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Signs of change?

March 12, 2010

This morning’s  hotel breakfast was the eat-it-on-the-run variety that is comp’d  nowadays to help the traveler get over his resentment at what he’s being charged for the room.  All that I can say in its favor was that the raisin toast was okay; the lynch-pin of the entire affair, the coffee, was an abomination.   I suspect  the management knows this, that’s why the copy of U.S.A. Today was free.

This morning’s news on SDBP brings word that the floods are starting in eastern South Dakota.  Right now it looks to be ice-jams that are of concern, but there’s a good deal of snow melt to go.

My morning’s email contained a message from my brothers practicing at the criminal bar that the Senate judiciary committee has voted to pass legislation to reform the federal sentencing policies for cocaine and eliminate the mandatory minimum sentence for possession.   The bill reduces the sentencing disparity between federal crack and powder cocaine offenses by reducing the ratio between crack and powder cocaine from 100:1 to 20:1.  That disparity has always been a sore spot with the defense bar and minority communities since there is no scientific basis for it.  But this reform will not eliminate the suspicion that it is unwritten policy that minority drug-users  be incarcerated for long periods.

I am left wondering why they are doing this: is this a move of conscience?  Or is it because we can’t afford to build more federal pens? Or is it because they want to make it even easier to secure plea bargains?  But, the bill is in the Senate; so far as change goes, there’s probably nothing to worry about there.

And finally, last night I discovered that it’s now possible to buy a copy of a socialist newspaper in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Liberation, the newspaper of the Party For Socialism And Liberation (or “PSL”), can be picked up at the Black Sheep Coffee House.  The PSL is a “revolutionary Marxist” party and it appears that, like San Francisco and New York, Sioux Falls has its own chapter.

Liberation tries, but it’s not your father’s Daily Worker.

— Margadant

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