Wednesday, May 28, 2008

President George W. Bush Makes His Fourth And Final Visit To Utah, Greeted By 2,000 Anti-Bush Protestors


President George W. Bush arrived in Utah on Wednesday May 28th, 2008 for a fundraising trip for presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, who was not along for the ride. A good summary of the visit is posted by KTVX Channel 4. Other stories about the visit posted by the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KSL Channel 5 and KUTV Channel 2. Pictured above left, President Bush awarding the Volunteer Service Award to Rick Pehrson.

This trip is Bush's fourth and likely last visit to Utah as President of the United States. His schedule included two fundraisers and a Thursday meeting with the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Air Force One landed at the Air National Guard Base co-located at Salt Lake International Airport at 2:45 P.M. Bush greeted several dignitaries before presenting the President's Volunteer Service Award to Rick Pehrson of South Jordan. Pehrson, 24, has logged more than 900 hours serving as a team leader with Americorps Youth Service Corp. He recruited, trained and managed more than 1,300 volunteers during the Utah State Capitol's rededication and eight-day open house. In addition, he helped organize and facilitate an annual youth conference that emphasizes youth-led service projects. Pehrson also previously served an LDS mission in Ecuador.

After the presentation, Bush got into the presidential limousine, accompanied by Governor Huntsman, and attended a fundraiser at an Avenues mansion in Salt Lake City. On the way to and outside of the fund raiser, several Utah residents gathered for a glimpse of the president.

Unfortunately, the fundraiser, which was held on A Avenue, was not intended for Joe and Jane Sixpack. The cost of admission was $500, and the price to dine with the president was $10,000. Among the 300 guests were former Utah governor and current Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt; Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah; Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert; and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, another early McCain supporter. The President spent about 45 minutes at the luncheon before heading back to the Air National Guard base.

Bush then boarded Marine One and flew to Park City for a private fundraiser in the evening. Once there, one of the military helicopters flying with Marine One broke down, giving Park City residents a chance to get an up-close look at the helicopter. Two events took place there; in Park City itself, more than 100 people gathered for the "Bush Bash Barbecue" at the city park, where they listened to free music and ate free hot dogs, while Bush himself attended a $70,000 per couple private reception at Mitt Romney's vacation home in Deer Valley.

But while Bush was out fundraising, LDS church leaders were given a grand tour of Air Force One. Church president Thomas Monson and second counselor Dieter Uchtdorf were at the airport for the arrival of Air Force One, and were permitted go on board and tour the aircraft. This had special meaning to Uchtdorf, who flew 747s in Germany.

Bush's visit with the LDS First Presidency is scheduled for Thursday morning, after which he will fly to Kansas.

Meanwhile, former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, as promised, led a protest against Bush's visit at the Salt Lake City-County Building, attended by an estimated 2,000 people according to the Deseret News. The Salt Lake Tribune reports a smaller crowd; the Deseret News report is more accurate according to eyewitnesses who posted comments to the various news stories. The Salt Lake Tribune Crawler blog also provides some additional information. Daniel Ellsberg and activist veteran Marshall Thompson were the other notables in attendance. There was no contact between them and the President's party.

According to another KSL report, Rocky Anderson said, "We raise our voices in unison today because President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other members of the administration have engaged with the sad complacency of Congress and much of the mainstream media in unprecedented egregious human rights violations, vast deceit of Congress and the American people, astounding crimes against peace, of the same nature as those for which men were convicted during the Nuremberg Trials, war crimes, crimes against humanity."

Anderson helped organize the rally and not only denounced the war in Iraq, but spoke out against further military action. "There is a substantial risk, especially with the complacent citizenry, the president will order an attack against Iran, having continued the case for another illegal, tragic war of aggression against a people who largely stood in sympathy and solidarity with us on 9/11," he said.

Commentary: Comparing Bush to Hitler is ludicrous and nothing more than an orgy of hyperbolic excess. Yes, the war in Iraq was a mistake and had nothing to do with the so-called "War on Terror". And yes, the increasing restrictions being imposed on the American people such as the USA Patriot Act and Real ID are excessive. But Bush is hardly transforming America into a dictatorship; indeed, it is lefties, particularly fanatical neo-Marxist anti-racist whites with their endless crusades against "racism" and their imposition of suffocating political correctness that pose a much greater threat to our liberties. It wasn't George W. Bush who tried to politically lynch Senator Chris Buttars. Let's remember who the real enemies of liberty and constitutionality are.

But Rocky Anderson is now a private citizen, and so he can be judged by the same standard as anyone else. And, in his capacity as a private citizen, I've no qualms about him exercising his constitutional right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances.

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