Tools of the Industry

Every now and then it's important to call a tool a tool.

HS 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

KenStarr 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?

9 Responses

  1. Bob - September 17, 2009

    Good points here. While I doubt if I agree with Ken Starr’s politics, and deplored what he did vis-a-vis Whitewater/Lewinsky, this attack on him is absurd. Disgraced, hungry, celebrity lawyer? Give me a break!

  2. Jim Stepp - September 18, 2009


  3. 1WineDude - September 18, 2009

    You had me at “gobbledygook”!

  4. [email protected] - September 18, 2009

    Tom, everything you say here is mostly right — even my few friends think I’m a tool. But I wanted to point out that the intended tone of my commentary was intentionally over-the-top self-parody, in a jokey way. I don’t really think Ken Starr is “hungry” or “disgraced”, nor more than I think NBWA’s attorney is a “gentle Italian lawyer who nevertheless has a pent up passion for three-tier law that occasionally expresses itself in aggressive brilliance.” It’s silly hyperbole that most of my readers “get.” I don’t know Ken Starr but I’m sure he’s a fine guy and great lawyer.
    P.S. Where did you get that picture of me? I think it was taken in Munich last year but have never seen it.

  5. nedhoey - September 18, 2009

    Aside from the personalities involved, I’m just disturbed, perturbed and even pissed off about the shameless machinations of special interests determined to render the free citizens of this country “unfree” when it comes to simple commerce.
    The “three tier system” is archaic, corrupt, and in need of dismantlement ASAP.
    So that’s it then, right? All tools please step aside…

  6. al epstein - September 19, 2009

    Not sure if you read Beer Business Daily but it sure doesn’t sound like it. BBD goes against beer wholesalers on some very significant issues and hardly a “tool” for them. He’s been very vocal about being with craft brewers and against distributors on franchise law for instance, and i’m sure its cost him subscribers but its his opinion and like you he’s not afraid to express them. and I think I remember that he’s not against direct shipping of wine to consumers as long as it’s legal in the state, at least he said so in a speech last year. this blog piece just seems really harsh and uninformed, just what you accuse bbd of.

  7. glass wine cork - September 21, 2009

    Since Mr. Schumacher has commented on this blog himself in response, I think we can all let bygones be bygones. It was a case of misunderstanding and, to me, it is clear that he does not blindly bear any ill will toward Ken Starr.
    No problem Harry!

  8. mydailywine - September 21, 2009

    Ken Starr has clearly decided to fight for wine lovers rights in the past few years. But Starr’s ‘politics’, specifically his dedicated and active support of Prop 8 in California, certainly make him a very divisive and distasteful public figure for many people.

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