Republished with permission from Thom Hartmann
4 November 2025
It’s been almost a year since the last time I saw you, as they were arresting me on the sedition charge that’s kept me in this prison. If the underground network here succeeds, you should get this letter within a few weeks; it’s the third I’ve written you that got out of the prison, but I understand the first two couriers were busted for carrying contraband mail and are now in prison themselves.
The day after President Trump was re-elected (when Speaker Johnson recognized the disputed ballots in five states and threw the election to the House of Representatives), you’ll recall, he invoked the Insurrection Act and began the mass arrests. They tell me both Joe Biden and Merrick Garland are in here, too, although I haven’t seen them; apparently the “high value” former administration officials are locked down in a separate wing.
I’ve been following the news as best I can, and it appears that the initial news reports from January detailing the thousands of people killed and injured by police in the nationwide demonstrations have largely vanished. One of the guards who has access to the internet says all the stories have been scrubbed: it’s as if it never happened.
Part of that is probably because of the updated and retroactive Alien and Sedition Act Congress passed in Trump’s first week, and their “Truth Act” rolling back the Supreme Court’s Times v Sullivan ruling so public officials can now sue for libel.
Following Viktor Orbán’s script from Hungary, Trump and several of his senior officials launched both civil and criminal prosecutions for things reporters and commentators had previously said about them, resulting in over a thousand progressive writers and several dozen publications being run into jail or bankruptcy.
Others—like me, Mary Trump, Heather Cox Richardson, Dean Obeidallah, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Joy Reid, and Timothy Snyder—were charged with “impugning the character of officials of the United States” and are sitting in federal prison right now. I guess we knew it was coming.
All those lawsuits and criminal charges destroyed the value of most media operations; it was a great opportunity for Trump’s billionaire friends to buy up most of America’s media just like Orbán’s buddies did a decade ago in Hungary. NBC, MSNBC, and The New York Times are now owned by the Murdoch family; CNN and CBS both went to Elon Musk; and ABC is now the property of Steve Bannon, who—like when Elon Musk bought Twitter with Saudi money—was bought from Disney with Middle Eastern oil money in a deal organized by Secretary of State Jared Kushner.
It was just a few years ago when Orbán spoke at CPAC in Texas and proposed—to a standing ovation—that Republicans should change the libel laws to put “liberals” in the media out of business: they were clearly paying attention. Now, just like in Hungary and Russia, all of the media spends all their time praising the wisdom and accomplishments of President Trump and Vice President Bannon.
I hear Attorney General Jeffrey Clark has been busy arresting women all across the country. I remember in July of 2023 when 19 Republican attorneys general demanded private medical records of all women in their states who’d gotten abortions; now that the Supreme Court has ruled in their favor, I’m hearing the three largest private prison companies each got multi-billion-dollar contracts to build new women’s prisons.
As Speaker Johnson said, echoing Trump’s logic in tearing children from their parents at the Southern border (now he just shoots them), “If we don’t jail a few of these women persisting in getting abortions, nobody will take us seriously.” And, of course, there are many more women being arrested for illegally possessing birth control pills and IUDs now that they’ve both been declared abortifacients and thus illegal. I understand the protests have largely gone underground since the new Sedition Act forbids public demonstrations and General Flynn’s soldiers are using live ammo?
Today’s election day for the 2025 off-years, although at least 48 million fewer people will be voting since the Democratic Party was declared a criminally seditious organization under the Patriot Act and everybody who’d been registered as a Democrat lost their right to vote for ten years or until they’d successfully completed a re-education course. Another brilliant idea from Putin and Orbán, although President John Adams had nearly done the same thing in 1798.
Talking with other prisoners here, the most common thing I’m hearing is how surprised everybody was at how quickly Joint Chiefs’ head General Flynn had been at deploying the military when crowds began showing up on inauguration day after Trump issued those blanket pardons to himself and the January 6th rioters.
He was able to use the military—with live ammunition—to “keep the peace,” of course, because this time Senator Tuberville had kept all the senior military positions open—like Mitch McConnell did with Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination—so Trump wouldn’t be frustrated again by “socialists” like General Mark Milley (who’s now in a cell just down the block from me).
I hope you’re doing okay financially, since they seized all our savings. I understand your Social Security payment has dropped about 25 percent since JPMorgan took over the program? At least for now you can ignore paying taxes on the money, since Congress defunded the IRS.
And I’m hoping you were able to find a decent Medicare Advantage program, now that they’ve shut down traditional Medicare altogether? My cellmate tells me that now that the Advantage programs are the only game in town, they’ve begun charging over twelve thousand dollars a year for them—about the same as regular health insurance—and they’re getting even more aggressive at denying payment for claims. Please keep eating well and exercising: you need to stay healthy!
How are our grandkids? I know Texas and Florida shut down all their public schools just before the new school year started, following Abbott and DeSantis rolling out statewide voucher programs so every child can have a religious education, but haven’t heard that Oregon has yet gone down that road. I hear rumors the Trump administration is going to put into place a nationwide voucher system now that the Supreme Court has ruled that America is, in fact, a “Christian nation” and every child is entitled to a “Christian education.”
I was so saddened to hear that when Trump, Speaker Johnson, and Majority Leader McConnell cut off all US aid to Ukraine that country’s government collapsed, and the Russians slaughtered hundreds of thousands suspected of collaborating with the Zelensky administration. When Russian forces entered Poland, I fully expected a NATO response, but I hear Trump vetoed that, too.
Republicans in Congress appear, from what I hear, quite happy with the new US alignment with Russia and rejection of our former European alliances (except Hungary). Hopefully when the top Democrats get out of jail they’ll be able to convince their Republican colleagues to reconsider, if President Trump lets them back into the Capitol.
At least Taiwan won’t be a flashpoint for a war now that Secretary Kushner and his wife have negotiated a peace between them and China. I understand it’s modeled after the Hong Kong transition, which has many in Taiwan worried, but the Chinese forces backed up by the US fleet in the region—and North Korea’s new treaty with the US—seem to be keeping unrest there to a minimum.
Are ICE and the Border Patrol still using live ammunition down south? The story I heard through the grapevine here was that after about a week of the Rio Grande running red with blood, most asylum seekers abandoned their efforts and are staying in Mexico. Secretary Kushner brought in Saudi officials to explain to Congress how they’ve been using live ammunition to protect their borders for years, killing people regularly, and that it’s good target practice to keep our troops’ training in tip-top shape.
While those of us convicted under the 2024 updates to the libel and sedition laws and Patriot Act are considered “enemy combatants” and thus not entitled to constitutional protections and things like mail privileges, I hear they may let us have one zoom call with family on Christmas (now that it’s a “mandatory holiday”). Next week is our 54th wedding anniversary; I miss you, and hope you get this note before our Christmas call!
Sending you, our kids, and our grandkids all my love…
Thom Hartmann, one of America’s leading public intellectuals and the country’s #1 progressive talk show host, writes fresh content six days a week. The Monday-Friday “Daily Take” articles are free to all, while paid subscribers receive a Saturday summary of the week’s news and, on Sunday, a chapter excerpt from one of his books.