Democracy R.I.P.

Well, they've done it. By ousting Liz Cheney, the Republicans have proclaimed the death of their party and the imminent demise of democracy in America. As CNN's three-column main headline put it, May 12, 2021 is "a major turning point in US political history."

One CNN columnist noted that a single line in Cheney's speech in Congress, before being removed from her House leadership position, "will haunt Republicans" from now on. That line, referring to the Big Lie perpetrated by Donald Trump:

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

The former president's response: "Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being .... I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country."


"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 edition of the legendary newspaper.

Across the country and around the world, similar words were being used to describe, succinctly, the deplorable actions and statements from Donald Trump as Congress began the process of certifying the votes from the Electoral College. At a late-morning rally, he president implored his enraged army of thousands, gathered in Washington, to head for the Capitol building and forcefully pursue their fevered dream of overturning the election in Trump's favor.

Shortly after their arrival, the boldest of his supporters led a charge toward the Capitol itself, scampering up the steps, breaking windows to gain entry to the interior of the building. Once there, they roamed the halls at will, entered and 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 are variously deplored as "insurrection" (by Mitt Romney, among others), and an attempted "coup." At last, significant numbers of Republican officials were denouncing their president for his monstrous behavior, Even though his term would end in less than two weeks, many proposed a second impeachment, or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office immediately.

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

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 and nonexistent responses from all but a trickle of Republicans, there is no middle ground this time. This Is Wrong. The D.C. Capitol Insurrection was Wrong. Period. If You Can't See That, What In Blazes Is Wrong With You?!

Trump Goes Too Far in Push to Overturn Election

Of all the Trump outrages over the past four years, his January 2 phone talk with Georgia's secretary of state is easily the worst. To further promote his utterly baseless allegations of voter fraud, he demanded that a major state official commit a criminal act – which would itself constitute voter fraud. 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."

At this point, democracy is not under threat from Trump's actions and statements. No, democracy and the rule of law met their demise hours after the New Year. Worse yet, a shocking number of shamefully complicit Congresspersons (more than 140 Representatives and at least a dozen Senators) are backing this venomous behavior, which easily deserves to be be deemed seditious; indeed, treasonous. Their names need to go on record for historians of the future, as those scholars struggle to understand how such a travesty as Trump could ever have occurred in a country long viewed as a pinnacle of democracy.


Donald Trump:
the Partial President

Unlike any predecessors, Mr. Trump does not even pretend to be president of all the people, but only his followers and loyal Republicans. Everyone else is deemed an enemy, subject to insults and verbal abuse.

Scariest Thought of All (pre-election):
No matter what happens on Election Day, half of Americans will have ignored Donald Trump's endless lies, total self-absorption, threats, insults, verbal assaults, bigotry, dangerous moves, and so much more, voting to keep him in the White House. How is this possible? How can even one person cast a vote for a monster who is gleefully attacking America's values and principles?

Thinking About the Unthinkable (pre-election)
As the 2020 election draws to a close, voters for both candidates – but especially for Joe Biden – have been expressing fear for the future. Just as the Trump presidency has been utterly unprecedented, the prospect of a second term strikes dread into Democrats and quite a few Republicans who see their party disappearing. Some of us – perhaps a lot of us – are doubtless pondering some possibilities, some of which would have seemed ludicrous a few months back:

• Leave the country (not as easy as many Americans think).
• Intensify peaceful protests.
• Turn our attention to the states.
• Tune out: striving 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 is not our president. Which isn't saying much, because he never was. As his utterances, tweets, and actions have made perfectly clear for nearly four years, he is emphatically not the president of Democrats and progressives.

Rush to Supreme Court
Despite her impressive qualifications, Amy Coney Barrett should be ashamed of, not buoyed by, her forced-through confirmation to the Supreme Court, derived through the unconscionable hypocrisy of Donald Trump and his coterie of Republican Senators. She and her enablers should never be permitted to forget that her elevation to the Court barely qualifies as the act of a majority, achieved solely by votes from her own party – hardly a source of pride.

Attn: Working-Class
Trump Voters

Wake Up! He doesn't care any more about you than about Democrats, progressives, liberals, or the media. He cares only about himself and re-election.

Mary Trump (Ph.D) chronicles her uncle's early years

Click Here for Book Review

White House Woes

The Trump Presidency In News Briefs

Now available in PDF form

During the first two years of the Trump presidency, we compiled news items outlining the outrages committed by the Trump administration against American laws, values, and principles. Our chronicle began with Inauguration Day in 2017, running to the end of 2018.

A PDF containing all those items, led by an Introduction, is available now.

Click here to download Trumpnews PDF

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

Click here to download Countdown PDF

Reports about protest events and essays on various aspects of the Trump presidency, mostly produced in the early months of 2017, soon after Inauguration, may be seen at White House Woes.


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

Ms. Thunberg has spoken at such events as the UN Climate Action Summit and the World Economic Forum in Davos, berating world leaders for doing "basically nothing" to reduce carbon emissions. Starting with individual protest in Sweden, she quickly became the fearless face and voice of demands for real action on the climate crisis.

In spring 2021, Greta returned to school in Sweden, following an 18-month absence to participate full-time in climate-related activities. According to reporters, she is by no means backing away from the battle, but will devote only part of her time to those global activities.

On Earth Day (April 22), PBS ran a 3-hour documentary about Greta's activities over the course of a year. Produced by the BBC, "A Year to Change the World" intersperses scenes of Ms. Thunberg addressing world leaders with video of her meetings with climate activists in North America and Europe - including a session with Sir David Attenborough.

Click here for additional details on Greta's activities.

Toil & Trouble

Prior to Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017, we developed Countdown to Trumpland, detailing the Trump phenomenon and its potential impact on American life. For the next two years, we provided news and commentary on the Trump presidency, in a section called White House Woes. His election led to crucial urgency among progressives and liberals who feared – and soon faced – a barrage of disastrous decisions and malicious tweets.

Meanwhile, Tirekicking Today began this section on work and labor. Toil & Trouble builds upon the uncommon views in Work Hurts, one of our Books in Progress. In addition to notable news items, this section features critical essays and editorials.

"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)

Work/Labor News Headlines

• June 7: CNN reports that Amazon warehouses and retail stores are among the employers offering "sign-up" bonuses to new workers. Traditionally, such bonuses went only to new employees considerably higher on the wage scale.

• June 4: Labor department reports that 559,000 new jobs were created in May, more than double the April total.

• May 7: Only 266,000 new jobs became available in April, far short of predictions. Official unemployment rate is 6.1 percent; though, as always, many experts believe the real total is considerably higher.

• April 9: Vote count at Amazon warehouse in Alabama gives the monolithic company a victory. Had workers voted in favor of forming a union, it would have been the first one at an Amazon facility in the U.S.

• April 2: More than 915,000 jobs were created in March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, at least 8 million jobs that existed a year ago have not yet resumed – and may or may not do so.

• April 2: The official unemployment figure dropped slightly in March, from 6.2 to 6.0 percent. Critics have long insisted that the "real" figure is considerably higher, when taking into account people who have given up looking for work. Nearly 4 million workers lost their jobs over the past year, and have not returned to the labor force.

• March 2: In an editorial, The New York Times describes Biden's speech on labor as the most pro-union statement by a sitting president, at least since Harry Truman.

• January 1, 2021: Twenty states raise their minimum wage on January 1. So do more than 30 cities, to as high as $15 per hour; but many increases will be phased-ini over a period of years. (The New York Times)

• December 20, 2020: U.S. Senate and House finally agree on $900 billion Covid relief package, including $600 checks sent to most Americans and a $300 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits. Trump threatens veto, demanding amendments and insisting on $2,000 checks. Critics charge that $600 falls far short of what is needed to deal with rampant hunger and eviction. In addition, the most needy people might not get anything. Trump finally signs the bill on December 27.

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

"I work all night, I work all day,
to pay the bills I have to pay.
Ain't it sad.
And still there never seems to be
a single penny left for me.
That's too bad....
In the rich man's world"
Song lyric, ABBA, "Money, Money, Money"

Labor-related Essays:

New Ways To Look at Work

Overview: Imaginative Approaches Required ...

Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise

Solidarity Forever?

Prioritize! Living with Less and Liking It

Own Nothing, Owe Nothing

Let's break the chain of consumer debt

Essays below, initially written in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. are in the process of updating.

Needed Now: Jobs, Not Careers
Surprise! Some of us like to pay taxes
Quit calling us consumers!

New essays on labor, work, money, and related topics will be added during 2021.

"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 make some 50,000 jobs available in the winning locale.

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 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.

During 2020, a film version of Nomadland was produced, directed by Chloe Zhao and starring Frances McDormand. Seen in a handful of theaters in December-January, the film was later released for streaming on Hulu and also offered in theaters. Nomadland was nominated for four Golden Globe awards and won Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actress.

On the Clock, another recent book dealing with low-wage toil, paints an even more troubling picture of worklife within an Amazon warehouse. Laid-off reporter Emily Guendelsberger spent an exhausting, painful month on the job 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 of the contributions of Henry Ford and of Frederick Taylor, a pioneer in methods of industrial efficiency, are especially illuminating.

On November 29, 2019, the PBS NewsHour aired an investigation of safety records at Amazon warehouses. At a facility near Indianapolis, one worker had died on the job, crushed by a forklift. The investigation cites allegations of inadequate safety training, coupled with a constant push for speed.

"[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

10 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)
Wages of Fear (1953)
Office Space (1999)
The Misfits (1961)
Death of a Salesman (1951)
Bachelor Party (1953)
They Drive By Night (1940)
No Down Payment (1957)

Plus Greed (2019), a scathing satirical depiction of extreme wealth and poverty.

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, Roseanne Barr, 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, at least, the current iteration retained much of the flavor and laughter of the original and featured five original cast members, including John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf – declared the finest stage actress of her generation by John Malkovich.

“You know what the weirdest part about having a job is? You have to be there every day, even on the days you don’t feel like it.”
Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johansson, in episode 4 of the HBO series Girls, created and written by Lena Dunham

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

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

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

"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."

Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)
Paleontologist, The Panda's Thumb

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

B. Traven - Author, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

UPDATED: June 7, 2021


At least he's gone ... or is he?

Mr. Trump may have fled to Florida (and later to his New Jersey golf resort), but his influence on millions of supporters and Republican lawmakers shows no sign of wavering. He still commands attention, pursuing his litany of grievances, led by baseless allegations that the election was stolen from him. Many observers consider the Republican Party to be the "Trump Party."

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

NEW! Used Car section is under construction and will be available soon.

American death toll from Covid-19 virus passed 591,000 by June 1. New cases began to decline in February, but total number reached 33 million. (U.S. population is estimated at more than 331 million.)

By June 1, more than 168 million vaccinations had been administered in the U.S. and nearly 136 million Americans (40.9 percent of the population) were fully vaccinated. Yet, millions – especially Republicans – continue to refuse the vaccine.

Post-Inauguration News Briefs: President Biden's $1.9 trillion "stimulus" bill passes Congress, but $2 trillion "infrastructure" bill continues to face strong Republican opposition.

Selected News Briefs during the early months of the Biden administration will be added periodically. So will short essays on the bitterly partisan U.S. political scene.

June 8: Bipartisan Senate report on January 6 assault on Capitol contains new details, but omits Trump's role as instigator and avoids the world "insurrection."

June 7: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) calls Trump's incendiary speech prior to January 6 Capitol riot "the most dangerous thing" any president has done, adding that it's the worst violation of the presidential oath of office. (CNN)

June 3: CNN reports that Donald Trump's fixation on his imaginary election loss has been intensifying, as he curtly dismisses warnings from close advisers that it's time to "move on."

May 31: Marking the close of the 74th World Health Assembly, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared that despite the decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths, "it would be a monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed. (CNN)

May 31: Speaking at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, President Biden urges Americans to remember and consider those who died during military service. "Democracy itself is in peril," he asserted, both "at home and around world.... how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure."

May 31: Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that 53 percent of Republicans believe Trump is the "true" president. In Quinnipiac University poll, 66 percent of GOP respondents expressed belief that Biden's election was illegitimate. An even greater number (85 percent) said they prefer political candidates who generally agree with Donald Trump. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that while he was president, Trump made more than 30,000 false and misleading claims.(CNN)

May 30: Poll finds that 23 percent of Republicans support QAnon conspiracy theories. which assert that government, media, and financial interests are controlled by Satanic pedophiles. "True patriots," in the opinion of 28 percent of Republicans, "may need to resort to violence to save the country," as reported by CNN.

May 28: Senate votes 54-35 against establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the root causes of the January 6 insurrection. Only six Republicans voted in favor of doing so: Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, and Ben Sasse. Sixty "yea" votes would have been needed for passage.

May 23: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) likens face-mask mandate for House members with the Holocaust, comparing it to the Nazi requirement during World War II that Jews wear a Star of David. Her comment drew intense backlash from both Democrats and Republicans. Rep. Lyn Cheney (R-Utah), recently ousted from her GOP leadership role for calling out Donald Trump's false election claims, called Greene's statement "evil lunacy."

May 13: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updates Covid prevention guidelines, announcing that vaccinated people no longer need to wear face masks or maintain social distancing. Exceptions include public transit and hospitals. President Biden calls the move a "milestone; a great day." Despite widespread enthusiasm, critics - including many epidemiologists, according to The New York Times - suggest that the change was premature.

May 12: Rep. Andrew Clyde (R -Ga.) denies that an insurrection occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, declaring that the riotous attack seen across the world on video was actually more like a group of ordinary tourists wandering through the building. His comments drew major backlash, though a number of other Republicans also downplayed the incident.

April 29: CNN poll finds that 26 percent of American adults (44 percent of Republicans, but only 8 percent of Democrats) do not intend to seek a Covid-19 vaccination. At this point, 55 percent have received at least one dose. Some 58 percent of those who have received one dose say they're ready to return to normal life, while a whopping 87 percent of Americans who say "no" to vaccination are prepared for prompt return to normalcy.

April 28: President Biden addresses joint session of Congress.

April 28: Federal officers raid apartment and office of Rudy Giulani, seizing his phones and computers.

April 9: Public health experts anticipate a surge in Covid-19 cases, exacerbated by the more contagious, more deadly variants of the virus. By mid-April, every American 16 or older will be eligible for vaccination - though appointment-making remains a tedious ordeal in many areas. President Biden's goal of providing 100 millions doses by the end of May is expected to be reached well before that date, but tens of millions are refusing to accept vaccination.

April 9: In new memoir, former House Speaker John Boehner not only regrets voting for impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1990s, but holds Donald Trump responsible for inciting insurrection at U.S. Capitol on January 6.

April 3: CNN reports that lawmakers in 47 of the 50 states have introduced at least 361 bills that would make voting more difficult. Only Ohio, Delaware, and Vermont have thus far resisted pressure from Republicans to initiate legislation that restricts access to the ballot box.

April 2: More than 915,000 jobs were created in March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, at least 8 million jobs that existed a year ago have not yet resumed – and may or may not do so.

March 31: President Biden initiates multi-faceted, $2 trillion "infrastructure" bill. Republicans, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell, immediately signal opposition, citing excessive cost. Biden has vowed to "go big" with investment in the country, despite the high cost.

March 11: In his first primetime address to the nation, Joe Biden vows that vaccines will be available to every adult American by May 1. He also promises to ease the procedure for making appointments and obtaining the inoculation, including a new federal website and substantial increase in number of vaccination clinics.

March 11: President Biden signs $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus/relief bill, including $1,400 payment to most Americans, boost in child tax credit, and additional $300 per week for workers receiving unemployment compensation. Bill passes the Senate without a single Republican vote. Proponents, including Bernie Sanders, consider it the most important progressive legislaton "in decades," while Republicans insist it's too expensive and includes elements unrelated to the Covid pandemic.

March 3: Congress cancels March 4 session, because security analysts found credible threats of an attack against the U.S. Capitol on that date, by far-right militia grouops. (Originally, March 4 was the date for the inauguration of a new president.) Conspiracy theorists have indicated they expect Donald Trump to be returned to the presidency at that time. (CNN)

February 28: Donald Trump makes his first public appearance since leaving the White House, speaking at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference). Rather than focusing on issues pertaining to the Republican party, he spends considerable time continuing his baseless claim that he won the election, and on plans for revenge – attacking those Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of impeachment.

February 16: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) files civil lawsuit against Donald Trump, charging incitement of the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Rudy Giuliani is named in the siut, along with several far-right groups, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Additional lawsuits against Trump are expected. The current suit was filed under the Ku Klux Klan Act, a vestige of the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.

February 16: In a statement, Trump attacks Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-KY) for his caustic, unambiguous criticism of the former president's behavior related to the Capitol assault.

February 15: Nancy Pelosi announces intent to establish "911-style" commission to investigate January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

February 13: After voting to acquit the former president, citing concern about the constitutionality of impeachment, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admits that Trump "is practically and morally responsible for provoking" the assault and rioting at the Capitol on January 6.

February 13: Senate votes to acquit Donald Trump in impeachment trial, with seven Republicans joining the 50 Democrats in vote of guilty. Those seven, along with 10 House Republicans who voted guilty, face possible censure from party officials in their home states.

February 9: Second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump begins in U.S. Senate. Trump lawyers intend to challenge the constitutionality of impeaching a public official who is no longer in office. Democratic strategists are expected to make extensive use of video taken during and prior to January 6 storming of the Capitol, focusing on Trump's own words rather than introducing witnesses.

February 6: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is officially censured by her state's Republican party for voting to impeach Donald Trump.

February 4: Eleven Republicans join full complement of House Republicans to take committee assignments away from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

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..

2021 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 fictitional, 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 2021.


Used Car

Following a several-year absence, Tirekicking Today is reviving coverage of the used car market – again, emphasizing a consumer focus. Relevant reports on new vehicles 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.

We will start with a report on the gradually growing market for electric cars, including a rundown of some new entrants. Next will be a detailed look at the current used car marketplace, as expressed by experts attending the latest pre-owned car conference – dubbed Used Car Week – held "virtually" in late 2020.

Specific subjects to be covered in this new section will include:
• Cars vs. trucks in the sales race (Hint: Trucks have a strong lead.)
• State of and expectations for auto financing.
• How are used car prices trending?
• Whatever happened to the Repo Man?
• Which is best, economically speaking: New or Used?

News Headlines
in the Auto World

June 8: Ford reveals new compact pickup truck with full-hybrid powertrain, borrowing its Maverick name from the company's compact coupe of the 1970s. Claiming 40-mpg city gas mileage, 2022 Maverick will start at $19,995.

June 1: Gov. Cuomo announces "reimagined" in-person New York Auto Show, opening August 20 at Javits Convention Center.

May 11: Subaru announces name of new SUV, scheduled to go on sale in 2022: it's Soltera. The name combines Latin words for sun ("sol") and earth ("tera"). The Soltera results from a joint venture with Toyota.

May 10: Ford names its new electric pickup truck: the F-150 Lightning. The new model will be unveiled at a livestreamed event, from Ford headquarters, on May 19.

In February, General Motors unveiled redesigned Bolt: a compact electric-powered SUV with a claimed range of 250 miles on a single charge. GM also announced its intent to produce only electric vehicles after 2035.

Brand-new automakers also are entering the electric-vehicle arena, including Lucid Motors. The Lucid Air luxury sedan promises to travel as much as 500 miles before recharging is required.

Note: This auto-industry section is in the process of updating. In addition to news items, occasional articles on automotive history and the car culture will be featured.

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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