TODAY'S TOP TRUMPTHOUGHTS
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.
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.
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.
You may instead send an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A PDF version of "Countdown to Trumpland," chronicling the three-week period prior to Inauguration, also is available.
Reports about protest events and essays on various aspects of the Trump presidency, produced in the early months of 2017, soon after Inauguration, may be seen at White House Woes.
Greta laments lack of action on climate
January 21: Speaking at World Economic Forum in Davos, young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg berates world leaders for doing "basically nothing" to reduce carbon emissions. (CNN)
Greta delivers blistering words at UN Climate Action Summit
Teenage Swedish activist has become the fearless face and voice of demands for real action on climate crisis
(Sept. 23, 2019) As the UN Climate Action Summit opened at United Nations headquarters in New York, a string of activists and government leaders were expected to participate. Some would speak; others listen. President Trump, having pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord early in his administration, was not among them (though he made a surprise appearance at the event, staying for less than 15 minutes).
Critics and cynics had to wonder whether any genuine action might result. Based upon lack of progress following other summits, their concern is valid.
Rather than a respected academic or renowned environmental expert, the main attraction – as anticipated by many – was a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden. Earlier in the summer, Greta Thunberg had sailed from Europe to the U.S. on an environmentally-friendly racing boat, preparing to speak at the UN and other venues. Over a period of months, she had become arguably the best-known advocate in the world for serious and immediate action against the fast-growing destruction of the planet.
Three days before the Summit, some 4 million protesters worldwide, mostly youthful, marched to demand action by legislators and corporate leaders. Journalists and TV newspersons focused pointedly on Ms. Thunberg, acknowledging her rapid rise in the public mind as a tireless advocate whose words sting with common sense and respect for science, rather than more platitudes.
She may be tiny in stature, but her words can be fiery. Ms. Thunberg set a forcefully direct tone right at the beginning. "This is wrong," she declared, advising that she shouldn't have to be in this position at all. She should be in school "across the ocean." But because the climate crisis is so urgent, and not nearly enough is being done by "the adults," she feels compelled to insist upon genuine action.
'We are in the beginning of a mass extinction," she warned, "and all you can talk about is money.... How dare you."
Since the emergence of Ms. Thunberg as a powerful "voice" of the world's youth, many of whom are dismayed by lack of progress in dealing with climate change, other young activists have been spotlighted.
UPDATE (November 2): Ms. Thunberg appeared to be absent from news coverage during October, but emerged on November 2, speaking at a climate-change rally in Los Angeles. She was expected to appear later in the fall at a summit in Chile, but that event has been cancelled.
UPDATE (November 13): Following cancellation of the climate summit scheduled for Chile, moving the location to Madrid, Greta made arrangements to return to Europe on a 48-foot sailing catamaran. She will be accompanied by the couple who own the sailing craft, their toddler, and a British professional sailor. Ms. Thunberg hopes to reach Spain in time to attend and speak at the summit, on December 2. (CBS News)
UPDATE (December 3:) Greta has arrived inLisbon, enroute to Madrid for the Climate Summit, having crossed the Atlantic by sailbing catamaran. "People are underestimating the force of angry kids," she warned.
MADRID UPDATE (December 6): Speaking at the COP25 climate summit, Greta chided world leaders for doing so little to address climate change. "The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power," she advised, "and we cannot go on like this.... The CPO25 is not something we should just look past and ignore," she added. Every opportunity "to improve the situation we must take." (CNN)
December 11: TIME magazine to name Greta Thunberg its "Person of the Year." (CNN)
December 12: Trump asserts that Greta has serious "anger management" issues, while Brazil's leader calls here a "brat." (CNN)
Mr. Trump, who was once named TIME's "Man of the Year," has often appeared obsessed with the magazine's annual choices. The Trump campaign soon released a "doctored" version of the cover, with Trump's head superimposed on top of Greta's.
May 14: Greta participates in virtual CNN "Town Hall" on coronavirus pandemic, drawing attacks from critics.
Further updates on Greta's activities will be added as information becomes available.
Essays and reports on various subjects will be presented in this space.
Toil & Trouble
Countdown to Trumpland, our 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. For the next two years, we provided news and commentary on the Trump presidency, in a section called White House Woes. Mr. Trump's candidacy and election led to a crucial urgency among progressives and others who feared - and soon faced - 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
March 26: Claims for unemployment compensation, responding to the Covid-19 crisis and massive economic distress, reach a historic high, by far: more than 3.2 million in a single week. One week later, the weekly total reached 6.6 million. During the third week of shutdown, another 6.6 million appliled, raising the total to 16.8 million - higher than the amount of unemployment during the recession of 2007-08.
March 27: Following combative sessions in Congress over several days, Trump signs $2 trillion "stimulus" bill, which will make money available to both large and small businesses hit hard by the economic crisis - triggered by Covid-19. To assist laid-off workers, the bill includes a provision to send each American a check for $1,200 or more, as well as to temporarily increase unemployment compensation payments by $600 a week.
April 8: Another $2.3 trillion package, dubbed either "stimulus" or "rescue," is proposed in Congress, but Democrats and Republicans are squabbling over the details. Each side has its own bill, with no sign of either party "giving in."
May 14: In past week, another 2.9 million workers apply for unemployment benefits, bringing total to 36 million.
During 2020, Work/Labor news and articles will be updated regularly.
New Ways To Look at Work
Overview: Imaginative Approaches Required ...
Essays below, initially written in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2008, are in the process of updating.
Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise
Overview: All too often, Toil Is Trouble
Needed Now: Jobs, Not Careers
Own Nothing, Owe Nothing
Surprise! Some of us like to pay taxes
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 related topics will be added during 2020.
Work/Labor in Print and On Film
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.
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.
Additional Labor news items, especially related to low-wage, contract, and temporary work, will be posted periodically. Please check again.
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), Bacholor Party (1953), They Drive By Night (1940), and No Down Payment (1957).
"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."
“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.
"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 4, 2020
After 23 years of covering cars and the auto industry, Tirekicking Today shifted gears to focus on social issues and current affairs - led by the unprecedented ramifications of the Trump presidency.
American Shutdown Largely Continues into May, in response to coronavirus pandemic
Despite warnings from medical experts, a growing number of states are partially easing lockdown restrictions.
Top Pandemic and Trump/Political News
June 4: In cities across the country, protesters gather to honor George Floyd,10 days after the 46-year-old was killed by a police officer's knee pushing down on his neck. The Rev. Al Sharpton delivers a eulogy at a memorial service in Minneapolis, asserting that racism has effectively "kept your knee on our neck." Most recent protests for social justice have been peaceful, avoiding the violent actions that marred a number of events in the days -- and especially nights -- following Mr. Floyd's death.
June 3: Retired Gen. James Mattis, previously Trump's secretart of defense, issues harsh denunciation of the president's call for using force against protesters, and for proposting use of active-duty military.
June 1: White House security forces attack peaceful protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, and what are dubbed "flash bangs," clearing the area so Trump can walk to a photo-op at a nearby Episcopal Church, where he is pictured holding up a Bible. (CNN)
June 1: During conference call with state governors, Trump declares that many of them are "weak," demanding that they escalate use of force in order to "dominate" protesters. If they don't, he warned, they would look like "jerks." CNN reports that Trump has deemed himself the "law and order president."
May 30: In a tweet, Trump threatens protesters at White House with the prospect of "the most vicious dogs, and ominous weapons, I have ever seen." He also denied knowing that his earlier comments about "looting" and "shooting" had a racist origin. In an early response to protests that began in Minneapolis, following the brutal death of George Floyd, the president referred to protesters as "THUGS" (his capitalization). (CNN)
May 29: As Trump's feud with Twitter continues, the president turns to Facebook and Instagram to deliver threatening message to Minneapolis protesters: "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." CNN, whose crew members had been arrested, describes Trump's words praising the Minneapolis police as "glorifying violence."
May 28: Following death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man held to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer, protests break out and turn violent, soon expanding into several additional cities. As the officer's knee pressed on his neck, Mr. Floyd repeatedly cried out, "I can't breathe," and was heard calling for his deceased mother.
May 27: Twitter places "fact-check" label on two of the president's tweets. In response, Trump threatens to "strongly regulate," if not "shut down," social media platforms. (CNN)
May 25: On Memorial Day, for the 266th time in his presidency, Trump plays a round at one of his golf courses - his first such outing since March. During his 2016 campaign, he often attacked former president Obama for playing golf rather than working at the White House.
May 21: Trump tours Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where all visitors are required to wear a face mask. Though he'd brought a dark blue mask along (evidently featuring the presidential seal), he refused to wear it when any cameras were present. According to CNN, company chairman Bill Ford said wearing a mask is "up to him." Dana Nessel, Michigan's Attorney General, called Trump's failure to be masked "incredibly disrespectful" to the state, warning that in the future, he would no longer be welcome.
May 20: Latest predictive model determines that if lockdown had taken place a week (perhaps two weeks) sooner, some 36,000 lives might have been saved. Trump quickly responded, insisting that he was among the first to grasp the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and take action. By action, he referred to his order to bar Chinese persons from entering the U.S.
May 20: All 50 states have partially reopened, or plan to do so by Memorial Day. State rules vary, but such businesses as restaurants and gyms may be permitted to operate, albeit with certain requirements about such protective measures as face-mask usage, social distancing, and limited occupancy in a facility. Critics continue to insist that reopening too soon will permit the number of infections to increase, paving the way for a "second wave" later in 2020.
May 16: Trump fires Stephen Linick, Inspector General for the State Department, claiming that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told him to do so. This was the fourth firing of an IG in recent weeks.
Please Click Here for News Briefs from March to mid-May 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 email@example.com. 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.
A PDF version of "Countdown to Trumpland" is now available. Please see details at top of page.
in the Auto World
October 29: Three major automakers support Trump in his battle with California over emissions standards. General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota say they will not cooperate with California's two-tier system. Ford, Honda, and BMW previously announced that they back California's stance, defying the president.
November 17: Ford reveals Mustang Mach-e electric-powered SUV that shows little connection to sporty Mustang coupe.
November 21: Tesla unveils rival to popular Ford F-150 pickup truck. Electric-powered, the futuristic Cybertruck 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 administration'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.