UPDATED: October 27, 2020
Amy Coney Barrett Is Confirmed as Supreme Court Justice (October 26)
Voting is along strict party lines, with 52 Republicans voting to confirm and 48 Democrats in opposition. Critics are enraged by the rush to confirmation, days before the election. Four years earlier, President Obama had been blocked from nominating Merrick Garland, some eight months prior to the 2016 election.
After 23 years of covering the auto industry, Tirekicking Today shifted gears to focus on social and political issues - led by the unprecedented ramifications of the Trump presidency.
American death toll from the Covid-19 virus reaches 225,000 in late October, with about 7.4 million cases now reported.
Top Pandemic and Trump/Political News
October 27: At a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump claimed that his campaign had to find an alternative rally site, because of Covid-19 rules enacted by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. According to CNN's Chris Cillizza, he then issued a veiled threat: "I'll remember it, Tom," if your state needs federal aid.
October 25: Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, tells reporters they "can't control the virus." Leading Democrats charge that this amounts to surrender, abandoninig the crisis. Meanwhile, Trump continues to insist that the Covid-19 has "rounded the corner" and will soon be gone – at a time when new cases per day have reached record levels in many states.
October 25: At least five Pence aides have tested positive for coronavirus, including his "body man" (who is with him regularly). Yet, Pence declines to self-quarantine for two weeks, but instead continues on the campaign trail. After hosting three rallies in one day, he suggests that he might be doing as many as five per day in the final week.
October 24: Proposed limitation on for J1 (exchange visitor) visas could threaten some 12,000 doctors with expulsion from the U.S. This prospect comes at a time of pandemic, when medical practitioners are urgently needed - and will be in ever greater demand if/when the second wave of coronavirus hits its peak. Such visas allow doctors, scholars and other high-skill persons to live in America while studying or training. (CNN)
October 22: Trump and Biden debate onstage in Nashville, under new rule. For two minutes after the moderator poses a question, only the microphone of the person answering is active, ensuring an uninterrupted response. After both parties have responded, both microphone are active for follow-up period. Trump is far more civil than in first debate. Interruptions, fierce personal attacks, and falsehoods hardly are absent , but the president is considerably more restrained.
October 20-21: Trump abruptly halts interview with CBS's Lesley Stahl for the 60 Minutes program, telling her "you have enough." Asked at the outset if he was ready for "tough questions," the president replied: "No, I'm not." Repeatedly doubting her fairness, Trump especially disdained questioning about the coronavirus. Later, after threatening to post the interview online prior to its airing on the CBS TV show, he did exactly that - along with a separate interview Stahl conductred with vice-president Pence.
October 20: "Suburban women, will you please like me," Trump pleads, expanding upon his courting of specific voting groups. "I saved your neighborhood.... I don't want to build low-income husingnext to your house."
October 19: With two weeks to go before the election, early voting is taking place in every state, but several states do not yet offer in-person voting. More than 27 million voters have already cast ballots.
October 17: Striving to capture their vote at one of his rallies, Trump tells suburban women: "You're supposed to love me." He promises to keep them safe, falsely charging that Democrats will encourage undesirable persons to overwhelm suburban enclaves. Recent polls show that his popularity among suburban women and senior citizens has wand.
October 12: "I feel so powerful," Trump tells his Florida rallygoers as they crowd together - despite worrisome rise in Covic-19 cases and deaths, "I'll walk into that audience... I'll kiss everyone ... I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and the - everybody. I'll just give everybody a big, fat kiss." During the final three weeks of his campaign, the president plans at least one rally each day. (CNN)
October 10: Cleared by his primary physician to end isolation and resume activities, Trump prepares to host three rallies during the coming week. The president's doctors have declined to say whether he has tested negative for the coronavirus.
October 10: Despite uncertainty about the contagion level of Trump's case of Covid-19, the president speaks from the balcony of the White House, with hundreds of guests gathered on the lawn. The second presidential debate has been cancelled, because Trump refused to participate in a "virtual" version.
October 9: Responding to arrests of 13 men for plotting to kidnap and possibly execute the governor of Michigan, Trump attacks Governor Gretchen Whitmer for failing to thank him for federal efforts to thwart the plot. Trump also renewed his attacks on Whitmer for her lockdown orders, intended to reduce Covid-19 infections.
October 8: Thriteen men are arrested for plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in an effort to overthrow the state government. The governor has been harshly criticized for imposing allegedly harsh lockdown regulations during the pandemic.
October 8: Reacting to Donald Trump's behavior since being treated for Covid-19, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepares to introduce a bill that would give Congress a role in determining whether the 25th Amendment can be enacted to remove the president from office, based upon inability to do the job properly. (CNN)
October 7: Vice-president Pence and Senator Kamala Harris debate in Salt Lake City. Though debate is far more civil than presidential debate a week earlier, talking well past time limites and interruptions were frequent - especially by Mr. Pence.
October 7: Though his Covid-19 infection remains potentially active, Trump goes back to work in the Oval Office. Critics assert that his doctors are not supplying full and accurate information on the president's condition.
October 7: In an editorial, New England Journal of Medicine condemns Trump administrastion for its handling of coronavirus pandemic, recommending that it be "voted out," but not endorsing any candidate. (CNN)
October 7: According to a draft of an investigative report by the inspector general of the Justice Department, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions promoted migrant-family separation, regardless of childrens' ages. Top officials said "we need to take away children," The New York Times reported.
October 6: Back at work in the White House, Trump ends negotiations with congressional Democrats on the stimulus bill, announcing that they will resume after he wins re-election. Millions of out-of-work Americans have been without econoic relief since July, when the previous stimulus ground to a halt.
October 5: "Don't be afraid of Covid," Donald Trump tweets as he prepares to leave the hospital and return to the White House - though his true physical condition remains uncertain. On two occasions, he was given supplement oxygen. He also received a powerful steroid in combination with another medication, previously given only to people with serious cases of Covid-19. Critics condemn his statement as irresponsible.
October 5: Kayleigh McEnany, Trump's press secretary, is latest member of White House team to test positive for coronavirus. Analysts believe the outbreak resulted from recent gathering in the Rose Garden to celebrate nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. Few masks and little social distancing were evident at the event. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had helped prep the president for debate, also tested positive and has been hospitalized.
October 5: White House insists that appropriate precautions were taken for Trump's short Sunday ride past cheering supporters, accompanied by two Secret Service agents wearing protective gear. Other agents have decried the outing. It "should never have happened," one member of the first family's detail told CNN, adding that riders in the parading SUV would now have to be quarantined.
October 4: In the midst of his treatment for Covid-19, Trump leaves Walter Reed hospital to participate in a brief motorcade, waving to amassed supporters from an SUV. "This is insanity," said one attending physician. "The irresponsibility is astounding," putting each passenger in that vehicle at risk "for political theater." According to a White House spokesman, Trump's medical team had deemed the outing "safe to do." (CNN)
October 3: Several White House aides have tested positive for coronavirus, including former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien. So have three Republican Senators, which could affect the Supreme Court nominating process. Decisions have not yet been made about the two additional presidential debates scheduled in October.
October 1: Presidential adviser Hope Hicks tests positive for Covid-19, leading Trump to initiate "quarantine process." Ms. Hicks traveled with the president a day earlier. (The New York Times)
October 1: House of Representatives approves $2.2 trillion stimulus, developed by Democrats. Eighteen Democrats voted with the Republicans, against the bill. (CNN)
October 1: Trump condemns "all white supremacists," including the Proud Boys – a far-right extremist group known for violence – two days after declining to do so during the presidential debate. (CNN)
Please Click Here for News Briefs from mid-March through September 2020
Quick Look: Early Days of Covid-19 in the U.S.
Late in 2019, when the coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, few could have imagined the impact it would soon have on the rest of the world, including the U.S. As the number of cases - and deaths - grew in China and the virus reached into Europe, many Americans - including Donald Trump - dismissed or ignored the potential danger to humanity, worldwide. Not until the virus (now called Covid-19) began to sicken Americans, sometimes resulting in death, did the tendency toward denial begin to evaporate.
Finally, in mid-March, the president began to react in accord with the magnitude of the crisis. By then, New York City was going into lockdown, elderly residents of a Seattle nursing home were dying, and some cities began to take drastic action to keep the virus from spreading. The governor of Illinois, for one, ordered that all bars and restaurants close for the duration, except for takeout orders. Americans were emphatically warned to maintain "social distance," staying at least six feet away from all other people. Elderly persons, and those with health issues (especially respiratory conditions) were strongly advised to stay home. Lacking clear directives from the federal government, state and local officials initiated their own orders or admonitions to the public. Meanwhile, hospitals were running out of protective face masks, ventilators, and available beds.
Writing in The New York Times on March 18, Jennifer Finney Boylan may have painted the most pointed picture of the coronavirus pandemic: "The world we lived in has vanished – slowly, and then suddenly. Even if we manage to defeat the coronavirus, that world will not return."
Two years of Trump News Briefs (January 2017 to December 2018) are available as a PDF file. Please see description of White House Woes at right.
2020 Book Publication Schedule
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 the final stages of pre-production. Each views its subject from an oblique and often lighthearted – yet serious – perspective.
Note: This schedule is still under contruction. Preliminary outlines and/or unedited excerpts are available, accessed by clicking on each link. Additional excerpts will be available soon.
Inquiries from book publishers or agents are welcome. Please send e-mail to JF@tirekick.com.
Surviving a lifetime of unwarranted fear and fright
A personal look backward, focusing on lessons learned about living with debilitating fear and anxiety, 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, debilitating, 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.
Fraidy Cat: Contents ... Outline ... Excerpts: Chapter 1 (Childhood) ... Chapter 3 (Sex) ... Chapter 5 (Addiction)
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 ... Scandal ... 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 chapters will focus on his bizarre, unprecedented presidency.
Absurdities: Contents ... Overview .. Chapter Outline ... Excerpt from Section III - Work (Our Biggest Myth)
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. In addition to scrutinizing workplace issues in the past, Work Hurts looks at the growing "gig" and "temp" economy, and its impact on less-than-happy toilers.
Work Hurts: Contents ... Chapter Outline ... Chapter 1 (Without a Paddle)
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 caustically critical – but frequently humorous – observation of the car culture and auto business, including the automotive media. 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 JF@tirekick.com.
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 work to movies, money to citizenship, from status to guilt. An emigrant from Britain, with obviously French heritage, Mr. M. manages to combine strictly contemporary attitudes and piercing opinions with a gallantry and sophistication reminiscent of the era of Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ask about printed copies, signed by the author.
Excerpts from Incompetent and Mr. Maurice ... may be seen at Bublish.com.
Articles and essays on topics related to current affairs, and occasionally about relevant automotive subjects, will be posted here periodically.
Editor James M. Flammang 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 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 diring 2020.
"[W]hile there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Eugene Debs (in 1918 court statement)
Five-time Socialist candidate for president
New section is being developed for this space
Countdown to Trumpland
Early January, 2017
Leading Up to Inauguration
Delight or Disaster?
Trump presidency signals either his promised return to a “Great” America, or the demise of Constitutional Democracy, with economic tragedy for lower and middle classes.
As the New Year begins, Americans face a political scene that can only be called unprecedented. To about half the voters in November’s election, the arrival of Donald Trump as president-elect demonstrated a fresh start for the country. To the other half, seeing this willfully ignorant, ill-behaved, flagrantly self-absorbed bully prepare to take the reins of government – despite fierce distaste for so many of the principles and values upon which this nation was founded – is an occasion for dread, distress, and abject hopelessness....
Click here for more.
As soon as Donald Trump entered the White House on January 20, 2017, Tirekicking Today halted its section “Countdown to Trumpland." Our follow-up series (at right, above) is titled “White House Woes: The Trump Presidency."
In addition to articles on specific issues that President Trump deals with, we include news items on the latest actions and words emanating from, and about, the Trump Administration.
in the Auto World
October 29: General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota say they will not cooperate with California's two-tier emissions stzndards system. Ford, Honda, and BMW previously announced that they back California's stance, defying the president.
November 17: New Mustang Mach-e electric SUV shows little kinship to sporty Mustang coupe.
November 21: Tesla unveils electric-powered, the futuristic Cybertruck that lacks a cargo bed and shows virtually no resemblance to conventional pickups.
January 1, 2020: Ousted Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, on trial in Japan and barred from leaving that country, manages to reach Lebanon – which has no extradition treaty. Early in January, Ghosn surreptiously leaves Japan, turning up in Lebanon. Ghosn holds passparts from Lebanon, Brazil, and the U.S.
March 18: Automakers plan temporary shutdown of U.S. factories, due to the Coronavirus crisis.
March 27: Trump uses Defense Production Act to order General Motors to produce ventilators, essential to help severely ill Covid-19 patients breathe. A previous contract had been signed with GM, but resulted in a dispute about the dollar amount involved. Governors and mayors have pleaded for more ventilators in their grossly oveburdened hospitals.
May 19: Two Ford plants reopen, as part of Trump's intent to bring workers back to their jobs. A day later, both plants ahut down again because a worker tested positive for Covid-19.
July 8: Chevrolet is dropping Sonic compact sedan.
July 14: With great fanfare, Ford reveals 21st-century version of its long-departed Bronco SUV.