White House Woes

The Trump Presidency

First 7 Months in Trumpland

Volume II - September onward


Early Trump News (January-August 2017)

Latest News Briefs

August 25: Senator John McCain dies, one day after stopping treatment for brain cancer, drawing tremendous praise for his life – from POW in Vietnam to hugely respected, bipartisan work in Senate. McCain's funeral instructions specify desire to have George W. Bush and Barack Obama speak; but Trump, who has often mocked and insulted McCain, is not invited.

August 27: After lowering White House flag to half-staff on Sunday, in respect to death of John McCain, it's raised to full height a day later. Pressure from veterans results in resumption of half-staff position.

August 30: Trump to cancel 2.1 percent pay raise for federal workers, scheduled for January. Later, he claims to be reconsidering the move.

August 31: Trump announces halt to funding of aid to Palestinians via United Nationa Relief and Works Agency. Aid has been supporting 5 million refugees.

September 1: Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama deliver eulogies to John McCain at elegant, touching service in National Cathedral. Some 2,000 guests were invited, but Donald Trump was omitted from that list.

September 13: Contradicting recently-released study, Trump insists that claim of 2,975 deaths resulting from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, in 2017, is a Democratic plot to "make me look as bad as possible." Original estimate had been 64 deaths.

September 14: New York Times columnist notes that total of "false or misleading statements" by Trump has surpassed 5,000.

September 16: Road to confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court hits roadblock as woman alleges sexual assault by the nominee when both were high-schoolers.

September 21: After several days of silence on allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, Trump tweet=attacks the woman who accuses the Supreme Court nominee.

September 21: White House seeks to tighten restrictions on visas and green cards, barring immigrants who receive any sort of public funds (such as food stamps) or are deemed likely to do so. Critics assail subjectivity of such decisions, which would inevitably block low-income persons.

September 23: Accuser of Brett Kavanough, Christine Blasey Ford, agrees to testify in Congress on September 27.

September 25: Speaking to U.N. General Assembly, Trump assails "globalization," vowing that foreign aid will go only to countries that "respect" the U.S. and "are our friends." Early in his speech, the president boasted that his administration had accomplished more than nearly any previous one, drawing laughter from a number of attendees.

September 27: Dr. Blasey Ford testifies calmly but emotionally about sexual assault at a party, when she was 15, in long morning session before Senate Judiciary Committee. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh adopts angry, combative stance in afternoon, totally denying allegations. While acknowledging drinking in high school and college, he denites excessive alcohol consumption to "blackout" level and insists that sexual encounter with Blasey Ford never happened.

September 28: Senate Republicans want immediate vote on Court nomination; Democrats insists that FBI should investigate further before a full Senate vote is taken. Judiciary Committee supports the nomination, but retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) successfully pushes for FBI investigation, with one-week limit.

October 2: After stating that Blasey Ford's testimony had been "credible" and "compelling," Trump lashes out during campaign rally, mocking her words and scoffing at gaps in her recollection of the event.

October 6: At third campaign rally in a week, Trump calls Democrats the "party of crime" and asserts that they are "too dangeorus to govern."

October 8: Trump claims accusation against Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Blasey Ford is a "hoax set up by the Democrats."

October 18: Caravan of migrants is enroute from Honduras toward U.S., via Mexico. Trump warns that unless Mexico halts the marchers, U.S. aid will be cut off to the region and military will be sent to the U.S./Mexico border.

October 24: Pipe bombs sent to 10 notable critics of the president, including Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and actor Robert DeNiro.

October 25: Trump said to be considering sealing the U.S.-Mexico border, to keep all migrants out. (The New York Times

October 26: In stark contrast to anti-immigration stance of Trump administration, Mexico issues temporary work permits to "caravan" migrants. (BBC America)

Recent News Briefs

July 15: In Helsinki, Finland, Trump has two-hour meeting with Vladimir Putin, with only translators present. In news conference afterward, U.S. president appears to believe Putin's denial of Russian meddling in 2016 election. Some critics call Trump's behavior "disgraceful," even "treasonous."

July 16-19: Trump faces massive blowback, even from Republicans, for remarks in Helsinki that suggest he believes Putin more than his own intelligense services.

July 23: Using all capital letters, Trump sends ferocious tweet to Iran's leader, promising "consequenes the likes of which few throughout history" have experienced, if that country ever threatens the U.S. again.

July 27: Immigration agency misses deadline to reunite remaining detained children with their parents. News agencies report that undreds of parents have already been deported.

July 30: Trump administration considers $100 billion tax break, nearly all for super-wealthy. President expresses willingness to bypass Congress, ordering revision of capital gains rules on his own.

August 1: Trump tweets that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should halt Mueller probe "right now." Meanwhile, president is willing to do in-person interview with Mr. Mueller, who agrees to limit questions on obstruction of justice.

August 13: The New York Times reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking legal steps to support states that have launched restrictive voter-registration laws, upturning actions taken by the Obama administration. Critics assert that minorities are most likely to be purged from voter rolls or prevented from registering.

August 15: Trump revokes security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, a leading critic of the president. At news conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders reveals list of nine additional people, each critical of Trump, suggesting that any of them might be next.

August 17: CNN says Trump is considering revoking security clearance of Department of Justice Bruce Ohr "very quickly."

August 21: Paul Manafort, one-time Trump campaign manager, found guilty on eight counts of fraud; judge declares mistrial on 10 other charges. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleads guilty, stating that he paid "hush money" to two women for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election. Various analysts assert that Cohen's action "implicates" the president.

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

October 1: Amazon announces raise in minimum wage for U.S. employees, from $11 to $15 per hour. Contract workers are exclused from the change, set to take place November 1.

• 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 promised to make some 50,000 jobs available in the winning locale.

Before a final decision is made, 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 6: Victory for jubilant West Virginia teachers, as state employees win 5-percent salary increase. A century earlier, West Virginia was in forefront of America's vibrant labor movement.

April 2: Teachers strike in two additional states: Kentucky and Oklahoma.

April 26: Arizona teachers engage in strike action.

May 1: May Day, celebrated by workers in much of the world, is again largely overlooked in U.S. In Chicago, however, a large crowd assembles at Haymarket Memorial, singing labor songs and marching toward downtown Loop. Haymarket Square was the site of one of the most notable events in labor history, in 1886.

• North Carolina teachers walk out – the sixth state to see striking teachers in 2018.

• 2018 Labor Notes Conference took place April 6-8, near Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Tirekicking Today covered the event, and a report will be posted soon. A record number of workers and labor advocates attended, exhibiting enthusiasm reminiscent of the early days of the labor movement.

June 1: The New York Times reports that Stockton, California will test "universal basic income" program. Similar programs have been tried recently in Finland, Canada and elsewhere, hoping to reduce income inequality.

June 1: Department of Labor reports lowest unemployment rate (3.8 percent) since 2000.

• Late in June, Supreme Court rules against public-sector unions in Janus case. Unions can no longer collect fees from non-members.

• By wide margin, voters in Missouri reject "right to work" law, giving labor movement a seldom-seen victory. (August 7)

September 24: Strike by Chicago hotel workers enters third week; following daily protests, some hotels have signed contracts with union.

Sept. 27: New York airport workers expected to benefit from highest minimum wage in U.S.: $19 per hour (The New York Times.

Additional Labor news items will be posted periodically. 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
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

New and updated 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: November 2, 2018

November 6 Is Election Day

Your Vote Is Vital This Year!

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

TK Press, an offshoot of Tirekicking Today, is preparing a schedule of new books to be published this fall-winter and into 2019. See book details below.

The Week's Top Trump News Briefs

October 25: Florida man is charged with sending 14 pipe bombs to Democratic officials and others who have regularly been attacked and insulted by the president.

October 27: Eleven worshipers at Pittsburgh synagogue are shot and killed by man with long history of harsh anti-Semitic statements.

October 29: In wake of murder rampage in Pittsburgh, Trump continues to blame the media and insist that it's the "true enemy of the people."

October 29: Trump calls march of "caravaners" through Mexico an "invasion." Critics point out that the thousands of participants are refugees fleeing extreme danger in Central America, or simply seeking a better life in the north.

October 30: Trump claims he can halt "birthright citizenship," possibly by executive order. House Speaker Paul Ryan is among those denying that possibility, noting the the right to citizens of U.S.-born person is guaranteed by 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

October 31: After ordering 5,200 troops sent to U.S.-Mexico border, Trump says he may send as many as 15,000, claiming they are needed to help curtail the "invasion" of migrants, in the name of national security. CNN reports that veterans have called the action ia "political stunt."

November 1: Trump uses his Twitter account to unleash online ad branded as racist by critics. News outlets recall the comparably racist "Willie Horton" TV commercial, issued during the 1988 presidential campaign by George H.W. Bush backers.

November 2: "Anybody throwing stones, rocks, stones... we will consider that a firearm." So said Mr. Trump, referring to the prospect of troops encountering northbound "caravan" migrants at the Mexican border. Hours later, Defense Department denies Trump's proposal to send troops to the border. (CNN)


Protesters gather near vice-president's Chicago-area speech

ROSEMONT, Illinois (July 13) – While Mr. Trump was in Europe, vice-president Mike Pence arrived in the Chicago suburbs to give a speech on tax issues at the Westin O'Hare hotel. Protesters began to gather in mid-morning on Friday the 13th, initially at one corner of the hotel's property.... Click here for full report.

March for Our Lives protests draw millions of gun-control advocates

CHICAGO (March 24) – Anyone who thinks teenagers cannot accomplish what their elders failed to do should have been in the crowd at one of the “March For Our Lives” protests, held around the country on Saturday, March 24.... Click here for full report.

Essays and reports on a variety of subjects will appear in this space, replaced regularly.

Third book from TK Press Is ... 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 in print (paperbound) and e-book form, at these and other retailers:
Amazon ... Barnes and Noble
ISBN (print): 978-0-9911263-2-3 ($10.50)
Excerpts may be seen at Bublish.com.

Also On Sale:

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 reminiscent of the era of Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.

Note: PDF copies of Mr. Maurice ... and Incompetent are available FREE. Just send e-mail to jf@tirekick.com. Please ask about printed copies, signed by the author.

Books in Progress (outlines and excerpts)

Editor James M. Flammang, the author of thirty 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 unedited excerpts may be seen by clicking on each linked 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 in fall 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. The collection also includes several stories, previously unpublished, from the author's archive.

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 in progress, for near-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 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 on January 20, 2017, 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 of Trumpland, please click here.

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

News Headlines
in the Auto World

• 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.

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

• Ford announces that sedans sold in U.S. will cease production, including Fiesta, Fusion, and Taurus, as company turns solidly to SUVs and trucks.

• Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz will not participate in Detroit's 2019 auto show. (May 10)

• Trump administration submits plan to ease auto-emission standards, permitting cars to emit more pollutants. (May 31)

• Automakers are among the manufacturing companies concerned about Trump administration's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada or Mexico.

• In June, U.S. president complains that too many German cars are imported, suggesting the possibility of a 35-percent tariff. Majority of those German-brand vehicles are made in America.

• Audi CEO arrested in Germany, in connection with Volkswagen company's diesel-emissions testing scandal. In December 2017, a U.S. Volkswagen executive was sentenced to prison for diesel emissions cheating.

• GM warns that tariffs introduced by Trump administration are likely to raise cost of cars as well as result in job losses.

• Sergio Marchionne, head of FCA (FiatChrysler) steps down after suffering problems with surgery. In late July, CEO passes away.

• Volkswagen plans to drop Beetle in 2019. Revived Beetle had been launched as a 1998 model.

• Porsche to drop diesel-engine models, in favor of hybrid and full-electric powertrains. (Sept. 23)

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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