Not Again! Six killed by shooter at July 4th parade in Chicago suburb.

Gun Lovers: 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 at Hillcrest Cemetery in Uvalde, Texas. They were among the 19 children and two teachers murdered in their schoolroom.

Update: Investigators suggest official in charge of response to Uvalde massacre put lives of police officers ahead of the children. (June 21)

Dereliction of Duty

What is proper punishment for cops who flagrantly fail to protect?

May 28 – As unbelievable as the news of the Uvalde, Texas massacre was, the follow-up reports on police malfeasance are even harder to process. How could 19 police officers stand idle in an adjacent corridor while children were being murdered, by rapid gunfire, a few feet away?

Their training manual for such situations, used in a recent class, clearly states that the police cannot put their own lives ahead of those they are sworn to protect. No written rule should even be needed. It's plain common sense and moral reality. Anyone unwilling to confront danger, including the possibility of injury or even death, should not be wearing a police badge.

As one exasperated expert noted, police officers are expected to run toward gunfire, not away from it. Even if the person in charge on the scene issued an order to hold back, making what turned out to be a gross error in judgment, was there not one officer among the remaining 18 willing to ignore protocol and place the fate of those youngsters ahead of his or her own safety?

Punishment? Nothing anyone is likely to recommend will come even close to what these failed, dishonorable public employees, disregarding their oath to protect the citizenry, truly deserve.

In succeeding days, sometimes conflicting news reports revealed that failure of police to act promptly was even more troubling than initially stated.

Direct Report from Chicago rally for abortion rights

Please Click Here

Covid 1, Public Health 0

On April 19, a Federal judge appointed by Donald Trump in his final days in office, who had never tried a civil or criminal case, invalidated the CDC's mandate for wearing a face mask on public transportation. On some flights in the air when the news broke, passengers and crew turned the announcement into a celebration. Have none of you noticed that Covid cases have risen by 43 percent nationwide, and the latest variant is even more contagious than the original or the subsequent variants? As Steven Colbert pointed out on his late-night TV show that evening, this is hardly a time to be relaxing the rules. Some of us will be wearing our masks proudly, indefinitely, to protect not only ourselves and our families, but (if you're an anti-masker) you and your loved ones. Contrary to critics, mask-wearing in public is a trivial inconvenience that produces substantial benefit in public health. Period.

A day or so after the judge's ruling, the Department of Justice filed an appeal, asserting that the mask mandate does fall under the CDC's authority. Now, if the mandate is restored, it's sure to escalate the tension between travelers who favor the rule and those who oppose. Either way, the public loses.

Putin faces global condemnation

Except for China and a handful of other countries, few supporters of the Russian president's belligerent assault on Ukraine can be found. Sanctions initiated by President Biden have had a quick impact on Russia's economy. Valor and courage of Ukrainian fighters, including thousands of ordinary citizens, has drawn near-universal admiration. Cultural and sporting events involving Russia have been cancelled. "Saturday Night Live," NBC's long-running comedy program, began its February 26 show not with the usual skit, but with a hymn sung by a Ukrainian choir in traditional dress. Another choir sung the Ukrainian national anthem to lead off a Metropolitan Opera performance.

Europeans have been opening their homes to refugees who manage to cross the border between Ukraine and Poland. Videos of frightened children in Kyiv subway stations or frightfully crowded train stations, many of whose fathers stayed behind to fight the Russian forces, have grabbed the hearts of concerned – and infuriated – humans across the world.

Could American billionaire halt global starvation?

David Beasley, director of the United Nations' World Food Programme, recently claimed that just 2 percent of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' multibillion-dollar wealth could halt global starvation. Rival billionaire Elon Musk quickly responded, vowing to sell some Tesla stock to donate $6 billion to the cause of world hunger. With one proviso: that Mr. Beasley explain exactly how such a result could be achieved.

How much is that, anyway? Sounds like a lot, but $6 billion buys about 170,000 new cars; or half a million high-end iPhones. Those totals are a bit easier to grasp than a "6" followed by nine zeroes.

We, too, look forward to details on the calculations made by Mr. Beasley, who has expressed willingness to meet and elaborate. The World Food Program tweeted that a "one-time donation from the top 400 billionaires in the U.S. could help save the lives of 42 million people this year." If so, who else will step forward?

One of several books on the finale of the Trump administration, Frankly, We Won This Election states that after Trump was moved to a secret bunker during Black Lives Matter protests in D.C., he wanted the person who "leaked" that information to be charged with treason and executed. Early chapters of I Alone Can Fix This are packed with details about deeply flawed White House response to the emerging coronavirus early in 2020. Betrayal, by Jonathan Karl of ABC News, is among the most insightful and easily-read observations of the defeated president's final period in office.

Dropping Masks Raises Covid Risk

Easing of mask mandates in 49 states is drawing a torrent of jubilation from those who are exhausted by two years of lockdowns and limitations on daily life. Some of us are far less delighted. Despite the recent reductions in cases, we're still worried about Covid-19 and its variants. Rather than planning more visits to restaurants, bars and indoor events, we'll be even less willing to enter public places.

During the lockdown period, we could weigh the risks. Is the restaurant large enough to let air circulate readily? Is it likely to be crowded? Are patrons likely to be unmasked, defying the rules? Have mask requirements been enforced in that establishment? Now, under the new rules, we can assume that nearly everyone in that cafι or shopping mall will be unmasked. Every entry into a closed, populated space will present risk.

If only enough of us had taken mask and vaccine requirements seriously, in the interest of public health, the pandemic might have been controlled months ago. We've heard enough whining about such minimal, potentially lifesaving restraints. If you want to hear about heroic people who are in actual danger of losing basic freedoms, including the right to remain alive and safe, just tune into the latest news from Ukraine.

Anti-vaxxers face angry critics

After remaining mostly quiet for months, vaccinated Americans were increasingly expressing outrage at Americans who refuse to get the jab and/or wear masks. Many of us weren't pleased by the re-openings that occurred over the summer, and the deletion of mask mandates in February-March. We'll keep wearing masks and maintaining that 6-foot distance until experts agree that the pandemic really is on the way out.

Democracy R.I.P.

By censuring Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, 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 now this point forward. That line, referring to the "Big Lie" perpetrated by Donald Trump:

"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."


"Trump incites mob"

Who could ever have imagined such a headline on the front page of The New York Times? But there it was, in large type, in the January 7, 2021 edition of the legendary newspaper.

Across the country and the world, similar words were used to describe, succinctly, the deplorable actions and statements from Donald Trump a day earlier, as Congress began the process of certifying votes from the Electoral College. At a morning rally, the president implored his enraged army to head for the Capitol building and forcefully pursue their fevered dream of overturning the election in Trump's favor. Upon their arrival, the boldest of his supporters led a charge toward the Capitol, scampering up the steps, breaking windows to gain entry. Once inside, they roamed the halls, vandalized some legislators' offices, took selfies of themselves engaged in acts of desecration – while legislators were quickly herded out of the Chamber and into safe locations.

This is America? No, this is Trumpland, where the activities of January 6, 2021 have been variously deplored as "insurrection" (by Mitt Romney, among others) or an attempted "coup." Eventually, significant numbers of Republican officials – but far from all – denounced their president for his monstrous behavior. In contrast, the Republican National Committee called the violent incident "legitimate political discourse."

Where had they been all this time? Anyone, apart from Trump acolytes, who's been paying attention since 2016 could easily have predicted an assault on democracy. Implicitly endorsed if not instigated by the president himself, it was a virtual certainty somewhere along the timeline of his term.

Quartet of Disgraceful Acts

On September 11, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Donald Trump turned up at a Florida casino to deliver ringside commentary on a pay-per-view boxing match. What could possibly be more disrespectful to the thousands who died? How about his venomous verbal assault on Colin Powell, following the widely admired former top general and diplomat's death on October 18. October 21: Nine House Republicans joined all Democrats to charge former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon with criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon had refused to comply with a subpoena. Meanwhile, the former president claimed that the real insurrection took place on November 3 (Election Day), and the January 6 assault was the "protest." October 29: After Rep. Adam Kinziger (R-Ill.), one of 10 House Republicans who'd voted to impeach Trump, announced that he will not run for re-election, the former president warned: "Two down, eight to go."

Trump continues to draw sizable crowds to rallies that push his "big lie" about a stolen election. Resolution of the partisan "audit" in Arizona in early fall, affirming Biden's election, failed to restrain the former president. Additional Republican-governed states have initiated comparable legal proceedings, challenging the 2020 results.

Watch Out for Marjorie!

NO, NO, NO! A U.S. Representative who nods at the notion of shooting top officials should not be allowed anywhere near Congress. If American democracy is to have any chance at survival, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the ardent backer of dangerously depraved, reality-deprived QAnon conspiracy theories, must be expelled.

Contrary to feeble or nonexistent responses from nearly all Republicans, there is no middle ground. This Is Wrong. The D.C. Capitol Insurrection was Wrong. Period. If You Can't See That, What In Blazes Is Wrong With You?!

Speaking in Alabama, Rep. Greene congratulated the crowd for its low vaccination rate. According to CNN, she also suggested that government volunteers who knock on a door to promote vaccination be greeted by a resident with gun in hand.

Trump Goes Too Far in Push to Overturn Election

Of all the Trump outrages over the past four years, his phone talk with Georgia's Secretary of State easily ranks as the worst. That's when he asked the Secretary to "find" just enough Trump votes to make him the victor. To further promote his utterly baseless allegations of voter fraud, he demanded that a major state official commit a criminal act. He even went so far as to threaten that official if he declined to follow the order of the "president," suggesting that refusal would amount to a "criminal response."

Worse yet, a shocking number of shamefully complicit Congresspersons (more than 140 Representatives and a dozen Senators) backed this venomous behavior, which easily deserves to be be deemed seditious, if not treasonous. Their names need to go on record for future historians, as those scholars struggle to understand how such a travesty could ever have occurred in a country long viewed as a pinnacle of democracy.

Thinking About the Unthinkable

As the 2020 election drew to a close, voters for both candidates – but especially for Biden – expressed fear for the future. Some of us began pondering some intense possibilities, which would have seemed ludicrous a few months previous:

• Leave the country (not as easy as many Americans think).
• Intensify peaceful protests.
• Turn our attention to the states.
• 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, obviously, but possibly the only real solution.

If the latter still sounds too far-fetched, forming state coalitions could be a workable alternative. States with similar leanings might band together for their mutual benefit on such issues as trade, health care, abortion – and especially, the future of America. A Pacific States of America coalition, for instance, might include California, Oregon, Washington – and possibly, Hawaii. In the same vein, groupings of several red states in the center of the country could appeal to anti-liberal conservatives.

Meanwhile, we can simply declare that Donald Trump was never our president. As his utterances, tweets, and actions made perfectly clear for four years, he was emphatically not the president of Democrats and progressives.

The Ukrainian Cause

Opposition to the Russian assault on Ukraine has taken many forms. ABC News introduced a Polish man who runs a wedding venue/hotel, but took in 20 refugee families (at least 40 women and children) fleeing the country. A woman was showing playing a piano on the sidewalk, to "make people happy." Relief efforts for the Ukrainian refugees are said to be getting "more organized," but the need for supplies and temporary residences is immense.

Toil & Trouble

Prior to Inauguration Day in 2017, we developed Countdown to Trumpland, detailing the Trump phenomenon and its impact on American life. For the next two years, White House Woes provided news briefs and commentary on the Trump presidency. His election led to crucial urgency among liberals who endured a barrage of lies, disastrous decisions, and malicious tweets. Meanwhile, Tirekicking Today began this section on work and labor, building upon the singular 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 Sherrif.

"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 like to pay taxes

New Ways To Look at Work

Overview: Imaginative Approaches Required ...

Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise

Quit calling us consumers! (2021 Update)

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 during 2021.

Work/Labor News Headlines

• June 18: Workers at one Apple store vote to join a union – a "first" for that company's retail operations.

• May 6: In April, 428,000 new jobs were created, continuing a trend of more than 400,000 new openings per month. Unemployment remained stable at 3.6 percent.

• April 5: Amazon workers at Staten Island (NY) warehouse vote in favor of a union – the first victory for labor against the famously anti-union behemoth. Just one week previous, Amazon employees in Alabama had voted against unionization for the second time. Only 10.3 percent of wage-earning workers now belong to unions, down from 10.8 percent in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than one-third of public-sector workers are unionized, versus only 6.1 percent of private-sector employees.

• March 4: A whopping 678,000 new jobs were created in February, according to the Department of Labor. Unemployment dipped to 3.8 percent – the lowest figure in two years. At the time of Biden's inauguration, the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent. During its first year or so in office, the Biden administration claimed that 7.4 million jobs had been created.

• March 2: Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York claim retaliation against proponents of forming a union. Until December, no company-owned Starbucks locations were unionized. Nationwide, workers in at least 100 stores have filed for a union election. (The New York Times)

• February 4: U.S. Labor Department announces that 467,000 new jobs emerged during January, despite concern that Omicron variant would hamper job growth. Average hourly wage rose by 5.7 percent during the prior year – not quite enough to overcome increased inflation.

• January 21, 2022: Asked to estimate average annual earnings of working Americans, 25 percent of surveyed Wharton Business School students believe it's more than $100,000. In reality, it's about $45,000.

• November 12: In what's been called "The Great Resignation," 4.4 million workers quit their jobs in September alone. Employers across the country report a shortage of labor, despite such incentives as sign-up bonuses. Lack of truck drivers is especially worrisome, with some 60,000 more needed.

• October 21: More than 1,700 workers at Amazon warehouse in New York City signed onto plan to establish an independent union, according to The New York Times. Last April, Amazon toilers in Alabama voted against joining a union of retail/wholesale workers.

• October 18: Cornell University's Labor Action Tracker reports that 183 strikes have already occurred during 2021.

• October 17: Ten million jobs are said to be vacant, led by critical shortage of truck drivers, as employers turn to "signing bonuses" to entice applicants. Some critics point to the obvious: that thousands of capable, willing workers are stranded at the Mexican border, many with truck-driving or restaurant experience.

• October 15: Dubbed "The Great Resignation," 4.3 million workers left their jobs during August.

• October 8: Ipsos poll finds that seven out of ten employees would like a four-day week.

• October 8: Unemployment dropped from 5.2 to 4.8 percent in September. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh cites resources for working families, along with some worksharing success. Only 194,000 new jobs were added in September, but Department of Labor says the U.S. has now recovered 78 percent of jobs lost during pandemic.
Note: Critics have long insisted that the "real" unemployed figure is considerably higher than government estimates, when taking into account people who have given up looking for work.

• September 21: New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams promotes turning shut-down hotels into permanent housing for homeless. (The New York Times)

• August 6: Labor Department announces that 943,000 new jobs were created in June. Many employers continue to report worker shortages, even though millions remain unemployed. Critics charge that inadequate wages are a major reason. Restaurants and other employers in tourist areas, which operate seasonally, have been among the hardest-hit.

• August 3: Spending too many hours on the job? The New York Times reports that for Chinese workers, a "996" schedule has become the norm: working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 6 days a week.

• July 14: CEOs of S&P 500 companies made 299 times as much as average workers in 2020, according to annual Executive Paywatch report issued by AFL-CIO. Average CEO received $15.5 million in total compensation, CNN reports, versus $43,512 for average worker.

• July 1: In June, 850,000 new jobs were created, according to the Department of Labor – far above May total. Growing number of employees working remotely because of pandemic say they don't wish to return to the office, or prefer not to return to the job they had before.

Note: Twenty states raised their minimum wage on January 1, 2021. So did more than 30 cities, to as high as $15 per hour; but many increases were to be phased-in over a period of years.

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 January 2018, Amazon announced that 20 cities were on the "short list" of possible sites for the company's second headquarters. Each city had 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.

During 2020, a film version of Nomadland was directed by Chloe Zhao and starred Frances McDormand. Seen briefly in a few theaters, the film was later released for streaming on Hulu and, eventually, saw greater theater distribution. Nomadland won Academy Awards for Best Director, Picture, and Actress.

On the Clock, another book dealing with low-wage toil, paints 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. Afterward, she traveled to North Carolina for a job at a call center. Not only does Ms. Guendelsberger report in fascinating detail about her experiences and her fellow employees, 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.

Late in 2019, the PBS NewsHour aired an investigation of safety records at Amazon warehouses. In October 2021, as many employers faced serious labor shortages, Amazon announced a plan to hire 150,000 temporary workers for holiday season.

"[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, including:

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 satirical depiction of extreme wealth and poverty
The Good Boss (2021) Spanish film starring Javier Bardem

Please Click Here for details on each film.

Turning to TV...
Revival of the Roseanne TV sitcom, renamed The Connors following the forced departure of the principal actress, again serves as a reminder that TV shows about working-class families can demonstrate excellence along with witty humor. Running from 1988 to 1997, the original series was adeptly written and expertly performed, realistically depicting the troubles and joys of an economically-challenged family. Initially, the current iteration retained much of the flavor and laughter of the original and featured five original cast members, though later episodes have been less noteworthy.

“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

Donald Trump:
Partial President

Unlike any predecessors, Mr. Trump never even pretended to be president of all the people; only his followers and loyal Republicans. Everyone else was deemed an enemy, subject to verbal abuse.

White House Woes

Trump Presidency In News Briefs (2017-18)

During first two years of his presidency, we compiled news items outlining the outrages committed by the Trump administration against American laws, values, and principles.

Click here to download White House Woes (PDF)

A PDF version of "Countdown to Trumpland," chronicling the three-week period prior to 2017 Inauguration, also is available.

Click here to download Countdown (PDF)


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.

Greta mocked world leaders at Youth4Climate forum in Italy, asserting that for the past three decades, climate action has amounted to no more than "blah, blah, blah." They might sound admirable, but these "empty words and promises" have failed to lead to action. "We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is. Hope is not passive.... Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action." (CNN)

On February 25, 2022, Greta joined a group of "Stand With Ukraine" protesters at a Russian embassy.

Click here for additional details on Greta's activities.

UPDATED: September 20, 2022

Critics claim background music played at Trump rally in mid-September is a theme used by QAnon, the secretive conspiracy theory group. Meanwhile, legal battles continue over classified" and "top secret" documents found at the former president's Mar-a-Lago estate.

During September, Tirekicking Today website will be updated, with modestly revised format and content

News That Matters...

Asked about Covid in mid-September 2022, President Biden asserted that the "pandemic is over," but added that considerable "work" must still be done.

Early in May 2022, U.S. death toll from Covid-19 reached one million

By mid-July, two new variants of the virus, more contagious than before, were accounting for most of new cases. Vaccine that claimed to repel Omnicron variant became available (free) in September.

After 23 years covering auto industry, Tirekicking Today shifted gears to focus on social/political issues - led by unprecedented ramifications of the Trump presidency.

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

See It Now! 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.

Also online: Easy Shifting: a detailed history of the automatic transmission

NEW! Part I of our two-part history of gasoline rationing, covering World War II period (1942-45), is now available. Part II will deal with threat of rationing during 1970s.
Click here for Gas Rationing during World War II

National and Global News Briefs

Selected news items from the Biden administration and the pandemic will be added periodically. So will short essays on the bitterly partisan U.S. political scene.

August 8: FBI officers raid Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago, allegedly searching for documents that former president had taken with him when leaving White House – some of which might be "classified," as part of investigations into possible criminality.

August 7: Following overnight session, Senate passes Inflation Reduction Act, including largest-ever allotment of funds to combat climate change. Bill is expected to pass in House and be signed by President Biden.

August 8: Kansas voters block bill that would have revived old anti-abortion law, by surprising 59/41 margin.

July 4: Young gunman fires into crowd at July 4th parade in Chicago suburb, killing six and injuriing more than two dozen. Alleged culprit is captured after intensive search in the area.

June 23: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas announces anti-abortion ruling by five conservatives; Chief Justice Roberts expresses belief that a less extreme decision could have been made. In several states with "trigger" laws, abortion is immediately illegal (half of states are likely to follow suit or impose severe restrictions soon).

June 23: One day after declaring New York's gun-control law unconstitutional, intensifying scope of Second Amendment, Supreme Court overturns right to abortion that has been considered "settled law" for half a century. Decision on overturning Roe v. Wade was expected, but is in opposition to public opinion.

June 21: Fourth hearing from Select Committee investigating January 6 insurrection reveals that Trump and allies pressured election workers in certain states to violate the law and Constitution, to alter the outcome of 2020 election. Officials and workers who failed to comply tell of violent threats and verbal attacks against them, upending their lives. Georgia woman describes how Trump lied venomously about her and her mother, asserting with no evidence that they were election criminals and should be jailed.

June 20: Texas Republican convention packs its platform with far-right extremist positions, including acceptance of Trump's "Big Lie" about 2020 election.

June 16: Third hearing on January 6 insurrection focuses on pressure applied by Donald Trump and allies upon Mike Pence to block certification of 2020 election. Fourth hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 22.

June 13: Former Trump senior aide Steve Bannon threatens U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, angrily vowing that if he indicts Donald J. Trump, "We're going to impeach you and everybody around you." Already under indictment for contempt of Congress, Bannon began his tirade by insisting that "Trump won the presidency." (CNN)

June 11: In wake of latest massacres, in which shooter used military-style semiautomatic weapon, activists march for gun control in more than 400 cities.

June 9: Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and chairman Benny Thompson (D-Miss.) lead first public session of House Committee investigating insurrection of January 6, 2021. At least five additional sessions will follow in June.

May 24: Teenage gunman Kills 19 young children and two teachers at elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Nation goes into mourning, as gun-control advocates hope this tragedy will finally spur Congressional action.

May 21: Ukrainian forces surrender to Russia at eastern city of Mariupol, which has been under intensive siege for weeks.

May 16: Sweden joins Finland in seeking to join NATO, relinquishing the neutral status maintained by both countries. After threatening Finland earlier this month, Russian president Putin now says he has no objection if both countries become NATO members, as long as they pose no military risk to Russia.

May 15: Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts will call special session to ban all abortions in his state if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Ricketts tells CNN that a young girl who was raped and made pregnant should be compelled to have the baby.

May 14: In response to leaked draft of Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, pro-choice advocates hold rallies around the country.

May 13: Republican Congressional delegation, including Mitch McConnell, meets President Zelensky in Ukraine.

May 9: Russian president Vladimir Putin celebrates Victory Day with huge military parade, recalling World War II, but does not quite claim victory in current battle with Ukraine.

May 2: Leaked document obtained byPolitico, allegedly in form of a "first draft," purportedly suggests that U.S. Supreme Court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, half a century after that ruling went into effect. Final Court decision on abortion rights is expected to be issued in late June. News of draft's wording, written by Justice Samuel Alito, quickly draws angry responses from pro-choice Americans, as large protests take place in several major cities.

April 28: President Biden seeks $33 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, mostly (but not entirely) for weaponry. Bipartisan support from Congress is anticipated.

April 25: Emanuel Macron wins second term as France's president, beating strong challenge from far-right candidate Marine LePen.

April 19: Federal judge in Florida strikes down mask mandate for travelers on planes, trains and buses, ruling that Centers for Disease Control lacked the authority to initiate such mandates.

April 19: Former presidential lawyer John Eastman blocks 3,200 Trump-related documents from scrutiny by commission investigating January 6, 2021 assault on Capitol. (CNN)

April 18: Florida's Department of Education rejects 54 (41 percent) of math textbooks submitted for approval, citing references to "critical race theory" and Common Core, as well as inclusion of material regarding social issues. (CNN)

April 18: Charity kitchen in Ukraine, operated by world-renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés, is destroyed by Russian missile.

April 7: Following contentious questioning in Congress, Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed by Senate as first black female Justice of the Supreme Court. Three Republican Senators (Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Lisa Murkowski) joined all 50 Democrats to say "aye."

April 6: United Nations suspends Russia from Human Rights Council, citing reports of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

April 2: Videos and firsthand reports reveal murders of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians by Russian military. Cities like Mariupol and Bucha are virtually decimated, with dead bodies in streets or dropped into mass graves, some victims with hands tied behind backs. Evidently, Russians have given up on Kyiv, the capital, turning attention to control of eastern region instead.

March 28: At campaign rally in Georgia, former president Trump continues to praise Russian president Putin, declaring that "the smartest one gets to the top." (CNN)

March 26: "For God's sake," President Biden says during speech in Warsaw, "this man cannot remain in power." According to CNN, the White House advises that the U.S. is not calling directly for regime change.

March 25: Text message reveals that far-right activist Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice, texted Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows to push for overturning of 2020 election.

March 24: Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden's nominee for Supreme Court, is grilled intensively by far-right Republicans in Senate. Critics allege that those Senators are using the hearing to highlight familiar grievances, rather than inquiring about the nominee's judicial philosophy and qualifications.

March 16: Ukrainian President Zelensky likens Russian attack to Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

March 16: Some observers of Russian attacks have been asserting that World War III isn't a possibility, but that it's already begun. In an NBC interview, Ukrainian president Zelensky says it "may have already started."

March 13: American photojournalist Brent Renaud shot and killed by Russians in Ukraine.

March 13: Russia attacks military base in western Ukraine, not far from Polish border, killing dozens.

March 6: At least 1.5 million Ukrainians have already fled the country, seeking refuge in Poland and other countries to the west, traveling long distances by train, car, or on foot. U.S. is granting "temporary protected status" to arriving Ukrainians. The European Union is offering temporary residence status to refugees.

March 5: Russian president Putin warns that enacting a no-fly zone over Ukraine would constitute an "act of war." Despite pleas for that action from Ukrainian president Zelensky, the Biden administration, along with allies, have firmly opposed a no-fly zone, fearing that it would indeed lead to all-out war.

March 5: Prominent poll finds that Biden's approval rating has risen from 39 percent in February to 47 percent in March.

March 5: Of the 1.5 million families fleeing Ukraine in the early days of Putin's "special military operation," 52 percent went to Poland, and 12 percent on Hungary. Other countries bordering Ukraine toward the west accounted for the rest, apart from those who were able to travel onward into western Europe, or get to North America.

March 5: U.S. State Department warns all Americans to leave Russia immediately, due to "increased risk of harassment by Russian officials," according to ABC News.

March 4: Reacting to coverage of the invasion of Ukraine from journalists, Russia makes spreading "fake" news on Russia's armed forces a crime, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A day earlier, one of Russia's last independent news outlets yielded to pressure and halted its broadcasting. Several global news services soon suspended their onsite reporting. "Every deviation from the official narrative about this was is now punishable with jail," independent journalist/commentator Mikhail Fishman told the BBC. Meanwhile, numerous protesters in Russia are being beaten and detained.

March 4: According to NPR/PBS/Marist poll, 83 percent of Americans support sanctions against Russia; and 69 percent favor sanctions even if gasoline price rises (which it is).

March 2: Russian forces capture first major Ukrainian city: Kherson, a vital port on Black Sea. Long convoy of military vehicles, headed for Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, is slowed by resistance from Ukrainian fighters as well as supply shortages.

March 2: Growing number of critics accuse Russia of committing war crimes, for bombing and shelling civilian targets.

March 1: State of the Union address by President Biden starts with 12-minute segment on Ukrainian crisis that draws bipartisan acclaim, before enumerating long list of distinct goals. Some critics praise Biden's ambitious plans; others consider the speech to be an oversize "laundry list" of desired actions, insufficiently prioritized.

February 26: At annual gathering of Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), such dire subjects as Russia's assault on Ukraine are largely ignored, as most speakers focus on cultural grievances and the "stolen" election. Charlie Kirk, founder of pro-Trump Turning Point USA, denounced "the Republic Party of Old," according to The New York Times, leaning instead toward "our wonderful 45th president." Senator Rick Scott (D-Fla.) warned of "woke, government-run everything."

February 24: Secretary of State Tony Blinken asserts that “all evidence suggests that Russia intends to encircle and threaten Kyiv," Ukraine's capital city. Furthermore, U.S. believes "Moscow has developed plans to inflict widespread human rights abuses – and potentially worse – on the Ukrainian people.” (The New York Times)

February 23: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of National Republican Senatorial Committee, issues 11-point plan for future of GOP. Scott's plan would have every American pay some amount of income tax; finish the border wall and name it for former president Trump; end questions about race, ethnicity or skin color on government forms; sell numerous government buildings and other assets; cut government workforce by 25 percent (50 percent for IRS); and have socialism "treated as a foreign combatant."

February 19: In coming weeks, every state except Hawaii will have halted mask mandates, reflecting drop in number of new Covid cases. Critics cite still-troubling figures for hospitalization and death, insisting that ending mandates is premature.

February 4: Addressing conservative gathering, former vice-president Mike Pence states emphatically that Trump was "wrong" in insisting that Pence had the right to overturn the 2020 election.

January 27: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces intent to retire at end of current term, giving President Biden an opportunity to nominate a new Justice. During campaign, Biden had promised that his first Court pick would be a Black woman.

January 13: Supreme Court blocks Donald Trump's attempt to keep White House documents pertaining to January 6 Insurrection secret.

January 13: Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Leader, refuses to comply with request for voluntary appearance before committee investigating January 6 insurrection.

January 11: During appearance in Congress, Doctor Anthony Fauci jousts with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and reports on death threats against himself, as well as harassment of his family. At conclusion of his comments, Dr. Fauci is heard to mutter "What a moron" under his breath, after an altercation with Sen. Robert Marshall (R-Kansas).

Please Click Here for Post-Inauguration News Briefs, starting in February 2021.

News Briefs from the Trump Years Are Available

Please Click Here for News Briefs from mid-March through December 2020 – plus the final days of the Trump presidency (January 1-20, 2021). Two years of Trump News Briefs (January 2017 to December 2018) may be downloaded as a PDF file. News Briefs from the period prior to Trump's 2017 inauguration also are downloadable in PDF form..

2022 Book Publication Schedule (tentative)

TK Press (a division of Tirekicking Today)

Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, the author of more than thirty books (including six for children), has been working for some time on additional titles. Some are nearing final stages of pre-production. Each views its subject from an oblique and often lighthearted – yet serious – perspective.

Note: Preliminary outlines and/or unedited excerpts may be accessed by clicking on each link below. Additional excerpts will be available soon.

Inquiries from book publishers or agents are welcome. Please send e-mail to

Fraidy Cat

Surviving a lifetime of unwarranted fear and fright

A personal look backward, focusing on lessons learned about living with debilitating fear, anxiety, and panic, including ways to cope and survive. Unlike some self-help books on the subject, Fraidy Cat isn't just about fear in general, recounted and analyzed by an impartial observer. No, this is personal, agonizing, overpowering fear – the sort that constricted and devastated a decades-long chunk of the author's own life and continues to do so, if to a less ferocious degree. This personal memoir covers more than half of a lifetime, starting in adolescence. It concludes with warnings and pleas for fearful young folks to get help now, or be doomed to look back upon a lifetime of regret.
Fraidy Cat: Contents ... Outline ... Excerpts: Chapter 1 (Childhood) ... Chapter 3 (Sex) ... Chapter 5 (Addiction)

Untied Knots

Fiction by Flammang

Two groups of short stories, each with a tangy twist, make up Untied Knots. Those in "On the Go" are travel-based, taking place largely in Mexico. Much of the inspiration stems from real-life journeys and random residence within that country, undertaken as far back as the mid-1970s.

"Here At Home" tales focus on folks whose escapades are more localized. Though fictional, most are based at least in part upon real people and places. The collection also includes several early stories, previously unpublished, from the author's archive.
Untied Knots: Contents ... Introduction ... Excerpts: Night Train Out of Queretaro ... Scandal in the Dayroom ... Bad Sports ... Desk Duty ... Ready? Go!


Logical Lapses in everyday life and thought

Comprehensive collection of stinging essays gazes with disbelief at dozens of aspects of modern life. Chapters are arranged in sections, including Work, Money, Identity, Communication, Technology, Consumption, Politics and Law, Pastimes, Sex, and Transportation. Work on this book began well before the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump. Therefore, the final chapter focuses on his bizarre, unprecedented presidency and its aftermath.
Absurdities:Contents ... Overview .. Chapter Outline ... Excerpt from Section III - Work (Our Biggest Myth)

Work Hurts

Reflections on a wasted life

Aptly titled, Work Hurts 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. In addition to scrutinizing workplace issues in the past, Work Hurts considers viable alternatives to conventional employment – led by the fast-growing "gig" and "temp" economy, and its impact on less-than-happy toilers. Along the way, we illuminate the prospects for not working at all, potentially made possible by establishing a guaranteed income.
Work Hurts:Contents ... Chapter Outline ... Chapter 1 (Without a Paddle)

Hotel Life

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. Hotel Life considers such relevant topics as the guaranteed income, shrinkage and change in the labor movement, older suburbanites moving back into the city (or pondering the RV life), and the recent small-house movement.
Hotel Life:Chapter Outline ... Overview ... Contents

Steering Toward Oblivion

A caustic look at the history and future of the Car Culture

A vividly critical – but frequently humorous – observation of the car culture and auto business, including the automotive media. Steering examines automotive history as well as today's (and tomorrow's) cars, emphasizing their impact on daily life, the transportation network, the economy, popular culture, and the environment. Author James Flammang has covered the auto business as a journalist and historian since the 1980s.
Steering:Chapter Outline ... Overview ... Excerpts: Chapter 1 (Media) ... Chapter 13 (Motoring Manners)

For further information, please contact us at

Books by Flammang ... already on sale

TK Press, the book-publishing division of Tirekicking Today, has issued three titles since 2014. Each was written by James M. Flammang, author of more than two dozen previous books. Click Here for a list of his books and other publications.

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 at: Amazon ... and Barnes and Noble
ISBN (print): 978-0-9911263-2-3 ($10.50)

Mr. Maurice Knows It All ... and tells you so

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, money to citizenship, 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.

Mr. Maurice ... is available at: Barnes & Noble ... and Amazon.
ISBN (print): 978-0-9911263-3-0 ($8.50)

Both titles may be purchased directly from TK Press. PDF review copies are available FREE. Just send e-mail to Please ask about printed copies, signed by the author.
Excerpts from Incompetent and Mr. Maurice ... may be seen at

• Articles and essays related to current affairs, including relevant automotive subjects, will appear periodically.

Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, a veteran independent auto journalist, has contributed countless product reviews and feature articles to such publications as, New Car Test Drive, CarsDirect, and Kelley Blue Book. He has written extensively for a variety of major outlets, including J.D. Power,, and the Chicago Tribune. Flammang is a member of the Freelancers Union and the 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, 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. Several more titles (described above) are well underway, scheduled for publication during 2022.

Clunkers & Creampuffs

A casual history of the used car

Chapter 1: Early Days
Chapter 2: Ford's Model T
Chapter 3: Production and Prosperity
Chapter 4: "Easy" Payments
Chapter 5: Family Cars and Family Life
Chapter 6: Five-Dollar Flivvers
Chapter 7: Rise and Fall of the Used Car
Chapter 8: Saturation and Salesmanship
Chapter 9: A Global Blowout (1930s)
Chapter 10: Selling In Hard Times
Chapter 11: Wheels for the Workingman
Chapter 12: Okies, Nomads, & Jalopies
Chapter 13: Motoring in Wartime
Chapter 14: The Postwar Boom (1946-54)
Chapter 15: Chromium Fantasies (1955-59)
Chapter 16: Dealers Face Image Problem
Chapter 17: Wheels for the Fifties Workingman
Chapter 18: Teens, Rods, and Clunkers
Chapter 19: Everybody Drives
Chapter 20: Personal History of Clunker Ownership

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.


Used Car

Following a several-year hiatus, Tirekicking Today has been reviving coverage of the used car market – again adopting a consumer focus. Relevant reports on new vehicles and other aspects of the automobile business and car culture also will appear in this space.

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, along with a variety of other consumer publications.

This section began with a report on the gradually growing market for electric cars, including a brief history of EVs and a rundown of some new entrants. Next came a detailed look at the volatile used car marketplace, Used Car Trends, featuring comments from experts attending the annual pre-owned car conference – dubbed Used Car Week – as well as an Auto Intel Summit. (Both events presented by Auto Remarketing magazine.)

Subjects covered in this section include:
Are EVs finally ready for prime time?
Used Car Trends
Cars vs. Trucks in the sales race (Hint: Trucks have a strong lead.)
What's happened to used car prices?
Whatever happened to the Repo Man?
• State of and expectations for auto financing
• Which vehicle makes more sense, economically speaking: New or Used?

A comprehensive article providing latest news and opinion on electric cars and autonomous vehicles is in progress.

Note: In addition to news items, occasional articles on automotive history and the car culture will be featured in this section, starting with Easy Shifting, a history of the automatic transmission:
Click here for Easy Shifting

NEW! Part I of our detailed, two-part history of gasoline rationing, covering the World War II period (1942-45), is now available. Part II, coming soon, will deal with the threat of rationing during the 1970s oil crisis.
Click here for Gas Rationing during World War II

News Headlines
in the Auto World

August 26: Ford to drop 3,000 salaried employees (1,000 of them in agency positions), as part of quest to focus on electric vehicles in near future.

August 25: Two SUVs (2020-22 Hyundai Palisadeand Kia Telluride) recalled because of possible fires; owners warned not to park near home.

June 20 2022 Detroit auto show set to take place September 14-25 at Huntington Place. Ride/drive programs will use new Grand Prix circuit in downtown area.

May 9: Edmund's reports that in January, 82 percent of new-car buyers paid more than Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). Some dealers are charging thousands extra. Price hikes, attributed to shortage of computer chips, among other causes, are expected to continue through 2022.

April 15: New York Auto Show opens to public at Javits Center.

March 5: Average gasoline price reaches $3.92 per gallon, nearing the record of $4.11 established in 2008.

March 2: Ford Motor Company splits automotive operations into two separate divisions, gasoline-powered and electric-powered, hoping to speed up the transition into EVs.

March 1: Toyota halts vehicle production in Japan, due to suspected cyberattack at a prominent component supplier.

February 23: Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Cox Automotive, advises that "surge in new-car prices appears to have peaked."

February 9: Although used car prices have been easing a bit, 82 percent of new models sold in January went for more than the "sticker" price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price). (ABC News)

February 8: Hyundai and Kia warn owners of nearly half a million vehicles to park them outdoors, away from buildings, because of possible risk of engine-compartment fire. All are SUVs, except for 2016-18 Kia K900 sedan.

February 1: Tesla recalls 53,822 vehicles with Full Self-Driving capability, due to reports of cars going through stop signs with "rolling stop," rather than halting completely.

January 13: Selling prices for used cars jumped 37 percent over the past year.

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.
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