No. P01135809



COMMENTARY

Thinking About Leaving?

What can lovers of democracy do as debacle of second Trump presidency looms?

Yes, the future (or demise) of democracy will be on the November ballot; and for about half of Americans, its prospects do not look good.

Four years ago, as the 2020 presidential election drew to a close, voters for both candidates (but especially for Biden) expressed fear for the future. This year, the stakes are far higher.

As Donald Trump's first term developed, some of us began pondering possibilities that would have seemed ludicrous a few months previous. With the potential for political disaster looming in the 2022 Midterm election, searching for a way out seemed more compelling than ever. Subsequent events, as Republicans opened Congress with a slim House majority, added to the concern for American democracy. By April, two days after Donald J. Trump was indicted in New York, with nearly all Congressional Republicans taking his side, the country appeared more divided than ever, with no potential solution evident. Now, early in 2024, facing 91 felony charges in four courts repeatedly promising retribution against all opponents, Mr. Trump appears certain to capture the presidential nomination, and likely to secure victory in November, with unprecedented chaos looming.

What can we, as individuals on the liberal or progressive end of the political spectrum, do to survive?

• Leave the country (not as easy as many Americans think unless you have substantial income/wealth, or an in-demand skill).
• Intensify peaceful protests.
• Turn our attention to state elections.
• Tune out: Strive to ignore the worsening political scene.
• Weigh the merits and drawbacks of splitting the country into red and blue nations: a drastic and difficult action.
• If the latter sounds too far-fetched, forming state coalitions could be a workable, if unlikely, alternative. States with similar leanings might band together on specific issues; and especially, the future of America.
Editor Jim Flammang has chosen to aim at the first solution. Now a widower, following the passing of his beloved wife Marianne in November, he is contemplating a move to Mexico, on at least a periodic, but preferably semi-permanent, basis. At the very least, he intends to be outside the U.S. border on the day of Donald Trump's Inauguration – sure to be among the darkest days in American history, if not the beginning of the end for our democratic republic.


Gunshots: Not Again ... and Again and Again!

One week in April 2023 was a big one for gun-wielding homeowners. When a 16-year-old Black boy went to the wrong house in Kansas City to pick up his siblings and rang the bell, the 84-year-old white man inside answered with gunshots. Days later in upstate New York, a young woman riding in a car was shot and killed by a 65-year-old man, after her driver turned into the wrong driveway. On a Saturday night in Alabama, a Sweet Sixteen party for a 16-year-old girl ended with four young people killed and 32 injured. Late on a Tuesday, two teen cheerleaders were shot in a Texas supermarket parking lot when one of them tried to open a car door, mistakenly thinking it was her own vehicle.

In Nashville in March, a shooter fired 152 shots inside a Christian elementary school, killing six: three 9-year-olds and three adults. Early in May, in Texas, where a man killed eight at an outlet mall. Two mass shootings took place in California within a two-day period. Eleven lay dead, with nine injured, in an attack on a dance studio near Los Angeles, as elder Chinese-Americans celebrated Lunar New Year.

During 2023, more than 630 mass shootings took place, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nation's shooting spree continued into 2024. Early in February, a woman with a small child in tow fired shots into a crowd at Joel Osteen's Houston megachurch; child was shot and shooter was killed. A day later, a shooter opened fire during Rush Hour at a New York subway platform, killing one and injuring five. And on, and on, and on.

When Will We Finally Learn: GUNS KILL!

Gun Advocates: Don't forget Annabell and Xavier

Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez and Xavier James Lopez, both age 10, were best friends who texted "I love you" to each other. Acknowledging the young sweethearts' affection, their mothers had them buried next to each other in Uvalde, Texas. They were among 19 children and two teachers murdered in school.


Absurd! Outrageous!

2,000 Illinois Children Abused by Priests

You read that figure correctly. Over the past 70 years, 2,000 children in Illinois alone were abused by Catholic Clergy. Instead of punishment in any form, many priests were shunted around to various parishes in an outlandish cover-up.

We've said it before. The absolute maximum number of abuses committed by any priest, anywhere, should have been ONE. That person should have been removed, and the Church should have made it perfectly clear that such an atrocity will never, ever be tolerated.


Democracy R.I.P.

By censuring Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney for her work on the Hearing for the January 6 assault on the Capitol, Republicans proclaimed the death of their party and the imminent demise of democracy in America. As CNN's main headline put it, May 12, 2021 was "a major turning point in US political history." One columnist noted that a single line in Cheney's speech to Congress "will haunt Republicans" from this point forward. That line referred to the "Big Lie" perpetrated by Donald Trump:
"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."


Donald Trump:
Invariably the
Partial President

Unlike any predecessors, Mr. Trump never even pretended to be president of all the people; only his followers and MAGA Republicans. Everyone else was deemed an enemy, subject to verbal abuse. As his utterances, tweets, and actions made perfectly clear for four years, he was emphatically not the president of Democrats and progressives. For additional comments on early Trumpism, please Click here.


Toil & Trouble

A Century of
Pay and Prices

Chronicle of workers' wages and commodity prices, 1886-1986

How much did Hudson Hornet sedan cost in 1953? What was average worker earning? Click here to find out.


While chronicling the Trump phenomenon and its impact on American life, Tirekicking Today began this section on work and labor. It builds upon the views in Work Hurts, one of our Books in Progress.



"No man is good enough to be another man's master."
George Bernard Shaw,
in Major Barbara



"I don't like to work. It tires me out."
Actor James Garner, portraying the reluctant lawman in Support Your Local Sheriff



"Only suckers work."
Actor John Derek, portraying criminally-inclined Nick Romano in film version of the Willard Motley novel Knock On Any Door (1949)



"I work all night, I work all day,
to pay the bills I have to pay.
Ain't it sad....
In the rich man's world"
Song lyric, ABBA, "Money, Money, Money"



Words On Work

Surprise! Some of us don't mind paying taxes
New Ways To Look at Work
Overview: Imaginative Approaches Required ...
Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise
Quit calling us consumers!
Solidarity Forever?
Prioritize! Living with Less and Liking It
Own Nothing, Owe Nothing
Let's break the chain of consumer debt
Needed Now: Jobs, Not Careers

New essays on labor, work, money, and related topics will be added periodically.


Work/Labor News Headlines

February 13: Thousands of flight attendants plan to picket outside 30 airports in U.S. and UK, seeking better pay. (Labor Union News.com).

February 12: A Philadelphia sex shop, known for "inclusivity" in hiring, laid off all its workers after they joined a union. (Jacobin).

February 2: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate stood at a modest 3.7 percent. For the past two years, the rate has been below 4 percent – the longest stretch in half a century. A total of 14.8 million jobs have been created during the Biden administration, including 791,000 in manufacturing. "Even with those strong gains," said Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, "we have more room to grow by bringing more people into the labor force."

Additional Labor news items, especially related to low-wage, contract, and temporary work, will be posted periodically.



"No Human Being Is Illegal"
Sign carried by protester marching in support of "Dreamers" on January 19, 2018


Work/Labor in Print

In 2018, Amazon announced that 20 cities were on the "short list" of possible sites for the company's second headquarters. Each city offered massive incentives in its quest to attract Amazon, which promised to create 50,000 jobs.

Before a final decision was made, residents of those cities might have benefited from reading a vivid description of the working life in an Amazon warehouse, in one chapter of Nomadland. Jessica Bruder chronicles lives of "houseless" Americans, many elderly, who live in vans and RVs, working at seasonal and short-term jobs (including Amazon warehouses) to survive. A film version directed by Chloe Zhao, starring Frances McDormand, won Academy Awards for Best Director, Picture, and Actress.

On the Clock, another book focused on low-wage toil, painted an even bleaker picture of worklife within an Amazon warehouse. Laid-off reporter Emily Guendelsberger spent an exhausting, painful month at a massive warehouse in Kentucky, then traveled to North Carolina for a job at a call center. Not only does she report in fascinating detail about her experiences, she provides an excellent chronicle of aspects of labor history that led to today's low-wage worklives. Her observations on Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor, a pioneer in industrial efficiency, are especially illuminating.



"[W]hile there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Eugene Debs (in 1918 court statement)
Five-time Socialist candidate for president


Work On Film

12 Vintage Movies About Work and Labor that should not be missed:

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
I'm All Right, Jack (1957)
The Organizer (1963; Italian)
Wages of Fear (1953)
Office Space (1999)
The Misfits (1961)
Death of a Salesman (1951)
Bachelor Party (1957)
They Drive By Night (1940)
No Down Payment (1957)
Greed (2019); scathing satire on extreme wealth and poverty
The Good Boss (2021) Spanish film starring Javier Bardem

Please Click Here for details on each film.




You know what the weirdest part about having a job is? You have to be there every day, even on the days you don t feel like it.
Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johansson, in episode 4 of the HBO series Girls, created and written by Lena Dunham



"He that has to obey the will of another is a slave."
Samuel Fielden (1886)



Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
Typically attributed to Winston Churchill, but actual source is uncertain



The Dunning-Kruger effect: "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
Charles Darwin



"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)
Paleontologist, The Panda's Thumb


"Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn't know anyone who knows of a vacancy."
B. Traven - Author, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

UPDATED: February 20, 2023

Renowned Russian dissident and ardent Putin opponent Alexey Navalny dies in prison, suspected by many as having been poisoned. Russian officials refuse to release the body to his wife. Despite harsh criticism from around the world, often accusing Putin of having ordered the killing, Donald Trump says nothing on the subject and spends a day promoting costly, golden Trump-brand sneakers.

House Speaker Johnson and other Republicans, seemingly acceding to ex-president Trump's wishes, indicated that chance of passing bi-partisan immigration bill that would also fund Ukraine and Israel, is next to nonexistent. Bill fails to pass in Senate, despite its skewing sharply toward most of G.O.P.'s demands.


Tirekicking Today continues to undergo substantial revision, emphasizing the intensely partisan 2024 political scene. Posting will resume shortly.


News from TK Press (book division of Tirekicking Today): Separate Books Page now contains full details on books by Editor James M. Flammang.

NOW ON SALE: Autobiographical Fiction by James M. Flammang

Untied Knots

Tales of Travel and Back at Home

Three groups of short stories, each with an offbeat twist or two, make up Untied Knots. Nearly half are travel-based, focusing on second-class journeys through everyday life, steering around the posh and the touristy. Several stem from real-life journeys within Mexico, undertaken as far back as the mid-1970s. "Back At Home" tales are more fictional, though inspired at least in part by real people and places. The collection also includes several early stories, strictly fictional, from the author's archive.

Please go to our new TK Press Books Page for details on Untied Knots and other books by Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, including the forthcoming Fraidy Cat and Absurdities. Links to excerpts from each title are available on the Books page.

Untied Knots is available through major retailers. The paperbound book may be ordered directly from the author, for a discounted price of $16 (including shipping in U.S.).


After 23 years covering the auto industry, Tirekicking Today shifted gears in 2016 to focus on social, political and economic issues – led by unprecedented ramifications of the Trump presidency and its election-denying aftermath.

Please see Used Car section (bottom of page) for articles on used car trends and growing electric-car market.

All 20 chapters of Clunkers & Creampuffs, editor James M. Flammang's comprehensive history of the used car (1900-85) are now available. See details below.

Additional automotive history:
Easy Shifting: a detailed history of the automatic transmission
Gasoline Rationing: Learning from the pastPart I covers World War II period (1942-45)... Part II deals with public reaction, along with threat of revived rationing during 1970s.


News That Matters ... Covid Update

National and Global News Briefs

Selected news items highlight some of the most worrisome recent events and statements, augmented by periodic commentary (at right) related to the bitterly partisan U.S. political scene.

Although the "national emergency" stemming from the Covid pandemic was declared over in April 2023, as of November, Covid-19 hospitalizations were rising substantially in number. Updated vaccinations remain available, and U.S. government has been offering another round of Covid test kits free (four per household). Request may be made at Covid.gov, but many Americans have been declining this latest booster injection.

February 15: Two-day hearing opens in Georgia to determine if District Attorney Fani Willis should be disqualified from Donald Trump's trial for election subversion, because of romantic relationship with a prosecutor in the case.

February 15: New York judge sets March 25 trial date for "hush money" case against Trump, denying his attorneysw' arguments for delay.

February 13: House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas by one vote, after failing to do so in first attempt. Three Republicans voted against impeachment. Majorkas is the second cabinit officer to be impeached in all of American history.

February 13: In special election in Long Island, Democrat Tom Suozzi wins House seat formerly held by fabulist George Santos.

February 13: Senate passes bill (70 to 29) to provide $90 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Its fate in the House appears doubtful.

February 11:

During campaign rally speech, Trump threatens to support Russian leader Vladimir Putin if he attacks any NATO nations that have failed to finance their armies according to agreed-upon levels. Comment draws harsh criticism, from world leaders as well as U.S. officials, in subsequent days.

February 11: At a campaign rally, ex-president Trump vows to enact the biggest mass deportation in American history. According to PBS, such a program would likely include establishing large-scale detention camps near the Mexican border, as well as federalizing National Guard troops in "red" states to enforce the program – including, according to Trump advisor Stephen Miller, moving into adjacent "blue" states to grab "illegal aliens" (undocumented migrants) there. He would also seek to end "birthright" citizenship, which grants U.S. citizenship to American-born children of undocumented immigrants, and revive the Muslim travel ban.

February 11: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin enters hospital for bladder problem, following prostate cancer surgery days earlier. Austin was castigated for failing to notify President Biden or other officials before undergoing the surgery.


White House Woes

Trump's Presidency In News Briefs

During and prior to the first two years of his presidency, we compiled news items outlining the outrages committed by the Trump administration against American laws, values, and principles. We revived coverage for his final year in office, concluding in January 2021.

Click here for Countdown News Briefs (PDF): Chronicles the three-week period prior to 2017 Inauguration
Click here for White House Woes (PDF): Two Years of News Briefs, January 2017 through December 2018
Click here for Election Season News Briefs: March 2020 to January 20, 2021 (Inauguration Day)
Click here for Post-Presidency News Briefs: February 2021 to October 2022


GRETA'S CORNER

Since 2019, teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has been speaking out forcefully about the lack of action on global climate change.

Ms. Thunberg has spoken at such events as the UN Climate Action Summit and the World Economic Forum, berating world leaders for doing "basically nothing" to reduce carbon emissions. In 2020, Greta returned to school, having dropped out for a year, but she continues her protest activities.

Greta mocked world leaders at Youth4Climate forum in Italy, asserting that for the previous three decades, climate action amounted to no more than "blah, blah, blah.... empty words and promises" that failed to lead to action. In February 2022, shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine in its "special military operation," Greta joined a group of "Stand With Ukraine" protesters at a Russian embassy. Early in 1923, Ms. Thunberg was carried off by police officers in Germany, following her participation in a coal mine protest. Not long afterward, she was briefly detained by police during a protest against wind farms in an indigenous area of Norway. Wind farms are said to adversely impact grazing by reindeer, which are herded by the Sami people. In July, a Swedish court fined Ms. Thunberg about $240 (U.S.) for refusing to obey police order during a climate protest at oil facility. "We cannot save the world by playing by the rules," she told journalists after the guilty verdict. She then rejoined the protesters.

Click here for additional details on Greta's activities.



• Articles and essays on current affairs will appear periodically.

Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, a veteran auto journalist, has contributed countless product reviews and feature articles to such publications as autoMedia.com, New Car Test Drive, CarsDirect, and Kelley Blue Book. He has written for a variety of major outlets, including J.D. Power, cars.com, and the Chicago Tribune; and extensively, including books, to Consumer Guide. Flammang is a member of the Freelancers Union and International Motor Press Association, and is a past president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. The author of more than thirty books, mostly on auto history.

TK Press, established in 2014 as a division of Tirekicking Today, has published four books by Flammang. Several more (See Books Page) are well underway.


Clunkers & Creampuffs

A casual history of the used car

Overview
1: Early Days
2: Ford's Model T
3: Production and Prosperity
4: "Easy" Payments
5: Family Cars and Family Life
6: Five-Dollar Flivvers
7: Rise and Fall of Used Car
8: Saturation and Salesmanship
9: A Global Blowout (1930s)
10: Selling In Hard Times
11: Wheels for the Workingman
12: Okies, Nomads, & Jalopies
13: Motoring in Wartime
14: The Postwar Boom
15: Chromium Fantasies
16: Dealers Face Image Problem
17: Wheels for '50s Workingman
18: Teens, Rods, Clunkers
19: Everybody Drives
20: Personal History of Clunker Ownership



Used Car
World

Ever since the first automobiles began to age, early in the 20th century, the used car has been a notable yet seldom-heralded element of American life. Editor James M. Flammang has been reporting on used cars since the 1980s, not only for this website but for Consumer Guide's used car buying guide and other publications. Thia section also covers the new-vehicle marketplace, starting with a report on the gradually growing market for electric cars, including a brief history of EVs. NA detailed look at the volatile used car marketplace Used Car Trends features comments from experts attending the annual pre-owned car conference presented by Auto Remarketing.

Are EVs finally ready for prime time?
Used Car Trends
Cars vs. Trucks in sales race (Hint: Trucks have strong lead.)
What's happened to used car prices?
Whatever happened to the Repo Man?


Note: Articles on automotive history and the car culture also appear in this section, led by Easy Shifting, a comprehensive history of the automatic transmission.



Part I of our detailed, two-part history of gasoline rationing covers the World War II period (1942-45). Part II deals with public reaction and threat of rationing during 1970s oil crisis.
Click here for Gas Rationing during World War II





News Headlines
in the Auto World

What's New for 2024-25

February 15: Ford CEO announces plan to produce new, smaller, more affordable electric vehicle. Overall EV sales and profitability have been declining lately. (Automotive News).

February 13: According to Consumer Reports, one-third of surveyed consumers have only limited experience with electric vehicles. (Automotive News). A Yahoo Finance/Ipsos survey, reported in Business Insider, found that 57 percent of respondents are unlikely to purchase an EV in the near future. Many naysayers cite shortage of charging facilities, or still worry about limited range before charging is needed, despite numerous increases in estimated EV range.

February 13: Cadillac set to produce full-electric version of long-wheelbase Escalade full-size luxury SUV. (Automotive News

February 12: J.D. Power reports that public EV chargers have been growing in reliability, but are in short supply – partly because of inoperative units at charging stations.

February 10: Chicago Auto Show opens to the public for 9-day run. Featured products include: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz (electric microbus) ... Cadillac Escalade IQ (EV with claimed 450-mile range) ... Tesla Cybertruck ... GM Earth Cruiser (debut) ... Ford Mustang GDT (800+ horsepower) ... Honda Prologue EV. Show area contains three test tracks (one for EVs).

New York International Auto Show will open on March 29, running through April 7.

Expanded coverage of latest auto news will resume shortly.




All editorials, essays, and articles are available for reprinting.
Editors are invited to contact us for rates and full details.

TIREKICKING TODAY began in 1993 as a monthly print publication. Created by widely-known automotive writer/editor James M. Flammang and associate editor Marianne E. Flammang, it went on the Internet in 1995. TIREKICKING TODAY has given consumers, enthusiasts, and industry leaders an abundant supply of valuable automotive information, incuding new-vehicle reviews, used-car buying advice, editorial commentary, and feature articles. By 2016, we were ready to ease away from coverage of automobiles, and take the publication on a completely different track – focusing primarily on topics that had become far more crucial than cars.
Tirekicking Today accepts no advertising and receives no funds from any organization.

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please contact us at JF@tirekick.com.
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