White House Woes

The Trump Presidency

First 7 Months in Trumpland

Volume II - September onward


Early Trump News (January-August)

Latest News Briefs

February 2: President agrees to let House Republicans release memo alleging bias by FBI in investigation of Trump administration.

February 3: Trump claims newly-released memo gives him "total vindications" for allegations of Russian collusion and obstruction of justice. Democrats and other critics disagree vehemently.

February 5: Trump calls Democrats who sat motionless during State of the Union speech "treasonous" and "un-American."

February 9: President blocks Democratic memo on Russia investigation, citing national security concerns.

February 12: Trump submits $4.4 billion budget, including big boost in military spending, coupled with huge cuts to domestic programs. (The New York Times)

February 17:Reacting to Florida school shooting that killed 17, Trump faults FBI for not acting on tips that the culprit was a threat. In Tweet, he blames that omission on FBI's emphasis on investigation of Russian election meddling.

February 22: Trump's top solution to threat of school shootings: let certain teachers and staff take training and carry concealed guns.

February 26: Speaking to group of governors, Trump says he believes he would have rushed into Florida school at time of mass shooting, even if he had no weapon.

February 27: Jared Kushner, president's adviser and son-in-law, loses his "temporary" top secret clearance.

February 28: Dick's sporting goods, a major chain, announces that it will no longer sell assault-type rifles and will raise gun-buying age limit to 21.

March 2: Surprising many, even in White House, Trump announces tariffs to be applied to imported steel (25 percent) and aluminum (10 percent). Critics charge that tariffs could shrink, not increase, number of U.S. jobs.

March 5: Trump tweets that tariffs might not be applied to Canada and Mexico, if those countries agree to certain limitations.

March 6: White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, an opponent of tariffs, resigns.

March 8: Trump signs bill imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, but exempts Canada and Mexico - at least for now.

March 8: Kim Jong-un invites U.S. president to meeting on nuclear weapons, in North Korea. Trump plans to attend.

March 10: As reported in The New York Times, Trump delivers "fiery" 75-minute speech at Pennsylvania rally, described as "vintage 2016."

March 13: Trump fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The New York Times reports that Tillerson will be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

March 15: Special counsel Robert Mueller issues subpoena for documents from Trump organization.

March 16: Attorney general Sessions fires Andrew McCabe, 26 hours before retirement of the former FBI deputy director. Trump administration alleges that McCabe "misled Justice Dept. investigators," according to CNN. As a result, McCabe will lose his pension after more than two decades of government work. Hours later, CNN reports that Trump "celebrates" the firing in a tweet.

March 17: President's attorney, John Dowd, calls for halt to Mueller investiation of Russian meddling in 2016 election. (CNN)

Recent News Briefs

January 3: Trump taunts North Korean leader in retaliatory Tweet, insisting that his “nuclear button” is “bigger and more powerful” than Kim Jong-un’s.

January 6: Reacting to allegations in new book, including assertion that White House aides questioned the president's fitness for office, Trump tweets that he is a "very stable genius."

January 12: Trump reportedly uses vulgar term to describe Haiti and certain African nations. In White House meeting, he says he'd rather have immigrants from countries like Norway.

January 14: Trump denies using vulgarity during meeting, insisting he is not a "racist." Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), having attended that meeting, says vulgar term was used "repeatedly," while two Republicans claim it was never said.

January 19: As midnight deadline approaches, Senate vote on bill to keep U.S. government operating fails. As the clock strikes 12:00, the government officially shuts down.

January 20: As Trump marks first anniversary in office, massive Women’s March takes place around the country. An estimated 300,000 participants march in Chicago alone.

January 22: Congress passes short-term bill to reopen government. Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promises full discussion and vote on DACA (“Dreamers”) issue prior to February 8, when funding bill is reconsidered.

January 25: While attending Davos Forum in Switzerland, Trump proposes granting legal status to 1.8 million undocumented U.S. residents, more than double the number registered under DACA.

January 26: According to The New York Times, in June 2017, Trump sought to fire Robert Mueller, but backed down when top White House lawyer refused that request and threatened to resign.

January 30: Trump gives one of longest State of the Union speeches ever, drawing lavish praise and applause as well as harsh criticism. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) delivers pointed evaluation of president's record, without naming Trump.

For additional details, as well as previous News items, please click here.

Toil & Trouble

Countdown to Trumpland, our new section on the Trump phenomenon and its potential impact on so much of American life, was our main story until Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017. Since then, we've provided news and commentary on the Trump presidency, in a section called White House Woes. Mr. Trump's candidacy and election has led to a crucial urgency among progressives and others who feared a barrage of disastrous decisions from his Administration.

Meanwhile, Tirekicking Today has been developing this section on work, labor, and consumer concerns. Toil & Trouble builds upon the uncommon views in Work Hurts, one of our Books in Progress. In addition to notable news items related to work and labor, this section will feature critical essays and editorials.

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

Work/Labor News Headlines and Victories

• "Fight for $15" campaign for minimum-wage hike looks back on a string of victories in 2016 and 2017, as new wage floors emerge in several regions of the country. Currently, 21 states stick to federal minimum ($7.25 per hour).

• On Labor Day 2017, "Fight for $15" and union groups marched for minimum-wage hike. Click here for coverage of Chicago protest.

• Unemployment rate in December 2017 was unchanged, at 4.1 percent (a 17-year low). Rate has gone almost steadily downhill since 2009, when it reached 9.9 percent during the “great recession.” At the height of the Great Depression, in 1933, the rate reached 24.9 percent.

• In mid-January 2018, Amazon announced that 20 cities were on the "short list" of possible sites for the company's second headquarters. Each city has offered massive incentives in its quest to attract Amazon, which promises to make some 50,000 jobs available in the winning locale.

Before a final decision is made, later in 2018, residents of those cities might want to read a vivid description of the working life in an Amazon warehouse, in one chapter of a recent book. Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder, chronicles lives of "houseless" Americans, many of them elderly, who live in vans and RVs, working at seasonal and short-term jobs (including Amazon warehouses) to survive.

March 5: West Virginia teachers high on enthusiasm, on 8th day of strike for higher pay. State ranks 48th in nation for average teachers' salary.

March 6: Victory for jubilant West Virginia teachers, as state employers win 5-percent salary increase. A century earlier, West Virginia was in the forefront of the nation's increasingly vibrant labor movement.

• 2018 Labor Notes Conference will take place April 6-8, near Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

Additional Labor news items will be posted soon. Please check again.

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

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

“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

Labor-related Essays:

Own Nothing, Owe Nothing
10 Ways to Keep Occupy Movement Alive
Surprise! Some of us like to pay taxes
Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise
Overview: All too often, Toil Is Trouble
Needed Now: Jobs, Not Careers
New Ways To Look at Work
Solidarity Forever?
Quit calling us consumers!
Let's break the chain of consumer debt
Prioritize! Living with Less and Liking It

During March and beyond, new essays on labor, work, money and other topics will be added regularly.

"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.

UPDATED: March 17, 2018

After 23 years of covering cars and the auto industry, Tirekicking Today has shifted gears, with a new focus on social issues and current affairs - led by the unprecedented ramifications of the Trump presidency

During March, this page will be further modified to reflect the change in featured subject matter. Essays with a unique perspective, related to labor, work, money, consumer issues and other topics, will be added regularly.

Third book from TK Press Is Now
On Sale in print and e-book form
... and it's Incompetent

TK Press, the book-publishing division of Tirekicking Today, has issued three titles since 2014. Each has been written by James M. Flammang, author of more than two dozen previous books.

The latest is INCOMPETENT: Coming Up Short in a World of Achievement. Whether it's sports, business, personal relationships, the arts, or any other area of life, some of us score a flat zero in the skills and talents department. Blending serious concerns with a humorous tone, each chapter covers a specific area of incompetence with which the author, amazingly, is all too personally familiar.

Incompetent is available NOW in print (paperbound) and e-book form, at these and other retailers:
Barnes and Noble
ISBN (print): 978-0-9911263-2-3 ($10.50)

Excerpts may be seen at Bublish.com.

Also On Sale NOW:

Mr. Maurice Knows It All ... and tells you so. Available in print (paperbound) or e-book form at various retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
ISBN (print): 978-0-9911263-3-0 ($8.50)

In 78 concise chapters, the debonair yet down-to-earth stuffed pig known as Mr. Maurice–who just happens to know everything–unleashes a torrent of acerbic, humorous, delightfully wise words on subjects ranging from work to movies, from money to citizenship, from status to guilt. An emigrant from Britain, with obviously French heritage, Mr. M. manages to combine strictly contemporary attitudes and piercing opinions with a gallantry and sophistication reminiescent of the era of Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.

Note: Mr. Maurice ... was re-launched in 2016 by a different distributor and printer.

Books in Progress (outlines and excerpts)

Editor James M. Flammang, the author of more than two dozen books (including six for children), is at work on several more. Each title views its subject from an oblique and lighthearted – yet serious – perspective. Preliminary outlines and excerpts may be seen by clicking on each title.

Absurdities: Logical Lapses in everyday life and thought is a comprehensive collection of stinging essays that gaze with disbelief at various aspects of modern life. Chapters are arranged in sections, including Work, Money, Identity, Communication/Technology, Consumption, Politics and Law, Pastimes, Sex, and Transportation. Scheduled to go on sale by spring 2018.

Untied Knots - Fiction by Flammang: two groups of short stories, each with a tangy twist. One group is travel-based; the other focuses on stay-at-home folks.

Fraidy-Cat: Surviving a lifetime of unwarranted fear and fright. A personal look backward, focusing on lessons learned about debilitating fear and anxiety, including ways to cope and survive.

Work Hurts: Reflections on a wasted life questions the conventional wisdom on work and careers. For untold millions, including many with "good" jobs, each day's toil delivers no joy and little reward.

Hotel Life, subtitled "Living small in an age of large," assesses the satisfactions of simpler living and minimal consumption, while chronicling the joys (and drawbacks) of residing in low-end accommodations.

Also under consideration for future publication:
Steering Toward Oblivion is a caustically critical but humorous observation of the car culture and auto business. Note: Outline will be updated to reflect current conditions.

For further information, please contact us at JF@tirekick.com.

• Articles and essays on topics related to current affairs, and occasionally about relevant automotive subjects, will be posted here periodically.

• New editorials, automotive and non-automotive), will be posted periodically.

• Occasional reviews of current vehicles and disussions of auto-related issues, including self-driving cars, will appear in this space.

Editor James M. Flammang also contributes to vehicle reviews at NewCarTestDrive.com.

Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, a veteran independent 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 extensively for a variety of major outlets, including J.D. Power, cars.com, and the Chicago Tribune. Flammang is a member of the Freelancers Union, the International Motor Press Association, and Midwest Automotive Media Association (past president). The author of more than two dozen books, mostly on auto history, also has contributed extensively to Consumer Guide publications and to such trade publications as Ward's Dealer Business. TK Press, established in 2014 as a division of Tirekicking Today, has already published three books by Flammang.

"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

Countdown to Trumpland

Early January, 2017

Leading Up to Inauguration

Delight or Disaster?

Trump presidency signals either his promised return to a “Great” America, or the demise of Constitutional Democracy, with economic tragedy for lower and middle classes.

As the New Year begins, Americans face a political scene that can only be called unprecedented. To about half the voters in November’s election, the arrival of Donald Trump as president-elect demonstrated a fresh start for the country. To the other half, seeing this willfully ignorant, ill-behaved, flagrantly self-absorbed bully prepare to take the reins of government – despite fierce distaste for so many of the principles and values upon which this nation was founded – is an occasion for dread, distress, and abject hopelessness....

Click here for more.

As soon as Donald Trump entered the White House, Tirekicking Today halted its section “Countdown to Trumpland." Our follow-up series (at right, above) is titled “White House Woes: The Trump Presidency."

In addition to articles on specific issues that President Trump deals with, we include news items on the latest actions and words emanating from, and about, the Trump Administration.

For latest commentary, as well as details on protests and resistance, please click here.

For commentary and protest reports from the first seven months of the Trump presidency, please click here.

For Latest News on Trumpland, please click here.

For news from first seven months of Trump Administration, click here.

News Headlines
in the Auto World

• Environmentalists fear that Trump administration, as part of its program to roll back regulations, will ease fuel-economy requirements for the future.

• In December 2017, a U.S. Volkswagen executive is sentenced to prison for diesel emissions cheating. Fate of other VW executives remains unclear.

• North American International Auto Show opens to public in Detroit on January 21, 2018. During media days, autonomous (self-driving) cars capture much of the attention. GM has announced it will place a self-driver on sale in 2019, targeting the fleet market. Speaking to journalists, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao foresees rapid advance in autonomous vehicles, "while ensuring safety." Critics have charged that federal government erred in relaxing certain safety requirements for makers of autonomous cars.

Highlights from Detroit's 2018 Auto Show: Ford revives Ranger name for new midsize pickup truck and reveals redesigned Edge crossover, including 335-horsepower Edge ST ... Jeep shows second-generation Cherokee ... Kia reveals 2019 Forte, promising improved gas mileage; design was inspired by company's new Stinger ... Hyundai debuts reworked Veloster, on new platform, including first performance-focused version ... Toyota shows fifth-generation Avalon, with first use of Apple CarPlay ... Acura unveils major redesign of RDT ... Reworked Ram full-size pickups offers bigger cabin, greater economy. and more safety technology.

• Ford promotes 50th anniversary of Mustang Bullitt. The original Bullitt was driven by Steve McQueen in popular film of that name, including what many regard as the best car-chase scene ever.

• Subaro unveils Ascent three-row crossover, its largest-ever SUV.

• Super Bowl commercial to promote Ram trucks uses words from famed sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., drawing flurry of criticism. (February 5)

• Ford issues "do not drive" notice to owners of 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series compact pickups, due to faulty Takata airbags.

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 coverage of automobiles, and take the publication on a completely different track - focusing primarily on topics that had become far more crucial than cars.

©All contents copyright 1997-2018 by Tirekicking Today.
Material may not be reused in any way without express permission from Tirekicking Today.
For information on reprinting and syndication rights,
please contact us at JF@tirekick.com.
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