California pushing back against Obama? Um, no.

I came across this column, “Eleven States Declare Sovereignty Over Obama’s Action,” authored by A.W.R. Hawkins and posted Monday to the Web site of Human Events (“Headquarters of the Conservative Underground”):

State governors — looking down the gun barrel of long-term spending forced on them by the Obama “stimulus” plan — are saying they will refuse to take the money. This is a Constitutional confrontation between the federal government and the states unlike any in our time.

In the first five weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has acted so rashly that at least 11 states have decided that his brand of “hope” equates to an intolerable expansion of the federal government’s authority over the states. These states — “Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California…Georgia,” South Carolina, and Texas — “have all introduced bills and resolutions” reminding Obama that the 10th Amendment protects the rights of the states, which are the rights of the people, by limting the power of the federal government. These resolutions call on Obama to “cease and desist” from his reckless government expansion and also indicate that federal laws and regulations implemented in violation of the 10th Amendment can be nullified by the states.

“What?!?” I thought, “Has California suddenly become a state of conservative, strict constitutional constructionists ready to turn away federal stimulus money?”

But the truth was even harder to accept: A battle against Obama’s expansion of federal authority via time travel, from almost 15 years in the past!

Follow me after the jump for the full explanation…

I knew California’s Republican governor sure as shucks isn’t turning his nose up at the $80 billion he estimates the Obama stimulus package will pour into Golden State’s economy. So then I thought perhaps a GOP lawmaker must’ve introduced a bill or resolution.

But after perusing this session’s database and finding no trace, I e-mailed A.W.R. Hawkins to ask which piece of California legislation he was referring to. He promptly replied:

“I am referring to the one the kooks on democraticunderground.com are going crazy over. Get on democraticunderground.com if you’ve got the stomach for it and you can find it (that’s why I have it in quotation marks).”

I went to the site to which he referred me and found the post he apparently had cited, which in turn cited resistnet.com.

Some searching at ResistNet – which makes Human Events look like pre-1991 Pravda – brought me to a post, a map and finally a comment which seemed to explain California’s involvement.

This jibes with what I’d found on my own – a piece of legislation which became law in the summer of 1994. Y’know, back when Bill Clinton was President.

So I sent all this, with links, back to A.W.R. Hawkins on Tuesday afternoon. I noted the apparent temporal displacement involved California’s push-back against Obama’s policies. I asked for a comment or a correction. He did me the courtesy of this reply:

“I am not home and therefore not with my computer, so I’m not sure we looked at the same thing. When I revisit my sources tonight, if I find that you I misread the information I will make a correction in the immediately.”

(No, I’m not poking fun at his e-mail syntax; I’ll take him at his word that he was responding to my e-mails while away from his computer, and so perhaps using the sort of portable computing device on which even the most literate are highly typo-prone. I merely want to relate the entirety of our dialogue, verbatim.)

And just now, I received the final word from the author:

I am traveling tonight for a History conference, so I chose what I believe to be the best path here and asked my editor to delete California and replace with Minnesota.

That way, if you’re right then I have made a correction and if you’re wrong the article is still solid because I have firsthand documentation on Minnesota.

I appreciate your approach in emailing me, and I hope you continue to read my work.

Now, I’ll give him credit for owning up (sort of). But will the correction be mirrored in all the places where this discussion seems to be continuing online? Probably not. Once misinformation is out there, it’s hard to clean up.

Hawkins’ Web site says he’s “a Ph.D. candidate at Texas Tech University and a columnist for Human Events Online. His doctoral studies are focused on the U.S. Military and his dissertation on the Civil War era. He has been published on topics including the U.S. Navy, Civil War battles, Civil War officers, Vietnam War ideology, Vietnamese history, the Cold War, the Reagan Presidency, and the Rebirth of Conservatism, 1968-1988.”

I’m sure his knowledge of history is substantial. Here’s hoping his disseration is more solidly researched than this column.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.