July 31, 2003
Dysfunctional Americana 21: San Diego, California

Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, San Diego. Another church right up against the freeway, with an ODC (Ostentatious Display of Christianity). It also shows what you end up with when people run around saying "God Bless America" in a subculture that highly values reciprocation.

They also have a billboard inside Qualcomm Stadium, which we saw during the Billy Graham Crusade, but it's there all the time.

Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, building, signs and Qualcomm Stadium billboard, in San Diego, California. May 9, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 11:05 AM
July 28, 2003
Dysfunctional Americana 20: San Diego, California

The Billy Graham Crusade (even though they've renamed it a "mission," it's still the same old thing) coincidentally showed up in San Diego during our visit there this past May.

Yes, they put up billboards all around Southern California showing Graham in a healthy shade of... blue. Go figure.

This banner, on a pedestrian overpass in La Jolla, has been modified just a teensy bit.

Inside Qualcomm Stadium during the Friday night crusade (second of four nights.)

Graham gestures while admiringly describing George W. Bush's arrival on a Navy aircraft carrier.

May 8 and 12, 2003. Images copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney

Posted by Mike Doughney at 12:30 PM
July 17, 2003
Dysfunctional Americana 19: Buena Park, California

"Glider Diner" in the Boardwalk section of Knott's Theme Park. The name "French Fries" has been clumsily and obviously painted over, replaced with "American Fries." This change is not reflected on their website's page though, so the only way you'd know they did this is to physically go to the park.

The "Bigfoot Broiler" has also had "French" purged from its menu, leaving a blank line on the menu board.

At Knott's Theme Park in Buena Park, California, all references to "French Fries" have been painted over or changed to "American Fries." May 6, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney

Posted by Mike Doughney at 09:55 PM
July 15, 2003
Saddam insane? Maybe not...

My response to today's Stratfor Weekly by Dr. George Friedman, which you can sign up to receive (it's free) at their website.
You wrote:

> Put
> simply, if he really didn't have WMD of any sort, then Hussein's
> behavior from November to March 2003 could only be described as
> bizarre and self-destructive. Even if he thought that the United
> States would attack regardless of whether he had WMD, Hussein had
> every reason to disprove the allegations if he could in order to
> complicate the diplomatic and domestic difficulties of the U.S.
> administration. Either Hussein was insane or he had weapons of
> mass destruction.
> It is equally difficult to believe
> that he would have destroyed them without at least inviting
> former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix to the party. What
> could Hussein possibly gain from destroying them in secret? It
> makes no sense. Why did he behave as he did if he had no weapons?
> We find it impossible to believe that Hussein once had WMD but
> destroyed them in secret.

I have some difficulty understanding why you find the scenario you've outlined "impossible to believe," since I've believed that something like this was in progress well before the war started! I'm also not sure what it means to be "self-destructive" when one's destruction is already assured and not under one's control at all.

Far from being insane - which, unfortunately, tends to be the way Americans cast foreign adversaries who do things that are hard to understand and violate all expectations - this would be the proverbial sane response to an insane situation. If Saddam reached the conclusion at some point after 9/11 - accurately, and in agreement with your assessment way back in early 2002 (was he reading your analysis?) - that the U.S. and possibly others are coming for him, eventually, no matter what he does, he may have decided that the only option left is to make the U.S. pay, through loss of face and credibility, at some point in the future, by making certain that every trace of WMD was removed before Iraq was invaded. The rationale given for the war never materializes in reality, thus complicating "the diplomatic and domestic difficulties of the U.S. administration" on a scale dwarfing any such complications that may have occurred had Iraq not been invaded. As far as Saddam is concerned, he's going to get invaded no matter what and face an uncertain if not unlikely future, so he's going to pay the cost; so why wouldn't he do the best he can to maximize the long-term diplomatic and domestic damage to the U.S. and Britain? He knows that if he hung onto his WMD and used them on Western (or, for that matter, any) targets there would be massive, easily justified retaliation; by making the WMD disappear almost anyone can later cast the invasion as unjustified, particularly when it finally comes as mostly a unilateral U.S. action justified primarily by the assumed existence of WMD.

I agree with you that the U.S. would have sought to invade Iraq no matter what. The problem is that this administration is, in my opinion, simply unable to communicate to pretty much everyone exactly why that should be so, with a rationale that would stick no matter what happens next, and is committed to going it alone and not caring what the rest of the world thinks in a situation where the world's support may have made the difference between ongoing quagmire and some degree of success. Tying the justification to physical evidence that is not in hand before invading leaves open the possibility that the physical evidence would be removed just to spite and discredit the invader. Watching Colin Powell before the Security Council, playing those intercepts, I got the distinct impression that the administration was walking into a trap of some kind that would lead to exactly the kind of finger-pointing we're seeing today.

The original essay that I wrote on this matter on March 21 is at

Mike Doughney

Posted by Mike Doughney at 04:13 AM
July 14, 2003
Florida needs a new "specialty tag"

After spending a few weeks driving around central and south Florida, I noticed that the state seems to have come up with a great number of "specialty tags" for all kinds of groups and causes. Despite that diversity in Florida license plates, there is thus far no plate that provides an appropriate response to the so-called "Choose Life" plate, the one promoted by - and puts the state in the position of collecting money for - Christian anti-abortion extremists.

Here's my proposal. With apologies to Senior House.

The proposed "Sport Death" license plate for Florida. Swipe and pass on if it speaks to you.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 12:15 AM
July 13, 2003
Dysfunctional Americana 18: Palm Springs, California

Christian schooling = black and white thinking leading to fanaticism aimed at everybody else in the "world." We couldn't have said it better. It also shows how such organizations are filtering, not necessarily for practicing Christians, but for people who believe that "black and white" thinking is normal and should be taught to children.

Billboard for King's Schools, Palm Springs, California. May 5, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 04:25 PM
Dysfunctional Americana 17: Anaheim, California

So. You're an obnoxious ex-hippie televangelist with a big new church you've got to fill, and you've just got to have a billboard by a major freeway, even though you're in a place where there are no billboards where you need them or can afford them. The workaround is to paint a trailer and leave it in a storage yard by the freeway, and hope that people notice it in the split-second that it can be seen while driving by.

Advertising trailer for Greg Laurie and "Harvest Monday Nights" by a freeway in Anaheim, California. May 2, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 04:16 PM
July 12, 2003
Dysfunctional Americana 16: Calimesa, California

The "Garden of Angels" display in front of the office of Desert Lawn Cemetery. Curiously, the logo at the top of each headstone/cross is identical to that on the so-called "Safe Surrender" baby dump facility in Pomona that I'd photographed a few days before.

This is the view that one sees after parking their car and approaching the office.

This is the view from the area of the office door.

Desert Lawn's sign, a few feet from the edge of Interstate 10, says "Serving All Faiths." Pay no attention to the forest of crosses right next to the office. The "Garden of Angels" is advertised on two official-looking signs facing both directions along the service road.

The van parked in front of the "Garden of Angels" office in Yucaipa, California.

Closeup of the bumper sticker on the van.

The "Garden of Angels" at Desert Lawn Cemetery, Calimesa, California, and the signed/bumper stickered van parked in front of the "Garden of Angels" office, Yucaipa, California. May 5, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 06:09 AM
July 06, 2003
Dysfunctional Americana 15: Hollywood, California

This billboard on Hollywood Boulevard advertises grassfire.net, a project of D. James Kennedy's Reclaiming America for Christ. Advertising for these kinds of projects always seems to end up on partially obscured or hard-to-see billboards like this one.

Grassfire.net billboard on Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. May 1, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 01:05 AM
July 04, 2003
Dysfunctional Americana 14: Pomona, California

The so-called "Safe Surrender" facility at Pomona Valley Hospital. It might be more accurately called a very fancy baby dump box. The logo on the box (actually the door) is the same as that used for the so-called "Garden of Angels" cemetery. It makes you wonder what these people are really thinking when this same logo is at the top of each headstone in their cemetery.

(Pictures of the cemetery appear in a following entry.)

For a sober assessment of so-called "safe haven laws" that encourage the creation of peculiar spectacles like this, see this article at the Bastard Nation website. Also see the statement from the Governor of Hawaii vetoing such legislation there.

Baby dump receptacle at Pomona Valley Hospital. May 1, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 11:37 PM
Dysfunctional Americana 13: Henderson, Nevada

You'd think that someone who'd risk life and arrest climbing around on a billboard high in the air would at least try to write something simple and understandable ("Clear Channel Sucks" would be a good start), but no, instead, we get to see this.

Both radio station and billboard are owned by communications conglomerate Clear Channel.

Graffiti on a Clear Channel radio station billboard in Henderson, Nevada. April 24, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Michael T. Doughney

Posted by Mike Doughney at 11:13 PM