Thursday, June 6, 2013

Plugging leaks

I’m homeless.  I have a roof over my head and a place to stay, but for the first time in over a dozen years I don’t actually own a piece of real estate.  (At one time I had an ownership stake in four properties at once.)  For the past 18 months in two different cities I’ve been staying in temporary digs and for various reasons have divested my holdings.  There is much to miss about being a homeowner and a landlord – but there is much that I am glad not to deal with.  Leaking faucets,  stopped up sewer lines and unstable and unruly tenants top the list of things I don’t miss.
A few months into owning my first triplex the tenant came to me and said “there’s water on the kitchen floor.”  After determining that nobody had spilled anything and nothing above ground was the root cause, I found that a pipe under the kitchen had a leak and was spraying water up through the floorboards.  If the water had been spraying down it would have taken days or weeks of the water settling into the ground before I ever realized the problem.  After extensive discussions with two different plumbing companies I opted to replace the galvanized pipe under the house with copper rather than just plug the one leak that was likely to put pressure on the pipes down the line causing other leaks.  It was an expensive and inconvenient process to go through, for me and for the tenants.  Had that leak not sprayed water into the kitchen I never would have known the extent of the problem.

Political leaks no different than plumbing leaks.  It’s a way of finding out where there’s an issue or a problem.  Once the issue is identified then an analysis and evaluation can be done to see whether it’s just moisture or some fundamental structural issue.  This week, four years after the incident, Bradley Manning’s trial began.

The former Private has already admitted to illegally providing Wikileaks with confidential information.  The trial isn’t proving guilt or innocence.  It’s about determining motive – for if Manning was disclosing information like Woodard and Bernstein did in the 1970’s – to highlight policy problems, then he gets 20 years.  If, like the Government / Prosecutor claims, he intended on bringing down the Government, then he gets life.

As I wrote last year:  According to Amnesty International Wikileaks release of information was “a catalyst in a series of uprisings against repressive regimes.”  So the “Arab Spring” uprisings were launched thanks to the open airing of information - the complete antithesis of the Justice Department claims.  It’s a head scratcher (being polite) how the Obama Administration can on the one hand take credit for bringing Democracy to the Middle East while punishing and criminalizing those who actually prompted the revolution.”
Manning’s release of information actually wound up benefitting U.S. foreign policy.  That seems to be a far cry from trying to bring anything down.  Under President Obama, the Justice Department is putting up a dam to stop the flow of information.  I much prefer President Elect Obama who in 2008 had promised instead to “run the most transparent White House in history.”  Clearly that goal has been plugged.

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