John Hayward

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Justifying power or defending liberty

We now have two equally potent court rulings about NSA meta-surveillance on the books.  Unfortunately, they're complete and total opposites of each other, drawing exactly the opposite conclusions from very similar arguments.  In D.C., Judge Richard Leon said the controversial surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden were unconstitutional violations of the Fourth Amendment, in part because they violated the privacy of Americans without much in the way of due process, and the government could make no compelling case that meta-data surveillance (basically, painting a picture of your activities by reviewing the use of your cell phone) was either vital or demonstrably effective as a terror-fighting tool.   Dec 27, 2013 11:40 AM PT

Movie review: 'The World's End'

I didn't catch either of them in theaters, but last summer brought two conceptually similar apocalyptic comedies, "This is the End" and "The World's End."  The former is a nihilistic raunch-fest from the Judd Apatow crew whose highlights are the remarkable eagerness of people like Michael Cera and Channing Tatum to mock themselves for a laugh, Danny McBride taking his usual opportunistic sleazeball routine to truly disturbing extremes, and a really funny guest appearance from Emma Watson of "Harry Potter" fame.  If it is still possible for anyone to be offended by wanton abuse of the Book of Revelations, "This is the End" ought to do the trick. Dec 23, 2013 10:17 PM PT

Leading from behind: Obama will finally sign up for ObamaCare

Last week, I reflected on how strange it was for Barack Obama to delay signing up for ObamaCare, to the point where his refusal to do so had become impossible for the media to ignore.  The matter came up with some frequency at White House press briefings, to be dismissed by spokespeople with snippy refusals to discuss the reasons for the President's hesitation, or set a timetable for when he'd finally enroll. Dec 23, 2013 6:04 AM PT

Movie review: 'Saving Mr. Banks'

Did you know the 50th anniversary of the Disney classic "Mary Poppins" is rapidly approaching?  The Disney corporation certainly does.  Thus we have "Saving Mr. Banks," a heavily fictionalized - and, yes, Disneyfied - version of the film's production, and the clashes between Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks as a grandfatherly, genial weaver of dreams) and author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), who is portrayed as an unreasonably stubborn, uptight scold who is finally won over by Disney magic, once Uncle Walt realizes that her great work is a fantasy reflection of her heartbreaking childhood. Dec 22, 2013 9:29 AM PT

The Duck Dynasty setup

I've been saying since Friday that I thought someone at the A&E network was actively out to get the Robertson family and shut "Duck Dynasty" down.  Maybe it's an internal power play at the network, a couple of executives enforcing their ideology on the rest, or maybe it's the entire executive clique at headquarters, perhaps after protracted nudging from liberal pressure groups.  The whole Phil Robertson suspension happened way too fast to be a bolt from the blue, especially given the enormous size of the show's audience.  Knee-jerk censorship as a snap decision is harder to swallow when you're talking about the network's top show, the biggest program of its type in cable TV history. Dec 21, 2013 7:48 PM PT

Our government is too big for the rule of law

George Will considers the concept of "executive discretion," and President Obama's abuse of it, arriving at the conclusion that our government has grown to the point that strict adherence to the rule of law is effectively impossible - a condition he certainly does not endorse: Dec 20, 2013 1:08 PM PT

A bit of Christmas advice for the lady in your life, courtesy of Toronto mayor Rob Ford

Just yesterday, I was musing that it's about time for a ruddy-cheeked fat man to tumble down the chimney and spread good cheer.  I was of course referring to Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who is what would happen if a gaffe machine had a love child with a train wreck.  It's been too long since Ford opened his pie-hole and brightened our headlines.  But here he is, courtesy of the National Post, offering some advice for men on how to keep their special ladies happy at Christmastime: Dec 19, 2013 8:00 AM PT

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