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Noted and passed - June 13, 2011
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* Rightly or wrongly, presidents generally get the credit or the blame for economic conditions in the country, as most voters place responsibility on the chief executive rather than Congress. In that regard, President Obama faces headwinds in his re-election efforts. He also is up against an historical precedent that’s surprising: if he wins another term in the White House in November of next year, it will be only the second time in history that three consecutive presidents have won back-to-back terms. The last time it occurred was in 1801-1825, when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe all were victorious twice as the third, fourth and fifth presidents.

* Speaking of presidential campaigns, it would be best if Newt Gingrich, once a powerful force in the Republican Party, would quietly exit the race before he breaks a leg. Gingrich has run afoul of a half-a-million-dollar bling controversy; news of his former extra-marital affair won’t seem to go away; he’s vacationing in Greece instead of being on the campaign trail; and his senior staff has now walked out on him. Gingrich vows to stay in the race, but he’s going nowhere.

* It’s hard to imagine a worse public relations gaffe than the one suffered recently by Delta Airlines when the company levied an extra charge on returning Mideast troops because they had extra baggage -- some of it containing weapons they had used to protect themselves and other soldiers on the battlefield. Delta quickly issued an apology and then backtracked on its policy, but it was a controversy that never should have occurred. Airlines are giving us a lot to dislike these days, and this is just one more example.

* We’ve often touted the benefits of exercise in “Noted and Passed,” and now comes another study with convincing news that older people can do themselves a favor by doing a bit of intense exercising -- tennis, swimming, running, biking, for instance -- on a regular basis. “Working up a sweat” in such a way can help people lower by 40 percent their risk of developing brain damage linked to strokes, dementia and other disorders. That’s a good reason to get the muscles working.

* We’re still hopeful that the “Gang of Six” -- a bipartisan panel of U.S. senators -- can come up with a reasonable plan to present to their colleagues to help stem the poisonous spending patterns that lawmakers have established. The group now says members have identified trillions of dollars in savings that can be made over the next few years. We hope somebody in the nation’s capital pays attention.