Its been awhile since the last blog post, and awhile since the last PorcFest post. Between being too busy and too lazy, I didnt get around to it the past few years, but Ive been determined to get something out again, so here we are. And what a PorcFest it was. From our humble beginnings TEN(!) years ago as a Facebook page and a WordPress-domained blog, Jewish Libertarians has grown to host a Shabbat get together at this annual gathering of libertarians in the White Mountains. And what started as a small potluck service is now in its second year as a Kosher Kookout. On top of that, this is the first year that had several Jewish events!
Burning. Thats the smell of PorcFest (and SomaliaFest). Burning wood, burning cannabis, burning tobacco. The scents are constant, but mixed and layered in varying proportions across Rogers Campground in Lancaster, New Hampshire. They linger in your mind a few days afterward, unmistakably reminding you of the great fun you had last week. I decided somewhat at the last minute to go, after joining the boycott last year in response to the banning of Ian Freeman, the controversial activist host of Free Talk Live. Attendance declined sharply that year, and continues to remain down this year. Where there used to be nearly a dozen pancake vendors strewn about the camp, there are now only a few. Most of the campground used to be filled with EZUPs, tents, and RVs; now its more sparse.
Last night I attended my first cop block event here in New Hampshire, where libertarians from across the country are migrating to help one of the most liberty-minded states become more so. Several times a year, police in Manchester set up a DUI (and every other driving offense, such as broken headlight) checkpoint. For years, libertarian activists, many of whom moved from other states like me, have been holding signs and shouting warnings at the entry to the checkpoint when drivers have one last chance to turn away. They have also filed lawsuits to make the police give clearer notice about these checkpoints, which have not been proven to reduce any harmful behavior, and mostly seem to net police departments fine money.
It has been one hell of a weekend, and this was probably the best International Students for Liberty Conference I have been to (and Ive been to four). Highlights include meeting the Prince of Liechtenstein, Gary Johnson, and talking to young libertarians about the Free State Project as a mover. I almost didnt go. I had planned to take two weeks to do this and next weekends CPAC, but time and money constraints made that impossible. At nearly the last minute, I was able to secure a ride from a friend here in New Hampshire, for which I am grateful.
This past weekend was the 9th annual Liberty Forum held by the Free State Project in Manchester, NH. Its a bit similar to the Porcupine Freedom Festival in that its a gathering of freestaters, liberty friends, and prospective movers. However, its quite a bit more formal, being hosted at a hotel ballroom instead of a campground. There were two day and four day passes offered. I opted for the two day pass, and that was a good idea. The four day pass offers a bit more programming, meals, and some special events, but I cant say it would be worth it unless you really want to support FSP or have the money to blow.
The highlight of the conference was the Edward Snowden live skype interview. Snowden has done a few of these since securing his exile in Russia, including at last years International Students for Liberty Conference. Unfortunately, I mixed up the timing and didnt get to see him here. However, there was a recording, and controversial “unauthorized” recording.
The main talks ranged from bitcoin, to life in New Hampshire, to the current state of liberty, hope for the future, and much more. There were many detailed panels, such as a few about buying real estate in New Hampshire. There were also a number of specialized luncheons to showcase various organizations or businesses up here. There was even a child care area for parents to leave their littles.
The exhibition hall was my favorite because thats where organizations and businesses set up shop and show their support. Every region of the state had some representation, as did several local businesses. Its a great way to get information and meet people before considering a move. I had hoped to have Jewish Libertarians there, but could not get stuff together in time to make it worth the cost. Perhaps next year.
Personally, the conference did not do much for me. I have gone to the International Students for Liberty Conference for the past three years (Ill be going again this year), and even there I get bored. I mostly go to see people and the exhibitors. It was certainly worth going here for the first time, but I dont think Ill be going back again. I may, however, consider and exhibitor spot for Jewish Libertarians. However, dont let my experience dissuade you. If youve never been to a libertarian conference and want to meet the New Hampshire folk, then come on up next year! From your perspective, it will be worth it.
Forgive me for the lack of pictures. I completely blanked on taking them. Maybe I was having too good a time after all!
Today, Scott Walker came to a pizzeria/diner in Manchester, New Hampshire to meet with supporters and potential supporters. I have previously noted my support for Walker over Rand Paul. Walker is more electable and has a record of success. He also is a governor, while senators have brought us problems. Not to mention that we really need Rand in the Senate and he can do more there than as President. Walker has views that should concern us, but he is no Chris Christie or Jeb Bush. He would be an ally to a libertarian Congress.
The Porcupine Freedom Festival is now over, and it took a day to recover from the sleepless nights, the cold, the dirt, and the general depletion of energy. Along with attending events, hanging out, and selling snacks, I tabled for and represented Jewish Libertarians. Despite an almost complete lack of preparation, throwing things together at the last minute, I managed to make a mark.
Earlier today, the director of the New Hampshire Department of Revenue and an associate came to PorcFest to check whether food vendors were collecting the meals tax. New Hampshire has no sales tax, but does have a tax on meals and lodging. Ian Freeman of Free Keene, who is well known for filming police and government agents, quickly arrived on the scene to film and interrogate the two suits. He was joined by an effective militia of attendees armed with regular cameras and cell phone cameras.
After much planning and lack of planning, as well as events being hosted by other people, I am able to finalize and publish the schedule for Jewish Libertarian events at PorcFest XII 2015. Jewish Libertarians will be located at Agora Valley #37 – ‘ohel Herut. Times and locations are subject to change, but updates will be available at AV37.
As I begin to promote PorcFest, I have received some concerns about antisemitic incidents in the past. Claims of slashed tires, epithets thrown, and a climate of fear have dissuaded a few Jews from considering attending the great festival. Naturally, since I am planning open events and a visible tent, it was important to investigate these claims. When I went last year, I experienced nothing but friendliness. Contrary to even claims by the media, I never smelled “odors of marijuana”, let alone (ooga booga) ANTISEMITISM. In fairness, I wasnt visibly Jewish, but there are a number of known Jews there.