The GOP kleptocracy:
    too crooked even for Newt Gingrich

Newt says the obvious: this isn’t an Abramoff problem, it’s a problem of systematic corruption.

Or so Dana Milbank reports, from Gingrich’s speech to the Rotary Club of Washington:

“Cronies behaving as cronies.”

“Indifference to right and wrong.”

“A system of corruption.

“Clean up this mess.

“There are a series of behaviors, a series of attitudes, a series of crony-like activities that are not defensible, and no Republican should try to defend them.”

“It’s very important to understand this is not one person doing one bad thing. “you can’t have a corrupt lobbyist unless you have a corrupt member or a corrupt staff. . . . This was a team effort.”

“The Abramoff scandal has to be seen as part of a much larger and deeper problem…a system of corruption.

“The election process has turned into an incumbency protection process in which lobbyists attend PAC fundraisers to raise money for incumbents so they can drown potential opponents, thus creating war chests that convince candidates not to run and freeing up incumbents to spend more time in Washington PAC fundraisers. So, in effect, this city is building a wall of money to protect itself from America.”

“Abramoff is only the tip of the iceberg.”

He’s right, of course. The change from capitalism (buffered by regulation and a welfare state) to kleptocratic crony capitalism where the way to wealth is through the power of the state, and from a political system based on votes to a political system based on money, is a profound change, and the current ruling group aims at nothing less. Some of us have been saying so for a while. But even honest conservatives like Steve Bainbridge, disgusted at Abramoff’s misdeeds, still need to wake up and smell the sewage, and figure out what to about it other than fantasize that the party that created the current mess is capable of cleaning it up.

Remember, no Republican in the House said “No” when Hastert trashed the Ethics Committee. Anyone who votes for a Republican this year is voting for corruption.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com