Scared as rabbits? - Printable Version

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- tomstevenson - 01-08-1999 07:17 AM

Is the American wine industry advised by "a bunch of second-rate lawyers who are as scared as rabbits"? I am fed up of seeing wine bottles in your country dressed up as lethal drugs and I am disgusted that the ATF will not allow the industry to counter this dangerous hype with a back-label stating the scientifically proven health benefits, especially as there is no evidence to support the Surgeon General's first warning (women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects). Only alcoholics have given birth to children deformed by "foetal alcohol syndrome" and they should not drink under any circumstances. It seems that the wine, beer and spirits industries have taken the decision to tread softly because alcohol is a delicate subject and things could easily get worse, but they are merely playing into the hands of the neo-prohibitionists, who disguise their arguments with false heath scares and road death statistics to get what they really want, a ban on alcohol. Why not approach the three most successful firms of litigation lawyers and see what they say about suing the Surgeon General, ATF and the US Government for $50 billion? I am informed that it would be impossible to prove the Surgeon General's claim in a Court of Law and that the only verdict that could possibly be reached based on probability would be one that is against the government. The evidence from studies worldwide is overwhelming.

- Jerry D Mead - 01-08-1999 12:16 PM

Tom...Jeez! These guys are going to think I put you up to that. Sounds like one of my rants.

You're absolutely right about everything you say. And the saddest part is our supposed friends do us as much or more damage than our enemies.

Not unlike your "Portman Group" we have industry-funded "The Century Council" running around kissing up to the anti-alcohol fanatics and actually giving them money as well as verbal support...the idea being that the antis won't think we're such awful people.

Then you have the wholesalers trade association (WSWA)fighting desparately to protect its middle tier monopoly going so far as to support (100% funding) a sham organization called (ARAA)Americans for Responsible Alcohol Access (sic) that has got in bed with the likes of MADD, SADD and WCTU (Womens Christian Temperance Union of Prohibition era fame)claiming that interstate shipping of wine is supplying minors with an easy source of illegal alcohol...even though there's not one documented case of a minor making such a purchase that was not assisted by an adult as part of a sting.

Yeah, we colonists sure have screwed it up.

The Wine Curmudgeon

- Jerry D Mead - 01-08-1999 12:17 PM

Duplicate message deleted.

[This message has been edited by Jackie (edited 01-08-99).]

- Jerry D Mead - 01-08-1999 12:29 PM

Tom...The other sad part is that two of our winery owners (one very large) are among the very top anti-trust, consititutional lawyers in the country.

But you must also understand that under existing law, the federal ATF and most state ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control)have absolute power over these businesses. They can yank a license without much cause and the the winery (or brewer or distiller) must sue to get it back, but in the meantime they're out of business.

And they (ATF and ABCs) can levy what is called "offers in compromise" (legal bribes, actually), that the media usually reports as fines, but which are not.

They accuse you of something, but say, "Give us a big sum of money and we won't do anything to you." Usually the amount is a lot, but less than it would cost to defend the action, with no threat of loss or suspencion of license.

We really are screwed up.


- tomstevenson - 01-08-1999 01:07 PM

Sounds as if you're run by the Russian Mafia over there, but the ability to pull a winery's license is not an obstacle if the law firm is representing an entire industry. After all, they're not going to pull every license in the country because even if they wanted to, they'd lose billions in revenue. Is there a legal forum you could post this to, just to see what some whizzkid lawyer thinks?

- Botafogo - 01-08-1999 01:15 PM

And, while were auditioning shysters, I'd like to see a large class action suit against Marvin Shanken, et al for job harrassment on behalf of all the poor secretaries whose idiot bosses plop down a copy of the Speculum's "100 Best Wine of the Year" issue on their desks and say, "Find me a case each of the top five or your fired!" I'm not joking, I get such frantic phone calls in search of long sold out wines, girls crying and screaming and offering almost anything.

It's America, let's sue, Roberto

- Jerry D Mead - 01-08-1999 02:33 PM

Tom...New as this forum is, it is already being widely read...and I specifically alerted several legal types to check out your message on this subject, so lawyers from WI, AVA and some others should see your thoughts shortly.


[This message has been edited by Wine Curmudgeon (edited 01-09-99).]

- Botafogo - 01-08-1999 02:34 PM

Tom, you'll LOVE this:

When I was the Manager of the Fine Dining Restaurants at the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills we had a beuatiful bronze plated placque engraved in flowing script with the following right at the grand entrance:

"These premises contain substances known by the State of California to be carcinogenic or cause other severe health problems."

It was referring to the cleaning supplies the maids used and the solvents in the in house dry cleaners!

You could put an eye out with that, be careful, Roberto

- Bucko - 01-08-1999 10:06 PM

Tom, you like to stir the pot a bit, me thinks, based on your alcohol and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) statement. This is a hot/touchy subject. I have debated/argued the subject many times.

FAS babies are almost universally born to alcoholics who drink heavily during pregnancy, but also have various nutritional deficits as well. It is not simply an 'alcohol' problem, but anti-alcohol forces would have the public believe that. And to top it all off, only a small percentage of alcoholics have FAS kids. Confronted with overwhelming evidence, they changed their tactics and came up with the term Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE). This is blamed for low birth weight, developmental delay, etc., etc. and is hard to disprove (equally hard to prove). With a country as litigenous as the USA, do you think that ANY doctor would recommend that their pregnant patient consume alcoholic beverages? Not on your life. I present the data to my patients when questioned and let THEM choose. I have several who drink a glass of wine a day while pregnant - normal, healthy kids. I wonder if Leonardo Da Vinci's mother abstained during pregnancy?


- Jerry D Mead - 01-09-1999 04:50 AM

I suppose you saw in another folder an organizations "Nanny" awards for the of which went to a state legislative committee which actually considered proposing a law that would make it a felony for a pregnant woman to order a glass of wine in a restaurant without a doctors prescription. Here's an item from my latest column:

SAY WHAT? The South Dakota House Health & Human Services Committee actually considered a bill which would have made it "felony child abuse" for a pregnant woman to order a glass of wine in a restaurant without a doctor's prescription.
Two things come to mind. If the same law were passed in Europe, a very large percentage of births in the Mediterranean basin would take place in prison, because most of the mommies would be convicted felons.
And wouldn't doctors be busy writing prescriptions for pregnant gourmands and enophiles?
For the record, there is not a single documented case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome resulting from moderate, mealtime drinking. Every instance involves alcoholic, binge-drinking women, usually neglectful of diet and often users of tobacco and other drugs.

//Please note.../most of my editors will edit this item out...but a few will let it get by.//

- tomstevenson - 01-09-1999 07:25 AM

Bucko, it's because the USA is such a litigious country that I suggested it. After all, how much revenue has been lost? I realise from what you're saying that you're on the side of sanity, but it is not a matter of whether you would positively recommend your pregnant patients to consume alcoholic beverages, but whether on medical grounds you could justify dissuading any normal, healthy pregant woman who specifically asked you whether drinking in moderation while pregnant is safe. It is not something that a pregnant woman has to do, therefore there is no reason to recommend it along with anything else unnecesary but harmless-cum-good-for-you. Jerry, I'm surprised they did not pass the bill.

- Jerry D Mead - 01-10-1999 01:29 AM

I did a cross-post on the AOL board telling them that Tom had posted his view on America's ridiculous health warnings, and that they should pop over to and have a look. I headlined the item BRITISH BITCH, implying that Mr. Stevenson had just that...a "bitch" with our system.

One of the AOL members (a woman, actually) filed the attached response:

Geez Jerry, when I saw the title of this post, I was wondering what you had against Jancis Robinson. <VBG>

- tomstevenson - 01-10-1999 09:31 AM

Love it Jerry!

- danberger - 01-10-1999 11:55 PM

You are, of course, right on the mark with everything you say about "our" ATF, but the fact remains that the warning label was not the work of ATF at all. It was the work of pure politicians, Congress. It was the body that passed a law requiring ATF to act as it did, to mandate the warning label as we now have it. And as it has been the same label since day 1, which for the record was was Nov. 1, 1989. I wrote a humorous article some years ago poking fun at the whole thing, since the new-Prohibitionist element in this country is going to make sure we have that label forever. Which may be interpreted as "as long as Strom Thurmond is alive." Which I assume will be longer than I live, and I'm over 50. When I interviewed a good source at ATF in 1990, he told me that ATF's higher ups were rather p.o.'d that ATF was being forced to enact this label by a buch of know-nothing politicos. He told me that a number of people in ATF were in the verge of suggesting an alternative statement that would essentially have suggested that people contact their physicians for advice on the use of the procuct. In a speech I gave to the Society of the Medical Friends of Wine shortly after that interview, I said that if people contacted their doctors regarding use of wine, most doctors would recommend the 1985s over the 1987s.
Now I am suggesting (in next week's column) that some California winery submit a wine label for approval that says "Fat Free!" on it. Let ATF try to deny the truth in that statement!
Dan Berger

- tomstevenson - 01-11-1999 06:54 AM

Loved Dan's idea of doctor's recommending the 1985s over 1987s, but not so sure about the Fat-Free thing. After all there are plenty of lipids in wine, so I would not be surprised to find triglycerides. The ATF might have been forced by Congress, but you cannot sue Congress and the ATF is responsible for putting it into effect. The number one target is, however, the Surgeon General because he or she (you will forgive a Brit for not knowing who it is at the moment) would be required to prove the claim in a Court of Law. Who do you have to petition to put a warning on bottled water? Like "Too much of this product can kill you" as in drowning?