Disloyalty slur latest in series showing Trump administration’s mistrust of feds

Washington Post

Disloyalty slur latest in series showing Trump administration’s mistrust of feds

By Joe Davidson, Columnist         October 2, 2017  

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_960w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/09/21/Editorial-Opinion/Images/Interior_National_Monuments_25673-677ad.jpg&w=1484 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks March 29 at the Interior Department in Washington. (Molly Riley/AP)

While Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s accusation about the loyalty of his workforce is the Trump administration’s most outrageous statement about federal employees, it fits a deplorable pattern of verbal aggression against them.

Zinke’s declaration that “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag” is an escalation that demands denunciation.

“This is the latest in a long line of attacks by this administration on federal workers, starting with his claim that the country needs another ‘good shutdown,’ ” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “The idea that President Trump, Secretary Zinke or anyone else in the administration would threaten the jobs of hard-working civil servants unless they pledge loyalty to the president is grossly abusive and, if carried out, against the law.”

Zinke’s slur, and another remark comparing the Interior Department to a pirate ship, followed comments and actions that began even before Trump took office and make feds shudder, including:

  • Zinke’s suspicious transfer of dozens of senior executives, which is being investigated by the department’s inspector general.
  • Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp.” That can include much of Washington, but feds took it personally.
  • Conspiracy theories about a “deep state” of federal bureaucrats determined to sabotage the Trump administration.
  • Trump’s talk about a “good shutdown,” which would hurt federal employees more than anyone.
  • The Trump transition team’s attempt to get the names of Energy Department staffers who worked on climate change.

Defending Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander, after his disloyalty hit, Interior press secretary Heather Swift said, “The Secretary led with the fact that Interior is full of ‘really good people’ but that a small minority are hesitant to changing policy and reforms.” Zinke’s comment about the flag, previously reported by the Associated Press, she added, “was not a literal comparison to the flag of the U.S. or even the administration. In the military structure, to which the secretary was alluding, the flag represents the command of an organization and the policies and procedures it seeks to implement.”

That’s a distinction without a significant difference. It does nothing to lessen this latest example of the administration’s toxic mistrust of the workforce. The loyalty that federal employees owe is to the Constitution, the nation and the American people. Staffers are obligated to implement the administration’s policies, but their allegiance is not to Trump and Zinke, Interior’s commanders, as individuals.

“My loyalty is to public lands and the citizens I serve,” said Leisyka Parrott, an Interior Department employee in Arcata, Calif. Fearing potential negative ramifications for speaking to me, Parrott made it clear that she did so on her own time and as a National Federation of Federal Employees representative. “If we have a difference of opinion, we are not loyal to the flag,” she asked. “I wonder if they will make being a party member a requirement of employment.”

Zinke’s comments leaves his staff dismayed, on edge and offended.

“As a member of the civil service at the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, I’d suggest Mr. Zinke needs a lesson in civics,” Rob Winthrop, of Washington, said in a Washington Post letter to the editor. “In Nazi Germany the civil service pledged personal loyalty and obedience to Adolf Hitler. This is not the way of a free society.”

The Trump administration has difficulty understanding American fidelity, as the president showed when he told then-FBI Director James B. Comey: “I need loyalty.” Trump didn’t get it and later sacked Comey.

“It is comments like the ones made by Secretary Zinke that demonstrate the absolute necessity of strong civil service protections in the federal government,” said NFFE President Randy Erwin. “Without those protections, the interests of the American people are going to take a back seat to bully leaders pushing their own personal agendas.”

Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), Republican chairmen of the congressional subcommittees overseeing the federal workforce, declined to comment on Zinke. Jason Chaffetz, a former GOP representative from Utah, was critical of the secretary’s remarks, though he softened it with talk about the “frustration” Trump officials feel over a “lack of cooperation” from the bureaucracy. “I don’t think it’s wise to berate public employees,” Chaffetz said. “Most are good, hard-working people.”

Chaffetz made a point of quashing fed-bashing before he left Congress this year as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But he believes in the deep state. “I do believe there is a deep state that acts to protect itself and embarrass others. I think that, too, is wrong. But you have to find the individual perpetrators,” he said.

That doesn’t mean insulting almost a third of your employees.

If Zinke is so concerned about loyalty, why isn’t he outraged at the people and symbols, including those on Interior-controlled lands, honoring disloyal Confederates? When asked about removing Confederate monuments at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., Breitbart.com quoted Zinke saying, “Don’t rewrite history.”

What he shouldn’t do is accept the glorification of traitors while questioning the loyalty of public servants. Nothing is more disloyal to America than killing its soldiers and fighting to tear it apart in defense of slavery and white supremacy.

Zinke should “apologize to the public servants he is supposed to be leading,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. “He often refers to his military service, so he should be well aware that loyalty is earned — and you don’t earn it, or deserve it, with divisive comments like these.”

Fly Fishing in Yellowstone: How One Veteran Found a New Life in the Outdoors


By Sierra Club

https://resize.rbl.ms/simage/https%3A%2F%2Fassets.rbl.ms%2F11173744%2Forigin.jpg/1200%2C630/ZPShqrars%2F8RnUuF/img.jpgRobert Vessels

Fly Fishing in Yellowstone: How One Veteran Found a New Life in the Outdoors

By Lindsey Robinson    September 24, 2017

Evan Bogart never wanted to sleep in a tent again. Between 2004-2011, he’d served in the U.S. Army as an infantryman and spent three long combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’d spent a good portion of his years in service living in a tent in hot and hazardous deserts. He’d had enough of the outdoors; he wanted to be in places with air conditioning, electricity and no reminders of the war-torn lands he had experienced.

Evan separated in 2011 as an E6 Squad Leader, with an honorable discharge and two Purple Hearts. But his own heart was heavy and troubled. He’d become disillusioned with the U.S. military and its goals in the Middle East. The violence and destruction he’d witnessed left him feeling both angry and guilty. He distinctly remembers one moment in Iraq: “An old woman told me I was a bad man, and I realized I agreed with her.”

Leaving the Army and transitioning to civilian life proved to be a bumpy road, pocketed with heavy drinking followed by heavy cannabis use. Evan turned to a variety of substances to help him forget painful memories of his past. He moved around a few times, but felt directionless and unclear of his future. For five years, he lived with what he calls, “something of a death wish.”


Then in 2017, one of Evan’s closest friends, who had served beside him in combat, convinced Evan to participate in a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors program. Evan agreed, knowing he was ready to move past his current lifestyle and become an active participant in the world again. He wanted a way to transition away from the drugs and alcohol and pursue an active, outdoors life instead.

The Military Outdoors trip to Yellowstone was designed to expose participants to the National Park’s beautiful landscapes and ecosystem through the lens of fly fishing. Evan had wanted to learn the art of fly fishing for a long time, but he never knew quite how to get started or when to make time for it. The cost of gear and instruction had also been a barrier for him. This trip was exactly what he was looking for in his life.


Evan met the group of Military Outdoors vets in the Lamar Valley, where they stayed in cabins at the Buffalo Ranch. The Lamar Valley is a remote, glacier-carved region in the northeast corner of Yellowstone. It is often called America’s Serengeti because it is home to so many animal species including elk, grizzly bears, buffalo, antelope, wolves, otters, coyotes and eagles. Evan found his favorite part of the trip was taking early morning hikes from Buffalo Ranch up to Ranger Hill. He would sit on the hillside, take in the sunrise, and enjoy the solitude and peaceful quietness.


During the day, the veterans received casting instruction and practiced fly fishing on the beautiful Yellowstone River. Many rivers run through Yellowstone National Park, but the Yellowstone River is special. It flows undammed for nearly 700 miles, making it the longest free-flowing river in the continental U.S. It is also one of the best trout streams in the world because the species’ natural habitat is protected.

The veterans were joined by fly fishing guides Jesse Logan and Steve Harvey, who taught them how to cast and how to seek out the right time and place to lure the prized Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Jesse Logan shared his extensive knowledge of the greater Yellowstone area and how invasive species and floodplain development threaten the river’s ecosystem. Another guest speaker, Doug Peacock, spent time with the veterans talking about the outdoors as a restorative place and the ways veterans can help protect wild places.


Before this trip, Evan had only seen Yellowstone as a “car tourist.” Afterwards, he walked away more intimately familiar with the Yellowstone ecosystem and inspired to take his new fly fishing skills to other American rivers. Moreover, Evan felt the trip helped him get back into the outdoors and embrace an active lifestyle, which he found strengthened his mental health.

The Yellowstone outing wasn’t the only big change for Evan this summer. He also participated in an OARS’ raft guide school, thanks to a sponsorship the Military Outdoors program provides for a few veterans each year. At the end of guide school, Evan had come to enjoy the river running lifestyle so much that he accepted a summer job river guiding for OARS on the American River. He spent the summer at the OARS’ outpost in Coloma, California—living happily in a tent.


From his time with Military Outdoors, Evan says that the value of these outings is how they reconnected himself and the other veterans to the outdoors. He feels that spending time in the outdoors might be one step toward healing the trauma that he and many vets experienced while in combat. Evan also sees the skills training aspect of the outings as a way to redirect one’s life toward jobs or hobbies in the outdoors. He never imagined he’d learn to fly fish or become a river guide, but now he’s done both. “These trips turned my life 180,” he said.

Moving forward, Evan plans to stay involved with the Military Outdoors program and encourages other veterans to be part of the outdoor community. In the future he hopes to use the skills he gained to be a trip leader on other wilderness outings.


“I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to the Sierra Club and the Military Outdoors program as well as all the volunteers at Yellowstone Forever and the personnel at OARS who have all made such a great contribution to my life and to my experience with their programs.” — Evan Bogart

Photos by Cody Ringelstein or Sarah Chillson.

General Motors to Run Ohio, Indiana Factories With 100% Wind Power


American Wind Energy Association


General Motors to Run Ohio, Indiana Factories With 100% Wind Power

By Greg Alvarez     September 23, 2017

Last week I predicted it wouldn’t be long before we had more news on Fortune 500 wind power purchases. Well, a whole seven days passed before there were new deals to report.

Wind Powers the Open Road for GM

General Motors just announced wind power purchase agreements with projects in Ohio and Illinois. The automaker is buying enough wind-generated electricity to power the Ohio and Indiana factories that build the Chevrolet Cruze and Silverado, and the GMC Sierra.

“Technology is driving solutions for mobility and safety in our vehicles, as well as the new energy solutions that build them,” said Gerald Johnson, GMNA vice president of manufacturing and labor. “This is the way we do business: offering vehicles that serve our customers’ lifestyle needs while providing sustainable solutions that improve our communities.”

GM already has plans to soon power 100 percent of its Arlington, Texas, plant using wind, where more than 100,000 SUV’s are made every year. Wind’s low cost, down 66 percent since 2009, has made it an attractive option for GM as it works toward meeting its 100 percent renewable goal.

Other Buyers Jump on the Bandwagon

GM isn’t alone in the headlines this week. Kimberly-Clark, maker of products like Kleenex and Huggies, also announced a new wind deal in recent days. The company will soon source about 33 percent of its electricity needs from wind farms in Oklahoma and Texas.

“It’s a powerful demonstration of sustainability initiatives having both great environmental and business benefits,” said Lisa Morden, Kimberly-Clark’s global head of sustainability.

Why Wind Power Makes Sense for the Fortune 500

Two recent reports looked at why companies like GM and Kimberly-Clark are pouncing on wind power.

David Gardiner and Associates examined the recent trend of manufacturers committing to buying renewables in a new report entitled “The Growing Demand for Renewable Energy among Major U.S. and Global Manufacturers.”

David Gardiner and Associates surveyed 160 large U.S. manufacturers, finding that 40 currently have a renewable energy goal in place, and 18 of those 40 have 100 percent renewable targets.

The following 10 states host the most factories for those 18 companies: California, Texas, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and North Carolina.

The report adds that manufacturers invest in renewable energy to lower energy costs, secure stable, low-risk energy prices and demonstrate corporate leadership. GM CEO Mary Barra confirms that “pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs.”

Meanwhile, Greentech Media and Apex Clean Energy surveyed 153 large corporate buyers to see what motivates companies to invest in wind.

Eighty-four percent of respondents plan to actively pursue or consider directly buying renewables over the next five to 10 years, and 43 percent plan to be more aggressive in the next 24 months. Sixty-five percent report price as a leading factor in determining purchases.

So yet again, expect to hear more on this trend before long.