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Protesters show anger with Washington, D.C.

July 07, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Hundreds of protesters gathered at Hagerstown's University Plaza on Tuesday, showing that their level of anger about spending, civil liberties and President Obama remains high, rain or shine.

The first TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party, held in a sopping rain on April 15, drew about 300 people downtown.

On Tuesday, which was clear and sunny, about 400 people attended.

Cities across the country have hosted similar rallies this year.

Lining West Washington Street, many people sounded off about the hundreds of billions of dollars in Obama's stimulus plan to revive the economy.

Judging by their signs, the crowd was steamed about socialism, taxes and Obama in general.

"Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation," one sign said.

Others read: "Read My Lipstick -- No New Taxes," "Impeach Congress," "Trickle Up Poverty" and "Obama: Commander and a Thief."

"Hitler Gave Good Speeches Too," one man's sign said.

Some motorists leaned on their horns and signaled "thumbs up" to the crowd as they passed.

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"Downsize government!," Anita Bussard and Robin Dickerson chanted at traffic while waving signs. "We want jobs!"

Wearing a T-shirt reading "The Second Amendment Is My Gun Permit," Bussard said she doesn't want Obama to tax guns and she doesn't want illegal immigrants taking jobs from Americans.

Dickerson accused Obama of trying to change the Constitution and of planning to outlaw conservative radio talk shows.

"I came here because I don't agree with spend, spend, spend," said Brian Herchenrother of Hagerstown, whose sign showed a bag of money and read "Thou Shalt Not Steal! God." He said Obama hasn't eliminated pork spending, which he pledged to do.

Event organizer Neil Parrott said participants in the local movement are frustrated and have been active, already planning for a Sept. 12 national TEA Party in Washington, D.C.

Volunteers are worried about the national debt and the tax implications of a cap-and-trade plan to limit carbon emissions, Parrott said.

The crowd gave a standing ovation to speaker Jim Warner, a Marine officer who was held captive for almost 5 1/2 years when a plane he was in was shot down during the Vietnam War.

Warner said modern politicians should apply "Common Sense" that Revolutionary War-era pamphleteer Thomas Paine wrote about. For example, wind can't provide energy for the entire nation and printing more money won't solve an economic slump, Warner said.

Randy Buchman, Williamsport High School's cross-country coach and a pastor at the Tri-State Fellowship church, said the nation was built on ideals of limited government, free enterprise and a strong defense.

By one survey he cited, more Americans consider themselves conservative than liberal.

"We indeed are mainstream America," Buchman said.

Another speaker, George Michael, pretended to need the crowd's help in filling out a survey.

Who favors a bailout for banks and insurance companies? "No," the crowd called out.

Who wants amnesty for illegal aliens? Again, "No."

A national health plan? "No."

Michael said former President George W. Bush started a bailout trend during his last year in office, but Obama "has upped it by a factor of about 10."

The second TEA Party included a "My Freedom, My Future, My America" speech contest for those ages 14 to 22.

The judges couldn't pick one winner, so they settled on two -- Sharayah Carbaugh of Clear Spring, a home-schooled student, and Aubrey Muller of Myersville, Md., who just completed her first year at Northland Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin.

Each received $76, which was first prize.

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