Conservatives Continue to Rewrite History on Kyoto

The conservatives are still out there attacking the media for telling the truth, even when it contradicts their myths. For example, Captain’s Quarters accuses NPR of dishonesty today, after making the same claim about AP two days ago. They continue to deny the fact that George Bush was responsible for the United States pulling out of Kyoto. Today’s post ends with:

The media must think that if they keep repeating the same misinformation long enough, it becomes accepted truth. That says volumes about the competence and the bias at these media operations, and it goes to the heart of their credibility.

Remove “media” from the above and substitute “right wing blogs” and you will have a true sentence. It is the right wing noise machine which makes a practice of repeating the same lies in the hopes that some will believe them.

The conservative line is that “Before Bill Clinton ever submitted it to the Senate for ratification, they voted 95-0 on a resolution informing Clinton that they would not ratify any treaty that didn’t include limits for China and India.” They distort a Senate procedural vote to mean that the Senate voted to oppose Kyoto, ignoring the reality that it was Bush who withdrew the treaty over the opposition of many who voted yes on this vote.

I previously reviewed the facts on the vote being distorted by conservatives. The Natural Resources Defence Council provides information on the resolution:

Q. Did the U.S. Senate vote against ratifying the Kyoto Protocol?

The protocol has never been submitted to the senate for ratification. The Bush administration has referred to a vote on the non-binding Byrd-Hagel resolution, which registered views on some aspects of protocol negotiations. The vote on the Byrd-Hagel resolution took place prior to the conclusion of the Kyoto agreement, and before any of the flexibility mechanisms were established. The resolution was written so broadly that even strong supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, such as senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for it. In doing so, Sen. Kerry said: “It is clear that one of the chief sponsors of this resolution, Senator Byrd . . . agrees … that the prospect of human-induced global warming as an accepted thesis with adverse consequences for all is here, and it is real…. Senator Lieberman, Senator Chafee and I would have worded some things differently… [but] I have come to the conclusion that these words are not a treaty killer.”

Election Guide 2004 had a similar assessment of the resolution:

An example of this relates to the 1997 passage of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution. 17 The Resolution is often portrayed as anti-Kyoto, though it’s not that simple. 18 According to Hagel, the non-binding resolution, submitted in the midst of international negotiations, was “intended to change the course of negotiations”, 19 not to pull out. The treaty was never submitted to the Senate for ratification, although this vote on the Byrd-Hagel Resolution was used by Bush in 2001 to justify pulling out of negotiations. Bush said,

“The Senate’s vote, 95-0, shows that there is a clear consensus that the Kyoto Protocol is an unfair and ineffective means of addressing global climate change concerns.” 2

Similarly, Bush’s campaign website states that the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty. 1

Kerry sees flaws in the protocol, including the weaker requirements imposed on developing nations, but he wants to reopen negotiations, fix them, and move forward. 20

I do find it amusing that many conservatives both deny the need to take action with regards to global warming, but also deny the fact that it was George Bush who withdrew the Kyoto Protocol. You would think they would at least show some consistency here and commend George Bush for doing what they would prefer rather than attempting to rewrite history.

Update: This began as a comment after seeing a trackback to this blog, but I subsequently decided to add it to the actual post. The blog post which just here is well worth reading. The post starts:

I want to respect Ed Morrissey. I really do. He’s a prolific blogger, and although I disagree with him on almost everything, he is one of the few conservative bloggers willing to abandon the Republican partytrain for the sake of intellectual honesty and the common good.

But this is too much. For whatever reason, Capt. Ed just can’t stop himself from spreading lies and misinformation about the history of the Kyoto Protocol.

I did consider placing a disclaimer that I don’t mean be picking on Ed here. While Ed blogged about this a couple of times this week, this is a bogus argument which commonly comes up in the conservative blogosphere. My previous post on this linked to a different site. Overall, Captain’s Quarters is one of the better conservative blogs. Sometimes Ed will break from the party line out of intellectual honesty, and sometimes he repeats the usual talking points.

If only this had be rephrased as something other than a claim that this proves media bias. There are many faults in the media, but the conservatives typically imagine that anything which contradicts their narrow viewpoint represents a liberal bias.

Often what is called liberal bias is actually objectivity. In other cases, problems other than liberal bias creep in. One common problem is over-simplification. The statements made by NPR and AP aren’t wrong or something caused by liberal bias. The statements are correct, and people like Ed are wrong to claim the Senate rejected Kyoto. Many of those voting on this measure wanted changes in the treaty, but also wanted some version of it passed.

If Ed had said that there was more to the story than AP and NPR presented, then he would have a case. However, as have other conservatives, he has vastly overplayed his hand in citing this vote, in acting as if 95 Senators opposed Kyoto, or in charging liberal media bias.

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15 Comments

  1. 1
    Dadmanly says:

    You yourself just distorted both Ed’s fact checking of the AP and NPR, and misquoted what Ed wrote.

    He did NOT claim that the Senate voted against Kyoto BEFORE then President Clinton signed the Treaty. He defined the correct chronology, that Clinton signed the treaty, THEN the Senate passed its resolution.

    Further, you omit and obscure what you dismiss as “some aspects of protocol negotiations.” Those minor aspects which you won’t even mention is the exclusion of India and China and other developing countries from any emission ceiling targets under the Treaty. The reason why Clinton then let the Treaty languish for the remainder of his administration was that these Senate objections to “aspects” of the Treaty meant that the Senate would never ratify the Treaty. By 95 to 0, all major democrats in agreement, including the ones so regularly misrepresenting President Bush’s role in “killing Kyoto.”

    If Democrats didn’t even try to get Kyoto ratified for the YEARS after the Senate resolution that Clinton was in office, why the revisionist history that blaims that reluctance all on Bush, with no mention of Clinton? (Rhetorical question about partisanship.)

    AND, why won’t any sitting Democratic Senator submit the Treaty for ratification NOW?

    Because they know it would be defeated, with a large majority of Democrats voting against, for the same reasons they passed the resolution in the 90s, that no Treaty was acceptable that put limits on us but excludes China, furthering our imbalance of trade (due to grossly unfair, illegal, and immoral Chinese trade practices).

    But keep on looking in that funhouse mirror and calling the “wingnuts” the ones who spin.

  2. 2
    MichaelC says:

    To Dadmanly: Quite so.

    The bottom line on Kyoto is rather simple, unless one (like the blogger) starts doing close word-parsing. The Senate, in clear bipartisan fashion, provided guidance to then President Clinton not to ask them to ratify any Treaty that omitted China and India. That guidance was still in effect after Bush’s election.

    The question then is, why didn’t Clinton withdraw it, since it’s clear that Kyoto itself would have unraveled if developing nations were included?

    Politics?

    MichaelC

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yet, meanwhile, all the media presents one view and the conservatives sites alone have a different interpretation which only they see as correct.

    You can continue your delusions that there is a liberal media out there distorting everything, and claim I’m misquoting a conservative blog, or you can face reality.

  4. 4
    Eric says:

    Ron’s right that it’s incorrect to say that the Senate rejected Kyoto. They rejected a resolution that was similar but it wasn’t the same thing as voting down the treaty. Captain’s Quarters should have made that more clear. This is far from the best example of the “liberal media.”

    But I think it’s also fair to point out that while the Clinton Administration signed the treaty in 1998, they never sent it to the Senate for ratification. Did they ever intend to? I doubt it. It was a symbolic jesture. Bush did away with the symbolism. It was a ridiculous treaty anyway as the biggest greenhouse gas admitter today (China) was exempt from reductions. People need to move on from Kyoto.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Eric,

    That’s two separate issues. There were problems with Kyoto, and the dispute turned out to be a choice between revising Kyoto before ratifying it versus not ratifying it. That’s a far less polarized difference than if we had one party clearly supporting it and another against.

    Whether Bush was right in doing away with Kyoto is a fair matter of debate, and there are valid arguments on both sides. Where I object, and you seem to agree, is to the rants that the media is biased for saying Bush pulled out of Kyoto.

    If conservatives opposed Kyoto, why not simply give Bush credit for doing what they wanted?

  6. 6
    Phil says:

    I am disappointed that Bush is caving-in to the anthropological global warming (AGW) religion. It’s a bad decision on his part if he thinks it will boost his approval rating from either liberals or conservatives. The timing is ironic too, especially now that new scientific observations are peeling off scientist from the so called ‘consensus’ point of view for AGW.

    Global climate change is, and has always been, a reality. There also isn’t much dispute that we’re in a warming period. But there are far too many unknows about climate change to make the leap of faith that AWG zealots make. And there is much more risk to taking drastic action without the relevent facts – than waiting for science to give us a clearer picture to act on. Just two of many examples –

    Example 1. The SKY-Experiment by the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen looks to be a severe blow to proponents of the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis and advocates of Anthropogenic Global Warming who have worked so hard to deny solar influence on global climate. The bottom line is that periods of increased solar activity may shield the Earth from cloud forming cosmic rays…. less clouds – more of the Sun’s energy reaches the Earth – ergo global warming. This experiment, if you check it out, was conducted well after Koyoto.

    Example 2. A tenent of faith of the AGW religion is that proxy ice core samples show carbon dioxide levels are substantially higher now than at any time in the last 800,000 years. But Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski, an expert on the subject of ice cores, has published a paper claiming the assumption that ice core samples are a closed system is wrong and that pre-industrial CO2 levels, recorded in more than 90,000 (far more accurate) chemical tests reveal that CO2 levels were in fact higher, and at points substantially higher, than they are today. If CO2 levels were higher in the last 800,000 years than claimed by the AGW belivers, – is there not at least a reasonable doubt in the charge that man’s puny contribution to the global CO2 level is the culprit in the current warming.

    Those who support Koyoto and even more drastic action, without having all the facts and/or having some of the key facts clearly in doubt, are no better than the crowd who rushed us into war with Iraq based on faulty intelligence.

    As far as I’m concerned, Clinton, Congress and Bush we’re all right to ignor Koyoto. My only concern is that the wrong action will be taken based on a ‘wrong’ set of beliefs. Let the science answer some of the unknows first. Spend the money on more urgent and important matters.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    “I am disappointed that Bush is caving-in to the anthropological global warming (AGW) religion.”

    You lost my attention there. Global warming represents the consensus of scientific thought. By failing to recognize this, and trying to caim it is a religion, you present a flat earth mentality which makes it impossible for me to either take you seriously or read anything you have to say beyond that point.

    It is amazing how some conservatives have built up an entire alternate reality in their heads, where virtually every scientist who works on climate change is wrong, any argument opposed to global warming is right, regardless of how weak the case, and the media is all biased against them.

  8. 8
    Phil says:

    Ron, with all due respect. You make my point. My mind IS NOT made up – but yours is.

    I’m open and willing to accept that man is the cause of global warming and we need to act – if the science is there. But it’s not there. It may get there, but it’s just not there yet.

    I regret my nature is to resent those (not you personally) who want to make my mind up for me. That’s why I am hostile to AGW zealots – WHO KNOW THE ONE TRUTH and want everyone else to be silenced

    There is a consensus that Jesus Christ is the son of God…among Catholics. But Jews, Muslims, Atheist, etc. have a different ‘consensus’. We cannot ignore the growing number of scientists that are questioning AGW. We cannot ignore evidence that points in another direction.

    The believers in AGW may prove to be right, and their insight and foresight will be duly recognized and appreciated. But for this one ‘flat earth’ mental case, show me the science. Don’t ask to become a true believer based on faith alone. That’s the realm of religion.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Phil,

    “My mind IS NOT made up – but yours is.”

    No, in fact the situation is the opposite. I have no personal opinion on the matter. Science is not a matter of opinion. As a scientist, I defer to the experts in the particular field.

    In contrast, you believe that you can just reject the science because of your personal opinions. Obviously you have the right to hold whatever opinon you want, but an opinion based uopn rejecting the consensus of scientific thought is based upon ignornace is not of much value.

    “There is a consensus that Jesus Christ is the son of God…”

    Irrelevant. I’m speaking of a scientific consensus based upon the evidence. Using the word “consensus” in another context has no bearing on this.

    “Don’t ask to become a true believer based on faith alone.:

    Nobody is asking you to. The scientific evidence is quite overwhelming if you care to actually pay attention it. Regardless of what right wing idelogues, and those in the pay of the petrolium industry say, there is no longer a controversy over this among the scientists in the field.  This is not about being a “true believer” or basing anything on faith. It’s a simple matter of recongnizing what has been proven and accepted by the scientists in the field.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    The blog which just linked here (trackback in comment 10) is well worth reading. The post starts:

    I want to respect Ed Morrissey. I really do. He’s a prolific blogger, and although I disagree with him on almost everything, he is one of the few conservative bloggers willing to abandon the Republican partytrain for the sake of intellectual honesty and the common good.

    But this is too much. For whatever reason, Capt. Ed just can’t stop himself from spreading lies and misinformation about the history of the Kyoto Protocol.

    I did consider placing a disclaimer that I don’t mean be picking on Ed here. While Ed blogged about this a couple of times this week, this is a bogus argument which commonly comes up in the conservative blogosphere. My previous post on this linked to a different site. Overall, Captain’s Quarters is one of the better conservative blogs. Sometimes Ed will break from the party line out of intellectual honesty, and sometimes he repeats the usual talking points.

    If only this had be rephrased as something other than a claim that this proves media bias. There are many faults in the media, but the conservatives typically imagine that anything which contradicts their narrow viewpoint represents a liberal bias.

    Often what is called liberal bias is actually objectivity. In other cases, problems other than liberal bias creep in. One common problem is over-simplification. The statements made by NPR and AP aren’t wrong or something caused by liberal bias. The statements are correct, and people like Ed are wrong to claim the Senate rejected Kyoto. Many of those voting on this measure wanted changes in the treaty, but also wanted some version of it passed.

    If Ed had said that there was more to the story than AP and NPR presented, then he would have a case. However, as have other conservatives, he has vastly overplayed his hand in citing this vote, in acting as if 95 Senators opposed Kyoto, or in charging liberal media bias.

    (This comment has been added onto the main blog post as an update.)

  11. 11
    Tim says:

    In regards to posts 6-9

    In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. Flat earth, The sun orbiting the earth etc. are all examples of great moments in “consensus” science. The disagreements over this issue will continue for decades until we can understand all of the variables that contribute to our ever changing climate.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    Tim,

    “In science, consensus is irrelevant. ”

    As with some of the comments above, you are misusing the word “consensus.”

    A consensus isn’t irrelevant when there is a consensus statement of scientists in the field based upon the scientific findings.

    You have your analogy wrong in refering to issues such as the sun orbiting the earth. That was a nonscientific idea, not something which came from a scientific consensus statement.

    In your analogy, the scientific viewpoints are that the earth orbits the sun and the scientific views on global warming. Global warming deniers are opposing science in the same way as those who claimed that the sun orbited the earth, or that the earth was flat.

    “The disagreements over this issue will continue for decades until we can understand all of the variables that contribute to our ever changing climate.”

    No, there is no meaningful disagreement in the scientific community. The disagreements are based upon ideology, and and propaganda from the petrolium industry. Some people will continue to deny the scientific facts, just as some have denied the connection between cigarettes and cancer based upon progaganda from the tobacco industry to try to create doubt about the science.

  13. 13
    Tim says:

    Ron,

    Are you saying that we now have a complete understanding of all of the variables that effect climate change?

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    Tim,

    You are creating an unrealistic standard when you ask if we have a “complete understanding.”

    In science there is always more to learn. We don’t have a complete understanding of gravity, but that doesn’t stop us from making predictions based upon it. The question is not whether we have a complete understanding but whether we have sufficient knowledge. For there to be a consensus statement in a field, as there is in climate change, indicates that the scientists working in the field have sufficient understanding to make these predictions. Sure, its possible that all the scientists in the field could be wrong, but that’s not a very smart bet to make.

  15. 15
    Rev. Bob Richardson says:

    Siegelman’s popularity in Alabama has earned him the honor of being the only politician on record to have held the top four offices in Alabama: Governor (1999-2003); Lieutenant Governor (1995-99); Attorney General (1987-91); Secretary of State (1979-87).. In order for GOP candidates to win back top Alabama offices they recruited the help of Bill Canary and Karl Rove. Bill Canary worked with Rove in Alabama after they lost the 1992 Bush re-election campaign and Canary partnered with Rove in Alabama Republican state Supreme Court races beginning in 1994 and on Pryor’s campaign in 1998. (Bill Pryor was later appointed by Bush to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004) In 1998 GOP Bill Pryor was elected Attorney General and Siegelman was elected governor.. Bill Pryor began having Democrats that held top state positions investigated. In March of 1999 Don Siegelman endorsed Al Gore and accompanied Gore on a campaign swing into Florida.. Gore’s opponent, George W. Bush’s campaign was directed by Karl Rove.. Bush was elected in 2000 and he appointed Karl Rove as his aid. In 2001 Bush appointed Leura Canary as U.S. Attorney in Montgomery, Al., the wife of William Canary.. It was more than coincidental that the court dates coincided with the last few weeks of the Siegelman’s Governors election. Elected officials of the GOP have spent millions of dollars of state and federal dollars to eliminate Don Siegelman. They want him out of politics and they want to set an example to deter democrats from running for office. There are three major Alabama newspapers which have big GOP affiliations; everything about Siegelman is deliberately worded to sound negative..“”” Beware that everybody that has lied to the FBI or in court, withheld evidence, conspired to convict/sentence this man might be taking the cell that was reserved for him if they don’t come forward and confess to the local FBI before they have to go before a Congressional Investigation.”””

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