Coulter Heats Up Independence Banquet

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The Colorado Freedom

Coulter Heats Up Independence Banquet

by Ari Armstrong, December 1, 2006

If the roads were icy and the air outside crisp, Ann Coulter scorched the Democrats at the Independence Institute's 22nd Annual Founder's Night Dinner, held November 29 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. (Shown in the photo are Ann McIntyre, Ben DeGrow, Coulter, Jon Caldara, Linda Gorman, and Tracy Smith.)

Coulter may have offered the crowd comfortable delusions such that we're witnessing the "death throes of a dying party" (meaning the Democratic Party) and we're "in the midst of a Republican juggernaut," but Mike Rosen joked about the election season that was rough for Republicans. Usually he'd ask Republican office holders to stand to be recognized, he said, "but there aren't any left." I couldn't hear whether newly elected Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman protested.

Caldara, president of the outfit, began the evening by humorously "protesting" the takeover of the free-market movement by women. Later he marked the passing of Milton Friedman, vowing to carry on the grand economist's work. Preaching individual choice, Caldara reviewed the achievements of the Institute. He promised to "stop a lot of bad ideas from happening" and "have fun while we do it." Politicians come and go, he said, but the ideas of liberty are timeless, though it is up to us to pass them along to the next generation.

Rosen said that "the Independence Institute needs to be supported now more than ever." He noted that the Institute has been imitated by the left, while several rich liberals have devoted millions of dollars to "buying Colorado politics." Rosen said that, while the Institute is unaffiliated with any party, it does have a "natural alliance" with Republicans. "The Independence Institute is your champion in the ring," he said.

The Institute recognized Pam Beningo and Helen Krieble with its annual awards.

Bob Schaffer presented the Vern Bickel Award to Beningo, calling her "one of the most effective" spokespersons for choice in education; "very few hold the lamp of liberty higher." He said that efforts to thwart conservative reforms in education are driven by dollars, but "our ability to maintain ourselves as a civilization" depends on addressing the issue of public education.

Beningo said that it "is simply not true" that she and like-minded reformers are "anti-public education." She's "anti bad public education" and "even mediocre public education." She praised efforts to create charter schools, open enrollment, and school report cards.

Alex Cranberg presented the David S. D'Evelyn Award to Krieble. She is a "visionary... unafraid to take on just about anything," Cranberg said. She supported strategic defense against the Soviet Union, fought for choice in education, and most recently took on the issue of immigration. Cranberg said our country has posted both a "help wanted and a keep out sign." Krieble is "trying to solve a big problem... with free-market ideals" and entrepreneurship.

Krieble said that a "guest worker program and border security must be linked." With such a program, "we wouldn't need a wall." However, she stressed, a good guest worker program must be only for work, not for jumping the immigration line. She urged the audience to "remember the principles of the Founding Fathers and keep them alive."

Photo Album

Dan Pierson, Barry and Michele Fagin, Joe Weaver, and Jennifer Armstrong

Mike Coffman and Sean Duffy

Mike Rosen with John and Donna Andrews

Alex Cranberg

Bill Armstrong

Mike and Monica Krause (Congratulations!)

Helen Krieble and Jon Caldara

Bill Cadman and Penn Pfiffner

Kopel. Dave Kopel.

The Colorado Freedom