Plus ça Change

Nixon%281%29.jpgEmphasis mine in all excerpts:

MPs used to arrest soldiers who attended off-base protest rallies. But if MPs did that now, they would do little else. In Vietnam soldiers wrote semi-seditious slogans on their helmet headliners ("The unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary, for the ungrateful"; "Eat the apple, fuck the Corps") and, caught in infractions, responded, "What are you going to do about it, send me to 'Nam?"

-- Nixonland, Rick Perlstein, p. 551

The absurdities of the military amuse Fick. A few weeks after 9/11, he led an infantry platoon on a clandestine helicopter mission into Pakistan to retrieve a Black Hawk downed by the Afghan border. After that, Fick and his men were among the first Marines to seize the ground in southern Afghanistan at Camp Rhino. When he returned home after weeks of living in frozen fighting holes, the Marines sent him a bill for five hundred dollars, charging him for the food rations he'd consumed during his combat deployment. He says, "We had a saying about the military in Afghanistan: 'The incompetent leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary.'"

-- Generation Kill, Evan Wright, p. 18


Segretti had been recruited by the man in closest physical contact proximity to the president, Dwight L. Chapin — his personal aide, or "body man." A former junior executive at Haldeman's old advertising firm, he got together with another Haldeman protégé, Gordon Strachan, to effectuate the demands Nixon was always grunting to sabotage Democrats. ("Now, get a massive mailing in Florida that he's against J. Edgar Hoover, a massive mailing that he's for busing"; "Put this down: I would say, a postcard mailing to all Democrats in New Hampshire.... Write in Ted Kennedy.") They called such false-flag black operations "ratfucks" — the term of art of right-wing student politics at USC, of which both Strachan and Chapin were alumni — and they hit on Don Segretti, whose campaign for student senate they had worked on, as the man for the job. Chapin arranged for Segretti to meet with Herbert Kalmbach, who finalized a $16,000 salary for him from one of his slush funds.

Nixonland, Rick Perlstein, p. 629-630

In flush times like these, at the start of an invasion, when every Marine is rationed three MREs a day, most push aside the main meals and eat the extras. In addition to entrees, MREs are loaded with junk food -- pound cakes, brownies, "Toaster Oven Pastries" (identical to Pop-Tarts), cookies, Skittles, M&M's, Tootsie Rolls, Charms hard candies, Combos cheese-filled pretzels, and powdered grape-drink mix and cocoa powder, which Marines eat straight out of the packages, like the instant coffee.

The process of tearing through an MRE and picking out the goodies is called "ratfucking." Colbert's team maintains a ratfuck bag in their Humvee for all the discarded MRE entrees, saving them for a rainy day.

-- Generation Kill, Evan Wright, p. 60-61

Parallels between the incompetent bureaucracy of modern war are too self-evident to need further comment. As for the use of the same word to apply to willful sabotage of an opponent's political campaign and the hunt for junk at the expense of real sustenance, I'll leave that for you to ponder.