White House Woes

The Trump Presidency

First 7 Months in Trumpland

Volume II - September onward


Early Trump News (January-August)

Latest News Briefs

May 9: Michael Cohen, the president's personal lawyer and alleged "fixer," reportedly received millions of dollars from corporations to provide "insider access," explaining how to deal with Washington in the Trump era. (The New York Times)

May 9: North Korea releases three imprisoned Americans. Trump meets the released Americans as they return to the country.

May 10: Trump tweets that his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will take place in Singapore, on June 12.

May 11: Shifting gears after backing out of the Iran agreement, Trump turns to pharmaceutical prices as his next task.

May 11: White House aide said to have mocked ailing Senator John McCain, stating that his vote was unimportant because “he’s dying anyway.” Critics call for apology, but White House declines to respond.

May 14: U.S. Embassy officially opens in Jerusalem. Move from Tel Aviv fulfills a Trump promise to supporters, but triggers massive protests in Gaza, with 60 Palestinians killed in two days and an estimated 2,800 injured, shot (typically in leg) by Israeli military. UN Ambassador Nikky Haley asserts that embassy move is unrelated to Gaza violence.

May 15: Responding to joint military activities by South Korea and U.S., North Korea warns that meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump could be cancelled.

May 21: Trump "demands" that special counsel be appointed to investigate origin of investigation into his campaign's ties to foreign meddlers. He charges that FBI sent informant to infiltrate Trump campaign, for "political purposes." (The New York Times)

May 24: Trump cancels June 12 meeting with North Korean leader, citing tremendous anger and open hostiity" from Kim Jong-un.

Recent News Briefs

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."

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

March 19: Trump hires attorney Joseph diGenova, a Fox News contributor who alleges that the Justice Department and FBI have attempt to "frame" the president, in connection with Russian meddling in 2016 election. Three days later, attorney John Dowd resigns.

March 20: Despite emphatic advance warning from advisers not to congratulate Russian president Putin on his electoral victory, widely considered to be a sham, Trump calls to convey congratulations. Nothing is said about election meddling or Russia's role in poisoning of former Russian spy, in Britain.

March 22: Major news services report that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating tie between Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica. British firm obtained personal data on more than 50 million Facebook members, allegedly for partisan use during 2016 U.S. election.

March 24: Millions participate in "March For Our Lives" protests in 800 cities, worldwide. Initiated by teenage survivors of Parkland (Florida) shooting, the marches demand action on steps to curtail gun violence. "Vote Them Out" is one of the dominant chants heard from participants.

March 25: Two lawyers, expected to be hired by Mr. Trump as part of White House shakeup, decline to accept. Joseph diGenova, the proponent of a theory that the Department of Justice and FBI has attempted to "frame" the president, cited a conflict of interest.

March 31: Blaming Democrats and alleging that "caravans" of immigrants plan to cross U.S.-Mexico border, Trump announces that there will be no DACA "deal" to protect "Dreamers" from deportation. April 2: China retaliates against Trump's trade moves, placing tariffs on 128 products that are exported to U.S.

April 2: Trump warns against "caravan" of migrants headed for U.S./Mexico border. Buzzfeed news service reports that more than 1,000 people, mainly Hondurans fleeing dangers in that country, are indeed walking and riding north, through Mexico. They hope to be granted asylum or, if possible, cross the border. Migrants are assisted by Pueblos Sin Fronteras, a group of volunteers who oppose American anti-immigrant policies.

April 4: Trump to send National Guard troops to Mexican border.

April 4: Trade war with China escalates, as both countries apply tariffs to additional goods imported from the other nation.

April 9: F.B.I. raids office of president's lawyer. Trump calls action an "attack on our country."

April 18: White House announces that Mike Pompeo, CIA chief and secretary of state-designate, met with Kim Jon-un at Eastertime. Meeting took place as preliminary to plan for Trump to meet North Korean leader later this spring.

April 18: Trump warns that if his meeting with Kim Jong-un "isn't fruitful," he will walk out.

April 20: Democratic National Committee files lawsuit charging Trump campaign team, Russian officials, and Wikileaks with conspiring to disrupt 2016 election.

April 25: HUD director Ben Carson outlines Trump administration plan to raise rents for residents in federally-subsidized housing. Poorest residents could see their rents triple.

April 26: EPA chief Scott Pruite faces Congressional questioning on ethical issues related to excessive use of government funds, including frequent First Class flights and a costly soundproof phone booth for his office.

April 26: Dr. Ronny Jackson, Trump's choice for head of Veterans Administration, drops out amid series of allegations of troubling behavior during his stint as White House physician.

April 28: For second year, Trump skips annual Correspondents' Dinner, opting to lead a campaign rally in Washington, Michigan. President unleashes barrage of harsh, angry words at immigrants, Democrats, the media, and other "enemies."

April 29: "Caravan" of migrants from Central America arrives at U.S.-Mexican border in Tijuana, hoping to apply for asylum. Fewer than 200 remain in the group. Immigration officials warn that children may be separated from parents. who may be placed in detention for months, awaiting decision.

April 30: The New York Times reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has about four dozen questions to ask Donald Trump, to assess whether the president obstructed justice with respect to the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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 employees win 5-percent salary increase. A century earlier, West Virginia was in the forefront of the nation's increasingly vibrant labor movement.

April 2: Teachers now on 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 and protest – the sixth state to see striking teachers in 2018.

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

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
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 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: May 24, 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


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 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 in 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 future cars.

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

• During media days at North American International Auto Show in Detroit, 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 safety requirements for 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.

• Subaru 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.

• 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 White House is reportedly reconsidering intent to roll back fuel-economy standards established under Obama.

The New York Times reports that Trump is considering imposition of tariffs on imported vehicles. (May 24).

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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