West Virginia's House Judiciary Committee sure was busy Tuesday! In the space of a single day, Republicans introduced articles of impeachment against every current member of the state supreme court, determined that Democrats on the committee had been given adequate notice of the bills, and voted to send the impeachments forward to the full House. And it's definitely not political, because two of the members of the court were elected as Republicans and two as Democrats, so if they're all removed and Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, appoints four members of his choosing, that's just good governing. Oh, say, is there even more fuckery afoot? Well of course there is.

West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals normally has five justices, each elected for a twelve-year term. As the legislature started moving toward impeachment proceedings in July, one justice, Menis Ketchum, resigned, escaping any impeachment charges. The remaining four, Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Justice Robin Davis, Justice Allen Loughry, and Justice Elizabeth Walker, were all hit with a variety of charges Tuesday, including "maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, and certain high crimes and misdemeanors," and, for two of them, Being Democrats.

Most of the charges were leveled at Loughry, a Republican, about whom both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee agree something had to be done, since he'd already been indicted in June by a federal grand jury for a raft of offenses like witness tampering, fraud, lying to federal investigators, and worst of all, getting caught. Loughry was under investigation for misusing state vehicles, blowing a huge amount of money on renovating his office (including a floor decoration in the shape of West Virginia, with each county in a different beautiful hardwood), and moving a state-owned antique desk belonging to his home office.

But in the process, the committee decided it may as well clear out the rest of the justices, following news accounts of excessive spending. That would also very conveniently clear out a court that had started the year with a three to two Democratic majority (West Virginia voted to make elections for its Supremes nonpartisan in 2015, but all the current members had been elected before then, with party affiliations; Ketchum's sudden retirement tied the court at two and two).

The articles of impeachment accuse all four remaining justices of

overspending to remodel their offices and of failing to properly execute their administrative duties. Except for Walker, they were also accused of paying retired senior status judges more than the law allowed.

The deadline for justices to be replaced in a fall election is next week, August 14. After that, new members to replace any who resign or are removed by impeachment would be appointed by Jim Justice, and would be in office until a special election in May 2020. Isn't that convenient? Since Ketchum resigned well before the deadline, his replacement will be elected in November.

Barbara Evans Fleischauer, the Democrat who serves as the Judiciary Committee's minority chair, called the sudden action Tuesday "a coup [...] They dragged this out all summer long, and suddenly they put this on the agenda." She said it was all set up to give Justice, who ran as a Democrat but immediately switched parties after he was inaugurated, a hand-picked (or packed) bench in the state's highest court for two years.

Fleischauer pointed out that however much the office renovations may have been disliked by the legislature, the state constitution gives the Supreme Court discretion over its own budget. (A constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall would give the legislature more power over judicial budgets.) Delegate (they like olde-fashionedy terms, not "state rep") Mike Pushkin, another Democrat, said the impeach-everyone move was "an effort to capitalize on this entire affair by taking out an entire branch of government and replacing it through appointments."

Mind you, Republicans insist it's all just very sad that the justices are so out of control and that the need to replace one justice who's definitely bad just happened to give them the opportunity to remake the composition of the whole court in one fell swoop, because it's so obvious they're ALL crooks, and shame on those Democrats for making this partisan, oh mercy, what is this world coming to? Now fetch their smelling salts, for there is a swamp to be drained.

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[NPR / Charleston Gazette-Mail]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Republicans are devouring each other's carcasses, and we are here for it! Especially when one of those Republicans is King Kris of the Kansas Votefucker Klan ... errr, Clan! It's been a week since Kansans cast their votes in the gubernatorial primary, and the GOP looks to be rolling up its sleeves for a slugfest.

As we type, Kobach leads by 298 votes out of more than 314,000 cast -- a whopping 0.00095 percent, if you round up! The Kansas GOP begged Donald Trump to stay out of the race and leave the field clear for sitting governor Jeff Colyer, who took over when Sam Brownback wandered off to bring Jesus to the Hottentots on behalf of the US government. Safe bet that Colyer would be gearing up for the general election now if President Twitterthumbs hadn't flapped his yap. So thanks for that, Donny!

No, really, THANKS!

Remember the hanging chad debacle in Florida? Now picture it in a landlocked state with more cows than people. It's like fantasy island for Devin Nunes, ALLEGEDLY.

Oh, but we are to kid!

After first insisting he wasn't going to recuse from the counting, Secretary of State Kris Kobach (one and the same!) wrote Colyer a fabulously bitchy letter agreeing to hand off the tabulation to his deputy, Eric Rucker. Colyer had made the shocking suggestion that Kobach delegate responsibility to the Kansas attorney general, rather than his own political appointee, and Kobach was stretched out on the settee with a fit of the vapors at the gross impropriety of it all!

I will not breach the public trust and arbitrarily assign my responsibilities to another office that is not granted such authority by the laws of Kansas.

After several anguished paragraphs, Kobach closed by remonstrating that Colyer was betraying his office by destroying the faith of Kansans in the sacred integrity of their electoral process.

As governor of Kansas, your unrestrained rhetoric has the potential to undermine the public's confidence in the election process. May I suggest that you trust the people of Kansas have made the right decision at the polls and that our election officials will properly determine the result as they do in every election.

Said the guy whose entire adult life has been dedicated to whipping up panic about millions of imaginary illegal alien voters.

So now these two princes can kick the crap out of each other WITH VOTES, specifically, provisional ballots cast by unaffiliated voters under the supervision of poorly trained poll workers. Kansas holds closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can vote to select the GOP candidate, BUT an unaffiliated voter can cast a vote by checking a box identifying as a Democrat or a Republican at the polling place. This was news to some poll workers, who mistakenly directed over one thousand unaffiliated voters to use provisional ballots without checking the box indicating party preference. Whoops!

So, will those provisional ballots be counted based on voter intent? Or tossed based on strict interpretation of the statute? And does Kansas law mandate tossing mail-in ballots that arrive without a postmark on Wednesday, since there's no forensic proof that they were mailed before midnight on Tuesday? And how disgusted will the Kansas electorate be when one of these assholes emerges from the melée holding the other one's scalp? And how many millions of dollars are going to be spent on litigating the Republican primary while this nice lady Laura Kelly, the Democratic minority whip of the Kansas Senate, is out campaigning for November?

Even before this debacle, Kobach looked significantly weaker against Kelly than Colyer, with self-funded Libertarian Jeff Orman threatening to throw a wrench in the works. The Wichita Eagle reports on a Remington Research Poll conducted in July:

In a Kelly-Orman-Kobach race, the poll puts Kelly and Kobach effectively in a dead heat — 36 percent for Kelly and 35 percent for Kobach, with Kelly's lead within the margin of error. Orman has 12 percent.

Colyer leads in a three-way race with Kelly and Orman, according to the poll. In that scenario, Colyer receives 38 percent of the vote, while Kelly gets 28 percent and Orman receives 10 percent.

Which is ONE POLL, in a deeply red state, but ... Kobach is a crap candidate who's likely to emerge from this fight with two black eyes and a pissed off base. If there's anyone who can blow this election, it's Kris Kobach.

Keep fighting, Kris! You can do it! (And now we need a shower.)

And YOU need an OPEN THREAD!

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[Kobach letter / Wichita Eagle / Mother Jones / Kansas City Star]

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While most people spent this weekend telling Nazi punks to fuck off, a couple 11-year-olds were in Las Vegas hacking into voting machines. Why? BECAUSE IT'S FUN!

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