Five Best Tuesday Columns

Margaret Carlson on the Wisconsin recall, Rowena Xiaoqing He on Tiananmen, Ezra Klein on the Keynesian case for Romney, Alan Watson on the Queen's influence, and Jay Pasachoff on Venus's transit.

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Margaret Carlson in Bloomberg View on the meaning of Wisconsin's recall Wisconsinites vote Tuesday on the recall of Gov. Scott Walker, and pundits have invested a lot into the outcome as a harbinger for the labor movement, the Tea Party movement, and the presidential race. "Each side would have you believe the election means everything -- until late Tuesday night, when one side will abruptly change tack and say it means absolutely nothing," Carlson writes. She makes the case that it probably doesn't mean as much for the presidential race as others might think.

Rowena Xiaoqing He in The Washington Post on remembering Tiananmen He, who teaches a course on Tiananmen at Harvard, reflects on the way the government has changed the public's narrative over 23 years since the massacre. She uses anecdotes to show the difficulty victims' families have had keeping the memory of the loved ones they lost. "When a regime tells its people that human lives and human rights, human dignity and human decency can be 'sacrificed' for the sake of higher goals such as national pride and economic development, it sends the message that any principle can be compromised for the ideals of 'get rich' and 'rising.' Such mentality has become the root of major social and political problems in the post-Tiananmen China."

Ezra Klein in The Washington Post on the Keynesian case for Romney Klein explores the thesis that the election of Mitt Romney would provide a Keynesian boost to the economy that President Obama might not be able to achieve. "It's because if Romney is elected, Republicans won’t choose to crash the economy in 2013," and there's hope from Romney's statements that he wouldn't let tax cuts expire or reduce government spending rapidly enough to immediately hurt growth. "But it's also an awful precedent. In a sense, Republicans are holding a gun to the economy's head and saying, 'vote for us or the recovery gets it.'"

Alan Watson in The New York Times on the Queen's influence On the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, it's worth asking what concrete contributions Queen Elizabeth has made over the course of her reign. "There has been no ambiguity whatsoever in her contribution to the transformation of a somewhat racist British Empire into a robustly multiracial Commonwealth." Watson traces her history, from her visit to the divided South Africa as a princess to her modern differences with Margaret Thatcher over apartheid. "The queen is not a political leader, but in profound ways, she has led the politics of her age."

Jay Pasachoff in The New York Times on Venus's transit Venus will pass between earth and the sun today; it's a rare event that allows astronomers to learn important things about our universe each time it occurs. Pasachoff recounts the discoveries we've made with each transit stretching back to the 17th century, and describes some of the observations scientists plan to make this time around. "We hope to learn not only about the Cytherean atmosphere (in a common story, Roman Venus's Greek equivalent, Aphrodite, was born in the sea near Cythera), but also about how to detect and precisely categorize atmospheres around some exoplanets."

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