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Friday Roundup, February 8th

Even if . . . motivated by generosity, many American corporations do not seem completely convinced that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Indeed, the evidence suggests they are far more enthusiastic about receiving than about giving. According to a 2012 Cato Institute study, American businesses were budgeted to receive almost $100 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money from the federal government in fiscal year 2012.

In May of 1940, Churchill, prime minister for just a few weeks, looked out over a world falling into shadow. The German blitzkrieg had pierced deep into the vitals of the West, the massive French army had shown itself impotent before the onslaught, and the British forces that had gone to their aid were trapped and facing imminent destruction. France would soon surrender. Britain, woefully unprepared, would face the Nazi threat alone. Churchill stood at the helm; he would bear the burden of charting a course through dark and plunging seas. But what kind of man was he? That question is at the heart of the unending fascination with Churchill and was certainly no less interesting a question to those who were about to pass through peril with him. They were soon to find out.

  • Hail Columbia! @City Journal, Aaron Renn provides a contemporary American reflection on the politics and wealth of nations.
  • Dave Kopel at Volokh alerts us to an upcoming symposium in the Connecticut Law Review that will consider sometime Law & Liberty contributor Nicholas Johnson’s paper on changing attitudes of black leadership toward firearms. Quoting Kopel on Johnson:

In brief, Black leadership was historically very supportive the right to keep and bear arms, and particularly concerned that Blacks be able to have firearms for defense against white racists. The leadership’s attitude changed quite strongly in the late 1960s, and has remained anti-gun ever since. Johnson suggests that among the explanations for the change is that civil rights successes turned that leadership into powerful participants in the government, rather than outsiders.  Thus, the leadership adopted a more establishmentarian approach.

  • What Happened at Haymarket? John Miller, director of the journalism program at Hillsdale College, reports on new revisionist history of the infamous 1886 Haymarket massacre in Chicago.
  • Religious freedom as an “Accommodation” from the federal government. You should be so lucky. Matthew Franck writes about the “compromise” HHS Mandate rule from the Obama administration. Franck takes head on the claim that will be made publicly and in the federal courts by the administration’s lawyers that it would be silly to object to a mandate that the aggrieved party will not have to pay for,

after first claiming that contraceptive coverage will cost no one anything, the government immediately contradicts that claim by searching desperately for some way to “adjust” the “user fees” in “federally funded exchanges” so that health insurers’ costs will be “offset” and they will not lose money covering contraception that must be paid for somehow. Here the coverage’s costs cannot be buried in a general insurance policy because it is distinct and separate coverage, not directly provided by the self-insuring employer. But the claim that no one will have to pay anything is revealed as unsustainable. The administration itself admits otherwise. . . .

Franck moves on from the economic logic that now, apparently, under the revised mandate gives the rule constitutional muster:

This brings us to the most grievous moral and constitutional failing of the administration’s latest gambit. It presumes that the government has the power to say who has any religious freedom, and how much, when each party affected is identically situated. In the first category of employers under the HHS mandate, a real-life counterpart to Father O’Malley of St. Mary’s parish may be exempt from providing contraceptive coverage for Sister Mary Benedict and the other female teachers in his parish school.

But O’Malley is no more “religious,” the imperatives of his faith press on him no more heavily, and the claims of religious freedom are no more serious for him, than is true in the case of President William Armstrong of Colorado Christian University, an interdenominational university currently in litigation against the mandate. CCU is placed in the second category of “eligible organizations” by the Obama administration—eligible, that is, to be complicit in the falsehood that it will neither contract nor pay for contraceptive and abortifacient coverage for its female employees.

And Armstrong is no more “religious,” no more bound by the strictures of faith, and no more protected by the shield of the First Amendment than the Hahn family of Conestoga Wood Specialties, the Mennonite owners of a furniture manufacturer in Pennsylvania. The Hahns get neither an exemption from the HHS mandate nor an “accommodation.” They must simply violate their consciences openly, without even the pretended grace of self-deception.

Yet all these employers—the parish priest, the Christian college president, and the Mennonite manufacturer—are identically situated. The priest is not “more religious,” or protected more fully in these circumstances, than the college president, whose case in turn is no stronger than that of the Mennonite furniture-maker.