Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Independence Institute Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms party celebrates "perks of adulthood"

The Independence Institute's annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms party is "the most politically incorrect event of the year," as we tagged it years ago, and the tenth annual ATF event lived up to that billing Saturday even if it didn't make the news that the 2010 incarnation did -- when then-Senate candidate Ken Buck said he didn't wear high heels -- or inspire the spying of 2007, when Media Matters studied video of the event.

But it definitely featured pols and other smarty-pants taking aim at very easy targets.

The event, at the Kiowa Creek Sporting Club, starts with the shooting. Only after that does the audience indulge in a lunch complete with full bar and cigars, while chewing over the remarks of the featured speakers: Independence Institute head Jon Caldara, of course (a previous Best Media Manipulator), as well as David Kopel (who's my always erudite colleague on Colorado Public Television's Colorado Inside Out ) and this year's special guest, David Martosko, executive editor of The Daily Caller. Given the work the 24/7 Online outlet has done on founder David Brock, Media Matters want to download video of this one, too.

Or they can just watch CSPAN: This tenth ATF party was filmed by CSPAN, so Caldara started off the speeches with an explanation of the event, which grew out of "brainstorming when we saw what was happening in this great nanny state." It was time, Caldara said, to "celebrate the perks of adulthood, including drinkin', smokin' and shooting.... Sadly, lawyers won't let us do it in that order, but we're working on it."

What hacks off the left "is to see the right having fun," he noted. "But freedom is about protecting your right to do things that others find distasteful."

Kopel followed up with his assessment of what's wrong with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- not just his stance against, big, sugary drinks, but also guns -- as well as what's wrong with Jon Caldara, a list too long to share here.

And then it was Martosko's turn. He was a natural choice as an ATF speaker, and not just because The Daily Caller features a "guns and gear" section. It's also the publication that took the lead on the "Fast and Furious" ATF scandal, and Martosko even writes his own cigar column for the site, which can pull in 6 million visits, more than the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Rolling Stone and a couple of major papers combined. "The best revenge," he said, "is the quiet knowledge that you're happy and they're not."

In addition to discussing everything from vegetarianism (why do we have canine teeth if we're supposed to eat plants?) to global warming (an "aggressive hoax") to marijuana (his college freshman at Dartmouth sold it), Martosko offered a quick shout-out to Cigars on Sixth, the Denver cigar store that also features a barbershop ("is this that America or what?") as well as a take on Paul Ryan, just announced that day as Mitt Romney's running mate. The choice shows that this election "is all about economics and not much else," he said, adding that it presages "a very big national conversation about the fiscal crisis this country is headed toward...and Congress knows."

But it was Caldara who got in the last word: "All seriousness aside, I can't wait to see Paul Ryan debate Joe Biden."

Neither will be wearing high heels.

It's hard to believe that the Independence Institute has been around long enough to not just enjoy the "perks of adulthood," but also be considered an adult. For more, see Kenny Be's "The Independence Institute is twenty-five years old -- and still shooting from the lip."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun