Holiday gifts: It’s not about you – it’s about the receiver

Making gift-giving enjoyable should be meaningful not only for the receiver but for the giver. Here are five important points to remember as you plan for this season, and it begins and ends with you.

Budget your gift-giving. Although elementary, many don’t plan ahead for this. And, there are those of us who budget for the family, select friends, and work but forget to plan for unexpected situations. Make a preliminary gift list.

Hopefully, you set aside the funds in a separate account for this. If you don’t, check your current resources and act within those parameters so you don’t start the new year with debt.

Focus on the value of the gift. The value is not determined by the amount it cost. Instead, it’s about the value it brings to the recipient. This includes the meaning behind it and making sure you give weight to its longer-term satisfaction rather than just initial enthusiasm.

I will never forget the bronze napkin rings my mother gave me. She knew I placed great value on table settings and loved pretty things. The gift probably didn’t cost a lot, but it meant a great deal to me.

Conversely, I also once received a T-shirt with a joke about Santa. It was fun for a moment, but it wasn’t something I  cherished or used, much beyond that day.

It’s not about you – it’s about the receiver. Do your homework to find out what’s meaningful to others before selecting gifts. Listen carefully to what they enjoy. Do they have specific hobbies? Favorite restaurants or food? If they read, do they like hard copies or do they prefer Kindle?

Receiving a gift that you will never use means they don’t know you well enough to be selective. Learn from this and listen well. This includes respecting their wishes.

If someone insists they aren’t comfortable exchanging gifts, be attentive to that. Show your appreciation in other ways, such as a handwritten note or card.

Give someone what they have asked for. Have you ever had someone ask you what you want for a gift, then they give you something they like instead? If you are asking family members what they would like, don’t dismiss their answers.

It says, “I was disingenuous about asking what you want; what I want to give you is more important.” When you ask, be sure to let those you’re asking in on your budget parameters. This gives them the freedom to identify things they would like and makes your shopping easy.

Respect someone’s “no gift” policy. Beyond preference, the code of ethics for some professions dictates parameters for gift-giving and receiving.

Therapists, social workers, government officials, and other professions maintain strict outlines. Additionally, the corporate business world has gift policies in place that have similar limits.

For example, a company may have a policy around gift-receiving and contracting.

If the company is in the middle of a bidding process, and it receives a gift from one of the bidders and it then awards the contract to that bidder, it may give the appearance of favoritism. Companies seeking high ethical standards will have policies that avoid this. Be sure to inquire before you gift a company or a professional. This question indicates great respect, and the other party will appreciate you checking on this.

And one last tip: It is important to respect the fact that others may not celebrate the same holidays as you. Take this into account. You will enjoy gift-giving much more this season. You will give it greater meaning by holding a message of respect and care for yourself and those who are blessed by your kindness.

Patti Cotton, MA, MAOD, PCC works with executives, business owners, and their companies, to elevate and support leadership at all levels. Her client roster includes privately-owned businesses and such entities as Bank of America, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Harvard University, Sysco, Edward Jones, Morgan Stanley, Girl Scouts of America, and more. Patti@PattiCotton.com.

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Sunny Hills football sheds stereotypes, captures CIF title with neighborhood kids

FULLERTON A small group of Sunny Hills players stayed after practice this week to toss the football around and joke with each other until darkness nearly covered their field.

The players seemed to soak up each precious minute, recognizing the time and place were indeed special.

Sunny Hills’ once-struggling football program actually held practices this week as a reigning CIF-SS champion.

“Nothing better than this,” senior quarterback and captain Luke Duxbury said.

Sunny Hills (12-2) will load into a bus Saturday morning and head north for a showdown in the CIF State SoCal Division 3-A regionals at Bakersfield Christian (10-3) at 6 p.m.

It will be a remarkable road trip, full of hip hop music on the bus and another football clash, for a school that started the 2019 playoffs seeking its first postseason victory of any kind since 1996.

It will be a remarkable trip for a program once dubbed as a “hard” school to win at.

So how have the Lancers become winners? One ingredient fifth-year coach Pete Karavedas pointed to this week was Sunny Hills’ success attracting its neighborhood kids from Parks Junior High.

And sure enough, those were the kids on the field enjoying themselves in the near darkness this week.

Duxbury (6-1,m 175) and fellow star senior Wilson Cal (6-1, 190) were classmates at Parks Junior High.

Rising junior linebacker Carson Irons (6-0, 190) also attended Parks along with junior tight end/outside linebacker Noah Brown (6-0, 210) and Arnold Beltran.

And the list goes on.

“Pretty much everybody, or (they attended) Fisler,” Duxbury explained.

In years past as the Lancers struggled, the top athletes from Parks landed at other schools such as Troy or Fullerton.

Sunny Hills has worked hard to win them back with activities such as youth camps but they still needed standouts such as Duxbury and Cal to take a leap of faith.

They were Pop Warner teammates with the Fullerton Titans and both decided to attend Sunny Hills in 2016 despite the school not having a winning season since 2008.

“I was going to follow him where ever he went and he was following me where ever I went,” Duxbury said of Cal, who plays wide receiver and defensive back. “We knew if we both went to the same school, we could do some damage.”

Duxbury was a ball boy at Fullerton High as an eighth grader but saw the Lancers making progress on and off the field.

In the fall of 2015, in Karavedas’ first season, the Lancers beat Fullerton in Week 10 34-27 and made the playoffs as an at-large entry.

“They had coaches who put their players in position to make plays,” Duxbury recalled at the time. “We figured this would be our best opportunity to win a title.”

The Lancers did just last weekend in Santa Barbara, defeating the Dons 24-21 in the CIF-SS Division 8 final after a late interception by Cal.

Sunny Hills knows its not on the level of Freeway League rival La Habra but they’re defending their local turf. The Lancers have swept Fullerton and Troy the past two seasons.

They’re also changing the reputation of Sunny Hills football.

“This means so much to us because it breaks the stereotype, ‘Oh, Sunny Hills has been so garbage at football for the past 20 years,’ ” Duxbury said.

And the Lancers aren’t done. Their roster is a diverse mix of ethnic groups and they’ve already developed a position group to watch next year: “LBU”. Sunny Hills starts four junior linebackers in Irons, Kevin Hu, Brown and Vince Silva.

And there’s the opportunity on Saturday in Bakersfield to keep the magical run alive. Imagine, Sunny Hills as a California state champion?

“It’s a good feeling when there’s years of hard work behind (this),” Duxbury said. “We’ve been working all offseason, pretty much our whole lives to get to this moment.”

 

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Has OC learned key bankruptcy lessons?

When Orange County declared bankruptcy 25 years ago on Dec. 6, 1994, the move unnerved financial markets across the country. And for good reason.

This affluent bastion of conservatism was, at the time, the largest municipality in the United States to ever file Chapter 9.

It was embarrassing — and almost unfathomable that nobody had noticed the warning signs.

Maybe not nobody. Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, was a private accountant who was being prodded by some GOP leaders into running against Democratic treasurer Bob Citron. Moorlach initially resisted, but then looked at the county’s financial statements and was shocked by what he saw. He ran a campaign warning of potential fiscal calamity, but lost the race by a wide margin. He was proven correct about the county’s shaky finances and the rest, as they say, is history.

Citron, who was elected tax collector before the county merged the office with the treasurer, was personally frugal, but lacked investment experience and savvy. Grand jury testimony suggested he even consulted an astrologist on financial matters. Citron’s “exotic” investment scheme created incredible returns for a while, which convinced a lot of officials not to look too closely.

The investments were based on heavily leveraging the county’s investment pool to buy bonds — lots of them — and essentially wagering “on the difference between the short-term interest he paid on the cash loans, and the long-term interest he earned on the bonds,” as a 2013 Register obituary explained.

Like so many gambles, it eventually collapsed — in this case after the Fed started boosting interest rates. Citron pleaded guilty to charges related to falsifying the books and faded from view.

“He was like the sun god,” Moorlach told us. No one said anything — not the rating agencies, bond holders or elected officials. Moorlach tried, but was accused of being a partisan hack. What advice does he offer on the anniversary? “Be careful about underestimating the marketplace and overestimating how smart we are.”

We’d add this one: Government should live within its means rather than gambling with public money to cover up its overspending.

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Capping consumer interest rates isn’t in the best interest of consumers

There seems to be no shortage of policy ideas proposed by Democrats in Washington that would harm taxpayers, limit consumer choice, or interfere in America’s free market. And next week, misguided consumer-credit legislation that does all three is poised to pass the House Financial Services Committee. It’s a proposal that purports to protect low-income Americans from high interest rate lending, but would actually cut them off from access to credit markets that can be vital for day-to-day life.

The committee’s proposal, titled the “Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act” is a particularly disastrous bill that attempts to lock millions of low to middle-income Americans out of short-term credit markets with government applied price controls. If enacted, the government would place a cap on the interest rate a short-term lender is permitted to charge a consumer who is seeking loan. As we’ve seen with nearly every price control, it can do substantial harm – especially to the most vulnerable of our society.

Short-term loans are already highly regulated at the state level, yet the businesses providing them survive because many customers prefer the hours of service and convenient approval that traditional banks may not provide. Insistent that they know what’s best for everyone else, proponents of federal legislation view small dollar short-term lenders as predatory institutions whose sole purpose is to keep their customers in an endless cycle of debt. They like to highlight high Annual Percentage Rates (APR) – which is simply the rate of interest a borrower will pay over the course of a year due to compounding – as their evidence. While these short-term loans typically do carry a high APR, it is extremely rare for a loan to be outstanding for an entire year.

Short-term loans act as a cash advance that are paid back in full at the borrower’s next pay period. So while the loans may indeed carry a high APR, the vast majority of loans are paid back in a matter of weeks or months, not extended for an entire year. It’s misguided to paint an entire industry with a broad brush, and even worse to try legislate or regulate an industry out of business.

Contrary to some of the claims made by proponents of this legislation, small dollar lenders tend to help rather than hurt the people they serve. At a time when fifty percent of low-income families aren’t able to afford a $400 emergency expense, having ready access to providers of immediate credit could be life-saving. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, “sixty-nine percent used it to cover a recurring expense, such as utilities, credit card bills, rent or mortgage payments, or food; and sixteen percent dealt with an unexpected expense, such as a car repair or emergency medical expense.” These are individuals who have nowhere else to turn to obtain a loan in order to pay an immediate bill.

Without this access potential borrowers may either have to miss a payment or default, or spend their efforts seeking an illicit, unregulated market for a loan.

And here, of course, is where taxpayers come in. Eager to ride to the rescue of a disaster scene they would create for consumers, most Members of Congress who support interest rate controls also back schemes authorizing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to engage in banking and even small dollar lending. These include Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Considering that USPS has run up massive losses for 12 consecutive years despite having a monopoly over mailbox delivery  U.S., it is foolish to believe that this government-chartered entity could manage a banking network on a break-even basis, much less profitably. Small-dollar loans have high default rates, and would continue to be that way under USPS management unless qualifications were tightened. The latter outcome is politically unlikely.

As Peter Conti-Brown put it in a report for the Brookings Institution, “It is difficult to imagine politicians, citizens, and customers having the stomach to abide the collection on nonperforming loans when the collector is the government itself.” Thus, the USPS banking  operation would either 1) require direct subsidies from taxpayers;  2) siphon cash from other USPS operations, hastening a taxpayer bailout of the entire postal system; or 3) induce the Service to lobby for expansion into more “profitable” banking areas that would compete with the private sector. Pick your poison, but taxpayers would suffer the ill effects.

In addition to directly crippling access to credit for lower-income Americans, an interest rate cap would interject the federal government between providers and consumers. Bringing the government into any market transaction like this inevitably has an effect on consumers’ ability to access the market. Price ceilings on any good or service reduce supply, and access to credit is certainly no exception.

No third party can objectively state that lenders are charging consumers “too much” for their services. That’s a determination made by customers when they opt to decline loan terms. The interest rate cap empowers government to second-guess consumers—imposing their judgment on how prospective borrowers should value goods and services.

Congress has a long history of imposing regulations intended to help low-income Americans that end up hurting – and they are poised to do so with short-term lending. This a valuable way that low-income Americans can access credit markets when they have financial emergencies. For the sake of low-income consumers as well as taxpayers, we hope this idea — and its postal banking companion — stays out of the legislative hopper and off the floor of the House or Senate.

Thomas Aiello is a Policy and Government Affairs Associate for the National Taxpayers Union.

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Another battle over crime looms in California

No California ballot would be complete without at least one measure about crime and punishment and 2020 will be no exception.

A referendum seeking to overturn California’s landmark ban on cash bail in criminal cases will once again test voters’ sentiments about the treatment of accused lawbreakers.

During previous decades, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, voters endorsed a tough, lock-‘em-up attitude, culminating in passage of the state’s famous — or infamous — three-strikes-and-you’re-out law aimed at repeat offenders.

At some point — roughly a decade ago — voter attitudes about crime softened and criminal justice reform advocates began winning in the political arena.

When Jerry Brown returned to the governorship in 2011, he strived to undo some of the punishment laws he had signed three decades earlier by reducing penalties for crimes deemed to be nonviolent, diverting more offenders into probation rather than putting them behind bars and making it easier for felons to win parole.

Law enforcement officials objected, saying that fewer offenders behind bars would imperil the public, but in 2014, Brown won passage of a key ballot measure, Proposition 47, encompassing his reforms.

As his second governorship was ending last year, Brown also championed and signed legislation, Senate Bill 10, to eliminate cash bail — a long-sought goal of civil rights and criminal justice advocacy groups.

They argued that the bail system discriminates against the poor who are unable to either post bail themselves or afford the fees of private bail bond agents.

Under the legislation, those accused of minor, non-violent offenses would almost automatically be freed while awaiting trial and other defendants would be evaluated for their flight risk with judges having the final word on who would remain locked up.

SB 10 would, in effect, erase an entire industry, California’s 3,000-plus bail bond agencies, and, not surprisingly, they decided to fight back. Very quickly, a bail industry coalition raised money to qualify a referendum for the 2020 ballot to overturn the new law, whose implementation is now suspended until the voters have spoken.

Bail agents are clearly poised to spend millions of dollars to preserve their livelihoods and now the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is committing itself to finance a pro-SB 10 campaign.

The SEIU has couched its support for SB 10 in terms of civil rights and protecting poor people from a rapacious industry. However, it also has a financial interest in the outcome because ending cash bail would mean adding thousands of new unionized workers to county probation departments for evaluating defendants.

So the stage is set for another political showdown on crime, with the particularly tricky procedure of a referendum. The question on the ballot will be whether voters want to keep SB10 in force, so the bail agent coalition will be seeking a “no” vote while SEIU and other supporters will want voters to say “yes.”

Initially, it’s difficult to say which side has a better chance of prevailing. A statewide poll conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies in September found that 39% of voters are inclined to vote “yes” to support the new law, while 32% are opposed and 29% are undecided.

There’s a partisan division, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed, so that should give SB10 supporters an edge. But voters now on the fence will have the final word and that’s where both sides will concentrate what is likely to be their emotion-laden appeals.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

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Whicker: Capitals’ John Carlson skates past Kings on the way to history

LOS ANGELES — The Kings have not yet reached the depths of the old Clippers, from their Sports Arena days, when they tried to entice fans by promoting the visiting stars.

On Wednesday night the Kings might have touted the arrival of John Carlson.

Carlson is not the most famous player on the Washington Capitals, but he is poised to make the type of history usually associated with Alex Ovechkin.

He scored the Caps’ first two goals in a 3-1 victory, and that gave him 11 goals and 42 points in 30 games.

That extrapolates to a 118-point pace. No defenseman has scored 100 points since the Rangers’ Brian Leetch got 102 in the 1991-92 season.

“That’s why he’s Johnny Norris,” T.J. Oshie said. “That’s really all you need to say. He’s one of our leaders. The points are amazing, but he’s also a solid rock back there defensively.”

Carlson has not finished higher than third in the Norris Trophy balloting, given to the best all-around defenseman. It usually winds up in the hands of a high scorer, and Carlson has led the NHL’s defenseman in scoring before, but he only needed 68 points to do so in 2018. He came into Wednesday night’s game 12 points ahead of Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.

In 2004, the last year of Old Hockey, Sergei Gonchar of Washington led the league’s D-men with 58 points. After a year-long lockout, the NHL sped up the game with new rules, and Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit led with 80 points in 2006.

But even last season there were only four defensemen with 70 or more. Carlson had 70, 18 fewer than league leader Brent Burns.

“Scoring is up across the board,” Carlson said. “There’s a lot more unpredictability, and guys are learning new ways to score. It’s the way the league is right now.”

Carlson found two ways to score in this one, both in the first period. He separated Trevor Lewis from the puck at his own blue line and sped down the right side.

“I thought I heard somebody yell 2-on-1, but when I looked up it wasn’t there,” he said. So he shot it at, and then past, Jonathan Quick.

On the second goal, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty got involved in a puck scrum along the boards and partner Joakim Ryan shaded over to help. Oshie freed the puck and swung it to the right side, to find Carlson with nearly half the zone to work with. Carlson skated in on Quick, got behind him and caromed the puck off his back for the 2-0 lead.

“There has to be a stronger belief system at the beginning of games,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan, whose team is now 11-16-2. “The start seems to be a bit of an issue. We got down two (goals) and it seemed like we said, OK, we’ve got nothing to lose, and then we became a better team. We’re struggling to score goals right now.”

The Kings had abundant chances but their power play remained arthritic. They got four shots on goal in six minutes of man-advantage time and scored none.

But early in the third period, Washington goalie Alex Samsonov indecisively played the puck behind his net. Kings’ rookie Blake Lizotte, who had just charged off the bench, ambushed Samsonov, making it 2-1.

With Quick on the bench, Dustin Brown got a pass from Alex Iafallo in front of Samsonov but couldn’t make his backhand shot work. Tom Wilson quickly turned it into an empty-net goal.

Washington, which won the Stanley Cup two years ago but was eliminated by Carolina in the first round last season, now has a 21-4-5 record and, with Carlson, has five players who have scored 10 or more goals. The Kings only have Anze Kopitar, with 10.

The Capitals won at San Jose on Tuesday night without a point from Ovechkin, and he didn’t score here either, which is not a comforting image for the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Carlson has steadily grown into NHL royalty, but the hockey world has known him for years. He scored an overtime goal for the U.S. team that beat Canada for the World Juniors championship in Saskatoon, nine years ago. A few months ago he got the game-winner as the Hershey Bears won the Calder Cup, the championship of the American Hockey League.

Eight of the Kings’ next nine games are on the road before a Dec. 23 match at Staples Center with the St. Louis Blues, who won the Stanley Cup in June. Clear your calendar; center Ryan O’Reilly and goalie Jordan Binnington might be worth a look.

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Buffalo bishop under fire for handling of misconduct resigns

VATICAN CITY  — Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone following widespread criticism from his staff, priests and the public over how he handled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct.

The Vatican announced the resignation in a brief statement, adding that Francis had named the bishop of Albany, New York, Edward Scharfenberger, to run the Buffalo diocese temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.

The Vatican’s embassy to the U.S. said Malone offered to retire two years before the mandatory retirement age of 75 after learning the results of a Vatican-mandated inquiry into the western New York diocese and its handling of abuse cases.

In a statement, Malone said he had come to believe “that the spiritual welfare of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed.”

The diocese has been named in more than 220 recent lawsuits by people who claim they were sexually abused by priests.

Many of the claims date back decades, long before Malone’s arrival in Buffalo in 2012. But critics say there have been more recent missteps by Malone, including his decision to return to ministry a priest who had been suspended by a previous bishop for including “love you” in a Facebook message to an eighth-grade boy.

Malone later endorsed the same priest for a job as a cruise ship chaplain, even after he was also accused of making unwanted advances toward young men.

Malone has admitted to making mistakes in cases involving adult victims, but he had firmly refused to resign and insisted he wanted to remain on the job to see the diocese through a process of “renewal.”

Pressure though on him to leave has been intense.

Over the past year, two key members of Malone’s staff have gone public with concerns about his leadership, including his former secretary, the Rev. Ryszard Biernat, who secretly recorded Malone calling a then-active priest “a sick puppy,” but taking no immediate action to remove him.

Earlier, his executive assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, leaked internal church documents after becoming concerned that Malone had intentionally omitted dozens of names from a publicly released list of priests with credible allegations of abuse.

In September, a group of lay Catholics that had been working with Malone to restore trust in the church instead joined in calls for his resignation.

A diocesan priest, meanwhile, has been circulating a “no confidence” letter for signatures.

The Vatican hasn’t released the results of the inquiry into Buffalo conducted by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

Malone said he had been made aware of the “general conclusions” of the report and that they had been a factor in his decision to seek early retirement.

“It is my honest assessment that I have accomplished as much as I am able to, and that there remain divisions and wounds that I am unable to bind and heal,” he said.

Among those who have called for Malone’s resignation is the former dean of seminarians at the diocese’s Christ the King Seminary. In a letter outlining his decision to withdraw from his studies to become a priest, Stephen Parisi called the diocese’s handing of clerical sexual abuse cases “disgusting and revolting” and raised questions about the institution’s academic practices and oversight.

Malone in April suspended three priests after several seminarians complained the older men subjected them to disturbing and offensive sexual discussions during a party at a rectory.

Scharfenberger, the new apostolic administrator for Buffalo, said he plans to visit the eight-county diocese weekly while keeping up with his duties in Albany.

“I will be doing a lot of listening and learning,” he said in a statement, expressing a desire for openness and transparency.

The Buffalo diocese has paid out more than $18 million to more than 100 victims under a compensation program established last year. Since August, it has been named in a wave of new lawsuits under a New York state law that suspended the usual statute of limitations and opened a one-year window for victims to pursue claims regardless of when the abuse happened.

Attorneys general in several states, including New York, have begun civil investigations into how the Catholic church reviewed and potentially covered up abuse.

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Why does Hollywood smear capitalism, promote socialism?

Hollywood is now obsessing about increasing ethnic and gender diversity. Good. There’s been nasty racial and gender discrimination in the movie business.

Unfortunately, Hollywood has no interest in one type of diversity: diversity of thought.

In most every movie, capitalism is evil.

Greedy miners want to kill nature-loving aliens in “Avatar.” Director James Cameron says: “The mining company boss will be the villain again in several sequels. … Same guy. Same mother—-er through all four movies.”

One reviewer calls a scene in the recent “Star Wars” movie “a beautiful critique of unregulated capitalism.”

“Unregulated capitalism” is such a stupid cliche. Markets are regulated by customers, who have choices; we routinely abandon suppliers who don’t serve us well.

In the movie “In Time,” rich people live forever by buying more time, which they hoard while arranging for higher prices so poor people die.

I guess rich movie people feel guilty about being rich.

In the new Amazon series “Jack Ryan,” the hero asks a good question about Venezuela: “Why is this country in the midst of one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history?”

Because socialism ruined the country’s economy! But no, that’s not the answer Jack Ryan gives.

“Nationalist pride,” not socialism, is named as the culprit — and the politician who will fix things is an activist running “on a social justice platform.”

The producers reversed reality, portraying leftists as Venezuela’s saviors rather than as the people who destroyed it.

Hollywood reserves praise for people who share their politics. A documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is full of people gushing praise, calling her things like “the closest thing to a superhero.”

“RBG” is a good documentary and Ginsburg is impressive. But so is Justice Clarence Thomas. Hollywood would never praise him like that.

Recently, my former bosses at ABC surprised me by interviewing Thomas. Promotion for the video suggests that they actually let Thomas speak, without sneering at him. Good. But I’m sure no one on the show will be allowed to call Thomas “a superhero.”

Hollywood’s love for the left frustrates actors who lean right. Most fear saying anything because they fear they’d lose work.

Actor Kevin Sorbo spoke out about his conservative views.

Then, recounts Sorbo in my video this week, “all of a sudden, less and less calls. My agent said we’d better part ways. And I made a lot of money for these guys!”

Sorbo says in Hollywood, being a conservative Christian is “like being a double leper.”

He was even banned from a comic book convention.

“They’re the ones who say, ‘We need to be tolerant; we need to have love,’” observes Sorbo. But “they’re the most anti-tolerant people… Every movie, every TV show … there’s always some point, someplace, where they’ll pretty much degrade anybody who’s conservative or Republican.”

When a Republican is shown — someone like president George W. Bush in 2018’s “Vice” — Sorbo says, “They make him as dumb and as hick-y as possible.”

Sorbo’s also annoyed that movies like the latest “Ghostbusters” film shove women into what had been male parts. In the most recent “X-Men” movie, an actress says: “Women are always saving the men around here. You might want to think about changing the name to X-Women!”

“What’s wrong with that?” I pushed back. I like watching female superheroes.

Sorbo replied, “It was created as ‘X-Men.’ We’re in this business now of rewriting everything. … It’s not even politically correct; it’s politically insane.”

Hollywood’s recent movie about man’s first trip to the moon chose to leave out the American flag. When asked about that, the film’s star, Ryan Gosling, said, “This was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement.”

“An American human achievement!” replies Sorbo.

Sorbo’s response to Hollywood’s rejection was to make his own movies. He says his Christian drama “God’s Not Dead” cost $2 million to make but earned $140 million.

Other conservative and Christian movies have done well. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is America’s highest-grossing R-rated film ever.

Those aren’t my kind of movies, but I’m sure glad Hollywood doesn’t have monopoly power.

Maybe competition will make Hollywood a little less narrow-minded.

John Stossel is author of “No They Can’t! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed.”

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UCLA women’s soccer to meet nemesis Stanford in College Cup semifinal

LOS ANGELES — The last time UCLA met Stanford in an NCAA Tournament women’s soccer match was in the 2017 national championship game in Orlando, Fla.

Stanford defeated the Bruins 3-2 and took home the trophy.

Two years later, the Pac-12 powers have found their way through the 64-team bracket to meet again, but this time it’s in a semifinal.

“It still stings from my freshman year, a lot,” junior midfielder Viviana Villacorta said. “This is it, we have to leave everything out on the field because when can we get a chance like this again.”

The second-seeded Bruins (18-4-1 overall, 8-3 Pac-12) and the top-seeded Cardinal (22-1, 11-0) will face each other Friday at 6:30 p.m. in a College Cup semifinal at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. The winner faces either unseeded Washington State or top-seeded North Carolina in Sunday’s 5:30 p.m. title match.

This is the 11th time UCLA has made it to the College Cup, with the Bruins’ only national title coming in 2013 against Florida State.

“That’s big motivation for us,” Villacorta said about facing a familiar foe in Stanford. “It’s definitely something where we know we can do it, but we have to work extremely hard and together, that’s our mentality.”

Since meeting in the 2017 NCAA final, Stanford has defeated UCLA in each of their regular-season meetings the past two seasons, including a 1-0 decision on Oct. 19 at Stanford. UCLA is 0-4 all-time against Stanford in NCAA Tournament matches.

The Cardinal are currently on a 17-game winning streak and lead the nation with 98 goals. In tournament play, Stanford has outscored its opponents 26-1, including a 15-0 blowout of Prairie View A&M in the first round. Junior forward Catarina Malatskey leads the nation with 38 goals and 23 assists.

“As a group, we’re all really excited,” senior midfielder Jessie Fleming said. “We’ve played Stanford before, and we know it’s going to be a good game. Playing against good players has the tendency to bring out the best in us. We’re pumped for the matchup and excited for a (battle).”

The Bruins are confident last week’s 4-0 upset victory over top-seeded defending champion Florida State will carry over into this week. UCLA was just the second team in 10 years to take down the Seminoles in Tallahassee during the postseason. It was the second time this season the Bruins defeated Florida State, after beating the team 2-1 in Westwood in August.

“It’s a hard place to go win in the postseason, so doing that and also having to beat them twice this year, I think we’ve proven ourselves to be the team we are and the team to look out for,” UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell said.

The Bruins, who finished second in the conference, behind Stanford, have won nine in a row and 12 of their last 13 matches. UCLA has outscored its four postseason opponents 15-1.

“I just feel like the team is really coming into our own, and we’re just peaking right at the good time,” Villacorta said. “We found this confidence because we’re getting comfortable playing with each other. Playing in this formation too, we’re just really confident knowing that it’s going to work.”

The Pac-12 made conference history last week when four teams made it to the tournament’s quarterfinals for the first time (UCLA, Stanford, Washington State and USC). USC was eliminated by North Carolina 3-2.

“We have two California teams in one of the semifinals and three Pac-12 teams in the Final Four. That’s what really makes it special this year because of how well the whole Pac-12 has done,” Cromwell said. “I’m excited about that. It gives us confidence because we know the level of play that we had all season prepared us for this moment.”

On the other side of the bracket, Washington State (16-6-1, 5-5-1) will be making its first-ever appearance in the College Cup after upsetting No. 1 seed Virginia in the second round and No. 2 seed South Carolina 1-0 in overtime in a quarterfinal last week.

North Carolina (23-1-1), meanwhile, is playing for its 22nd national title. The two meet in the early semifinal on Friday at 4 p.m.

🎶 U-C-L-A 🎶

FINAL. 👏 FOUR. 👏 BOUND. 👏#WCollegeCup | @UCLAWSoccer pic.twitter.com/lVicIJcZjM

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 29, 2019

For the 1⃣1⃣th time in program history, the @UCLAWSoccer team is headed to the College Cup! 🥅

They beat defending National Champs with 4 Bruin goals. 🐻🐻🐻🐻#WCollegeCup | #Pac12Soccer pic.twitter.com/wPbsyW2dmL

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 29, 2019

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Man in Orange charged with assaulting police officer with Crock-Pot lid

SANTA ANA — A 35-year-old man was charged Tuesday with attacking a police officer in Orange.

Khleoum Tong was charged with assault with a weapon on a police officer and resisting arrest, both felonies. He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of assault on a peace officer and a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of methamphetamine.

Tong also faces sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury on at least one of the officers, according to court records.

Police responded just after 2 p.m. Saturday to a “panic button” alarm from a car, and when the officers arrived the suspect was “acting irate,” said Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department.

Tong appeared to be under the influence of drugs, and at some point he “grabbed a lid from a Crock-Pot and threw it at an officer and struck him on the chin,” McMullin said.

The officer needed three stitches and was able to return to duty this week, McMullin said.

Police had to use a Taser to take the suspect into custody, McMullin said.

Six officers were involved in the attempt to arrest Tong, according to court records.

Tong pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana on Tuesday and was ordered to return to court for a pretrial hearing Dec. 11, according to court records.

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