Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal on the miraculous Mexican election The ruling Mexican party lost and peacefully conceded the presidential election Sunday. "The paradox of the miraculous is that it is mainly experienced as a mundane event," Stephens writes. "Think antibiotics, smartphones, the earth's distance from the sun, or the quiet retirement ceremonies at which the Pentagon lays off those who command our armies. Mexico's election is in that category. It wasn't too long ago that nobody could have even imagined it." He recounts the turbulent politics that made this democratic transition so unlikely, and traces the progress that made it possible.
Ken Silverstein in The New York Times on sheltering dictators' money The Justice Department filed a complaint against Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the son of Equatorial Guinea's dictator, who for years has laundered his bribe money into the U.S. "While Washington has gotten better at shutting down terrorist financing and starving regimes like Sudan and Iran of investment, it has done little to stop sitting dictators and their families from using America to stash their assets," Silverstein writes. "Going after Mr. Obiang is especially courageous because Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest oil producer, is an important energy ally." He documents Obiang's crimes and excesses, including an estate in Malibu. He describes the laws that make the U.S. hospitable to these launderers and the stalled attempts at reform. "So long as those loopholes remain open, even if the Justice Department wins its case, there is nothing to prevent future Mr. Obiangs from laundering their money in the United States," he writes.
Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View on Roberts's unconservative decision Feldman says suggestions that Chief Justice Roberts's decision created a new conservative reading of the law result from "news cycle revisionism." "The reason ... is that in the real world, as opposed to the realm of legal theory, there is no meaningful difference between action and inaction. In the future, Congress can simply phrase Commerce Clause commands in the affirmative." A similar loophole makes the Court's other restriction on the federal government's ability to restrict Medicaid funding surmountable. "The upshot is that nothing terribly conservative happened in the ACA case. The chief justice's gestures toward conservatism were just that -- symbolic gestures to soften the blow."
David Ignatius in The Washington Post on negotiating with Iran "Examining the negotiating proposal Iran made to the 'P5 + 1' group last month, you can see areas where the two sides might eventually agree — but also a gap in current positions that's so wide the most likely outcome is that the talks will collapse after a scheduled experts' meeting this week," writes Ignatius. He summarizes a leaked presentation from Iranian negotiators, saying there's room to meet on the issue of enriching and stockpiling uranium to 20 percent. "Reading the document, it's clear why Western negotiators see an impasse. Even if the language on 20 percent enrichment could be finessed, the Iranian presentation emphatically rejects the West's additional demand to close the Fordow facility, deep under a mountain near Qom."
Farah Stockman in The Boston Globe on a Taiwanese rivalry Stockman recounts a meeting with Taiwan's former vice president and democracy advocate Annette Lu, and tells the story of her Harvard rivalry with future president Ma Ying-jeou. "I listen intently, because this is the story of how democracy came to the tiny island of Taiwan, and how it might one day take root on mainland China," Stockman writes. "But the story that led me to Lu is a different one. A juicier one, about her bitter rivalry with President Ma, which began three deacades ago, at Harvard Law School." She describes their activities at Harvard -- her growing activism and his aide to the ruling party, and their eventual reconciliation when he helped release her from prison. Today, though, Lu still protests Ma as Taiwan navigates its complex relationship with China.