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It all started in the early 1980s, when McLaren moved to Fort Davis after getting turned on to the area by reading about it in Texas Monthly. He’d spent most of his life in the midwest, and arrived in the Davis Mountain Resort with the idea of setting up vineyards. The spread he started was the first certified organic winery in Texas. Problem was, the other resort residentsmostly elderly city dwellers in their summer and retirement homesdisapproved of commercial development in an area where business was prohibited by covenant. Too, McLaren says, he was angered by the property owners association and its demands that he pay for road maintenance that he felt wasn’t being done well. In response, McLaren began investigating the Resort’s land titles and discovered compelling evidence that the entire area had been sloppily surveyed. He filed a class-action suit against the Realtor and slapped liens on the lots. While they never succeeded in stopping sales of resort land, these suits did lower property values. They also won McLaren several parcels in out-of-court settlements. In addition, he managed to infuriate most of the citizens of Jeff Davis County. This troubled relationship began about twelve years ago and has not since abated. In the midst of these land disputes, McLaren became exercised about Nature Conservancy incursions into the area to protect endangered species. About two years ago, he contacted anti-conservation “wise-use” activists in places like Catron County, New Mexico and Nye County, Nevada. They advised McLaren and a small group of followers that the best way to get the government to bug off is to “administrate” it to death. In these forays into rightwing populism, McLaren also discovered Texas history with its legends about the state’s supposed right to nationhood. He’s been litigating this issue ever since, and with each document filed, his paperwork becomes increasingly megalomaniac and rococo. His most ambitious case, filed last year with the U.S. Supreme Court, is styled: Republic of Texas, a Sovereign Nation State Body Politic, its Citizen Nationals and its Delegated Agents of Authority, acting as its Provisional Government, also specified under the Acts of Reconstruction of March 30, 1870, U.S. Congressional Statute, Chapter 39 as non-citizens of the United States v. Entities of the District of Columbia operating on, over, and under the soil of Texas as foreign agents, agencies under the War Powers of the Civil War, cts of March 30, 1870 and March 9, 1933 and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, including but not limited to, the United States of America, DBA UNITED STATES INC…. There are ten more lines to the caption but I. you won’t read them, so I will just tell you that they include everyone from Janet Reno to Dan Morales, and that on the basis of this 1,500-plus-page document, the Republic of Texas has, in fantasy and with declarations and proclamations and warrants and pass ports and diplomatic credentials, already expropriated the Eminent Domain of the State of Texas, including $77 billion from all its Such seizures are the basic reason for the standoff. Last year, Federal Judge Lucius Bunton ordered McLaren to stop putting liens on private and government property. McLaren replied that Bunton has no jurisdiction since the Republic of Texas can only be tried in a court of international law. Bunton twice jailed McLaren for contempt, then released him, but McLaren was supposed to report to a pretrial service officer. He didn’thence the current arrest warrant, followed by McLaren’s defiant refusal to accept it, and the phalanx of armed supporters at the resort. McLaren has a house nearby, but during the standoff he’s been sleeping at the Embassy. In the wee hours of Christmas morning, his wife, Evelyn, arrived from Fort Worth. She and McLaren were married last fall without a marriage license, and Evelyn has not taken her husband’s last name because she works for the U.S. government and fears that if her boss learns she’s a Texian national rather than an American, she will be fired. While McLaren waited for Evelyn \(and while the defense forces joked about not bodyguarding him too closely after she got Even my shorthand couldn’t keep up with his nonstop verbal rush. He told me about all the Texas constitutions, starting from 1836; about the secession of 1861, forcible reentry into the union, reconstruction, the 1994 Declaration, Judgment and Reclamation of the Republic of Texas, about Notice , to Nations, Diplomatic Notice of Perfection, Declarations and Proclamations of 1996. McLaren showed me his letter to All Nations of the World, creamy paper and embossed, and indeed sent recently to hundreds of countries. I saw the Republic of Texas passporta veritable work of art that’s prettier than the U.S. document and bears a suspicious aesthetic resemblance to the labels on McLaren’s wine bottles. I saw a Christmas card from the Bob Bullock family, computer-addressed to Ambassador McLaren of the Republic of Texas. This last was a source of intense glee proof, McLaren insisted, that his country has been recognized by the outlaw Texas state. He also described driving Judge Bunton crazy with his endless filings. Recounting such stories, McLaren becomes positively manic: waving his arms, thrashing his body around the easy chair, chortling. Describing the expropriation of Texas financial institutions and what will happen if they refuse to relinquish their funds, his voice climbs to a childlike giggle: “God, I can’t WAIT to sell a bank!! We’ve got foreign countries interested in buying warrants. The banks are going to say ‘The Republic of Texas got our money! They got our money!’ And we’ll say, ‘WE TOLD YOU SO! ! !'” /didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at all this. The Republic of Texas: it’s as though a teenager’s elaborate fantasy role-playing game is being enacted by grown-ups in the courts, on America on Line, in the minds of Rick McLaren and who knows how many followers. He won’t say how many, but insists that in the event of his arrest 15,000 to 35,000 militia members will descend on Texas from within the state and without. He and the peo “GOD, I CAN’T WAIT TO SELL A BANK!! WE’VE GOT FOREIGN COUNTRIES INTERESTED IN BUYING WARRANTS. THE BANKS ARE GOING TO SAY ‘THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS GOT OUR MONEY! THEY GOT OUR MONEY!’ AND WE’LL SAY, ‘WE TOLD YOU SO!!!” 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 1.7, 1997