The Sad Story of Mansooria - Again
At the end of March, 2006 I posted the following little bit of fiction on my old web log. Considering the outcome of the municipal election this week, and since there appears to be more than a few new readers visiting this site, I thought I would drag it out of storage and re-publish it for you.
Yes, I know it's too long, but you're not paying me by the word, so just relax, limber up your scrolling finger and pretend you're watching "Mash" reruns. Enjoy.
THE SAD STORY OF MANSOORIA
The fictional (?) account of the rise and fall of the Empire of Mansooria.
Mansooria, formerly known as the City of Costa Mesa, located in the County of Orange in the State of California, was located on southern California coastal table land and was completely surrounded by the United States of America - much like the country of San Marino is surrounded by Italy. Mansooria was an extremely small country, comprising only 16 square miles and was bordered by several municipalities - Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley and Irvine. When Mansooria seceded from the union the government of the United States placed a 100 yard federal zone around the entire perimeter to provide separation from the cities.
Mansooria was created and seceded from the United States early in 2007, following the municipal elections in November, 2006. Riding the wave of discontent about alleged illegal immigrants within it's borders that then-mayor Allan Mansoor whipped up, the ruling troika on the city council and a small group of angry dissidents decided that simply screening miscreants for possible immigration violations was not enough. They, following Mansoor's lead, decided that the federal government was not doing enough to manage the problem of illegal immigration, so they conjured up their ill-conceived plan to withdraw from the union. Prior to the election they orchestrated a recall for the two members of the City Council that were asking difficult questions and mucking up their plans. That recall, coincident with the election, resulted in five persons on the council with the same agenda - the "sanitization" of Costa Mesa.
First, Mansoor declared Costa Mesa an independent country, named it after himself and formed a government with him as the ultimate leader - The Emperor. A dissatisfied deputy sheriff/jailer on a power trip, he abolished the city council, declared marshall law to maintain order and closed the borders of The Empire. Of course, he'd been trying to exercise that kind of power surreptitiously for some time, so it came as no real surprise.
The Emperor Mansoor named his friend and court jester, Derick Muskrat, as Prime Minister. Under Muskrat's direction, the constitution of Mansooria was cobbled together using Mao's little Red Book, a tattered copy of Mein Kampf, an old Joe Miller joke book, and a current version of Dictatorships for Dummies as the foundation.
A controversial activist with a name sometimes confused with a type of duck was appointed Minister of the Interior and Thought. With the help of imported mercenaries from the Minuteman Project, Minister Duck promptly expelled all persons with brown, red, yellow or black skin, gays and lesbians and those who "looked Jewish" and claimed their property for The Empire. As a result, the population of The Empire was reduced by half and approximately 50% of the businesses - 75% on the Westside of the country - became vacant, virtually wiping out Mansooria's commercial base. Minister Duck also attempted to claim the Banning Ranch, a piece of bluff top land between Mansooria and Newport Beach, including a tiny strip of coast. That incursion was rebuffed by the United States, who then installed a double, twenty-foot high chain link fence topped by razor wire around the entire perimeter of Mansooria to discourage further aggression.
Minister Duck outlawed any books in Mansoorian schools except the new constitution and his three novels. He also permitted selected essays from right wing web sites to be used as learning tools in the schools. His goal, of course, was to be sure all children educated in Mansooria were "thinking right" - no matter how you define that term.
Following the Banning Ranch debacle, a wild-eyed, hot-headed pal of The Emperor's, Mel Phurillo, was named Minister of Security and immediately positioned himself at the fence with a bullhorn and screamed the lyrics to the new national anthem, "Louie Louie", until the batteries ran low and he permanently lost his voice. Henceforth, he became known as "the mute galoot with no bullhorn to toot".
Continuing in his effort to totally control every element of Mansoorian life, The Emperor Mansoor appointed cronies to high positions within The Empire. Several couples were appointed as Joint Ministers on his cabinet.
The first couple, Tristan and Karleen Herrick, were named Ministers of Culture. They immediately named music box repair as the national industry, square dancing the national dance and whining as the official national pastime.
Another couple, Perky and Stretch Ferry, were appointed as Finance Ministers and promptly reported that the new country had no available source of income. They assured The Emperor that he shouldn't worry - they could make it up in volume.
A third couple, Nan and R. Lyle Naggerson were named Ministers of Senior Affairs. Very shortly afterward it became evident that they were well past their prime and they couldn't remember their own names and addresses. Their contributions to The Empire were recognized by the naming of the dementia wing of the Senior Center for them.
Hirsute activist Pablo O'Hare was named Minister of Technology and, with the assistance of Minister Duck, promptly set out to locate sufficient quantities of discarded tuna cans to upgrade The Empire's communication systems.
Former U.S Army veteran senior non-commissioned officer Donte Tellmoore was appointed Chief of Staff of the Mansooria military. He spent most of his days spit-shining his low quarters, arranging his foot locker for inspection and trying to figure out how to make his computer work.
Unable to establish diplomatic relations with the United States, Mansooria could conduct no trade. Inflation was rampant within The Empire - the "99 Cent Store" became the "Five Dollar Store" overnight. The residents of Mansooria began to suffer from food shortages, so many turned to the kindness of strangers at the various charities on the Westside of The Empire. These charities were funded by international donations, most of which came from Newport Beach. The charities were overwhelmed by the demand for services, which called for drastic action on the part of The Emperor Mansoor and his ministers.
Since no one from outside Mansooria could shop at South Coast Plaza, and residents couldn't afford to, The Emperor Mansoor decided to demolish that shopping center and other centers of commerce along the 405 Freeway and return the land to agricultural uses. Food crops were planted to provide nutritional self-sufficiency for The Empire. However, The Emperor Mansoor and his ministers overlooked the fact that they had no source of labor to tend the fields. So, a guest worker plan was created to provide workers from neighboring Santa Ana. Many expelled former residents of Mansooria took advantage of the program and crossed the border to work in the fields each day, dawn to dusk, returning home to Santa Ana each evening.
The former 405 and 55 freeways became a toll roads through Mansooria - and provided one of the few stable sources of revenue for The Empire. Each day more than 350,000 vehicles passed through these corridors. Each vehicle was charged a toll of 20 mansoorys to pass. A mansoory is equal to 5 cents, $US.
Another source of income for the new country was the fee charged for desalinized water to flow from the Poseidon plant in Huntington Beach through the north part of The Empire toward it's final destination in South Orange County. Mansooria charged a fee of 20 mansoorys per gallon. Due to a dispute with the contractor, and since there were no qualified contractors remaining in Mansooria, the trench carrying the water pipe remained unfilled and left a 20 foot wide gash across The Empire near the northern border.
The Emperor Mansoor and his minions also tried to levy a tax on every airplane flying over Mansooria from John Wayne Airport and Long Beach Airport. That effort failed. As had been the case in the past when Mansooria was known as Costa Mesa, any discussion or opinion about airport issues was always ignored. Some things never change.
With all people of color expelled from The Empire, the school district, once shared with Newport Beach, withered. All elementary schools except one closed. Only one high school remained. The Emperor Mansoor tried to charge expatriate fees for all students from outside Mansooria at Orange Coast College. With no available housing, and no open border crossing, that plan failed and the college closed.
Following the expulsions the average age of Mansoorians was calculated at 63 years. Since many remaining residents had depended on United States Social Security for their primary source of income and that benefit no longer applied to the citizens of The Empire, Mansooria became a virtual welfare state.
In an effort to re-populate The Empire, The Emperor Mansoor, Prime Minister Muskrat and Minister Duck hatched a plan to encourage immigrants from other parts of the world to a new life in Mansooria. As inducements, they touted the temperate climate, a common skin color and the fact that you could actually see the Pacific Ocean from a few locations in The Empire. Since only those of Aryan extraction would be welcome, they had a hard time finding enough interested potential immigrants. Any Northern European immigrant who somehow made it across the border was granted immediate Mansoorian citizenship.
Minister Duck suggested a policy of aggressive, incentivized breeding within the country to backfill the empty space left by the previous expulsions and to provide an inducement for potential immigrants. Under his scheme, which was called Prioritized Population Enhancement (PPE), each female citizen of Mansooria that produced an offspring would receive a bounty, with a premium paid for twins and triplets. Males were rewarded for each attempt at propagation, successful or not.
The announcement of the PPE policy sparked interest by potential immigrants. However, since Mansooria had no port of entry, reaching The Empire proved to be difficult. Many boatloads of blond, fair-skinned potential immigrants ran aground at the mouth of the Santa Ana River as they tried to use that point to enter The Empire. They were forced to seek asylum in Newport Beach, where they blended right in. Others tried to come across the heavily-guarded Santa Ana River from Huntington Beach with limited success. Still others tried to sneak across from Santa Ana with the daily contingent of guest workers, but were stopped at the border by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. A creative group of Scandinavians managed to sky dive into Mansooria, but the United States government promptly put a stop to that by establishing a "no fly zone" over The Empire - except, of course, for the commercial flights from John Wayne Airport and Long Beach Airport.
The immigration plan failed, but, with the incentives, PPE became so popular that it evolved into a new national sport. Teams were established, competitions were held and scores posted on The Empire's web site. Because of the limited gene pool, there was concern that some of the citizens of Mansooria might begin to resemble some characters in the movie, "Deliverance".
The Mansoorian empire, unable to create a stable economy, crumbled. Disenchanted subjects, unwilling to live under a bigoted, totalitarian regime, rebelled and overthrew The Emperor Mansoor. The Empire was absorbed back into the United States. New borders were formed. The land north of the 405 Freeway became part of Santa Ana. The remainder became part of Newport Beach and the combined territory was named Newport Mesa. Former expelled citizens were welcomed back and the economy began to thrive.
The Emperor Mansoor, his ministers and a small group of loyal disciples - still seeking a perfect, lily-white world - requested political asylum in the United States and were permitted to relocate to Idaho. At last word, they were attempting to resurrect their PPE plan up there, where they've apparently found an interested audience.
What did we learn from Mansooria's failed experiment? We've learned that no city exists in a vacuum. Regardless how misguided or inept the leadership, each city is part of a broader regional community. That role requires intelligent, mature, patient leaders and a willingness to consider options that serve not only their constituents, but all residents of that community, as well. We learned that leaders unwilling or unable to look beyond their own narrow interests cannot provide proper guidance for a city in this century. We learned that prejudice cannot form the cornerstone of a successful government. We learned that, no matter how persuasive the argument and how dynamic the speaker, racial intolerance cannot succeed.
Sadly, it took the near-destruction of a previously vibrant city to prove these points.