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Noted and passed -- Oct. 31, 2011
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• “It ain’t brilliant, but at least it’s heading in the right direction,” was the comment of one leading economist after the latest figures on the U.S. economy were released. Ian Shepherdson was commenting on a growth rate of 2.5 percent, as opposed to the 4-percent growth many would like to see. We’ll share his optimism and hope the latest figures are proof that the country isn’t heading into a double-dip recession. We’ll also give him credit for being darned original in his manner of speaking, a trait not often seen in the dry world of economics.

• Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, the Republican presidential candidate who hasn’t done very well in debates, has found one way to solve that problem: skip future debates. That might not be a bad idea; we like the idea of hearing candidates stand on a stage together and enumerate their differences, but the GOP is sort of beating the concept to death. There are three scheduled for a single week in November, and then more to follow. Having a limited number would serve both the candidates and the public well.

• Former N.C. Sen. John Edwards, who also is an ex-vice presidential candidate, failed in his bid last week to get a federal judge to dismiss charges that Edwards illegally used campaign contributions to help cover up an extramarital affair in 2008. Only a trial will reveal whether Edwards is guilty of that offense, but he’s certainly guilty of being one of the sleaziest politicians anywhere -- and that’s saying a mouthful.

• The dismal showing of Republican White House hopeful Rick Santorum is proof positive that voters aren’t so much interested in social issues this year as they are economic ones. Santorum is on the right fringe of his party, and he’s desperately trying to keep his campaign alive. Chances that he can do that are slim.