Jokeline strikes again

This week’s Time magazine cover story, Can Service Save Us?  written by Joe Klein is about voluntary service organizations, and particularly the ones that are made up primarily of recent Veterans like Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues.  These organizations seek to assist recently returned Veterans to find a sense of purpose–something that some Vets, particularly combat Veterans can struggle with.

That’s all fine and good as far as it goes, and while I have some issues with some of the attitudes about PTSD in the article–it most certainly is NOT about selfishness or whinyness, and at least one of these people has a particularly dangerous attitude about PTSD–the same attitude that everybody tries to have in the combat zone–

[Co-founder of volunteer group Team Rubicon] Jake Wood has little tolerance for veterans who see themselves as victims. Post-traumatic stress is, he believes, a condition that can be battled and defeated. “If you’re out doing disaster relief,” Wood says, “you’re less likely to be thinking about yourself and more likely to be thinking about the people you’re helping. You’re also presenting yourself, and other veterans, as a model, as a potential community leader.”

Ah, yes–the “don’t think about that now, we have a mission to complete” mindset.  That’s all well and good when one is downrange, and may even be necessary to one’s ability to survive and function in the theater of operations, but it is NOT a plan for long-term mental health.  That shit festers and grows if you don’t deal with it.  It’s like ugly luggage full of unflattering clothes stuck in the attic.  Sure it’s out of sight and not embarrassing you, but sooner or later the mold and mildew and the rot are going to make an even bigger mess.  But I digress.

That isn’t the real problem with this article.  The real problem comes when Jokeline describes his recent trip to Moore, OK with Team Rubicon to undertake disaster relief.

…there was an occupying army of relief workers, led by local first responders, exhausted but still humping it a week after the storm, church groups from all over the country — funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals — and there in the middle of it all, with a purposeful military swagger, were the volunteers from Team Rubicon.

Seriously?  I guess Mr. Klein didn’t bother to ask how many TR members are Secular Humanists, agnostics, atheists, or like me had ‘NO REL PREF’ on their ID tags.  Perhaps he should ask Wolf Blitzer if he knows any atheists or other types working in the disaster zone. Hermant Mehta ably takes Kline to task in his blog on Patheos  and the commenters in Klein’s column online are almost universally condemning Kline and Time magazine for that pissy little throw away line.For my part, I do volunteer work every weekend here, and I know dozens of others just like me.  Some of them are even organized as groups.
The first freedom of religion is freedom from religion.  Until we as a society grow up, we’re going to keep having idiots like Joe Klein and Wolf Blitzer making it OK for people like Tim LaHaye and Pat Robertson to be Tim LaHaye and Pat Robertson.

66 replies
  1. 1
    MattF says:

    Funny how people learn to mistrust ‘traditional’ media. It’s almost as if… as if they have an agenda of some kind.

  2. 2
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    It’s acceptable in this country to pick and belong to any religion. But you better fucking pick one or you can bet money someone’s got a bullet out there with your name on it.

  3. 3
    Ruckus says:

    That last graph is absolutely true.
    We will never have freedom of religion until we have freedom from religion.

  4. 4
    sharl says:

    BTW/FYI/FWIW, it’s ‘Klein’.

  5. 5
    Soonergrunt says:

    @sharl: corrected. Thanks!

  6. 6
    gnomedad says:

    Let’s see now, do the unchurched support relief efforts through the churches they don’t attend or through other organizations? It’s a puzzle!

  7. 7
    Soonergrunt says:

    @efgoldman: I think it can go both ways. (insert joke here.)

  8. 8
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    Heh. First Sunday morning in boot camp our company commander showed up right after chow. “Divine services! Protestants on that side, Catholics on this side! Fall in!”

    I’m standing in the middle. “You LDS, boy?”

    “No sir.”

    “Well goddammit your either a Catholic or a Protestant! Fall the fuck in!”

    “I’m a Buddhist, sir.”

    “If you’re lyin’ to me I’m gonna ride you like a jockey.” With that he went up to Battalion to check my record. A few minutes later he came back and damned if he wasn’t almost apologetic. “Do we need to take you somewhere for divine services, son?”

    “No sir. If it’s all right with you I’ll be a Catholic one week and a Protestant the next.”

    He just nodded.

  9. 9

    Hey I seem to remember the Scientologists having a big presence after 9/11, wonder if Joke Line wants to send them praise for bringing their e-meters to Ground Zero.

  10. 10
    BGinCHI says:

    Funny how you don’t see the church selling off all assets and reverting to poverty in order to help make the world a better place.

    But then again, if you are reading Time to learn something you are not doing it right.

  11. 11
    raven says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Ever hear of this guy?

    The Arnheiter affair

    Mandatory services on the fantail, cutting under a cruiser on a fire mission and tons of other offenses.

  12. 12
    Chyron HR says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Say what you like about the tenets of Scientology, Dude, at least it’s a religion.

  13. 13
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    That phrase “secular humanists” is a huge tell. Remember when secular humanists led the Republican hit parade of The Enemies Within Who Are Sapping and Impurifying Our Precious Bodily Fluids?

  14. 14
    demz taters says:

    Best comment on the story: “Funny how you don’t see organized groups of overpaid, smug pundits giving out hot meals.”

  15. 15
    BGinCHI says:

    Seriously. Who in the world identifies themselves as “secular humanists”?

    It’s an epithet.

  16. 16
    raven says:

    @efgoldman: I went to my first (one of two) Seder in Vietnam!

  17. 17
    VividBlueDotty says:

    Hey fellow Secular Humanists, we are being denigrated for not formally organizing, meeting and doing things together so that we can be “seen” in numbers when we reach out to others to help them. Wanna start meeting every Sunday and pronouncing judgement on others for a couple hours each week? SHEESH!!

  18. 18
    David Hunt says:

    @Chyron HR:

    I subscribe to the John Rogers Criterion of Religion. You’re not a real religion unless you have more adherents than Wil Wheaton has Twitter followers.

  19. 19
    RSR says:

    Speaking of PTSD –

    Stress First Aid for firefighters

    New training aims to quickly identify and treat distress to avert serious illness.
    By Leila Haghighat, Inquirer Staff Writer
    POSTED: June 23, 2013
    Henry Costo was only 20 when he was sent to his first fatal fire.

    He raced up to a third-floor apartment on Girard Avenue, where a teenage girl was reportedly trapped. He grabbed her feet, pulled her dead body closer, and realized something was wrong.

    There were too many limbs.

    Costo turned to his partner to share what he had found: two girls, hugging each other, realizing they would die.

    But driving back home, Costo didn’t feel a thing.

    “I remember thinking, ‘There must be something wrong with me. Am I that hardened?’ ”

    Costo, now 58 and executive chief of health and safety at the Philadelphia Fire Department, spent years thinking about the unmet emotional needs of firefighters. On June 6, coincidentally the day after a four-story building collapsed on Market Street, Costo was among the first to implement a training program that teaches first responders how to identify and react to stress in their colleagues. The program, Stress First Aid, aims to prevent disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide.

    The need for Stress First Aid is real. PTSD may affect up to 37 percent of U.S. firefighters, studies show. In Philadelphia, the last 14 months have brought three suicides and three line-of-duty deaths among 2,200 firefighters.

    For chiefs like Costo, those are six deaths too many. “It’s a cliche almost, that sense of family and brotherhood. But it’s a real phenomenon, a real sense of loss and feeling.”

    Jennifer Taylor, a public health professor at Drexel University, attended the training and said nonfatal injuries were more common and costlier than line-of-duty deaths.

  20. 20
    BGinCHI says:

    @efgoldman: If the right is shit-scared of Unitarians they are bigger cowards than I thought.

  21. 21
    pokeyblow says:

    Joe has the right to believe in any god he wants to and to chase younger pieces of ass around his desk as much as he likes.

  22. 22
    Comrade Jake says:

    I think that Mission Continues org is a pretty good one. The guy behind it – Eric Greitens, former Rhodes Scholar/ Navy Seal – is one of the good guys, IMO.

  23. 23
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    IIRC, “secular humanist” was another phrase drained of meaning by the Republicans who applied it to anyone who wasn’t a fundie and who consequently didn’t feel that God’s Law trumped all of the others.

  24. 24
    gogol's wife says:

    @demz taters:

    Right. I go to church, but I HATE it when people say things like this. He can be such a smug jerk.

  25. 25
    Forkbeard says:

    You know what’s really dumb? I know a few people on Team Rubicon. They’re secular humanists. Jokeline should go screw himself.

  26. 26
    StringOnAStick says:

    @RSR: I’m glad to see the recognition of PTSD in first responders like fire fighters, or anyone else who deals with such situations.

    I became a Wilderness First Responder a decade ago after being around one too many backcountry accidents. Every WFR instructor I’ve had has seen some hard stuff, and each one made sure we understood that traumatic events leave such an impact that getting professional help is necessary and not a sign of weakness. They also have all had stories about guys who worked for years in SAR, as paramedics and EMT’s, etc., and always played the tough guy; invariably those guys burn out, destroy their home lives/families, or cash it in, permanently. I’ve been there for two avalanche deaths now of people I did not know, but after having those young, dead eyes seared into my brain I went for help. It’s nothing like the level of impact soldiers or guys dragging dead bodies from buildings feel, but I definitely needed to talk it out with someone.

  27. 27
    BGinCHI says:

    OT, but has everyone seen the story of the Texas state rep who led the charge on that terrible anti-choice bill saying that a rape kit is what they use in emergencies to “clean a woman out”?

    She’s also the state chair of ALEC.

    Who are these fucking monsters? Are humans the only animals that have stopped evolving?

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    The Christianist vermin don’t actually believe in the First Amendment…they keep making excuses for any faith other than there own as not being “real” religions.

    This is why I have little problem with a pogrom of Christianists. They’re actually Mammon and Moloch worshipers, and they’re utter scum.

  29. 29
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Who are these fucking monsters? Are humans the only animals that have stopped evolving?

    Advances in medicine combined with a more regulated society have enabled those who would have otherwise died from their stupidity or to have been killed for their maliciousness to survive, breed and run for office.

  30. 30
    Forkbeard says:

    @David Hunt: You’ve defined a set of terms in which Wheatonism can never be a religion. This saddens me.

  31. 31
    trollhattan says:


    I loved “Rescue Me” for a host of reasons, but perhaps most for dealing with PTSD–post-9/11 and otherwise. Brilliant show with an amazing cast. No amount of watching portrayals can clue the clueless, such as myself, as to what it’s like, but we might someday be able to recognize symptoms and steer someone to help.

    In the meantime, can I have a framing hammer and three minutes with the douchenozzle who did this?

  32. 32
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I will gladly loan you my rigging ax.

  33. 33
    BGinCHI says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I fear Satan has become lazy.

  34. 34


    If the right is shit-scared of Unitarians they are bigger cowards than I thought.

    It may not be possible for anyone to understand how cowardly the right wing is; it’s like transfinite math.

  35. 35

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Advances in medicine combined with a more regulated society have enabled those who would have otherwise died from their stupidity or to have been killed for their maliciousness to survive, breed and run for office.

    That doesn’t mean that evolution has stopped. It just means that the selective pressure has changed.

  36. 36
    Eric U. says:

    I remember reading “the humanist manifesto” at a Unitarian Church just before the “Secular Humanist” slander started. It’s pretty innocuous, IIRC. But the republicans turned it on its head and said anyone that believes in these things is a member of an organized religion and therefore these things violate the separation clause.

  37. 37
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I fear Satan has become lazy.

    Not lazy. He just outsourced the work to the GOP.

  38. 38
    Suffern ACE is a Basset Hound says:

    I thought the big Time cover story that was causing the stir was the “Rise of Buddhist Terrorism”. Maybe that’s the global edition

  39. 39
    WereBear says:

    @Roger Moore: I’m of the opinion that ALEC and the Koch Brothers know that psychopaths don’t have any problem taking the money and letting people suffer.

    So they hire psychopaths. It just business, really.

  40. 40
    trollhattan says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    That’ll do nicely. I even know which end to start with.

  41. 41
    BGinCHI says:

    What’s the Time demographic?

    Dental patients and whites over 60?

  42. 42
  43. 43


    What’s the Time demographic?

    Dead people with auto-renewing subscriptions.

  44. 44
    Desert Rat says:


    Pretty much. Let’s face it, anybody too ignorant to realize that news is about a week and a half old before it ever hits Time these days definitely needs to be computer illiterate, or trapped someplace without a smartphone.

    Or in other words, Dental patients who forgot to charge their phone, or people over 60, mostly white.

  45. 45
    La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Not all of us. For example, my husband has done hundreds of hours of first amendment pro bono legal work, taking a case up to the Supreme Court on behalf of artists publishing some very politically incorrect erotica on the internet. He’s also in the process of becoming an Episcopal deacon.

    So don’t lump us in with the fundies, thank you very much. We’re not them.

  46. 46
    Jennifer says:

    @Roger Moore: They made a movie about this – you’ve probably seen it. Hint: “Brawndo’s got electrolytes!”

  47. 47
    Evinfuilt says:


    There is a ted talk in that, but we’re to read Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, as well as appreciate all the arts and learn about astronomy, biology, chemistry, etctra.

  48. 48
    PGfan says:

    Re: PTSD — a really interesting book: Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War (

    I just saw it on a New Releases shelf at the library and thought the tagline looked interesting. It’s a quick read, but profound. Here’s a bit from the publisher: “Although veterans make up only 7 percent of the U.S. population, they account for an alarming 20 percent of all suicides. And though treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder has undoubtedly alleviated suffering and allowed many service members returning from combat to transition to civilian life, the suicide rate for veterans under thirty has been increasing. Research by Veterans Administration health professionals and veterans’ own experiences now suggest an ancient but unaddressed wound of war may be a factor: moral injury. This deep-seated sense of transgression includes feelings of shame, grief, meaninglessness, and remorse from having violated core moral beliefs.”

    The book talks about the “suck it up” attitude that prevails within the military and, to a some extent, within the VA, and programs offering counseling, etc. Also discussed is the struggle returning Vets often have with finding “meaning” in civilian life. The nature of serving on the ground in war, while horrendously traumatic, is also infused with a “life and death” meaning that is nowhere present in normal (and/or depressing, unemployed, crummy service job economy) civilian life.

    Highly recommend.

  49. 49
    Jennifer says:

    @Suffern ACE is a Basset Hound: Reminds me of the time I was driving cross-country through a radio wasteland several years ago – the radio locked in on what I presume was a local wingnut froth-factory show just long enough for me to hear some guy bitching in that hysterical tone of voice that only wingnuts can truly master, about “these RADICAL BUDDHISTS…” and then I lost the signal.

    But it got me thinking: what exactly would a RADICAL Buddhist be like? What would a RADICAL Buddhist do? Nothing – at all?

    And how appropriate it is that the snippet I heard left me with a riddle which is essentially the political equivalent of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”

  50. 50
    Baud says:

    I tried secular humanism, but I came to realize that humans suck. So now I’m into secular dogism.

  51. 51
    Jennifer says:

    @Baud: Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure most of the pundit class are adherants of secular onanism.

  52. 52

    @La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes):
    Christianism is not the same thing as Christianity. Christianist is a term used to refer to the kind of right wing, Christianity as a route to power and control over others attitude that so many people here despise.

  53. 53
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I tried secular humanism, but I came to realize that humans suck. So now I’m into secular dogism.

    Our Maltese/Poodle rescue is one of the most guileless beings I’ve ever met. A doghisattva if ever there was one.

  54. 54
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    It is said that the late David Broder could switch hands and gain a stroke.

  55. 55
    MrSnrub says:

    The only guy in my department cranks out bad code but puts in 60 hours per week. I wasn’t allowed to have a positive review because I’m not getting promoted because I’m not working 60 hours.

    When one guy left for better working conditions and equitable pay, our director branded him a mercenary only interested in money.

    I think about leaving but ths is the 4th crappy job in a row, and I’m not convinced it’ll be better anyplace else.

  56. 56
    hamletta says:

    I belong to a large denomination that does a shit-ton of disaster relief all over the world, and Joe Klein’s petty remark offends me.

  57. 57
    Ruckus says:

    One ship I served on pulled the gangway every morning at 8 sharp. If you were still on the dock when it was pulled you were given 3 days bread and water in the ships brig. There was no excuse. None. Moral was not all that great on that ship.

  58. 58
    MrSnrub says:

    Oops. Wrong thread.

  59. 59
    I am not a kook says:


    But it got me thinking: what exactly would a RADICAL Buddhist be like? What would a RADICAL Buddhist do? Nothing – at all?

    Sadly, I got to see the phrase “Buddhist Lynch Mob” in news coverage of Burmese anti-Muslim riots, and it’s not an inaccurate description. There’s some asshole monk agitating violence against Muslims. Looks like Buddhist leaders around the world are horrified.

    Douchebaggery is universal I guess.

  60. 60
    Heliopause says:

    funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals

    I guess Joe Klein has never heard of Google? When one wants to make a bigoted statement like the above (which is in the same category as “you never hear about Palestinian non-violent resistance”, by the way) the first thing you should wonder is whether there’s a reason you never hear about it other than your own preconceptions.

  61. 61
    WJS says:

    I don’t know if this has been talked about but Matt Burden (of Blackfive fame and a wingnut warblogger extraordinaire) is pretty much in the tank for Team Rubicon. So, there’s that association, and that matters because TR has pretty much adopted the wingnut attitude towards PTSD, which is more Jesus, less liberals and problem solved.

  62. 62
    Baron Elmo says:

    I guess Jokeline has never heard of Food Not Bombs, then.

    Man, I have had it up to my goddamn eyeteeth with oily little pricks like Klein who tar non-believers as selfish and solipsistic. Believe me, when I lived in Alabama I knew plenty of self-professed Christians who bitched regularly about welfare cheats and “lazy” poor people.

  63. 63
    Mayken says:

    @BGinCHI: yeah she got her fee fees all hurt by the evil Dems asking her unfair questions to which she didn’t know the answers.

  64. 64
    fuckwit says:

    @I am not a kook: For a while fairly recently, the most vicious and deadly terrorists on earth were HINDUS: the Tamil Tigers. Same religion as fucking GANDHI.. and the most brutal, bloodthirsty terrorists in the human race. So, yeah, you find them in every religion.

  65. 65
    Duane says:

    @Jennifer: which of course reminds me of the line… ” If it weren’t for my horse, I never would have spent that year in college.”

  66. 66
    vickie feminist says:

    Thanks for the reality check re soldiers with PTSD. Working with them is my day job. The science is in–there’s actual physiological changes. Telling soldiers with PTSD who have served their country to “get over it” fuels their guilt. There are effective treatments, but if soldiers are not encouraged to help actual treatment they may be depressed or prone to outbursts for years.

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