The Damage Done by Trump’s Department of the Interior

by Elizabeth Kolbert as published in The New Yorker

Under Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, it’s a sell-off from sea to shining sea.

“Killing Innocent Animals is KOOL!” ~ Dinky Zinke

On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, last March, Ryan Zinke rode through downtown Washington, D.C., on a roan named Tonto. When the Secretary is working at the department’s main office, on C Street, a staff member climbs up to the roof of the building and hoists a special flag, which comes down when Zinke goes home for the day. To provide entertainment for his employees, the Secretary had an arcade game called Big Buck Hunter installed in the cafeteria. The game comes with plastic rifles, which players aim at animated deer. The point of the installation, Zinke has said, is to highlight sportsmen’s contribution to conservation. “Get excited for #hunting season!” he tweeted, along with a photo of himself standing next to the game, which looks like a slot machine sporting antlers.

Nowadays, it is, in a manner of speaking, always hunting season at the Department of the Interior. The department, which comprises agencies ranging from the National Park Service to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, oversees some five hundred million acres of federal land, and more than one and a half billion acres offshore. Usually, there’s a tension between the department’s mandates—to protect the nation’s natural resources and to manage them for commercial use. Under Zinke, the only question, from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, is how fast these resources can be auctioned off.

One of Zinke’s first acts, after dismounting from Tonto, was to overturn a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on public land. He subsequently recommended slashing the size of several national monuments, including Bears Ears, in Utah, and Gold Butte, in Nevada, and lifting restrictions at others to allow more development. (In December, acting on these recommendations, President Donald Trump announced that he was cutting the area of the Bears Ears monument by more than three-quarters and shrinking the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, also in Utah, by almost half.) Zinke has also proposed gutting a plan, years in the making, to save the endangered sage grouse; instead of protecting ten million acres in the West that had been set aside for the bird’s preservation, he’d like to see them given over to mining. And he’s moved to scrap Obama-era regulations that would have set more stringent standards for fracking on federal property.

All these changes have been applauded by the oil and gas industries, and many have also been praised by congressional Republicans. (Before Zinke became Interior Secretary, he was a one-term congressman from Montana.) But, to some members of the G.O.P., Zinke’s recent decision to open up great swaths of both coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling represents a rig too far.

Last week, Zinke backtracked. Following a brief meeting with the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, at the Tallahassee airport, the Secretary said that he was removing that state’s coastal waters “from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.” The move was manifestly political. In the past, Scott has supported drilling for oil just about everywhere, including in the Everglades, but, with Trump’s encouragement, he is now expected to challenge Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in November.

“Local voices count” is how Zinke explained the Florida decision to reporters, a remark that was greeted with jeers from elected officials in other states, who noted that some “local voices” were more equal than others. “Virginia’s governor (and governor-elect) have made this same request, but we have not received the same commitment,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, tweeted. “Wonder why.” Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, noted that the Florida coast happens to be home to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s winter White House cum dues-collecting club. He suggested that the Secretary “look up ‘banana republic’ ” and then “go fly a Zinke flag to celebrate making us one.”…(CONTINUED)

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/22/the-damage-done-by-trumps-department-of-the-interior/amp?__twitter_impression=true

Wild Horses and Burros: Twas the Night before Christmas

by Vicki Tobin and R.T. Fitch, Illustration by Kerry Kelly of the Houston Chronicle

“First published on Christmas Day in 2009; the evil characters may have changed but the message still rings true to this very day.  The roundups must stop so that we can appropriately care for and manage, if needed, our national treasures on their rightful range.  At Wild Horse Freedom Federation we offer the gift of our continued fight in support of the Wild Horses and Burros to live free with their families on their promised public land.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fight!” ~ R.T.

Twas the night before Christmas…

artwork by Kerry Kelly ~ Houston Chronicle

Twas the night before Christmas on our public land
not a Mustang was stirring, knowing what was at hand.
They huddled in fear hoping someone would care,
in hopes that the advocates soon would be there.

The foals hid in cover while Mom stood her ground
while stallions and bachelors, made sure Steed wasn’t around.
With Zinke lurking and Nedd so close by
the bands must stay quiet and not blink an eye.

When out on the range there arose such a clatter
The Mustangs all knew, what was the matter.
They ran to take cover, on wings they did fly
For surely they knew, that many would die.

The visions of million$ caused Cattoor a big grin
While Bolstad and Spencer high-fived a big win
More horses removed by ignoring the law
Hold on to your hats and stand back in awe.

The chopper did glisten on new fallen snow
Sealing the fate of the horses below.
When all of a sudden, the bands all stood still
And watched as the chopper came over the hill.

They stood in amazement, can it really be true
The advocates appeared right out of the blue
The horses retreated, not believing their eyes
For surely this is another, BLM guise.

Then leading the charge, lively and quick
were Kathy and Holland and Fitch with a stick
More rapid than lightening, Coffey followed in tow
with Simone close behind, directing which way they go.

Now Ginger and Paula and Ann times two,
Oh Marjorie and Dawn and Julie it’s you.
Now Vicki and Jerry and Susan and Daryl
with cameras in hand come Terry and Carol.

Down the hill they descended toward the horses with care
and watched as the chopper, fled into the air
The advocates came with injunction in hand
the decree shouted out, not on our public lands!

Enough is enough the judge did declare
the horses were saved by the breadth of a hair.
‘Our work here’s not done,’ the advocates cried
‘the choppers still flying, other herds could be spied’

It’s back to D.C. with a permanent plan
to ensure all the horses could live on their land.
So love was delivered to the horses with pride
but the warriors must leave so that no more would die.

They climbed up the hill and turned back to the band
who all now had gathered on what was their land.
‘We carry you with us,’ R.T. did say
‘as we go to the White House to show them your way.’

The horses all bowed with a sign of approval
as they all now knew that there was no removal.
They neighed and they nickered to the spirit above
‘Thanks for sending the people who give us their love.’

original artwork by Kerry Kelly of the Houston Chronicle

His Former Commander Exposes Wild Horse Hater Ryan “Dinky” Zinke’s Navy SEAL Career and Defective “Moral Make-up”

By Don Progreba as published in The Montana Post on MAY 30th 2014

“Another installment in the Dinky Zinke Chronicles.  This was published in 2014 and points to Dinky Zinke being a scum-ball and stealing from the American Tax Payers to go home and visit Mommy YEARS AGO.  It appears that not a damn thing has changed and he obviously did not learn any lessons.  If Capt Bailey only knew, back then, how bad things would get.

Like the other horse eaters before him, Dinky needs to go.  Is ANYONE in the Administration listening out there?!?!?” ~ R.T.


“You gonna fly for FREE, baby!!!”

There have long been rumors about Senator Ryan Zinke’s tendency to both exaggerate his role as a Navy SEAL and to underplay the serious ethical violations that derailed his career, but given the privacy afforded those records, it’s always been difficult to detail the truth about Zinke’s career in the military.

Captain Larry Bailey, who commanded Zinke while he was in his SEAL class, recently wrote a letter detailing some of the problems with Zinke’s military career. What Bailey argues is what many of us who have watched Zinke’s career have also seen: “he is willing to do whatever it takes to reach the next level.”

In short, Bailey argues that Zinke misused Navy funds for personal travel and has inflated the importance of his role in Navy SEAL Team Six. Bailey writes, “He was never a commanding officer and was bypassed for possible consideration for promotion to captain as the result of his travel transgressions.”

No one here has questioned the value of Senator Zinke’s service to his nation in the military, but his tendency to inflate his own role and promote himself at the expense of the truth and even basic decency, has been the defining element of his political career.

Captain Bailey’s letter follows:

It is most unpleasant to write these words, as I have long considered myself a friend of Ryan Zinke.  In fact, he was in the first Basic UDT/SEAL (BUD/S) class to graduate under my command in 1985.  I remember him well and thought that he would have a stellar career.

He did have such a career until he showed a defect in his moral make-up, and the Left is already well aware of what he did, although perhaps not in so much detail as I go into.  They will, however, before the general election, so I have decided to anticipate them by providing this statement.

This information was provided to me by sources personally known to me and to those who were directly involved in the actions involving Ryan.

What did he do?  Simple—he used Navy (taxpayer) travel funds to make multiple trips from Norfolk, VA, to his home in MT, ostensibly to scout out training sites for his squadron.  The truth was that he went to work on some family property and, apparently, on one occasion, took two or three other Navy SEALs with him.

These trips not only involved airfare, but they also involved per diem and personal use of Navy time.  To his credit, Ryan, when confronted with his transgressions, admitted his culpability and paid back the funds he had expended.

Ryan’s moral failings, in my opinion, do not end with his being separated from his SEAL team over the travel scandal.  His political career has some questionable acts associated with it, to include his creation (with some heavy-hitting New York and Boston lawyers and PR people) of Special Operations for America (SOFA), a Political Action Committee, back in early 2012.  At that time, I sought out Ryan to work with me in establishing an umbrella organization of Special Operations Forces from all the services.

After looking carefully at the situation in which he was involved, I just didn’t feel comfortable getting hooked up with what was clearly going to be a high-donor operation and possibly geared to Ryan’s future political benefit.  That has turned out to be the case, as evinced by the fact that, almost immediately after Ryan declared his candidacy for the US House, he resigned as SOFA’s chairman and was given a grant from the very Political Action Committee he established.  That, to me, is not “conflict of interest;” it is “coincidence of interest.”

The account of what I have read about SOFA having its headquarters in property owned by the Zinke family that is across the street from the Zinke family home, further validates the “coincidence of interest” hypothesis.

As a retired Navy SEAL officer, I also take exception to the looseness with which Ryan described his Navy career. Depending on which bio one reads, he was “a” or “the” commander in a certain high-capability Navy SEAL Team. He was never a commanding officer and was bypassed for possible consideration for promotion to captain as the result of his travel transgressions.

He also has stated that former Cong. Allen West has endorsed his candidacy. I spoke with Colonel West personally and learned that, while he spoke kind words about Ryan, he did not endorse him. Subsequent to my conversation with him, Colonel West has made clear that that was not the case and will not be the case during the primary.

Having seen a heavily redacted copy of Ryan’s DD-214, which is a summary of his military career, I noted that, unlike his claim to have received two Bronze Stars for combat, he actually received them for meritorious service. Neither had the Combat “V” for Valor, which would have been the case had he earned the awards for combat.

The statement by a retired Navy SEAL Master Chief sums up the essence of Ryan’s character. The man told me personally that Ryan is PNG (persona non grata) at his old SEAL team, primarily for the misleading statements he has made about his rank and importance at that “special” team. That is a sad commentary on a man who had all the potential in the world and has, instead of coming clean about himself and his mistakes, tries to re-write his personal history in order to achieve political office.

I am certain that Ryan would have acquitted himself well if he had led his men in actual combat instead of being a theater manager of the combat units assigned to him.

I am sure that Ryan will do his best to rebut these serious allegations. He can prove me wrong by making his unredacted DD-214 available for public examination. I would like nothing better than to have been shown that I was wrong, but that won’t happen.

Why do I, a transplanted Texan living in NC, want to rupture more than one friendship over Ryan Zinke’s candidacy for the US House of Representatives? Simple—Ryan’s ambitions will not stop here. He has shown by his dissimulation of facts regarding his career that he is willing to do whatever it takes to reach the next level—in his case, the US Senate. I cannot abide that prospect, because THEN he is representing ME and every citizen of this land as a member of one of the world’s most prestigious deliberative bodies.

Larry Bailey

CAPT (SEAL), USN (Ret.)

Chocowinity, NC

https://themontanapost.com/2014/05/30/his-former-commander-exposes-ryan-zinkes-navy-seal-career-and-defective-moral-make-up/comment-page-1/

Ryan ” Dinky” Zinke Just Might Be the Trump Cabinet’s Most Deplorable Member

by as published in The Daily Beast

“Zinke minted his own coin, and has the flag of the Interior—which he is personally redesigning—raised when he arrives there…”

Ryan “Dinky” Zinke

Like an actor who puts a homburg on his head and a cigar in his mouth to play Winston Churchill, Ryan Zinke galloped into the Capitol his first day on the job as Interior secretary on the back of a brown gelding, 17 hands tall, named Tonto. That two-block trip pretty much ended any resemblance to Teddy Roosevelt, a passionate conservationist who founded the national park system.

For his part, Zinke is intent on shrinking national monuments lands, opening up the Arctic to drilling, and allowing lead bullets in wildlife refuges, among other actions inimical to his job definition which is, simply, to protect the Interior. He used to believe climate change was a real and present danger but gave that up to join Trump’s Cabinet. The best hope of those who care about wildlife, federal lands, endangered species, and open space is that Zinke will soon leave town on the horse he rode in on.

They may get their wish—not because of what Zinke has done in office but because of a problem endemic among Trump appointees. Zinke has a private-jet problem, as does his wife, Lolita. They’ve mixed business, politics, and pleasure on trips that sometimes end suspiciously close to one of their homes in Montana or California.

In investigating the trips, the department’s inspector general has run into another Trump administration problem. Some of the documents needed to justify traveling on the taxpayer’s dime are nowhere to be found. The IG said it had “discovered several issues that need prompt attention and changes to current IOS procedures,” including travel documents involving Mrs. Zinke when she accompanies her husband on official travel.

It’s no surprise that Zinke tried the “dog ate my file” excuse for not producing the information, the default response of people in the Trump administration from Jared Kushner on down. Zinke’s aides went a step further and blame-shifted the whole mess onto the Obama administration. Deputy David Bernhardt said Zinke “inherited an organizational and operational mess from the previous administration,” and that there were “documentation holes” in the records of the previous interior secretary, Sally Jewell.

You can be sure that Jewell didn’t fly to Las Vegas to quickly read a press release related to public lands before celebrating the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team owned by a major donor to his prior congressional campaigns as Zinke did. In doing so, Zinke may have violated the Hatch Act, which frowns on government officials making political appearances.

In any case, the trip exposed the hollowness of Zinke’s other excuse, that an Interior secretary travels to places that are hard to get to. There are daily commercial flights between Las Vegas and Kalispell, Montana, costing $300. His chartered flight there cost taxpayers $12,375.

Zinke is part of an administration that thinks emptying your pockets at security and sitting near a crying baby is for chumps. So far Zinke’s escaped the noose that tightened around former Health and Human Services Secretary Price and the ridicule directed at Treasury Secretary Mnuchin who asked for a plane for his honeymoon and who has had to reimburse the Treasury for wife Louise Linton’s travel (she was the one in the black gloves holding the newly minted dollar bills last week).

But he does have a spouse issue. A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that forced Interior to release 100 pages of documents contains emails from staffers exasperated at Mrs. Zinke’s needs, like adding guests to official dinners, and her political activity. In September, Mrs. Zinke became chair of the campaign of the Republican challenging incumbent Montana Sen. Jon Tester who, incidentally, voted to confirm her husband.

Then there’s the question of how a two-year-old company with two employees in Zinke’s hometown ended up getting—and then losing—a lucrative, no-bid contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid. And his attempt last week—which Trump seems to have kiboshed—to lift the ban on trophy-hunting elephants and lions. Just how delicate does a hunter’s manhood have to be to celebrate hitting the broadside of a barn by hanging proof on the wall of your den? Ask Donald Jr. or Eric Trump.

Zinke is pretentious for a guy who likes to play Every Cowboy in a Stetson and boots. He had a personalized coin minted bearing his name. When he arrives in the morning, staff raises a flag (which he is redesigning) over the Interior building. When he is not there, it is taken down. If he doesn’t stop acting like a Saudi prince, it might come down for good.

Wednesday, he was seen wearing jeans and carrying a copy of Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill at Ronald Reagan National Airport headed home for Thanksgiving.

Just maybe he’s learned his lesson. He was on a commercial airline, flying coach.

 https://www.thedailybeast.com/ryan-zinke-just-might-be-the-trump-cabinets-most-deplorable-member