Ohio Tea Party survey to candidates: “The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to God and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.”

At first, I wasn’t going to blog on this because I thought it must be a hoax.  Who could possibly ask such a question of candidates?  Then again, the Tea Party have outsourced their thinking on climate to The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, which is as ridiculous as it gets.

Yesterday, the UK Guardian‘s Leo Hickman reported the story, “with a side order of jaw drop”:

A local Ohioan newspaper called the Sandusky Register has unearthed an email sent out last week by a local Tea Party group called The Freedom Institute of Erie County to the representatives of candidates seeking office in the forthcoming elections. The email (pdf) begins:

“We are a Tea Party Group in Erie County called The Freedom Institute of Erie County and we are preparing a Conservative voter guide and would like help from your candidates. We ask they answer the following 15 questions so that we can more clearly define their position on many items. These answers will be put into our voter guide and allow us to rate, recommend, and endorse candidates. Without these questions being answered we cannot give a full endorsement of your candidate”¦You are allowed qualifiers to your answers but please keep it short sweet and simple. We intend to distribute this list in Erie County and hope it to reach 1,000+ Republicans and at least 4.000+ Independents that have a history of voting conservatively.”

You can read all the items at your leisure — with your head in a vise, to be on the safe side — but the one that strains credulity, even for the Tea Party, is

2. The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to God and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.

The second half is, I suppose, pretty standard fare, but the first half is based on a theology known to nobody.  Even if one were to adopt that worldview, it still remains the case in most religious philosophies that God can act through man.

One merely need replace “carbon dioxide” with, say “toxic air pollutants” to see how absurd and self-contradictory the statement is.  Or one could replace “Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere” with, say, “crime” — that’s what the 10 Commandments are therefore, no?  But that all does assume these folks are open to even a modicum of logic.

Hickman himself writes:

The use of the word “God” should inform us – as if we really needed telling – what helps to frame the thinking behind many of these questions. Then there’s the use of the term “government”: climate change is not a question of science for the Tea Partiers, it’s merely a Trojan horse being used by socialists to increase the role and influence of Big Government. So much so, that it should not even be taught in schools. (I’ve written before about the efforts by Tea Party groups to strip climate change from the school curriculum.)

Certainly Hickman has nailed the real reason conservatives don’t believe in climate science — it’s about the solution, not the problem.  And the right wing desire to teach anti-scientific disinformation to our children is nothing new (see South Dakota legislators tell schools to teach ‘astrological’ explanation for global warming).

In case you were wondering who The Freedom Institute of Erie County is, just click on their website and click on “The Enemy” tab, and up pops shadowy images of Barack Obama.  Hickman does a bit more digging:

The email sent out to candidates, as revealed by the Sandusky Register, was authored by Jon P Morrow, who is listed on the Freedom Institute of Erie County website as a member of its “steering committee”. Morrow also writes a blog over at Patriots Unite! in which a recent entry provides this rather intriguing analysis of Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the citizens of New Orleans:

“Government rules, program, and fees and taxes, though some are well intentioned, do nothing but hold those back that they were designed to help. Take Hurricane Katrina for an example. There were so many people that were on welfare and section 8 housing before the storm and after the storm literally kicked them out of a socialized (government provided) lifestyle many now have jobs and are starting to enjoy a taste of success.”

In other words: “Yay, thank God for the Big Government-busting winds of Hurricane Katrina.”

One would be tempted to put these folks into the lunatic fringe, but Hickman explains why “that would be a mistake”:

… it would appear they attract the support of some significant players. From an environmental perspective, it is a concern to see that Freedom Institute of Erie County website lists among its “partners” the Heritage Foundation and the Koch-funded Cato Institute. These two influential right-wing thinktanks are very familiar names to those who participate in the climate debate as they are among the leading sponsors of climate scepticism. That their names are now being associated with the views being espoused by the likes of the Freedom Institute of Erie County should act as a sobering reminder of the United States that might await us if the wider Tea Party movement achieves the political victories it seeks in November and beyond.

Think Progress notes in its post on this candidate survey:

… while some Republicans view the Tea Party as toxic to the GOP, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has fully embraced the Tea Party’s input, stating that members “represent the same values, concerns” of “tens of millions of other Americans” and that “we should listen to them, we should work with them and we should walk amongst them.”

And I would add that hard-core anti-scientific pro-pollution climate denial is becoming a litmus test for the Tea Party and indeed the entire conservative movement:

We ignore these folks at our peril — and at the peril of our children and countless future generations.

42 Responses to Ohio Tea Party survey to candidates: “The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to God and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.”

  1. Abe says:

    2. The regulation of Sex in our Schools should be left to God and not government and I oppose all measures of morality legislation as well as the teaching of abstinence theory in our schools.

    Fixed it!

  2. Lewis C says:

    So who is instructing democratic candidates that they shouldn’t make global warming a campaign issue ?

    For the GOP it seems the be emerging as THE campaign issue.

    Which means the Dems have the choice of fighting the issue, and potentially winning the centre ground,
    or trying to hide, and both losing the centre ground and seeing swathes of supporters not bothering to vote.

    Some choice.

    Whoever is instructing them must have some clout.



  3. mike roddy says:

    There is a long history of this virulent hillbilly fascism, going back to Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, and Barry Goldwater. W Bush is the first time they actually seized control, and we all saw what happened.

    The results of his presidency don’t seem to matter any more than the facts of global warming. All that counts is that people like the Kochs became wealthier, and the Tea Partiers are just their useful idiots.

  4. mike roddy says:

    Lewis, #2:

    This has been a big concern to a lot of us. Climate Progress has shown with public opinion surveys that support for a carbon price and action on clean energy are big political winners. What the hell is going on with the Democrats? Who are they afraid of?

  5. Lore says:

    I’m not sure God is up to the task of sorting out the winners and losers when we are the ones responsible for crapping up our own planet. Could it be they’ve forgotten and as any Corn Pone Christian should know, “God helps those who help themselves”.

  6. Lewis C says:

    Mike –

    Given that the majority of Dem candidates and their staff are neither so timid nor so corrupt as to prefer inaction, nor so inept as to be unaware of the polls you mention,
    as far as I can see we are left with the clear implication that this is a party decision, with sufficient authority to impose it, despite candidates’ predicably strong objections.

    If there’s another explanation that fits the facts on the ground, I’d like to hear it, but Obama’s stubborn unwillingness to declare GW as the extreme jeopardy it is looks to be, as usual, at the centre of inaction.



  7. Michael Tucker says:

    I have been expecting to see that thought put into print soon and here it is. God controls everything! The environment, climate, the paths of the planets in the heavens, creation, and destruction are solely and completely in God’s hands. Humans have nothing to do with it. All that lead from coal mining – God’s fault. New Orleans – God’s revenge on the sinful residents of that old American town. CO2 – God did it. I guess we might as well admit it, since God is really in control, autism – again God is responsible.

    These people are complete buffoons and it would be enjoyable to ridicule their ignorance if these issues were not so vitally important. These people slow down the progress of all mankind, prevent progress on solving our impending environmental disasters, and threaten the security of the United States.

  8. Regulation of the speed limits on our roads should be left to God, not to government!!!

  9. Jeff Huggins says:

    Communication, Clarity, Cooperation, Courage

    We have dramatically better scientific AND ethical AND common-sense arguments on our side. Indeed, many leaders IN the religious community would disagree with the notion presented here that humans should be “hands off” with respect to climate change and leave it to God to handle.

    Check out the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change. And read the Pope’s latest Encyclical Letter.

    But, or also, we have other stronger scientific AND ethical reasons supporting the need to address climate change.

    BUT, we do need more clarity, communication, cooperation, and courage to convey them compellingly. We simply aren’t conveying the strong ethical reasons in clear, compelling, everyday terms in the various messages.

    Although there are (of course) immensely powerful secular arguments, I’ll mention the following, just to stay in keeping with the present context. Emerson wrote something like: God does not make his work manifest by cowards.

    Now, Emerson sometimes uses strong but straightforward words. But, the point is, if one takes the point of view that God works through humans, and if one takes the view that God would want us to clean up our own messes, then we’ll need more courage to bring about that goal.



  10. Ohioan says:

    To the readers of the UK Guardian:

    Not all Ohioans think this way. Please do not believe so.

    Many of us Ohioans actually understand that the Earth is round and that Global warming is something to which we need to attend.

  11. P. G. Dudda says:

    The “God controls everything” is a very dangerous meme — and it’s even right there, in the Bible, that God does not choose to control everything. (Remember Eve? And Adam? Yeah, that…) Humans have power, and we abuse it at our own peril.

  12. Lou Grinzo says:

    We now have a 4th G of Republican tactics for driving people to the polls: God, Guns, Gays, and Global Warming.

    [shakes head, walks away slowly]

  13. Ziyu says:

    Funny how the Tea Party uses its stance as pro-christian (though technically they seem pro-theocracy) to avoid coming up with any real solutions to problems and just blaming everything on god and telling people to pray to him to fix problems. BP Oil Spill? “It was an act of god” so we shouldn’t take any actions to tighten safety standards. Katrina? It was god busting the big government! We don’t need government to help those whose lives were devestated by the hurricane! The point was to liberate them! Every new article on the Tea Party just makes me laugh at them more.

  14. Bill Maddox says:

    God! What an absurd concept!

  15. climate undergrad says:

    @ #6 Lewis C

    Another explanation may be the same one driving politics on the other side of the aisle; $$$.

    Finally, the anti global warming meme seems to attract more of the moderate right than the moderate left in terms of importance. While most of my friends are liberal and certainly trust the science behind global warming, this issue is not getting them to the polls (despite my efforts). They still see me as an environmentalist rather than a pragmatist.

    A big push from democratic leaders, however, could both raise this issue’s importance among voters, transform the decision from “this is for the environment” to “this is for our collective economic futures and livelihoods,” and expose the GOP as the party of anti-science, pro-corporation, lack-of-solution, no-ers.

  16. Seth Masia says:

    “God wills it” is a Taliban meme: Ins’Allah.

  17. leftymartin says:

    “Outsourcing their thinking”?

    Joe – that implies that the tea partiers are capable of thought. Tea partiers “outsourcing their thinking” is an oxymoron.

    Surely makes one shiver when such whack-jobs presume the mantle of candidate screeners – scary…….

  18. Rob Honeycutt says:

    And there’s the solution for the Healthcare issue as well! Let’s get rid of doctors, hospitals and the entire healthcare and health insurance industry. God’s gonna take care of it all.

    The Tea Party is getting too creepy for words.

    Ziyu is right. Tea Party = Theocracy (Lead by Pope Glenn Beck)

  19. Dave E says:

    ‘Leading GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller says “We haven’t heard there’s man-made global warming.” ‘

    I am still puzzled by Miller’s use of the word “We”. I can only think that he must be using the royal “We”. Maybe Tea Partiers aren’t really anti-government, they just wish to return to a totalitarian government. Makes sense, after all, Bush seemed to make inroads into moving in that direction.

  20. J Bowers says:

    10 Ohioan — “To the readers of the UK Guardian: Not all Ohioans think this way. Please do not believe so.”

    Duly noted ;) A few teabaggers (pause to stop giggling) ……… (bear with me)……. (phew) have driven by in their duty to the Koch Bros, but the Tea Party does appear to be taking a bit of a pasting there.

  21. Andrew Kirk says:

    Odd. None of their “questions” ended in a question mark.

  22. Aaron Lewis says:

    These folks seem to know more about what God wants than Moses did. However, the fact that God and Moses were such great pals did not stop God from letting Moses die in the desert without entering the promised land. God never was very good at general health care.

    If Tea Party Members accept medical care (for their families), then they are hypocrites. Voters may tolerate stupidity, but not hypocrisy. It just needs to be exposed.

  23. OregonStream says:

    And while we’re at it, the regulation of mercury in our atmosphere and sewage in our waters should be left to God and not government, and let’s oppose the teaching of basic Earth sciences in schools, so we can avoid the inconvenient reality that this little rock has apparently been left in our stewardship.

  24. Just a few questions for any candidate:

    Should our government support or fund any further exploration of climate change?

    If you say no, then should all existing government weather service and climate research be immediately halted and the private sector provide this service?

    If you say yes, then how much money should the government allocate?

    Where should research be directed? i.e. What will our future climate 5 or 10 years out look like? Should we study ice, hydrology, oceans, etc. How much should we know? Should the Federal Govt pay for it?

  25. Bob Wright says:

    If there is an active God, He better start the climate miracles pretty soon.

    I think we should all vote Republican. That will complete the destruction of the middle class (working, retired and investor), and the resulting world-wide depression will reduce CO2 emissions more than Cap and Trade ever could.

  26. Dano says:

    Would that the Dem Party could actually make hay from these jokers.



  27. Dano says:

    Oh, fergot: and what Mike Roddy wrote @3.



  28. lizardo says:

    Re the questions not being questions, yes indeedy they are not.
    Per “”
    “The document states that the respondents should give one of the following answers: A = Agree; D = Disagree; U = Undecided; A* = Pro-life with exceptions of Rape or Incest, * = Added comments; NR = No Response; CR = Incumbents Conservative Rating.”
    In fact all the 15 questions (actually statements) are a new twist on “when did you stop beating your wife.” What they do is conflate disconnected issues and box respondents into the writers’ wacky positions.

    Every rational person reading Joe’s blog should make sure that the non-tea party candidates at every level (town, county, state, federal, judges, clerk of court you name it, is aware of the pitfalls hidden inside such tactics and be prepared to deal with them.

    Here are my outraged comments (to self/laptop) earlier today when I read the list. (List included at this link also:)

    Question #1 doesn’t allow for position that life begins at birth not conception, only a position that all abortion is murder or there can be some exceptions–state which.

    Question 2 [global warming] introduces God into a question where it doesn’t necessarily belong. It bundles three issues into one question, on which positions may not line up.

    Question 3 is weird, ought to be “Marriage should be defined” not “is defined” as man + woman (agree or disagree).

    Question 7 is misleading because currently only US citizens can vote, so disagreeing with photo ID at the polls being mandatory (not everyone has one, including elderly voters who have voted for decades) would also appear to be in favor of allowing non-citizens to vote.

    8. Well hell, everyone hates taxes. A real independent questionnaire would have something like “do you support raising or lowering Ohio’s State Income Tax, or repealing it, and if in favor of repeal, how would you propose replacing those revenues?”

    Question 9. What if you believe that the health care reform bill actually provides “more affordable healthcare through a competitive, open, and transparent system”? More importantly, if a respondent supports (or voted for] the health care reform bill then this question boxes them into appearing to say they don’t support affordable health care, don’t support competition in health care (or coverage?), openness and transparency. Question doesn’t bother to clarify whether it refers to health care “system” or health insurance “system.”

    10. Most amazing question of all. There is no possible answer that means “abolish don’t ask don’t tell” and allows gays to serve in the military. So you have to either support current bad system or totally ban gays in the military AND endorse the false notion that all gays (etc.) would “transmit blood-borne diseases in the theatre of battle” (a novel argument I have never heard before, probably because it’s so damn false and stupid). In addition this question oddly messages in gay marriage to a different issue by the use of “same sex partners” but the net effect is to strangely imply that gay troops that aren’t in a relationship could serve.

    11. Question 11 does not make it clear whether it applies only to government workers (and which government, on which ballot). It conflates a rather extraordinary proposal with an associated myth –that collective bargaining creates “immunity” for workers from “the free market system”, though it could be powerfully argued that collective bargaining IS a free market system. It boggles my mind how an entire contract could fit on the ballot.

    12. Once again, a partisan position is embedded in question, this one about union “card check” (that it “could give unions an unfair intimidation tactic to implement unionisation”). The use of the word “unfair” is a bit of a tip-off, “unfair” to whom? The employer. (You are not likely to see union drives at small business any time soon.)

    13. Who came up with term “economic pacifist”? “Pacifist” is a dirty word to a lot of people and this is the first time I’ve heard that being opposed to “protectionist” tariffs is “pacifist.” Meanwhile, “protect[ing] our economic borders” with tariffs is contrary to “free trade” and doesn’t assure “fair trade”. You could want to act to stop offshoring of jobs, but oppose tariffs. In addition, tariffs apply to imported materials, not outsourced jobs. To the extent that outsourced service jobs are “imported” as a product, it’s not one that lends itself to a tariff.

    14. Two questions in one with a position locked out. If you believe the federal reserve should be audited, but not abolished, you would appear to be supporting it being abolished. On the other hand, candidates who would vote to abolish it can hide behind “at very least audit..”

    15. I don’t understand question 15. Is this a coded reference to return to gold coinage? Company scrip? There is no form of currency that isn’t based on debt.

  29. Nick Palmer says:

    These moronic Tea Party’ers presumably would refuse any medical help because God will keep them safe?

  30. catman306 says:

    Bifurcating American politics into Republicans and Democrats is an imaginary exercise. They are all members of the Money Party and take their orders from the top. For this they are supported with campaign funding and favorable media coverage. We pretty much get what the richest people want for us. Hope you like it.

  31. Windsong says:

    It’s unfortunate that they “use” God (or the name of God)in order to further their own agenda. That’s about as dispicable as a person could get.

  32. David Smith says:

    Bob @ 24 – Interesting thought… The quickest way towards a solution to global warming may well be to wreck the national economy, followed by other economies in the world. The chaos that would ensue, as horible as it would be, would probably be less then the devastation projected for a 6 degree increase in global temperature.

    This strategy deserves some thought.

  33. villabolo says:

    On an apocalyptic note, straight from the book of Apocalypse itself:

    The nations were angry,and the time for your anger has come.
    The time has come to judge the dead.
    It is time to reward your servants the prophets
    and your own people and those who honor you
    There is a reward for all your people, both great and small.
    It is time to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

    Revelation 11:8, New International Reader’s Version.

  34. adelady says:

    Re the mysterious number 15 statement. When I read it out loud, my husband instantly recalled something similar about the labour theory of value from ‘Das Kapital’. The Teabaggers are Marxists?

    I think he’s wrong, but the idea is such fun. (I need lighter moments just now.)

  35. Katherine Clark says:

    I would like to share this on Facebook, but it is not allowing me to share. I am a political activist in OHIO and I think it would be good for people to have this info. Thanks!
    Katherine Clark

  36. BBHY says:

    This is so confusing. It says Climate Progress at the top, but this story is certainly straight from The Onion.

  37. Why waste money producing educational materials on climate change when the nice guys in the coal industry have already gone to all this effort?

  38. Pennsylvanian says:

    I’m from Erie County in PA and when I started reading this I couldn’t believe it! Luckily, this ‘Freedom Institute’ isn’t nearby. Sad to see such backwards thinking in the modern era.

  39. peter whitehead says:

    For these people this is not the modern era. They want you all to slide back into an imaginary golden age of the wild west, when if the resources run out in one place, you just ‘go west’. At the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, when the plates were dirty, everyone moved along the table.

    As Richard Dawkins says, without religion, good people do good things and bad people do bad things, but religion can make good people do bad things.

  40. Sasparilla says:

    Just to add a slight correction to the Guardian’s article…its not just the Cato institute that was created and funded by the libertarian Koch Bros. (behind Gates & Buffett, the richest guys in America), it is also the Heritage foundation (mentioned in that same sentence of the Guardian aritcle).

    The many Koch Bros. foundations are also involved with the active political targeting of moderate Republicans (who might vote for climate change legislation) for replacement at the primary level (via funding and organizing) – I believe Olympia Snowe has been officially targeted, for example.

    Great article on all that (and how the Koch Bros and their associated front organizations are behind alot of these libertarian “talking points” the Tea Party is using (as well as helping to organize alot of the Tea Party itself):

    Joe is right, ignore these folks at your peril, but its also important to see why the ground under the Republicans is swerving to the Libertarian fringe and these guys are playing a big part in that.

  41. Richard Whiteford says:

    Wow! Let it up to God? Where would religion be today if St. Paul or Moses sat back and let everything up to God?

  42. riverat says:

    David @ 31

    I think you may have discovered the Republican’s secret plan to combat global warming. )