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The 40-question test asks respondents to rank from 0 to 10 their level of agreement with a variety of propositions. The score is on a 400-point scale, with Americans’ average score being 209.5.

It is possible to be “very conservative” while still scoring in the triple digits. So I heard.

Competence on display

Know how liberals are supposed to be so cosmopolitan and culturally aware? And how the Bush administration was so filled with incompetents?

“Brazil is already grumbling about the treatment of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will sit down with Obama this weekend and is the first Latin American leader to visit the White House under the new administration,” wrote Joshua Keating at the Foreign Policy blog Passport. He went on to quote an Associated Press account for the details.

“Silva aides said the trip was pushed forward from Tuesday because of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday — making Latin America once again look like an afterthought. Then, the White House announcement misspelled his name as ‘Luis Ignacio’ and put ‘Lula’ — a nickname that decades ago became a legal part of the Brazilian leader’s name — in quotes,” the report read.

This comes on top of the widely criticized protocol during a visit by Britain’s Gordon Brown and the language botch of a gag gift from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“I know Obama’s got bigger things to worry about, but there is a whole office of protocol that’s supposed to take care of these things. If they can put together a Stevie Wonder concert, they should be able to arrange White House visits from the world’s most important leaders with a little more class than this,” Mr. Keating wrote.

End of a bill

About 10 days ago, there sat before the Connecticut Legislature a bill specifically targeting the Catholic Church that would have used state incorporation law to force a congregational governing structure on the church, contrary to its laws and teachings on its hierarchical nature. Certain positions of authority would have been barred to bishops and clergy and reserved for laymen, despite the contrary requirements of canon law.

The Diocese of Bridgeport issued a call for Catholics to mobilize against “the irrational, unlawful, and bigoted Proposed Bill #1098,” which the diocese called “a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a similar statement, calling the bill “not even close to constitutional — It violates the First Amendment in at least two different ways. It targets the Catholic Church explicitly and exclusively, and it inserts the State into theological controversies regarding how the Church should be structured and governed.”

The Catholic blogosphere quickly joined in and spread the word around the country. Typical was Thomas Hoopes of National Catholic Register, who dubbed the bill as “a miter box — for bishops’ miters.” By Tuesday, the bill had been pulled until its constitutionality could be determined, but a demonstration against it set for Wednesday in Hartford went ahead anyway and drew 3,500 people.

“Caught ‘em red-handed,” wrote Thomas Peters of American Papist. “Well done, everyone, Remain vigilant.”

Contact Victor Morton at