The Burger Debate Catches a Second Wind

Remember this blog post in which a reader asked if the McDouble is perhaps "the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history"? It spawned a lot of commentary on the blog and we followed it up with a Freakonomics Radio podcast

Now the question has been taken up by many others, spurred on by a N.Y. Post column by Kyle Smith and echoed by, among others, Yahoo! and the Wall Street Journal in this country and, in the U.K., the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and the Times.

I have gotten about one zillion media requests to talk further about the story but I am busy writing so I had to turn them down.

If you scroll through the comments on the links above -- the Yahoo! post has more than 4,000 comments as of this writing -- you will likely be struck, as I was, by how great Freakonomics commenters are compared to the rest of the world. Literate, lucid, knowledgable, and even when you get enraged you manage to say something useful.

All hail the readers of this blog!

Presidential Debate, Freakonomics Style?

Last night's Presidential debate inspired speculation -- albeit contradictory speculation -- about whether the candidates had read a certain book:

Star-Spangled Banter? A New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Star-Spangled Banter?”

(You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

In honor of the forthcoming Independence Day, we take a look at one British tradition that the U.S. might do well to consider adopting: Prime Minister's Questions (PMQ's), the weekly Parliamentary session in which the PM goes before the House of Commons to field queries from the Opposition as well as his own party.

I had the good fortune to attend PMQ's on a couple of recent visits to London. One of the sessions was particularly woolly -- in part because Prime Minister David Cameron called Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls a "muttering idiot" (a comment that Cameron was duly asked to withdraw as it was unParliamentary) and also because Cameron had just returned from a G8/NATO summit in Chicago, which provided an extra hour or so of substantial back-and-forthing between the PM, Opposition Leader Ed Miliband, and dozens of MP's. (Additionally, Greece was cratering, perhaps along with the Euro, and the U.K. had just entered its second recession -- so there was plenty to whinge about on all sides of the aisle.)

It is quite a piece of theater to watch (and yes, it is largely theater), but it also struck me that PMQ's provide the British government and especially the British electorate an opportunity to have what the American government and electorate do not currently have: a real and real-time dialogue (on national television, and on C-SPAN in the U.S.) between members of opposing parties as well as the country's political leader.

Lessons in Anchoring and Framing From … George Clooney?

In a Time magazine Q&A, the actor gives a fascinating reply to the question "Are you disappointed in Obama":

I get angry at people who don't stand for him, actually. If this were a Republican president, Republicans would say, "We were losing 400,000 jobs a month. We stopped it. We saved the car industry." You could go down the list. Democrats should talk to Hollywood about how to posture some of these things. Say you're about to get into tax loopholes. Instead of "loopholes," say "cheating." And then on the floor of the Senate, get up and say, "We're not going to raise your taxes, but we're not for cheating. Are you?" I just think Democrats are bad at that.

A few points: I assume the "people" he gets angry at for not standing for Obama are Democrats? If not ... well ... hard to imagine someone like Clooney getting angry at Democrats who didn't "stand for" Bush.

Great point re the job loss and car industry! Perhaps not nearly 100 percent accurate, but still, a great point re how those accomplishments haven't been framed as successes.

Day After the Debate: Intrade Odds of Republican Candidates Securing Presidential Nomination

Today, it seems that everyone has their own opinion on who helped themselves and who didn't in last night's Republican presidential candidates' debate. And consensus is hard to come by, even in the same news room.

Take the Washington Post, for example. On its PostPartisan blog, first Richard Cohen wants us to think that Rick Perry was the "Big Loser" of the night. But then 90 minutes later, his colleague Marc Thiessen weighs in saying that Perry "had a very good night." Rather than relying on Beltway journalists to decide won and who lost, I figured: why not see what the market is saying? So I headed over to Intrade to take a look at the odds for who will wind up as the 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee.

It does appear that Perry is slipping after last night's debate. Even in the time it took me to put this blog post together, he's lost a percentage point, going from 37.5% to 36.4%. While Mitt Romney has remained even so far today at 36.3%. These markets are of course fluid, but here's a snapshot of the current Intrade odds for each candidate at last night's debate, and how they've moved over the last week.