Rally: Shrink government

The government wants to control when and how you die, what you can access online and, frankly, pretty much everything else you do in your private life.

So said hundreds of people Monday at a gathering billed as one stop on a nationwide tour that will culminate with a humongous event in Washington, D.C., intended to let the big shots on Capitol Hill know who's really in charge.

"I'm scared," said one of those hundreds, Patricia Somers, 62, who traveled from Thousand Oaks, Calif., to Las Vegas, the closest tour stop for the Tea Party Express. "We're losing so much."

Somers said she heard about the rally either through the Internet or on Fox News, she couldn't recall. That's what many of the people at the rally said.

Organizers estimated the crowd ranged between 700 and 900. The parking lot was packed so full that larger SUVs were forced to park on top of curbs and medians.

The rally was staged Monday morning in the sweltering parking lot of the Sports Center of Las Vegas on Sunset Road, behind McCarran International Airport.

The crowd's basic issue: Since the election of Barack Obama as president, the government seems to be getting really huge. There is health care, of course, but also many other things. Taxes. The aforementioned Internet. How you choose to raise your children.

The government wants a hand in all of it, some of the protesters contended.

The event wasn't really the forum for in-depth discussions and proof but more of a get-fired-up rally with chanting and ridiculing of big government.

The tour kicked off in Sacramento, Calif., last week, traveled through rural Nevada and hit Las Vegas on Monday. It then headed east, toward Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and places in the Midwest and Northeast before a scheduled stop in the nation's capital. An event there is set for Sept. 12.

The tour is sponsored by the Our Country Deserves Better political action committee. Its organizers claim 350,000 members nationwide.

The group is targeting members of Congress with whom it does not share political ideals: representatives who group members contend vote for "higher spending, higher taxes, and government intervention in the lives of American families and businesses," according to the Web site www.teapartyexpress.org.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was a favorite target at the rally.

For example, a T-shirt: "Arlen Specter (he's a senator who switched to the Democratic party) is a hemmroid on Harry Reid's brain."

There were many, many signs. So many signs that it seemed as if that was the point of the rally: to bring everyone who wanted to make and hold a sign into one place for easy viewing.

Some of the signs:

• "Socialism is anti-American"

• "Good riddance Reid 2010"

• "You can't fix stupid"

• "We love (a drawn heart goes here) capitalism Not taxes!!"

The rally drew several local politicians. Those included Danny Tarkanian, who is running for Reid's seat; Joe Heck, a candidate for governor; Mike Montandon, also a gubernatorial candidate; and Sharron Angle, who also wants Reid's seat. All are Republicans.

Speakers railed against a government power grab.

Mark Williams, a talk radio host and frequent guest on Fox News programs, joked that the people in this crowd had been called an "angry mob" by their opponents. Nothing could be further from the truth, he said.

"I see one big, national town hall meeting taking place," Williams told them. "And they're scared in Washington."

He pointed to his favorite sign, which said, "I'm a Reid Wacker," and asked the crowd to chant the phrase as a message to the senator.

"I'm a Reid Wacker!" they said.

Other chants included "Glenn Beck! Glenn Beck!" for the Fox News host who has triggered controversy by calling Obama a racist.

Randy Sabourin, 48, said he went to the rally to make his voice heard.

"We're losing our country. I 900 percent believe that," said Sabourin, who described himself as a gay registered Democrat who is frightened by the growing power of the government.

He said he is especially afraid of the Democrats' health care proposals.

Speaker Lew Uhler, the chairman of the National Tax-Limitation Committee PAC, told the crowd that health care was the most pressing threat.

Las Vegan Judy Kidd, 67, was inclined to agree. She said she has not only Medicare -- the government program for people older than 65 -- but also private insurance from her husband's retirement plan.

She is taking a drug that would cost $3,600 a month without insurance, she said. Medicare will not pay for it, she said, but because she and her husband have chosen to pay for their own insurance, it costs her only a few dollars.

She suspects that a full-blown government takeover of the health care system would be like having everyone on Medicare, and no one would be able to get new drugs.

"I wouldn't be here," she said.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.