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Bring Out Your Dead!

A 14th century cry during the Black Plague to let people know that the cart for dead bodies was passing by. Anyone with a dead friend or relative would “bring out their dead” and throw the person on top of the pile.  Also: see Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Don’t fret overmuch about Steve Bannon’s cabinet picks announced by his stooge Trump.  Of course each new appointment will be worse than the other, from “Burgers in a Bikini” Andy Puzder to a labor secretary who despises labor.  But keep your eye on the out-of-sight lower government levels where a loyalty cleanup is already happening.

You may not agree, but  government bureaucrats make the best parts work.  Admittedly, I’m biased since they sent me free of charge to college and manage Social Security, Medicare and my Veterans Admin doctors.  Sometime they stupidly screw up, but so?

The Bannon-Trump plan is to make life so unbearable for decent hardworking (and unionized) government employees that they either quit or shut up.  Think Hollywood blacklist but vaster.

The point of a blacklist is to get your own ass kissers in while strongarming all the clancysigalblackothers into obedience.

I’ve lived with blacklists all my life.  My labor-oriented folks and extended family (cousins Charlie and Davie) saw a blacklist’s derailing their lives as the price of doing business as union organizers.  But most govt workers today probably want to keep their jobs by zipping their lips and hunkering down in a trumpstorm.

Here’s how it works even before Jan 20.

Steve Bannon’s “transition team” springs a 74-point questionnaire at the Department of Energy demanding names of all employees and contractors who have attended climate change policy, as well as emails and documents associated with the conferences.  Names, names, we gotta have names.

Scott Pruitt, a climate change “denialist” and atty gen of frack-caused earthquake-exploding Oklahoma, who hates the Environmental Protection Agency, is the EPA’s new boss.  He will cull the Energy Dept’s disloyalists who want to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

Put yourself in the shoes of a mid- or lower-level EPA or Energy Dept. employee when your new boss asks if you love him you better have the right answer.

The lasting impact of the old Hollywood blacklist, where I have experience, was less in who got fired than the ripple effect of bullying and browbeating.  Whole communities dependent on film making were scared into silence or cynicism.  History books say Sen. McCarthy fell due to his “excesses”. Untrue.  He lives on in these 74 point questionnaires.

The 1930s Germans called it gleichschaltung.  Look it up.

More articles by:

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

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