Daily Dispatch 3/29/2109: The Wonderland Edition

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Daily Dispatch

March 29, 2019

The Wonderland Edition

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Our president is feeling vindicated. The Mueller report was released to the Justice Department last Friday. It was announced that there would be no more indictments from the Mueller investigation. From this one might conclude Mueller’s team found no direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia (though they did find evidence of other crimes). Mueller apparently punted on the obstruction of justice charges. Barr’s about the report this week quotes, “while this report does not conclude the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Mueller is leaving it to the Justice Department to charge or not (and they won’t). It's worth noting that part of Barr’s justification for not releasing the whole report to the public is that portions of it include information currently under review by grand juries, and thus he cannot release that information under federal law. Welcome to wonderland.

The Mueller investigation’s whimper of a conclusion, was followed by another whimper: A Democrat-led Trump’s veto of legislation aimed at overturning the executive order he issued to secure wall funding. The vote failed by 39 votes. Trump, in keeping with his well known frat-boy standards, Tweeted, “Thank you to the House Republicans for sticking together and the BIG WIN today on the Border...Today's vote simply reaffirms Congressional Democrats are the party of Open Borders, Drugs and Crime!"

“I don't think..." "then you shouldn't talk," said the Hatter.

In any event, Trump is now in full-on election mode - we have at least 18 more months of this - and this is bad, very bad, for immigration policy, which is already…..very bad. We now know that Trump only plays to “his base.” He has no interest in reaching out across any divides. He only tries to deepen them. Last night in Grand Rapids, Michigan Trump during which he lied about trade and General Motors, endorsed Fox News over the “fake news” and threatened to close the border with Mexico...again. He seemed pleased.  18. More. Months.

Border Security Expo 2019

Border Security is a business. A big business. A few weeks ago we about just how big a business it is in. From T.M. Brown, writing in :

We’re currently in the middle of a golden era for border wall contractors. Companies are building everything from fences lined with concertina wire to military-grade drones to high-tech lidar sensors to monitor borderlands, and budgets for holistic frontier defenses are ballooning in tandem. The global market for border security technology is expected to grow to nearly $53 billion in the next few years, with major security companies like Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin leading the way.

As with most business “communities,” professionals from border security companies get together from time to time, put on name tags, and travel to convention centers to show off their wares to would-be buyers (usually government officials). This week we got an example of this at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio (complete with golf tournament, sharp shooter demonstration and “Margaritaville” reception).

In the exhibition hall, tech companies offered 15-minute demonstrations in the “Solution Theater.” Among the theater offerings were Verizon’s presentation (main corporate sponsor of the Expo), “Intelligent Edge Networking-Drive: Improved Operational Effectiveness and Agent Safety in Austere Environments,” and AT&T’s performance of “Leveraging Technology to Enhance Operations—From Calm to Crisis” (because one always wants to move from calm to crisis if making money off of border security contracts).

The is a who’s who in tech and defense contracting companies. Lockheed Martin was expected, of course. But Canon, Kawasaki, and MOOG seemed a bit out of place, and the Orwellian-sounding OWL (Observation Without Limit) is just creepy. It seems that everyone is getting in on the business of fear - and business is booming (see above, on election).

Among the reasons to attend the Expo promoted by organizers:

  • Meet face-to-face with local, state, federal, and international government decisions [sic] makers and senior-level officials
  • Tap into multi-billion-dollar budgets for security equipment, products, and services
  • Gain information on the latest border security RFPs
  • Raise your visibility and set your company apart in a very competitive market
  • Increase sales and expand market share

It would not be a conference without plenary speakers, and if you are trying to get a government contract to make some money off of border security, this was a good conference for you. included, Ronald D. Vitiello, Deputy Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  and John P. Sanders, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, both of whose plenary speeches became fodder for national news stories this week - creating the sense of crisis that is driving this market. The daisy chain meets on both ends.  

“Curiouser and curiouser” said Alice