Sunday, December 25, 2011


Originally written - January 2, 2011

Nearly one year ago UConn’s Geno Auriemma nearly eclipsed the feat of his women’s basketball team with a self-inflicted fur ball.  What follows is a re-issue of the article covering that occasion.

Congratulations to the University of Connecticut Women’s basketball team for their remarkable accomplishment: 90 consecutive wins, breaking the old record by the 1971-1974 UCLA Men’s Basketball team. 

If you simply wanted to enjoy UConn’s moment there was a problem that development almost immediately.  Supporters of Title IX and women’s basketball cried foul – they cited the tepid interest in UConn’s chance for the greatest number of consecutive basketball games as evidence of sexism and intolerance.  In other words, why was it that the nation’s attention barely nodded its approval at this feat?

The lead critic of this view was not Bella Abzug, the fiery former New York Congresswoman, nor was the critic an alumnae of Smith College like Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem – surprisingly, the loudest basher of the media’s coverage of this streak was UConn Women’s coach Luigi (Geno) Auriemma, himself, an Italian immigrant with a blue collar work ethic.  In 1994, Auriemma became a naturalized United States citizen after 33 years living in America.  His Italian variation of the quintessential Horatio Alger story makes his recent comments all that more disappointing and confusing.

This is what he said earlier last week.

Because we're breaking a men's record, we've got a lot of people paying attention," Auriemma said. If we were breaking a women's record, everybody would go, 'Aren't those girls nice, let's give them two paragraphs in USA Today, you know, give them one line on the bottom of ESPN and then let's send them back where they belong, in the kitchen.'  Really coach?

This type of pandering is better associated with the grievance politics of Jesse Jackson, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and Representative Maxine Waters of Los Angeles.  Auriemma should know better and he does know better.  His rhetoric is lazy and silly.  Let’s look at the facts.

The reason the media and public in general paid less attention to the 90 game winning streak is because women’s basketball is not played at the same caliber as men’s basketball.  Here are facts Mr. Auriemma.
  1. Stamina. 
Women’s basketball is played by women.  Women are slower and weaker.  Just look at the world records for 100 meter dash – the current men's world record is 9.58 second.  The current women's world record is10.49 seconds.  The difference is .91 seconds.  The female holder (Mrs. Griffith-Joyner) would have come in last place running at the men’s heat at the 2009 event.    

In the marathon category the same pattern is found.  The world record time for men is 2 hours 3 minutes and 59 seconds, set in the Berlin Marathon by Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia on September 28, 2008,

The world record for women in 2003 was 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds.  This feat was done using male pacesetters.  The difference is 11 minutes and 26 seconds.

  1. Vertical Leap
According to, the average vertical leap of a woman between the ages of 21 and 25 is 14.1 inches, while the average vertical leap of a man in the same age range is 22.1 inches… Men leap higher for rebounds and shots than women do, and thus the slam dunk is an iconic part of the game of men's basketball, whereas in women's basketball it is nearly nonexistent. 

Coach Auriemma knows this fact.  Any team that can leap 8 inches higher is going to dominate the game.  The coach’s own Kara Wolters at 6’7” did not dunk the ball once during her career at UConn.  Women are built differently than men – their low center of gravity is suited for pregnancy – this may sound like a headline from Neanderthal Times, but it is still a fact.  I think I just heard the ladies from Connecticut Public Television collapse. This page was last modified on 3 November 2010 at 21:17.
Kara Wolters, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

  1. The Basketball Itself
The women’s basketball is smaller, lighter, and has a greater bounce.  That means that every shot by a female player is cheaper. Therefore the Men’s basketball on average is a full inch bigger in circumference, and the men’s basketball is on average .3 inches bigger in diameter.  Therefore when the ball is perfectly centered over the cylinder, there exists a .15 inch space from the ball to the rim.   In addition, the women’s three point line is a full one foot closer to the hoop.  Coach Auriemma, that means that every shot is easier to make and less challenging that the shots required of the men’s teams – but of course you already know that. 

  1. There is no 10 second rule for women to move the ball to the half court line.  This advantage is tempered somewhat by 30 seconds for women to take their shot versus men who get 35 seconds.

The big story should be how far women have come since they started playing basketball in bloomers.  The current configuration of five players playing over a full court was only inaugurated in 1971. 

Speaking about the Huskies, Bill Walton, the all-American center on those U.C.L.A. teams of the early 1970s, told The Associated Press: “They (UConn women) play with a great sense of team, great purpose, phenomenal execution of fundamentals, relentless attack. It is what every team should aspire to, regardless of the sport.”

Routinely, UConn schedules the toughest women’s teams in the country. Practices are taken no less lightly than games. The Huskies practice against male players, sometimes five women against six men. Come game time, UConn is unfailingly prepared. Great teams do not stumble into history, Auriemma has admonished his players in recent days.  Thomas Walker on December 21, 2010 in Sports
Speaking of my alma mater, I find the UConn women both stellar is their pursuit of perfection and wholesome in their public persona.  There are no tattoos that I can see and their shorts are worn correctly.  Their hustle and team play represents the best of collegiate sports and our country.  They also embody the ethos that it is okay to be feminine off the court and aggressive on it.  In other words they have a sense of sportsmanship and maturity that most men’s teams lack.
Congratulations to the Lady Huskies and may Luigi (Geno) Auriemma do what he does best: coach – leave the pandering to the professionals.
Words: 1078

Geoffrey Griswold Fisher is a native of Connecticut and currently resides in Sarasota, Florida.  Mr. Fisher holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Connecticut, 1978 and a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Trinity College, 2007.  In addition to being a certified history and government teacher, Mr. Fisher is a freelance writer on political and policy issues.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Occupy Wallstreet: SHAME ON THE BOTTOM 47%


Today the democratic ethos of our nation is under attack – no longer do policy-makers in Washington speak to the need for all to contribute to the common good, rather they speak in patronizing platitudes of the constant duty to insulate the “working poor” from any civic responsibility.  This patronizing policy would have been rebuked by the working man just 50 years ago, but now many welcome it – former participants in the body politic are now self-serving observers. 

The most blatant example of this loss of self-respect is embodied in the Occupy movements around the country.  They saunter out of there LL Bean pup-tents and reach for the closest placard embossed with the Motto:  WE ARE THE 99% - the implication being that a nefarious 1% is scheming to control the lives of the average American.

A disinterested review of Tax Year 2008 from the IRS might provide a much needed cold shower for these latter day hippies.

The top 1% paid more than 38% of the federal personal income tax for the nation. 
The top 5% paid more than 58% of the federal income tax. And what of the bottom 47%?  They paid nothing.  In short, nearly ½ of the people of the United States paid no federal income tax at all.  Just 50 years ago this past January, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to resist the self-indulgent wining that was in it’s infancy in the nation.

On that freezing morning in 1961 he proclaimed: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."    

Either this proclamation is just another platitude destined for the trash heap of political rhetoric or it is a national motto written and lived by the young president himself – a man who sought front line duty during the pacific theater of World War II and suffered dearly from his experiences.  From General Washington leading his men across the Delaware River to rout the Hessians at Trenton in 1776, to the first responders entering the towers of the World Trade Pavilion on September 11, 2001, real Americans have always carried their fair share.

In 1961, a laborer might have stopped into the neighborhood pub to enjoy a hard earned beer.  While the hops filtered through his taste buds and into his nostrils, he would have looked at his hands – hands swollen from the 8 hours of manual labor.  This working man, most likely a Democrat, would thought of his wife and children, and felt a strong smile coming over his face, a smile of pride and belonging to the national fabric of the USA.      

Today, the injustice is not with the 1%, but rather with the 47% who contribute nothing to the federal coffers.  Unfortunately, in a grand strategy of national pandering to today’s working poor, our current president wants to increase the number of people who contribute nothing to their country’s national bank account.  A skeptic would wonder if the president realizes that his actions are building a permanent majority to vote for him and his Democratic cohorts of the future. 

In his ground breaking social critique of the United States, Australian author Robert Hughes railed against a people he saw as professional whiners.  Hughes used his pen in 1993’s the Culture of Complaint to hone in on the central problem of the new American psyche: complete and utter selfishness.  Robert Hughes was correct at least for 47% of our population.

Fifteen years earlier Russian dissentient Alexander Solzhenitsyn reached the same conclusion.  He delivered the Harvard Class Day Speech (A World Split Apart in 1978) and focused on the onslaught of modernization vis-à-vis consumerism and selfishness.  The speech was both intemperate given his status as a political exile enjoying asylum and brilliant since Solzhenitsyn identified a serious fissure in our national character.

This highlights the main problem with the occupy members, they look and act like children.  It’s time for all adults to grow up and help this great country of ours to recover – one way to do this is for everyone adult to pay something for the greater good even if you’re poor.  To the pampered 47%, joining the legions of taxpayers would be one way “…you can do (something) for your country."  WORD COUNT: 709

Geoffrey G. Fisher

Geoffrey G. Fisher is a State-Certified History and Government Teacher. 
He currently works in Southwest Florida as a Guest Teacher.  He served for six years as a public official in Connecticut and holds a Master of Arts Degree in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

Tax Year 2008

Percentiles Ranked by AGI
AGI Threshold on Percentiles
Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid
Top 1%
Top 5%
Top 10%
Top 25%
Top 50%
Bottom 50%
             Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
                Source: Internal Revenue Service

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Earth to Occupiers: Trust Buster Needed to Reform, not Toss Capitalism

Geoffrey G. Fisher
December 10, 2011

As insufferable and self-possessed as the Occupiers of Wall Street are, and they are, they have hit a national nerve.  Capitalism does need to be checked every now and then.  Corporate greed is now a danger to our national and collective-interest. 

109 years ago, under nearly identical circumstances, President Theodore Roosevelt filed a federal law suit against the Northern Securities Corporation for monopolizing the railroad industry.  The Supreme Court dissolved this monopoly in 1904 which proved to be a victory for laissez-faire capitalism and free trade and most importantly a victory for the American people.  Roosevelt did this again with the titans of the American coal industry, and in 1902 after an order to mobilize the army to commandeer the coal mines, the coal-mine owners finally agreed to arbitration.  Roosevelt the rough-rider and jingoistic imperialist, was now the friend to labor and the American Trust Buster – bully! 

Although the occupiers of Wall Street have touched a quintessential American nerve vis-à-vis fair play, they want to toss capitalism and replace it with European socialism or worse.  So, to these college-educated misfits, thank you for the wake-up call but keep your radical hippie agenda to yourselves.  Just look at the damage Spain and Greece have done to the European Union.  Just today, it was reported Bloomberg News that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's Pasok party is struggling to stay afloat with massive austerity measures being implemented in order to gain the financial support of the EU – this has not stopped many unions from working off the job as Greece crumbles before the eyes of the world.  This is what happens when 17 percent of the nation’s labor force is public employees.

Lasses-faire capitalism is the best economic system the world has ever known – it just isn’t perfect, and it needs to be check every now and then, like now.

Just like Teddy brook up the trusts of 100 years ago, and Ronald Reagan’s justice department busted the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1984 into the Regional Bell Operating Companies, also known as the Baby Bells, today we need bipartisan support to bust the Wall Street investment banks into institutions of a more manageable size – banks that serve the people and not simply nefarious stock holders.

Let’s start with the following five American banking houses:
  1. Bank of America
  2. Barclay's Capital
  3. Citigroup
  4. Goldman Sachs
  5. JPMorgan Chase

Never again should a bank be too big to fail.  In capitalism, the freedom to succeed goes hand in hand with the freedom to fail.  Capitalism means the economy needs to be pruned by the invisible hand of Adam Smith. 

Now is the Time for President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Reid to join together to launch a trust busting party - where corporations, and large unions (the AFL-CIO and the NEA come to mind) are brought back into line with the interests of the American people.  This would be a feat supported by the political left and right – bipartisanism doesn’t have to be a pipe dream.  Perhaps this effort on behalf of the American people as a whole can ignite more bipartisanship on the economy.  Gentleman, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." 

To the Occupiers, thank you for the wake-up call – now please go home and take a shower.  We all know your encampment will last only until the big apple becomes a big ice-cube.  You can return to New York’s Madison Square Garden on December 28, 2011 for the next Phish concert as victors.  (591 words)

Geoffrey G. Fisher is a State-Certified History and Government Teacher. 
He currently works in Southwest Florida as a Guest Teacher.  He served for six years as an elected official in Connecticut and holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.