Jeff Feingold is
Editor of NH Business Review's print and
on-line editions. He has
been a business journalist for more than 25 years, and recognized
by the Small Business Administration as National
Small Business Journalist of the Year.
At a time when the self-styled tea partiers of New Hampshire are doing jumping jacks and victory dances, you'd think a like-minded organization - the uber-libertarian Free State Project - would be sitting in the catbird seat.
But you'd be wrong. The movement - begun in 2003 as an organized attempt to lure 20,000 "like-minded" libertarians to move to New Hampshire where they would "exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property." At least that's what the website says.
While the movement may still accomplish its goals, it will be doing it with diminished ranks, particularly at the leadership level.
First is Resignation No. 2 by Varrin Swearingen, who had previously served and resigned as president of the movement.
Second is the decision by Free State activists Russell and Kat Kanning - who started NHFree.com and the NH Free Press - to leave New Hampshire. And Sam Dodson, another key Free State Project activist, founder of the Obscured Truth Network, is reportedly planning to leave as well. Add to that the departures of less well-known Free Staters to parts elsewhere.
Third - and perhaps most significant - is the decision to cancel the 2011 version of one of the Free Staters' two signature events, the Liberty Forum, which was scheduled to be held in February in Nashua. No word on the other Free State shindig, the Porcupine Freedom Festival, which had been scheduled for June.
Reading is fundamental
Considering the rhetoric about "teachers' unions" voiced over lo these many years by certain members of the House Republican caucus, maybe the NEA was right to call off its annual Read Across America event at the State House.
The reason: because guns are allowed in the building.
True, the reps are armed, and to more than a few of them, the NEA is dangerous.
Tea and incredulity
What more can you say about the New Hampshire Republican Party's date with destiny on Jan. 22?
Despite all the prettied-up words and making nicey-nice, the election of Jack Kimball as the new chair of the state GOP wasn't just a wake-up call for what remains of the more moderate (that is not to say that they're not conservative) folks in the party. It was an air-raid siren going off where their alarm clock used to be.
In fact, it was the first time in memory when the post-mortem of a part chair's election actually included the new chairman himself trying to prove he hadn't killed off the party's chances by being elected.
The air-raid siren, by the way, didn't just affect politicos. It also was blaring in the ears of a few of those in the GOP media world, most notably the Union Leader, not to mention the websites New Hampshire Journal and Red Hampshire. All three are now firmly in the sights of a third GOP media world player - Granite Grok - which was the only one to go out front and center (although "center" doesn't seem like quite an appropriate word for the occasionally paranoid and almost always angry Groksters) in support of Kimball. And the Groksters were sure to tell their equally occasionally paranoid and almost always angry readers how it couldn't have been done with them. And, to a certain extent, that's very true. The support of the new House speaker certainly didn't hurt.
Which raises an interesting question about a party that's just about split in two, all while it's in unprecedented control of state government.
Peter Bragdon: In the name of efficiency, the Senate president convinces his colleagues to adopt a consent calendar, meaning - unlike previous years - every bill won't be heard by members this year.
Paul Smith: The former Auburn Republican rep, who has worked in the House Republican leader's office for the last five years, is named to replace Eric Fowler as assistant House clerk.
Eric Fowler: The now-former assistant House clerk is told that he can seek state government employment as long as it isn't in "the State House complex."
Paul Mirski: The Republican rep from Enfield, and point man in the effort to oust Democrat Mike Brunelle from the House, once again delays the proceedings and raising questions whether they ever actually will be held.
Jeff Oligny: The Republican rep from Hampstead is named to the Guardian Ad Litem Advisory Board, which had previously rejected him to work as a guardian.
Charlie Bass: The 2nd District congressman is named to the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittees on Communications and Technology, Environment and Economy, and Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
Frank Guinta: The 1st District congressman is named vice chairman of a subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs as well as a spot on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Claira Monier: The former longtime head of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority and a GOP activist, is named chair of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's New Hampshire political action committee.
It's been making the rounds...
• When Jack Kimball intoned that the GOP was "in a war" against Democrats, he apparently didn't get the New Era of Civil Discourse memo.
• Imagine what could have happened if it was someone other than the baggage-laden Jordan Ulery running against Steve Duprey for national committeeman.
• Nothing more need be said about the state of New Hampshire politics today than to realize the Union Leader is now a moderating voice in the state GOP.
• Whether or not they were told it can't be done, it's clear House leadership's feet are getting colder by the minute when it comes to the attempt to oust Democrat Mike Brunelle.
• New Hampshire has seen the future, and it is Maine.