We Kansans Is Officially Smart

The presumably fine folks at something called Safehome.org have ranked all the states according to their smartness, and our beloved Sunflower State came in a perfectly respectable seventh place. If we correctly remember what we learned about mathematics and civics in Kansas’ public schools that probably puts us in the top half of the 50 or so states, and we reckon that ain’t bad.
The Safehome.org folks based their rankings on a presumably scientific formula that takes into account the number of citizens with a bachelor’s degree, the high school graduation rate, the average score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and how many of the state’s students had least a passing score on the SAT’s various benchmarks, which strikes us as fair enough. Kansas might have fared better by some less hifalutin formula that takes common horse sense into account, but we suppose that is hard to objectively quantify, and given the snobbish disdain of the coastal elites we Kansans just know are laughing at us behind our backs with chips on the shoulder, seventh place seems almost comforting.
We were glad to see that New Jersey topped the list, as it’s the butt of far more jokes than Kansas will ever be. The state features some of America’s scariest ghettos, the ongoing storyline from “The Sopranos,” and frequently disgraced politicians, but much of it is quite nice, and every New Jerseyan or New Jerseyite or whatever you call them that we’ve ever met met have been very nice and very smart people. We’re not sure they’re smarter than Kansans, who spend less time in traffic on highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive, but we mean them no disrespect.
According to Safehome.org the second smartest state is Utah, which is not surprising, as those Mormons believe in all sorts of crazy things but are nonetheless very smart about many things. Massachusetts came in third and North Carolina fourth, which greatly annoyed us because we’ve known some very snobby and not all that smart people from both states. Montana finished fifth, and although we’e visited that very beautiful state we really don’t know enough Montanans or Montanians or what ever you call them to make a judgement about how smart they are relative to Kansans. Sixth place went to Virginia, a state that played an outsized role in American history since Washington and Jefferson, and we’ve been lucky to know many Virginians, as they like to be called, and although they’re a rather snooty bunch we have to admit we found several of them them smarter than the national average.
So seventh place ain’t bad, as we reckon it. We’re still ahead of another 43 or so states, according to our calculations, including all the neighbors we like to jibe about. Colorado and its legal marijuana came in 15th place. Missouri and its big league baseball teams came in 18th. Nebraska and whatever it has going for it was 20th. Oklahoma, a state we dearly love filled with some very smart family and friends we dearly love, came in 50th, just ahead of Idaho. The District of Columbia, which isn’t even a state so far as we can tell, came in 31st, which might account for any discrepancies you’ve noticed in our math.
Such populous and influential states as California and New York and California and Texas also lagged far behind Kansas in smartness, but as Kansans we are far too smart and refined to say “n’yah n’yah n’yah,” and will give due respect to our fellow Americans. The states have enough to quarrel about without some pseudoscientific rankings of their smartness, even if it does acknowledge how relatively smart us Kansans are, and it’s not the Kansas way to brag about such things..
Kansans have been smart enough to make vibrant cities and towns and far-flung farm houses out of this harsh and barren part of the country, and as imperfect as our state is we think it quite an accomplishment. We’ve travelled through 48 other states in our days, as well as the District of Columbia, and have found smart people and dumb people everywhere, and we hope they’ll prevail.
Our limited understanding of mathematics tell us that approximately half the people out there are below overage in smartness, though, which is a frightening thought given how often the brighter half of the population is wrong. For now the country seems to be doing a sufficient job of creating a great nation out of what was once a forbidding wilderness, even if neither of our political parties is currently helping out much with the chore, and we’ll hold out hope that the smartest people spread around the country somehow prevail.

— Bud Norman

Bad Times for the Democrats, Too

The trade deficit and the national debt are at record levels, there are the usual number of new developments regarding various political scandals, as well as other stories embarrassing to President Donald Trump, but we also notice that the damned Democrats have their own problems.
The Democrats’ majority in the House of Representatives is currently squabbling over what to do about one of their two Muslim members’ “tweets” are undeniably anti-Israel and quite arguably anti-Jewish, and the party writ large is debating whether to veer slowly to the left or to hold hands and hit the pedal and hurl off like “Thelma and Louise” over the far-left cliff. So far the center-left holds the rhetorical advantage and all the positions of power, but we’re talking about the likes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, and there’s a palpable sense of worry in the party that it could lose yet again to the likes of Trump.
The flap about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s “tweets” won’t help the cause. Omar is from a Somali refugee family and represents a Minnesota district that has a surprising number of Somali-American voters along with the usual assortment of Minnesota liberals, and she holds the expected Muslim and liberal views about foreign policy, and the Republicans would understandably and dearly love to make the soft face peering out from chador the face of the Democratic party. The Democrats can’t quite bring themselves to rebuke Omar, but they’d dearly and understandably prefer some other face.
By now most Democrats either endorse or don’t much mind Omar’s anti-Israel stands, but when she “tweeted” that the American-Israeli Political Action Committee was buying Congressional support with “the Benjamins — a reference to the guy on the $100 bill, not the Old Testament figure — that seemed too much an ancient Jewish stereotype even for many modern day Democrats. Pelosi “signaled a willingness to advance a softly worded resolution related to anti-Semitism,” The Washington Post reports, but it was scuttled by opposition from New York Representative and left-wing daring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the other Muslim congresswoman and the rest of the off–the-cliff left wing of the party, and “now leaders are cobbling together a broader draft that would oppose many forms of offensive actions.” With further embarrassment, the Post’s correspondent noted that “It may seem trivial — a nonbonding resolution expressing opposition intolerance of all kinds — but this a critical test for leadership to bring the caucus back together.”
So far Pelosi and Schumer have been successful in keeping their party in its usual lockstep, to a point that Trump is openly envious, but this seems a tough test for even better leadership to pass. For decades the Democratic party rightly prided itself on its steadfast support fo the Jewish people, and President Harry Truman was the first world leader to recognize the state of Israel and Sen. Bobby Kennedy was shot down for his steadfast support of the Jewish state, but since then things have gotten complicated. After Israel somehow won a series of wars against the combined might of its more populous Islamic neighbors in the late ’60s and early ’70s the Democrats’ instinctive favoritism for the underdog naturally shifted to the Islamic victims of western colonialism, while on the home front the party shifted its attention from the Jews to a far bigger black voting bloc that often feuded with Jewish interests in the all-important big cities and had more of that old-fashioned southern anti-Semitism that polite people will admit.
The Democrats could get plenty of Republicans to join with them in voting for some vaguely worded non-binding resolution in favor of tolerance for all religious views, but these days that seems unlikely. Vague language about “All religious views” might be construed to include some Baptist who doesn’t want to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage, or some Muslim or Jew or Hindu with similar traditional convictions, and with sexual issues overriding religious issues these days the modern Democrat can only be so tolerant. Some day in the near future historians will wonder why so many of the last few church-going and Bible-believing Christians in America voted for a thrice-married and six-times-bankrupt casino-and-strip-club mogul, and we can only advise them to look at what he was running against.
The off-the-far-left-cliff wing of the Democratic party makes Trump’s economic policies look pretty good, too. Although it would take some doing they’d probably swell the budget deficits even more than Trump has, and their tax hikes would make even worse than Trump’s tax cuts have, and they same to have same absurd protectionist instincts as Trump. Their “Green New Deal”is almost as stupid as Trump makes it out to be, and their socialist utopia would probably look a lot more like Venezuela than Scandinavia. If future historians ever have to wonder why America would re-elect the likes of Trump we’d advise them to take a look at who he was running against.

— Bud Norman

State by State, by Stereotype

Several explanations have already been offered for Mitt Romney’s solid victory in Tuesday’s Florida presidential primary, and most of them are plausible.

One theory, held by distant runner-up Newt Gingrich, holds that Romney’s sizeable fund-raising advantage allowed him to flood the airwaves with negative advertising in a state too large for stump campaigning. Another theory, not held by Gingrich, is that the former House Speaker’s angry response to the media barrage revealed his flaws more clearly than the ads ever could.

Our favorite theory, though, is the one offered by internet journalist Stacy McCain, who ties Tuesday’s result to the crucial little old lady vote in Florida. He writes that “Your grandma loves Mitt Romney,” a phenomenon he attributes to the contrast between “the tall, lean, millionaire entrepreneur with dark hair and chiseled features” and “the pudgy intellectual.”

This hypothesis is based on a stereotype of Florida as a vast geezerdom, as well as an equally stereotyped view of elderly women, which makes it quite convincing. Most of the stereotypes about the various states are valid, after all, and Florida’s reputation as “God’s waiting room” is no exception.

If either or both of the first two theories are true, and they are by no means mutually exclusive, Romney should be able to achieve a similar outcome in any of the upcoming primaries and caucuses. If the McCain theory is more correct, however, handicapping the race requires looking at the upcoming schedule, which now takes the race to Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, then examining the candidates through the proper stereotype.

Nevada is full of Mormons and gamblers, so Romney should do well. The Mormons will be inclined to vote for a co-religionist, and the gamblers will be impressed by Romney’s success as a venture capitalist.

The people of Maine regard Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as proper Republicans, a delusion that prairie people attribute to nine months of winter and a constant diet of sea food, so Romney should do well there, too.

Colorado is populated with bike-riding hippies drawn there by a misunderstanding of John Denver’s pop hit “Rocky Mountain High,” so look for Ron Paul to score an upset victory.

Minnesotans revere Garrison Keillor, so they have no prejudice against pudgy intellectuals, but they’re also notoriously nice, which means they will have no natural affinity for Gingrich. Rick Santorum’s squeaky-cleanness might serve him well, but expect another Romney win.

As Kansans we are obliged by state law to have nothing good to say about Missouri, but we will say that it is the most likely state for Gingrich to score another victory.

— Bud Norman