Andy Griffith, 86, passes away

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A beloved American actor has passed away – via WITN:

Former UNC President Bill Friday says Andy Griffith died this morning in Dare County. Friday, who is a close friend of the actor, confirmed that to WITN News.

Friday tells us the 86-year-old actor died at his Dare County home around 7:00 a.m. this morning.

Griffith was born in Mount Airy, and is most known for his television role as “Andy Taylor” from 1960 to 1968.

“Mayberry’s” not the only town mourning the loss of “Sheriff Taylor” this morning.

I have been a devoted fan of Griffith’s show for ages, its lessons timeless. I don’t even know right now how to write a fitting, proper tribute – except to say he will be sorely missed, and his body ofacting work will never be forgotten, not by his North Carolina fans, nor the millions of fans he has worldwide.

RIP, sir.

Thoughts and prayers are with Griffith’s family.

Historic: House votes to hold Holder in contempt

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Via Fox News:

The GOP-led House voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to provide key information pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, making Holder the first sitting Cabinet member to be held in contempt.

The vote was 255-67 with one lawmaker voting not present. Seventeen Democrats broke ranks to vote in favor of contempt, while two Republicans voted against the measure.

The vote was preceded by a heated floor debate.

“It’s important to remember how we got here,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a speech ahead of the vote. “The Justice Department has not provided the facts and information we requested. … It’s our constitutional duty to find out.”

The GOP-led House took the step over the alleged failure to provide additional information about the failed gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious which was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — a division of the Justice Department led by Holder.

Here’s the roll call.

More deets from Legal Insurrection:

The House voted on two separate items:

  • 1: Whether to hold Holder in contempt and then refer him to the DOJ
  • 2: Authorization to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to sue the DOJ in federal court [TK]

The congressman representing the district of the family of murdered border agent Brian Terry, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), indicated he would vote against contempt.

In remarks prior to the vote, Rep. Issa (R-CA) said to Rep. Dingell: “When you say you represent Brian Terry, you do not.” Issa then read a statement from the Brian Terry family, which said that the only time they had heard from Dingell was one condolence letter.

Many democrats joined the Congressional Black Caucus in walking out of the proceedings during the vote.

And every Democrat who did should be publicly named and shamed.   What despicable, derelict “representatives”, and a shameful dishonor of the memory of Brian Terry and the 300+ Mexicans who are dead because of Fast and Furious.

Between today’s deeply disappointing SCOTUS ruling on ObamaCare, and the whole sad, sordid Fast and Furious scandal, I freaking can’t wait until November so Americans can vote this contemptible president and his allies in Congress out of office. I’m absolutely sick of every blasted one of them.

#ObamaCare ruling: The Final Countdown

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Are you ready, peeps? The moment we’ve been waiting for: 10 a.m. ET today.

Fox News reports on the various scenarios that could play out today at the SCOTUS:

The Supreme Court could uphold the entire law or could strike down the entire law. In between those two extremes, the court could also rule that the individual mandate is unconstitutional — while leaving the rest of the Affordable Care Act intact. A slight variation on that outcome would be for the court to strike down the mandate and two related provisions. Aside from the mandate, the law’s expansion of Medicaid is at issue in Thursday’s ruling, as well.

The high court could also surprise everybody and decide not to issue a ruling — accepting the argument that because nobody has yet paid a penalty for failing to purchase health insurance, the case is not yet ripe for the courts to decide.

Not sure when I’ll be able to check back in here at the blog, but I’ll be Tweeting
developments later today as they are announced (as time permits for me). Make sure to bookmark and visit frequently the SCOTUSblog
(Twitter page here) as they will likely be among the first to have information on today’s ruling. For what it’s worth, their highly respected blog is predicting a very disappointing day for conservatives, which makes me VERY nervous.

Oh, and yes – take a deep breath. This will be one of the (if not THE) defining rulings of our time, which will impact generations to come. Let’s hope SCOTUS gets it right.

BREAKING: Newt to suspend campaign next week, according to aides

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Just coming across the Fox News wire:

Newt Gingrich plans to formally suspend or end his presidential campaign next Tuesday, senior Gingrich aides told Fox News. 

Gingrich will “more than likely” endorse Mitt Romney at that time, a source said.

Well, this is it, folks. Assuming this report from “senior aides” is accurate, Mitt Romney is for all intents and purposes our nominee now. Getting to the numbers, and then the nomination at the convention, are mere formalities at this point.

*Deep breaths.*

Exec. Director of #NCDems steps down amidst sexual harassment allegations

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Via the Raleigh News and Observer:

RALEIGH The executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party resigned Sunday as calls for his ouster mounted amid questions regarding a secret agreement to pay a former staffer to keep quiet about sexual harassment allegations.

Jay Parmley, who served a year at the helm of the party, denied harassing any employee and blamed right-wing blogs for “spreading a false and misleading story” about the incident.

“Even though I have not done anything wrong, it is clear to me that I need to move on,” Parmley wrote in his resignation letter.

Party Chairman David Parker accepted his resignation but avoided any comment on the case and suggested Parmley didn’t deserve to be fired for cause. He blamed politics.

“After consulting legal counsel, and based on my own experience in harassment cases and my own personal philosophy, it became my opinion that there have not been grounds for termination for cause of Jay Parmley,” said Parker, an attorney. “In this political world of rushing to judgment and the presumption of guilt, however, my legal and personal opinion has been outweighed by this having become a political distraction and issue.”

Earlier this weekend, party activists called for Parmley and Parker to resign amid questions about a financial settlement given to a low-level staffer earlier this year who was fired soon after he complained about being sexually harassed by a senior party official. The settlement agreement and nondisclosure statement came to light Friday in internal party emails obtained by The News & Observer, but the documents did not identify the party official responsible.

At the Wake and Durham county party conventions Saturday, party activists introduced resolutions demanding Parker and Parmley resign or be fired. Other party officials also are privately asking the two top officials to leave for the sake of the party.

In Wake County, Democratic consultant Perry Woods put forth a resolution saying the party “must deal with sexual harassment claims in an open and transparent fashion.”

Of course, one of their biggest concerns in reality is not the actual sexual harassment allegations themselves but the fact this could taint the party going into the Democrat National Convention, which will take place here in Charlotte in September.

I suspect the “right wing blog” Parmley was referring to was The Daily Caller, where reporter Matthew Boyle wrote about this story on Friday. It quickly spread to the UK Daily Mail, The Free Beacon, and other traditionally right-wing leading blogs and news outlets. Make sure to read the emails obtained by The Daily Caller.

Will be interesting to see if this story goes viral here in North Carolina. Somehow I doubt it, considering the big newspapers here are liberally biased and tend to not dig into allegations of wrongdoing by Democrats until they are well out of office, but we’ll see.

BREAKING: George Zimmerman reportedly to be charged in #Trayvon shooting (UPDATED)

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The Washington Post has the scoop:

Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey plans to announce as early as Wednesday afternoon that she is charging neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 0the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation.

It was not immediately clear what charge Zimmerman will face.

Martin, 17 and unarmed, was shot and killed Feb. 26 by Zimmerman, who said he was acting in self-defense. Police in Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place, did not charge Zimmerman, citing the state’s “stand your ground” law.

Corey told reporters Tuesday night that she would hold a news conference about the case within 72 hours. A news release from her office said the event will be held in Sanford or Jacksonville, Fla.

[…]

The announcement of a charge against Zimmerman would come a day after Zimmerman’s attorneys withdrew from the case, citing their inability to contact Zimmerman.

Lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig on Tuesday expressed concern about Zimmerman’s emotional and physical well-being, saying he has taken actions without consulting them. They also said they do not know where Zimmerman is.

“You can stop looking in Florida,” Uhrig told reporters. “Look much further away than that.”

The Martin family attorney says the announcement will be coming “shortly”:

An announcement of possible charges in the Trayvon Martin shooting is expected “shortly,” the attorney for Martin’s parents said at a news conference Wednesday.

Authorities in Sanford, Fla. — where George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 — also began preparing for an announcement from Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to re-examine the case, NBC station WESH of Orlando reported. Seminole County sheriff’s deputies spent Wednesday morning setting up barricades along the booking area for new inmates at the county jail. 

Obviously, this is a developing story – so stay tuned.  I’ll check in when I can with any further developments.

Update – 3:02 PM: NBC is reporting that the special prosecutor (Angela Corey) will make her announcement at around 6pm ET.

BREAKING: Rick Santorum to suspend campaign (UPDATED)

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No story just yet on the Fox News website but they’ve confirmed it. Rumors had been circulating for days that Santorum would suspend or exit the campaign, after the latest instance of his daughter Bella being admitted to the hospital. She was released last night.

I won’t be able to update this until later today. Stay tuned to Fox News for the latest developments.

Update – 5:16 PM: The NYT Caucus Blog has more:

3:08 p.m. | Updated Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign on Tuesday, bowing to the inevitability of Mitt Romney’s nomination and ending his improbable, come-from-behind quest to become the party’s conservative standard-bearer in the fall.

“We made a decision over the weekend, that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting,” Mr. Santorum said.

Mr. Santorum made the announcement at a stop in his home state of Pennsylvania after a weekend in which he tended to his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, who had been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Mr. Santorum, who was holding back tears, did not exactly specify why he was ending his presidential bid. He referred to his daughter’s illness, but said she was making great progress and was back home after being hospitalized over the weekend.

Mr. Santorum called Mr. Romney earlier in the day to tell him of his plans to suspend his campaign. Mr. Santorum told Mr. Romney that he is committed to defeating President Obama, but that he is not going to endorse immediately, said a source familiar with the call.

I share Michelle Malkin’s sentiment about Santorum:

Thanks and prayers to Santorum and his family for their energy and passion and dedication to defending life, prosperity, and the American Dream. With a fraction of the money and air time, Santorum came from nowhere to become the most formidable challenger to Mitt Romney through hard work and faith.

I heard Newt Gingrich on Sean Hannity’s radio show earlier this afternoon, and he is continuing to vow to stay in the race until the convention. He also asserted that he and Mitt Romney had vowed to run more “positive” campaigns going forward because ultimately this is about defeating Obama and not tearing down the eventual GOP nominee.

It’s all over but the crying at this point, folks. Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee.

*Deep breaths*

Afghanistan: US soldier murders 16 Afghan civilians?

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**Posted by Phineas

Horrifying news.

An American soldier apparently went nuts in Afghanistan and gunned down 16 civilians in a village. From the BBC via Threat Matrix:

The soldier has not been named, but is thought to be a staff sergeant.

He is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 local time (22:30 GMT Saturday) and headed to nearby villages, moving methodically from house to house.

“Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead,” Haji Samad, an elder from Najeeban village, told the AFP news agency.

Haji Sayed Jan, from Alkozai village, was quoted by the AFP as saying: “My home was attacked and I lost four family members”.

A delegation from the provincial governor’s office has arrived in the village to determine exactly what happened, a spokesman said.

The soldier – who had reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks – is said to have handed himself over to the US military authorities after carrying out the killings.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said in a statement that US officials in Afghanistan would work with their Afghan counterparts to investigate what happened.

These are first reports and we can expect some part of them to turn out wrong, of course, but one has to wonder why a soldier who had “suffered a breakdown” was still in Afghanistan or even allowed a weapon.

Regardless, while doing all it can to quell the almost-inevitable furor, the Administration should resist any demands to turn him over to Afghan authorities for “justice.” He should be tried and, if found guilty, punished as dictated by Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This will almost surely make the riots after the Qur’an burning incident look like Sunday in the park; the Taliban are already exploiting this for all it’s worth. In a tribal shame-and-honor culture, revenge killings are the norm. Let’s hope any precautions taken are enough to prevent other American and Coalition soldiers from suffering for this man’s crime.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

BREAKING: Andrew Breitbart dead?

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Oh my God! The Daily Caller is confirming the story that mega-publisher Andrew Breitbart, 43, passed away shortly after midnight “from natural causes.” To say this is a shock is an understatement! I can’t even put into words what I’m feeling right now. He was such a warrior, such a patriot, so fearless – would take on anyone. He will most certainly be missed.

Condolences and prayers go out to his family. Rest in peace, Andrew.

Phineas Butts In: And if you ever wanted an example of the immaturity, churlishness, and flat-out rot that lurks in the heart of the American Left, here ya go.