No. P01135809



NEW! Essays and opinions by Editor James M. Flammang may now be seen on Substack (angularviews.substack.com). Subscriptions are Free, and welcome.

Current essay topics include Aging Adolescents on the Road ... Everyday Offenders ... Greed ... Job Troubles ... Ownership/Debt ... Identity ... Good Work ... and Taxes.

Coming Up: Fitting In ... Competition ... Protesters ... Politics of Love/Hate ... and Homelessness



COMMENTARY

Thinking About Leaving?

What can lovers of democracy do as debacle of second Trump presidency looms?

Yes, the future (or demise) of democracy will be on the November ballot; and for about half of Americans, its prospects do not look good.

Four years ago, as the 2020 presidential election drew to a close, voters for both candidates (but especially for Biden) expressed fear for the future. This year, the stakes are far higher.

As Donald Trump's first term developed, some of us began pondering possibilities that would have seemed ludicrous a few months previous. With the potential for political disaster looming in the 2022 Midterm election, searching for a way out seemed more compelling than ever. Subsequent events, as Republicans opened Congress with a slim House majority, added to the concern for American democracy. By April, two days after Donald J. Trump was indicted in New York, with nearly all Congressional Republicans taking his side, the country appeared more divided than ever, with no potential solution evident. Now, early in 2024, facing 91 felony charges in four courts repeatedly promising retribution against all opponents, Mr. Trump appears certain to capture the presidential nomination, and likely to secure victory in November, with unprecedented chaos looming.

What can we, as individuals on the liberal or progressive end of the political spectrum, do to survive?

• Leave the country (not as easy as many Americans think unless you have substantial income/wealth, or an in-demand skill).
• Intensify peaceful protests.
• Turn our attention to state elections.
• 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.
• If the latter sounds too far-fetched, forming state coalitions could be a workable, if unlikely, alternative. States with similar leanings might band together on specific issues; and especially, the future of America.
Editor Jim Flammang has chosen to aim at the first solution. Now a widower, following the passing of his beloved wife Marianne in November, he is contemplating a move to Mexico, on at least a periodic, but preferably semi-permanent, basis. At the very least, he intends to be outside the U.S. border on the day of Donald Trump's Inauguration – sure to be among the darkest days in American history, if not the beginning of the end for our democratic republic.


Gunshots: Not Again ... and Again and Again!

One week in April 2023 was a big one for gun-wielding homeowners. When a 16-year-old Black boy went to the wrong house in Kansas City to pick up his siblings and rang the bell, the 84-year-old white man inside answered with gunshots. Days later in upstate New York, a young woman riding in a car was shot and killed by a 65-year-old man, after her driver turned into the wrong driveway. On a Saturday night in Alabama, a Sweet Sixteen party for a 16-year-old girl ended with four young people killed and 32 injured. Late on a Tuesday, two teen cheerleaders were shot in a Texas supermarket parking lot when one of them tried to open a car door, mistakenly thinking it was her own vehicle.

In Nashville in March, a shooter fired 152 shots inside a Christian elementary school, killing six: three 9-year-olds and three adults. Early in May, in Texas, where a man killed eight at an outlet mall. Two mass shootings took place in California within a two-day period. Eleven lay dead, with nine injured, in an attack on a dance studio near Los Angeles, as elder Chinese-Americans celebrated Lunar New Year.

During 2023, more than 630 mass shootings took place, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nation's shooting spree continued into 2024. Early in February, a woman with a small child in tow fired shots into a crowd at Joel Osteen's Houston megachurch; child was shot and shooter was killed. A day later, a shooter opened fire during Rush Hour at a New York subway platform, killing one and injuring five. And on, and on, and on.

When Will We Finally Learn: GUNS KILL!

Gun Advocates: 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 in Uvalde, Texas. They were among 19 children and two teachers murdered in school.


Absurd! Outrageous!

2,000 Illinois Children Abused by Priests

You read that figure correctly. Over the past 70 years, 2,000 children in Illinois alone were abused by Catholic Clergy. Instead of punishment in any form, many priests were shunted around to various parishes in an outlandish cover-up.

We've said it before. The absolute maximum number of abuses committed by any priest, anywhere, should have been ONE. That person should have been removed, and the Church should have made it perfectly clear that such an atrocity will never, ever be tolerated.


Democracy R.I.P.

By censuring Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney for her work on the Hearing for the January 6 assault on the Capitol, 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 this point forward. That line referred to the "Big Lie" perpetrated by Donald Trump:
"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."


Donald Trump:
Invariably the
Partial President

Unlike any predecessors, Mr. Trump never even pretended to be president of all the people; only his followers and MAGA Republicans. Everyone else was deemed an enemy, subject to verbal abuse. As his utterances, tweets, and actions made perfectly clear for four years, he was emphatically not the president of Democrats and progressives. For additional comments on early Trumpism, please Click here.


Toil & Trouble

A Century of
Pay and Prices

Chronicle of workers' wages and commodity prices, 1886-1986

How much did Hudson Hornet cost in 1953? What did average worker earn? Click here.


While chronicling Trump phenomenon and its impact, Tirekicking Today began this section on work/labor. It builds upon 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 Sheriff



"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 don't mind paying taxes
New Ways To Look at Work
Overview: Imaginative Approaches Required ...
Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile
Quit calling us consumers!
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 periodically.


Work/Labor News Headlines

May 17: Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama vote to reject United Auto Workers union.

April 19: Almost three-fourths (73 percent of workers in Volkswagen's Chatanooga, Tennessee factory vote to join UAW. Traditionally, import-brand workers in southern states have voted against union recognition.

March 30: A report released by Strada Institute for the Future of Work and the Burning Glass Institute found that 52 percent of college graduates are working minimum-wage jobs within a year of graduating. Five years after graduation, 45 percent still lack a job that requires a four-year degree. According to Business Insider, those low-wage jobs include working in an office, retail trade, or the hospitality field.

February 13: Thousands of flight attendants plan to picket outside 30 airports in U.S. and UK, seeking better pay. (Labor Union News.com).

February 12: A Philadelphia sex shop, known for "inclusivity" in hiring, laid off all its workers after they joined a union. (Jacobin).

February 2: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate stood at a modest 3.7 percent. For past two years, the rate has been below 4 percent – the longest stretch in half a century. A total of 14.8 million jobs have been created during Biden administration. "Even with those strong gains," said Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, "we have more room to grow by bringing more people into the labor force."

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 2018, Amazon announced that 20 cities were on the "short list" of possible sites for the company's second headquarters. Each city offered massive incentives. 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 who live in vans and RVs, working at seasonal and short-term jobs to survive. A film version directed by Chloe Zhao starred Oscar-winner Frances McDormand.

On the Clock, another book focused on low-wage toil, painted an even bleaker picture. Laid-off reporter Emily Guendelsberger spent an exhausting, painful month at a massive warehouse in Kentucky, then traveled to North Carolina for a job at a call center. In addition to fascinating detail about her experiences, she covers aspects of labor history that led to today's low-wage worklives, including observations on Frederick Taylor, a pioneer in industrial efficiency.



"[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:

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Norma Rae (1979)
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 satire on extreme wealth
The Good Boss (2021) Spanish film stars Javier Bardem

Please Click Here for details on films.



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 18, 2024

New rules established for presidential debate: no live audience ... no opening statements ... microphones will be muted except during each candidate's turn to speak ... interruption will not be tolerated.

Donald Trump found guilty on all 34 felony counts in "hush money" trial ... first former president to be a convicted felon. Jury deliberated for two days. Former president faces prospect of up to four years in prison, but punishment could be community service or a $5,000 fine. Judge Juan Murchan will sentence Trump on July 11, four days before Republican National Convention.


Tirekicking Today is still being revised and updated, including expanded coverage of the intensively partisan political scene as the 2024 election season gets further underway


News from TK Press (book division of Tirekicking Today): Separate Books Page now contains full details on books by Editor James M. Flammang.

NOW ON SALE: Autobiographical Fiction by James M. Flammang

Untied Knots

Tales of Travel and Back at Home

Three groups of short stories, each with an offbeat twist or two, make up Untied Knots. Nearly half are travel-based, focusing on second-class journeys through everyday life, steering around the posh and the touristy. Several stem from real-life journeys within Mexico, undertaken as far back as the mid-1970s. "Back At Home" tales are more fictional, though inspired at least in part by real people and places. The collection also includes several early stories, strictly fictional, from the author's archive.

Please go to our new TK Press Books Page for details on Untied Knots and other books by Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, including the forthcoming Fraidy Cat and Absurdities. Links to excerpts from each title are available on the Books page.

Untied Knots is available through major retailers. The paperbound book may be ordered directly from the author, for a discounted price of $16 (including shipping in U.S.).


After 23 years covering the auto industry, Tirekicking Today shifted gears in 2016 to focus on social, political and economic issues – led by unprecedented ramifications of the Trump presidency and its election-denying aftermath.

Please see Used Car section (bottom of page) for periodic articles on used car trends and expanding electric-car market.

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.

Additional automotive history:
Easy Shifting: a detailed history of the automatic transmission
Gasoline Rationing: Learning from the pastPart I covers World War II period (1942-45) ... Part II deals with public reaction, along with threat of revived rationing during 1970s.


News Briefs That Matter ... Covid Update

Selected news items highlight some of the most worrisome recent events and statements, augmented by commentary (at right) related to the bitterly partisan U.S. political scene.

Although the "national emergency" stemming from the Covid pandemic was declared over in April 2023, as of November, Covid-19 hospitalizations continued to rise. By winter's end, though, they were declining. In most recent week, 9,345 patients were hospitalized, down 13.9 percent from the prior week. Updated Spring booster vaccinations are available now.

May 29: Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito refuses to recuse himself from any cases, despite harsh criticism over several-day display at his home of upside-down American flag, which is a meme employed by hard-right election deniers.

May 22: International Criminal Court seeks to issue Arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister. Announcement cites possible war crimes, drawing fiery opposition from world leaders, including President Biden; but France concurs with the move. If approved by the full Court, comparable warrants would also be issued for Hamas leaders.

May 21: Trump defense team rests its case in "hush money" trial, after ex-president declines to testify; proceedings set to resume after Memorial Day holiday.

May 21: Video regarding plans for second Trump presidential term appears on Truth Social site, with background text referring to creating a "Unified Reich." That term was used by Nazis in late 1930s, referencing the "Third Reich" that Hitler sought to develop in his bid for global conquest.

April 20: Responding to previous attack, Iran sends more than 300 drones and missiles against Israel; nearly all are shot down or crashed, doing little damage.

April 15: Ex-president Trump goes on trial in New York for falsifying business records as part of an attempt to prevent adult film star from speaking out about alleged tryst with the ex-president. Mr. Trump is the first former-president in history to be named as defendant in a criminal trial. By Friday April 19, all twelve jurors are seated, along with six alternates.

April 2: Israeli air strikes kill seven foreign aid workers who'd been delivering food in Gaza. Those killed worked with World Central Kitchen, the humanitarian organization founded by Chef José Andrés that provides massive amounts of food for embattled residents of Gaza and other global trouble spots. Driving in a three-car convoy, their vehicle was clearly identified, and Israel had been informed of their presence and location. Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed it was "uninentional," a "tragic incident," promising a thorough investigation. "We were outraged," said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby. In an interview with PBS, Sean Carroll, head of the ANERA aid group, deplored its "depravity." WCK and other aid groups halted operations in Gaza.

March 31: Ex-president Trump posts video on his social media site with image of President Biden hogtied, on bed of a pickup truck.

March 31: Poll reveals that 55 percent of Americans now disapprove of Israel's actions in Gaza. Previously, House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered scathing criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's conduct of the war. In both number and intensity, Pro-Palestinian protests have been growing recently. So have anti-governnment demonstrations in Israel, including tens of thousands of protester in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday.

March 15: Former Vice President Pence declines to endorse Donald Trump in 2024 election.

March 6: Despite risk of being beaten or detained by police, thousands attend outdoor funeral in Moscow suburb, passing the open coffin of renowned Russian dissident and ardent Putin opponent Alexey Navalny, who died in Artic penal colony two weeks earlier. Russian officials claim his death came from natural causes, but many suspect that Navalny was poisoned, at the order of Vladimir Putin.

March 5: More than 100 Palestinians (including women and children) are killed and hundreds injured in Gaza when Israeli troops fire on frenzied crowd, struggling to obtain food from newly-arrived convoy.

March 4:Supreme Court rules unanimously that Colorado cannot remove Trump from primary ballot, but dissenters question portions of the decision.


White House Woes

Trump's Presidency In News Briefs

During and prior to the first two years of his presidency, we compiled news items outlining the outrages committed by the Trump administration against American laws, values, and principles. We revived coverage for his final year in office, concluding in January 2021.

Click here for Countdown News Briefs (PDF): Chronicles the three-week period prior to 2017 Inauguration
Click here for White House Woes (PDF): Two Years of News Briefs, January 2017 through December 2018
Click here for Election Season News Briefs: March 2020 to January 20, 2021 (Inauguration Day)
Click here for Post-Presidency News Briefs: February 2021 to October 2022


GRETA'S CORNER

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. In 2020, Greta returned to school, having dropped out for a year, but she continues her protest activities.

Greta mocked world leaders at Youth4Climate forum in Italy, asserting that for the previous three decades, climate action amounted to no more than "blah, blah, blah.... empty words and promises" that failed to lead to action. In February 2022, shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine in its "special military operation," Greta joined a group of "Stand With Ukraine" protesters at a Russian embassy. Early in 1923, Ms. Thunberg was carried off by police officers in Germany, following her participation in a coal mine protest. Not long afterward, she was briefly detained by police during a protest against wind farms in an indigenous area of Norway. Wind farms are said to adversely impact grazing by reindeer, which are herded by the Sami people. In July, a Swedish court fined Ms. Thunberg about $240 (U.S.) for refusing to obey police order during a climate protest at oil facility. "We cannot save the world by playing by the rules," she told journalists after the guilty verdict. She then rejoined the protesters.

Click here for additional details on Greta's activities.



• Articles and essays on current affairs will appear periodically.

Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, a veteran 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 for a variety of major outlets, including J.D. Power, cars.com, and the Chicago Tribune; and extensively, including books, for Consumer Guide. Flammang is a member of the Freelancers Union and (since 1989) the International Motor Press Association, and is a past president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has authored more than thirty books, mostly on auto history but including various buying guides.

TK Press, established in 2014 as a division of Tirekicking Today, has published four books by Flammang. Several more (See Books Page) are well underway.


Clunkers & Creampuffs

A casual history of the used car

Overview
1: Early Days
2: Ford's Model T
3: Production and Prosperity
4: "Easy" Payments
5: Family Cars and Family Life
6: Five-Dollar Flivvers
7: Rise and Fall of Used Car
8: Saturation and Salesmanship
9: A Global Blowout (1930s)
10: Selling In Hard Times
11: Wheels for the Workingman
12: Okies, Nomads, & Jalopies
13: Motoring in Wartime
14: The Postwar Boom
15: Chromium Fantasies
16: Dealers' Image Problem
17: Wheels for '50s Workingman
18: Teens, Rods, Clunkers
19: Everybody Drives
20: Personal Clunker History


Used Car
World

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. 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 and other publications. Thia section also covers the new-vehicle marketplace, starting with a report on the gradually growing market for electric cars, including a brief history of EVs. NA detailed look at the volatile used car marketplace Used Car Trends features comments from experts attending the annual pre-owned car conference presented by Auto Remarketing.

Are EVs finally ready for prime time?
Used Car Trends
Cars vs. Trucks in sales race (Hint: Trucks have strong lead.)
What's happened to used car prices?
Whatever happened to the Repo Man?


Note: Articles on automotive history and the car culture also appear in this section, led by Easy Shifting, a comprehensive history of the automatic transmission.



Part I of our detailed, two-part history of gasoline rationing covers the World War II period (1942-45). Part II deals with public reaction and threat of rationing during 1970s oil crisis.
Click here for Gas Rationing during World War II





News Headlines
in the Auto World

What's New for 2024-25

June 18: Fisker company, manufacturer of battery-powered Ocean, will enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

April 19: Almost three-fourths of Volkswagen workers in Tennessee factory vote to join United Auto Workers Union (UAW).

April 15: Prompted by weak first-quarter sales, Tesla lays off 10 percent of its workers (about 14,000).

March 22: Reacting to growing criticism, General Motors agrees to stop supplying data on customers' driving behavior to data brokers, which then distribute information to insurers.

March 2: GM is recalling nearly 820,000 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups (2020-24 models). If water enters tailgate, it might inadvertently open while truck is parked, possibly allowing items in cargo bed to fly out when vehicle starts moving.

February 26: Stellantis is recalling 338,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees because front-suspension parts could loosen, allowing front wheel to fall outward. Only 2021-23 models are affected.

February 15: Ford CEO announces plan to produce new, smaller, more affordable electric vehicle. Overall EV sales and profitability have been declining. (Automotive News).

February 13: According to Consumer Reports, one-third of surveyed consumers have only limited experience with electric vehicles. A Yahoo Finance/Ipsos survey, reported in Business Insider, found that 57 percent of respondents are unlikely to purchase an EV in near future. Many naysayers cite shortage of charging facilities, or still worry about limited range.

February 13: Cadillac set to produce full-electric version of long-wheelbase Escalade full-size luxury SUV. (Automotive News

February 12: J.D. Power reports that public EV chargers have been growing in reliability, but are in short supply – partly because of inoperative units at charging stations.




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.
Tirekicking Today accepts no advertising and receives no funds from any organization.

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