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Letter from a Pennsylvania prison



April 11, 2024

I set these words down in my own hand from my prison cell here at the Federal Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, where I have been incarcerated for the last three years. My quarters are spartan, but not unpleasant: I live alone in this 8’ x 10’ room, which contains a bunk bed, a T.V., a small shelf for my books, a writing table, a little refrigerator and, of course, a toilet.

My days pass well enough. Boredom is the chief enemy, but between the reading and yard exercising (three times a week), and watching T.V., I get by. They don’t let us see any news channels, so I’ve been watching a lot of the shopping channels, which at least are live, and star real people.

Let me explain why I’m here. I was sentenced to thirty years on March 27, 2021, for violating the Behavior Against Government (BAG) Act, which was passed by Congress two years before my arrest, only to be held up for Constitutional review until the Supreme Court declared it legal. The vote on that was 6-3; Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, with a concurrence by Associate Justice Ted Cruz, who had been nominated by President Trump only three months before and confirmed by the Senate, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

The BAG Act decrees that any behavior found objectionable to the United States government, its officers and/or appointees, is punishable by up to forty years in prison. The Justice Department is the sole determinant of what constitutes “objectionable” behavior. In my case, I was charged with “disseminating false, and/or insulting, and/or malicious information concerning the President of the United States.” How did I do this? Through my blog, of course, Under the old laws, nothing I wrote could possibly have been interpreted as illegal; I took great care to stay on the right side of the law. But with the passage of the BAG Act, the government moved the goalposts, so that a statement (such as “Trump is a sexual predator”) which until then might have been harsh, but not libelous, now is considered a “threat to the stability of the nation.” So here I am.

And here I’m likely to remain. Now that the Congress has repealed the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which held the President to two terms of office, there’s no doubt that President Trump will be re-elected this November–especially since the Democratic Party has all but been obliterated. A majority of national Democratic Party leaders—Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Jerry Brown, Robert Reich, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren—also have been arrested for violating the BAG Act; in fact, Sanders’ cell is right down the row from me, and on occasion I see Biden in the courtyard. The poor guy has aged a lot. But who hasn’t?

I had no trial. The men who arrested me (and since they never identified themselves, I have no idea what agency they were from) explained that jury trials are too expensive and a waste of time when national security is at stake. They did show me some paperwork: a formal document of some kind, outlining the charges against me. It was signed by Jared Kushner—not personally, of course, but with a facsimile of his signature. I barely had time to see his title before one of the men grabbed it away: it said “Chief of Internal Security” or something like that.

Since we can’t watch the news or see newspapers or have access to the Internet, I’m not very conversant with world affairs anymore. But there is a grapevine of sorts here in Allenwood; inmates hear things and gossip about them. From the grapevine I learn that opposition to the Trump regime in America has been all but obliterated. His picture adorns every courtroom, military post and schoolroom in the country; his face is on the twenty-dollar bill; and the Pledge of Allegiance, which is mandatory at all public events, has new phrasing: following “…and to the Republic for which it stands” is “and the President of our great country, Donald J. Trump…”.

I hear, also, that many of America’s traditional allies have broken with us: France, Germany, England (the U.K. split up in 2020), Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan. Trump did manage to get his Wall built along the U.S.-Mexico border (which cost us $50 billion; Mexico ended up not paying for it), and we are now building a similar wall along the Canadian border, after the “Dixon Notch Massacre,” in which a few dozen locals supposedly were beheaded by Islamic terrorists who had illegally crossed the border from Quebec. A friend of mine, a fellow inmate, told me that this “massacre” was announced to the public by Kellyanne Conway, the Secretary of Propaganda and Enlightenment. She provided no evidence, and when MSNBC aired a documentary alleging that the whole thing was made up, the Trump administration—using another new law, the Enabling Act Against Media Lies and Fake News—shut it down and imprisoned many of its reporters. In fact, Rachel Maddow supposedly is here in Allenwood, too, in the women’s division.

I have, as you might imagine, plenty of time to think. At first, I was filled with rage and resentment at my arrest. But time has begun to blur the edges of my anger. A lot of others were arrested, so I’m good company; besides, one can’t take these things personally. And, by all accounts, America now is more tranquil than it was just a few years ago. The partisanship that marked government is over. Of course, having but one political party nowadays (thanks to the Republican Party Empowerment Act, passed just last month) helps. And, with Jared clearly being groomed for the succession, our future looks to be in good hands; at least, he’s not a wacko evangelical! So I spend my days and nights watching Home Shopping Network and smiling. Perhaps you will soon join me!

  1. Karole Skeen says:

    I’ll be in the jail next to Maddow and Warren.

  2. Karole: Hah!

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