Tools of the Industry
Every now and then it's important to call a tool a tool.
Harry Schumacher, publisher of Beer Business Daily, is a tool. If you want to see what can be produced by a good tool, go here: Beer Business Daily.
Now I have no problem with someone making themselves a tool of an industry. It's a legitimate career choice, though not one I'd want for my children, for whom I would hope for a life of dignity. Still, it's a career choice.
Beer Business Daily exists to support each and every contention, lie, argument and position that beer wholesalers in the United States make or take. There is to be no evaluation or critical thinking applied to these positions of the beer wholesalers who "subscribe" to Harry's little rag. Harry's latest diatribe, one that speaks to the concerns and rights of wine drinkers across the country, isn't much different from others. However, in this case he attempts to heap disrepute on one of the people who has been instrumental in pushing back against unconstitutional and discriminatory laws that keep wine drinkers of legal age from obtaining the wines they want.
Harry Schumacher decided to take on Ken Starr.
Judge Starr is a gentleman. A well known gentleman. He's one of the most accomplished lawyers and legal minds in America. Judge Starr has been involved in shaping the legal strategy that resulted in the groundbreaking Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court case that shoved beer wholesalers and their minion at Beer Business Daily back on their tush.
In an opinion piece published behind a subscription wall at Beer Business Daily, Schumacher discusses the 1997 approval by the National Conference of State Legislators Task force on the Wine Industry of a "Model Direct Shipping Bill". This model bill that was approved by the NCSLA Task Force has been the basis for nearly every direct shipping law ever passed in the United States. The laws based on this Model Direct Shipping Bill have allowed wine lovers from across the country to access thousands of wines they never could before and to do so without any problem of minors obtaining wine.
Schumacher's piece is really nothing more than a blob of words in support of the National Beer Wholesalers Association's bizarre contention that "Approval" really doesn't mean "approval" where the NCSLA's Wine Task force that resulted in the Model Direct Shipping Bill is concerned. The Beer Wholesaler's arguments are bizarre in the extreme. However, in supporting them, Harry says of Ken Starr:
"To make matters worse, a celebrity lawyer, which is the worst kind if you ask me, Kenneth Starr of Kirkland & Ellis, yes the same Ken Starr of Monica Lewinski fame, has been repeating what we view as the falsity that the NCSL has endorsed the model wine direct shipping bill to anybody who will listen, and yes, it has done some damage to the beer industry three-tier system as a result….Disgraced and hungry attorney Ken Starr is out there touting it as a state-approved model even when it clearly it is not an "adopted policy" of the NCSL."
"Celebrity Lawyer"? "Disgraced"? "Hungry"? Let's take a look.
-Graduate of Duke Law School
-Editor of Duke Law Review
-Clerk for Honorable David W. Dyer of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
-Clerk For U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger
-Counselor to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith
-Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
-Solicitor General of the United States
-Independent Counsel on the Whitewater matter
-Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law
Starr has argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court nearly 30 times. He was nearly appointed to the Supreme Court by George Bush One. He is the the author of nearly 50 law review articles and the author of "First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life". And this barely touches the surface of Ken Starr's influence in the American legal system and American government.
Say what you will about Ken Starr's politics. But one thing you can't say is that Ken Starr is either a "celebrity lawyer" or "disgraced." Starr remains one of the most brilliant legal minds in the United States.
More importantly for readers of this blog, Ken Starr's contribution to the renaissance of wine in American life is undisputed. His role in making wine more accessible to American consumers is critical.
So, as it turns out, while Harry Schumacher has been the tool of beer wholesalers, Mr. Starr has been working on behalf of real people. While Harry has been making the case for keeping American consumers from legally accessing the wines they want, Ken Starr has been making the case that Americans can be trusted to make their own choices about the wines they want. While Harry has been writing disingenuous, uninformed gobbledygook for a subscriber base of beer wholesalers and beer manufacturers who fear consumer power, Ken Starr has been writing briefs, papers and oral arguments that have helped expand the power of wine consumers to access the myriad of wines available in the American marketplace.
So I have to ask, who is the disgraceful one?