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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Pork Politics

Uploaded: Dec 1, 2014
Save the Jersey 9,000! No, those victims of unspeakably cruel imprisonment are not of our species, nor are they even Jersey cows. They are, however, animals as conscious, mobile and intelligent as your family's dog or cat. They are pigs, pregnant sows in particular, held for most of their wretched lives in conditions we'd rather not contemplate. Why are they so incarcerated? Because: bacon!

So-called gestation crates contain the sows while they are pregnant, meaning 80% of the time. The enclosures measure 24" across (by contrast, a twin mattress is 39" and your queen bed is 60", or 2 ½ crates wide. Breeding females weigh about 300 lbs. each. They cannot move, or turn around. Ostensibly, the crating is justified as an efficiency measure: no piglets get crushed if Mama can't move, at all. That the sows suffer constantly, and often go mad, is an unfortunate side-effect of their bad decision to have been born pigs.

New Jersey is not a big pork-producing state, obviously. Iowa, where the swine census runs into the low millions, is number one. Jersey's ag industry focuses on truck farming crops, like tomatoes. Yet, in each of the past two annual sessions, their legislature has overwhelming passed bills to outlaw the use of gestation crates. The votes this session were 29-4 in the Senate, and 60-5 in the Assembly (Dems hold majorities in both Houses, 24/16 Senators and 48/32 Assembly folk). A recent poll revealed that 93% of the state's residents favored the bill, and two teenage sisters presented the statehouse with a petition from 125,000 New Jerseyans demanding implementation.

All that remained was for Governor Chris Christie to actually sign the bill. And here's where the story takes a remarkable turn.

Iowa, you see, is not only the nation's foremost pork producer ? it is also the site of the first Caucuses of our quadrennial Presidential sweepstakes. The Iowa Pork Producers' Association is an influential business lobby, which has an opinion on crate bans. It's not a positive one. Governor Christie promised them earlier this year that he would veto the NJ crate bill. Earlier this month, he made good on his pledge. The Jersey 9,000 would remain in-place ? very firmly and cruelly in-place.

The Governor cited "partisan politicians" and the opinion of his Ag Commissioner on last year's bill as his justifications. The bill's vote record obviously gives the lie to the former argument. As to the latter, it might be noted that the Commish objected to being left out of the 2013 crate bill, whereas this term's edition directed him to develop implementing rules. The bill's sponsor has promised a spirited veto override campaign.

What conclusion may we draw from this incident? That despite the recent Bridgeghazigate scandal, as well as the near-unanimous will of his people, Chris Christie will veto a bill that interferes with his Presidential ambitions. In case there was any doubt: he's a-runnin', folks.

So where, might you ask, do WE stand on this issue, in our thoroughly enlightened or over-nannied great state of California? Obviously, we're number one in agriculture generally, and second to only Texas in livestock production. Most of that volume is beef and broilers, however; pig farms are few, and far between amidst our ranges, barns and coops.

Big Ag is one of the most potent lobbies in Sacramento, represented by numerous trade associations. Even the wine-grapes and table-grapes producers have their own separate trade groups. And so it is that the CA legislature refused to consider similar reform legislation for more than twenty-years prior to 2008. (Your humble scribe had personal experience with that juggernaut ? having drafted and gotten the CA Bar to recommend unrelated anti-cruelty legislation in 2005, we were unable to get Anyone to even formally sponsor it in Sacramento.)

Fortunately, we have the referendum system as a safety valve, and in 2008 Prop 2 was put on the ballot. That was grace of the Humane Society of the United States and its own tireless lobbyist, Jennifer Fearing. Prop 2 applied to gestation crates, as well similar containers imposed over veal calves, and battery cages that confined laying hens to an area smaller than letter paper. It passed, by a 2-1 popular vote margin. Eight other states have now enacted similar laws, but they tend to be places, like New Jersey, where the affected industry is a minor public policy player.

What does all this mean for Governor Christie? He's made good on his promise to the Iowa porkers, regardless of the veto override outcome. That said however, candidate Romney had his family dog-on-the-roof-rack problem, and animal welfare partisans can be a noisy, if poorly funded, constituency. It is almost too easy to anticipate the placards showing NJ's chief-of-state chewing and peering hopelessly out from behind those crating bars. If only Bruce Springsteen had come out in favor of the ban!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Castlewood,
on Dec 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Pigs Sanctuary: Web Link

They make wonderful pets!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Christi takes a vote
Christi takes a vote
Hi ho the Dari-O
Christi take a vote:

Web Link

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 1, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Tom is already hard at work bashing Republican presidential candidates. The election is two years away for cripes sake.

Like a good pig lover, Tom is flinging mud.

How many of New Jersey?s 9,000 pigs are kept in gestation crates? ZERO!!! (according to the Humane Society). Web Link

This is all politics. Democrats force Republicans to vote on pet issues that have nothing to do with national politics but are important to teary eyed liberals. Democrats then mail pictures of suffering pigs to gullible liberals in order to make Republicans look bad and get liberals to donate money to Democrats.

Republicans do the same thing with their pet issues.


Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland,
on Dec 1, 2014 at 7:04 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Apparently, another slow news day for the bloggers in their mom's basement. No stories of polar bears stranded on ice flows that are getting larger every year? Or tales of how NJ will be underwater in a few years because of those nasty freedom loving right wingers?

[Porcine inflammatory comment deleted] Pigs in a poke? ....I'm with cholo, I like pigs in a blanket! Let's eat.....

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Dec 1, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

...because I always choose my candidate based on how he treats livestock!

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 2, 2014 at 6:52 am

Why libdis, thanks for sharing (one post full of tired internet cliches deserves another, after all). And Dan, I'll happily settle for you choosing your pork products, if any, based on how They treat Their livestock. At some point, everybody votes with their dollars.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Dec 2, 2014 at 7:23 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Oh Tom...you clearly got me There. :)

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

Web Link

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 2, 2014 at 5:50 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Actually from a medical point of view, lack of empathy is a disease.

Web Link

PS Thanks for the links, Cholo. You always find something appropriate.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 6:03 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

So every farmer that doesn't use the prescribed containment method for any livestock, and any consumer that knowlingly eats the meat that comes from said farmer has a disease, eh?


Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 7:33 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Finger wagging is a disease.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 8:22 am

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

Roz: I wasn't sure whether your comment referred to empathy for the pigs -- or the commenters. I'll try to improve, but pigs are better company. I like their more evolved ethics.

Mark Bittmann, food guy at the NYT, weighed-in on CrateGate yesterday, as well: Web Link He concludes: "Christie is cravenly flouting the reality that animal welfare matters to the public, and that welfare activists have developed a bit of clout. ... Christie is taking the most obvious, expedient and churlish position, and it?s important to make him pay for it at some point. Fellow animal respecters, take note.

'Churlish' -- a good word, that.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 9:12 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Using words like churlish is a disease.

You liberals get bent out of shape over the treatment of pigs. But you still voted for Obama even though he kills kids on a weekly basis with his illegal drone strikes.

?Hypocrisy? ? a good word, that.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 9:38 am

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

Glates: give it up. The Only reason you constantly bring up that specific issue is that you know it resonates with liberals. If you Really Cared about those kids, you'd also care about how kids are treated closer to home, especially in GOP states.

In other words, you'd BE a liberal, instead of just selectively baiting them.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 10:30 am

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

Web Link


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 10:44 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

"...pigs are better company. I like their more evolved ethics."

Pigs have ethics, therefore pig=human? Fancy that.

Due to the recent rains I was just turning out a horse that we have and as I was looking down at the muck that he's been wallowing in I lamented: "you know, he's just like a human".

Of course you know that all of the above is sarcasm for the sake of showing how this topic has "evolved" into the surreal.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 11:45 am

I have always liked Governor Christie and think he is usually refreshingly blunt, honest, and has a lot of common sense. He also is pretty independent, such as actually going against his party in praising Obama for his help after hurricane Sandy damaged so much of his state.

I think an ideal VP for Christie would be Charles Barkley! Talk about refreshingly honest and blunt, with common sense. He was right on in ripping the rioters in Missouri, and for pointing out how he agreed with the grand jury and the evidence showing self defense by the police officer. As he said, it does not matter what color you are, as burning down buildings, looting, and rioting is the work of scumbags, not civil rights leaders.

As to Obama's knee jerk reaction that he favors police always wearing cameras, I have a better idea: How about every convicted felon has to wear a camera at all times? Oops, I forgot, criminals to the liberals have privacy rights, but not police officers who risk their lives to keep us safe.

*** Note to Commenters ***

Para 3 above, and most of Para 2 (as well as the earlier drone comments) are beyond the relevant scope of this thread. This is fair warning that future such comments will be deleted, regardless of from which side of the aisle they originate.

-- Moderator

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

I?m not a liberal because liberal policies don?t work.

And they often make things worse.

And liberals are self-righteous.

And annoying.

Plus, I?m a vegetarian. If I were a liberal, I would hop on my high horse and try to shame all you meat eaters.

If I were a liberal, I would prance around and shout, ?I am more humane than thou.?

Posted by Not the King of Siam, a resident of Siena,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm

On the internets, I'm the King of Siam.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 2:04 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

I admit that I do eat pork and ham and bacon, even though my ancestral religion prohibits those foods. Animal husbandry has changed a lot in 5000 years. Now it is safer for those who eat them than for the animals themselves.

I posted a comment on another blog, maybe Yahoo, about liking Farmer John Bacon and hoping the pigs were not kept in crates. To my surprise my comment was answered by a representative from Hormel that they treat their animals humanely. I didn't know Farmer John bacon was a Hormel product, but I now respect Hormel and will buy their other pork products. It's good business to treat animals well. A lot of consumers care. That's an example of where empathy pays off for people, pigs, and industry.

By the way I don't consider myself a Liberal, but I am an animal lover. They are often abused and cannot protect themselves, which is why I contribute mostly to animal rescue and protection organizations.

I like Chris Christie for the same reasons as American above. Tom's point wasn't to protect the pigs but show that Christie is already running for President as if we didn't already know that. I knew that the second he got his stomach stapled. He doesn't want to have to pull President Taft's old bathtub out of storage.


Posted by Winston, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Web Link

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm

well...i must say that Guv Crispy reminds me of Mr. Joy Boy/Rod Steiger.

yup...I luv the scene when he describes how he served his mother raw lobsters and she dug in and they also clawed at her...when Crispy created the bridge shutdown scene...that was when he morphed in Mr. Joy Boy...drivers honking, screaming and making nasty finger signs, just like Mr. Joy boys momma duking it out with raw lobsters...yup...that's what Crispy did, he started a fight and it backfired and for that he will NOT be the 2016 presidential candidate for any party...tee hee hee...he may just as well buy a ton of lobsters and eat his heart out...

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Rod Steiger: Web Link

"here comes the lobster man..."

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.


Farmer John Bacon is the best (just had some this morning) and I appreciate your anecdote regarding the Hormel representative. However the base issue is over the definition of "humane", isn't it? For every meat industry claim regarding their humane treatment of animals, there's its counterpart in animal rights activists saying that it isn't enough.

As if isn't bad enough, here comes old reliable Tom taking the issue and throwing in politics as the proverbial "cherry" on top.

It's ridiculous, and as HG as mentioned, hypocritical.

Make the merits, let the public decide and move on. Throwing some politician into the mix is just silly.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Dec 3, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Recollecting, dear Daniel, that you have managed remain confused regarding whom to believe about global warming, there's little hope that you'll be able to sort-out claims about the routinely cruel conditions in the manufactured food-like substances industries. Too bad, especially for the victims on your plate.

There are roles for both government anti-cruelty regs and enforcement, and industry standard-setting here. But industry will only move if it is demonstrated to their satisfaction that there may be a marketing advantage in doing so. That's not evil, it's just business. Mr. Christie's heaping helping of self-service veto merely gave me an opportunity to bring attention to the gestation crate situation -- one that the food industry typically tries so desperately to hide.

BTW, I've copyrighted use of the term 'silly' around here. I guess it works pretty well, because it's suddenly becoming popular. From now on, anybody who uses it in the RC owes me a beer.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 4, 2014 at 8:32 am

well well well...what a tidy solution...self-serving...hmmmmmmm...if "silly" belongs to you, then WAY SILLY belongs to me...i rest my case...

signing off...Cholo the MAGNIFICANT! HOORAY!

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Dec 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

It would be wise for people, who raise animals or plants, to remember that they are just a few genes away from being one themselves. Humans might be at a slightly elevated level but not so much that animals and plants should not be afforded "respect"....something that is lacking in this world at so many levels.

Posted by Chic Enlikkon , a resident of Danville,
on Dec 4, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Psssst: it ain't only pigs: Web Link

Pass it on.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School,
on Dec 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm

agree: Web Link

plus...i rest my case...

Posted by Pololo Mololo, a resident of Canyon Oaks,
on Dec 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I'll never eat a Chick-fil-a after reading this:

Web Link

Most like ate too many fil-a's

very sad indeed

Posted by who's the swine, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Dec 6, 2014 at 12:12 am

So you don't like Governor Christie because he quit eating bacon? He looks good. In the meantime you continue to ignore HUGE unfunded Pension liabilities that are driving increased costs for everything from Turkey Bacon to both lower & higher Education, in Ca. What about our own governor? Should we all just accept the fact J.B. has the power to play Train Conductor, despite what the polls say about the lack of support for what amounts to a 100 Billion Dollar bait & switch scheme.

Considering that California is run by the unions, I think Gov. Christie represents a breath of fresh air.

If I missed your point it was probably intentional.

Posted by mackeroo, a resident of another community,
on Dec 6, 2014 at 8:14 am

Take this: [photo eliminated as unrelated to the post. We are not making gratuitous fun of his Status. Blog critiques his Actions. It's not open season.]

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Once I finish off all of the meat I have left in my house (at least a couple of weeks worth), I plan go vegetarian. I will write a future blog on it. Watch the video linked below.

Web Link

As Cholo would say, I rest my case.


Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

When you stop eating meat, you will feel better and have more room for dessert.

And you can join me in sneering at meat eaters like Tom.

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