Comitatus Act would not apply. State law governs what actions state officials and state National Guard forces may take.

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Nanny State Whittling Down Right of Self-Defense

If you think the gun-confiscation crowd will stop at confiscating your guns, think again. In the United Kingdom, gun ownership rights have been whittled down time and time again since the early 1900s. Now, the UK government wants its citizens’ knives, too, and is trying to collect them via the program, SAVE A LIFE / SURRENDER YOUR KNIFE, which launched July 1, 2014.

This kind of thinking will get a lot of people killed.

This kind of thinking will get a lot of people killed. Click on image to visit site.

Makes one wonder what the Nanny State might try to confiscate next. Could it be your rocks and garbage? After all, you might try to hurt someone with a brown paper bag or empty milk carton.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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