White House Woes

The Trump Presidency

First 7 Months in Trumpland

Volume II - September 2017 onward


Early Trump News (January-August 2017)

Latest News Briefs

October 2: After stating that Blasey Ford's testimony had been "credible" and "compelling," Trump lashes out during campaign rally, mocking her words and scoffing at gaps in her recollection of the event.

October 6: At third campaign rally in a week, Trump calls Democrats the "party of crime" and asserts that they are "too dangeorus to govern."

October 8: Trump claims accusation against Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Blasey Ford is a "hoax set up by the Democrats."

October 18: Caravan of migrants is enroute from Honduras toward U.S., via Mexico. Trump warns that unless Mexico halts the marchers, U.S. aid will be cut off to the region and military will be sent to the U.S./Mexico border.

October 24: Pipe bombs sent to 10 notable critics of the president, including Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and actor Robert DeNiro.

October 25: Trump said to be considering sealing the U.S.-Mexico border, to keep all migrants out. (The New York Times

October 26: In stark contrast to anti-immigration stance of Trump administration, Mexico issues temporary work permits to "caravan" migrants. (BBC America)

October 25: Florida man is charged with sending 14 pipe bombs to Democratic officials and others who have regularly been attacked and insulted by the president.

October 27: Eleven worshipers at Pittsburgh synagogue are shot and killed by man with long history of harsh anti-Semitic statements.

October 29: In wake of murder rampage in Pittsburgh, Trump continues to blame the media and insist that it's the "true enemy of the people."

October 29: Trump calls march of "caravaners" through Mexico an "invasion." Critics point out that the thousands of participants are refugees fleeing extreme danger in Central America, or simply seeking a better life in the north.

October 30: Trump claims he can halt "birthright citizenship," possibly by executive order. House Speaker Paul Ryan is among those denying that possibility, noting the the right to citizens of U.S.-born person is guaranteed by 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

October 31: After ordering 5,200 troops sent to U.S.-Mexico border, Trump says he may send as many as 15,000, claiming they are needed to help curtail the "invasion" of migrants, in the name of national security. CNN reports that veterans have called the action ia "political stunt."

November 1: Trump uses his Twitter account to unleash online ad branded as racist by critics. News outlets recall the comparably racist "Willie Horton" TV commercial, issued during the 1988 presidential campaign by George H.W. Bush backers.

November 2: "Anybody throwing stones, rocks, stones... we will consider that a firearm." So said Mr. Trump, referring to the prospect of troops encountering northbound "caravan" migrants at the Mexican border. Hours later, Defense Department denies Trump's proposal to send troops to the border. (CNN)

November 6: In early returns from midterm election, Democrats appear to have taken back the House of Representatives, while Republicans hold the Senate. Races in several states, including Florida and Arizona, are considered "too close to call."

November 7: As votes continue to be counted, Trump and certain Republican congresspersons unearth claims of voter fraud, insisting, for instance, that in Florida, many Democrats voted more than once.

November 22: Trump claims that "a minimum of 500 serious criminals" are among the migrants who reached the U.S. Mexico border, variously calling them "bad people" and "rough people." As of November 22, an estimated 4,300 "caravaners" were in the city of Tijuana, just south of San Diego, mostly for an opportunity to request asylum.

November 22: Trump's Thanksgiving call to active-duty troops turns into a political event as much as a thank-you, as he focuses on trade and other non-military matters.

November 22: John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, takes the startling step of rebuking Trump for claiming that federal judges who had ruled against him were "Obama judges," thus incapable of making independent decisions.

November 23: Federal government releases comprehensive report on climate change, predicting dire consequences. Critics charge that releasing it on the on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is meant to minimize its impact, because it contradicts the president's belief that climate change is a "hoax."

November 23 As "caravan" migrants from Central America amass at Mexican border, U.S. president advises that troops will be permitted to use "lethal force" against them "if necessary," adding that he has "given the O.K." Critics insist that American troops cannot legally use force on U.S. soil.

November 24: Trump administration announces a deal with Mexico, whereby migrants must remain in Mexico to wait for their asylum requests to be initiated.

November 25: Mexican government says no deal regarding maintenance of migrants has been made with Trump administration. New president of Mexico, Andres Manual Lopaz Obrador, takes office Decemer 1.

November 25: Migrants trying to cross U.S. border clash with Mexican forces in riot gear at Tijuana. Tear gas is fired, and San Ysidro crossing point is ordered closed completely.

December 6: Trump claims, in a tweet, that "without the phony Russian witch hunt," his "approval rating would be at 75%."

December 7: After former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson describes failings of Trump asministration in interview, the president tweets an attack, saying Tillerson "didn't have the mental capacity needed" for the job, and is "dumb as a rock" as well as "lazy as hell."

December 8: Trump claims that court documents released in cases against Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen clear him of any collusion with Russia. Analysts disagree. Prosecutors in South District of New York, according to CNN, have determined that Cohen made "hush money" payments to two women, at Trump's request. Trump denies any connection.

December 11: President meets with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), seeking agreement on renewing funding of major government agencies. Trump insists that such a bill must include $5 billion in funding forhis prized border wall, intended to separate the U.S. from Mexico. During the meeting, Trump says he will "take the mantle," accepting responsibility for a partial government shutdown scheduled to take place on December 21, if an agreement is not reached.

December 20: Shortly after the president tweets his intent to abruptly remove American troops from Syria, Defense Secretary James Mattis announces his resignation, effective in February. Days later, Trump announces that Mattis will depart at the end of 2018.

December 21: Trump blames Democrats for failure of Congress to fund government agencies, whose authorizations are expiring. As a result, the U.S. government goes into partial shutdown at midnight.

December 22: Government shutdown means 400,000 federal employees are expected to work without pay, while 380,000 are laid off for the duration. Shutdown is expected to last through Christmas, at least.

For additional details, as well as previous News items, please click here.

Toil & Trouble

Countdown to Trumpland, our new section on the Trump phenomenon and its potential impact on so much of American life, was our main story until Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017. Since then, we've provided news and commentary on the Trump presidency, in a section called White House Woes. Mr. Trump's candidacy and election has led to a crucial urgency among progressives and others who feared a barrage of disastrous decisions from his Administration.

Meanwhile, Tirekicking Today has been developing this section on work, labor, and consumer concerns. Toil & Trouble builds upon the uncommon views in Work Hurts, one of our Books in Progress. In addition to notable news items related to work and labor, this section will feature critical essays and editorials.

"No man is good enough to be another man's master."
George Bernard Shaw,
in Major Barbara

Work/Labor News Headlines and Victories

• In mid-January 2018, Amazon announced that 20 cities were on the "short list" of possible sites for the company's second headquarters. Each city has offered massive incentives in its quest to attract Amazon, which promised to make some 50,000 jobs available in the winning locale.

Before a final decision is made, residents of those cities might want to read a vivid description of the working life in an Amazon warehouse, in one chapter of a recent book. Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder, chronicles lives of "houseless" Americans, many of them elderly, who live in vans and RVs, working at seasonal and short-term jobs (including Amazon warehouses) to survive.

March 6: Victory for jubilant West Virginia teachers, as state employees win 5-percent salary increase. A century earlier, West Virginia was in forefront of America's vibrant labor movement.

April 2: Teachers strike in two additional states: Kentucky and Oklahoma.

April 26: Arizona teachers engage in strike action.

May 1: May Day, celebrated by workers in much of the world, is again largely overlooked in U.S. In Chicago, however, a large crowd assembles at Haymarket Memorial, singing labor songs and marching toward downtown Loop. Haymarket Square was the site of one of the most notable events in labor history, in 1886.

• North Carolina teachers walk out – the sixth state to see striking teachers in 2018.

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

June 1: The New York Times reports that Stockton, California will test "universal basic income" program. Similar programs have been tried recently in Finland, Canada and elsewhere, hoping to reduce income inequality.

June 1: Department of Labor reports lowest unemployment rate (3.8 percent) since 2000.

• Late in June, Supreme Court rules against public-sector unions in Janus case. Unions can no longer collect fees from non-members.

• By wide margin, voters in Missouri reject "right to work" law, giving labor movement a seldom-seen victory. (August 7)

September 24: Strike by Chicago hotel workers enters third week; following daily protests, some hotels have signed contracts with union.

Sept. 27: New York airport workers expected to benefit from highest minimum wage in U.S.: $19 per hour (The New York Times. •

Federal government enters partial shutdown, after the president and Congress fail to reach agreement. Trump has demanded $5 billion for his promised border wall, which Democrats refuse to supply.

Additional Labor news items will be posted periodically. Please check again.

"No Human Being Is Illegal"
Sign carried by protester marching in support of "Dreamers" on January 19, 2018

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

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

Labor-related Essays:

Own Nothing, Owe Nothing
Surprise! Some of us like to pay taxes
Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise
Overview: All too often, Toil Is Trouble
Needed Now: Jobs, Not Careers
New Ways To Look at Work
Solidarity Forever?
Quit calling us consumers!
Let's break the chain of consumer debt
Prioritize! Living with Less and Liking It

New and updated essays on labor, work, money and other topics will be added regularly.

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

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

UPDATED: March 22, 2019

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

Major revisions to the Tirekicking Today site are underway. The new version is scheduled for publication by early April. Updating includes the addition of a schedule for books to be published by TK Press during 2019.

Publication of News Briefs on the Trump administration has ended. Two years of News Briefs (January 2017 to January 2019) )are available, as described at right.

The Week's Top Trump News Briefs

March 22, 2019: After nearly two years of investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller releases his report on possible Russian collusion and obstruction of justice by the Trump administration. Details on the report's findings are expected to emerge as soon as the weekend (March 23-24).

March 22: Trump calls for end to new sanctions against North Korea, hours after his administration initiates those sanctions. (CNN)

March 21: Three weeks before Israeli election, with Mr. Netanyahu running for re-election, Trump announces that U.S. will recognize Israel's control over the Golan Heights. That area has been claimed and occupied by Israel since the Six Day War of 1967.

March 21: U.S. president warns that "the people won't stand for" an unfavorable report from special counsel Robert Mueller. Ever since the investiastion began, Mr. Trump has branded it a "witch hunt," recently attacking it as "ridiculous."


Protesters gather near vice-president's Chicago-area speech

ROSEMONT, Illinois (July 13) – While Mr. Trump was in Europe, vice-president Mike Pence arrived in the Chicago suburbs to give a speech on tax issues at the Westin O'Hare hotel. Protesters began to gather in mid-morning on Friday the 13th, initially at one corner of the hotel's property.... Click here for full report.

March for Our Lives protests draw millions of gun-control advocates

CHICAGO (March 24) – Anyone who thinks teenagers cannot accomplish what their elders failed to do should have been in the crowd at one of the “March For Our Lives” protests, held around the country on Saturday, March 24.... Click here for full report.

Essays and reports on a variety of subjects will appear in this space, replaced regularly.

Third book from TK Press Is ... Incompetent

TK Press, the book-publishing division of Tirekicking Today, has issued three titles since 2014. Each has been written by James M. Flammang, author of more than two dozen previous books.

The latest is INCOMPETENT: Coming Up Short in a World of Achievement. Whether it's sports, business, personal relationships, the arts, or any other area of life, some of us score a flat zero in the skills and talents department. Blending serious concerns with a humorous tone, each chapter covers a specific area of incompetence with which the author, amazingly, is all too personally familiar.

Incompetent is available in print (paperbound) and e-book form, at these and other retailers:
Amazon ... Barnes and Noble
ISBN (print): 978-0-9911263-2-3 ($10.50)
Excerpts may be seen at Bublish.com.

Also On Sale:

Mr. Maurice Knows It All ... and tells you so. Available in print (paperbound) or e-book form at various retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
ISBN (print): 978-0-9911263-3-0 ($8.50)

In 78 concise chapters, the debonair yet down-to-earth stuffed pig known as Mr. Maurice–who just happens to know everything–unleashes a torrent of acerbic, humorous, delightfully wise words on subjects ranging from work to movies, from money to citizenship, from status to guilt. An emigrant from Britain, with obviously French heritage, Mr. M. manages to combine strictly contemporary attitudes and piercing opinions with a gallantry and sophistication reminiscent of the era of Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.

Note: PDF copies of Mr. Maurice ... and Incompetent are available FREE. Just send e-mail to jf@tirekick.com. Please ask about printed copies, signed by the author.

Books in Progress (outlines and excerpts)

Editor James M. Flammang, the author of thirty books (including six for children), is at work on several more. Each title views its subject from an oblique and lighthearted – yet serious – perspective. Preliminary outlines and unedited excerpts may be seen by clicking on each linked title.

Absurdities: Logical Lapses in everyday life and thought is a comprehensive collection of stinging essays that gaze with disbelief at various aspects of modern life. Chapters are arranged in sections, including Work, Money, Identity, Communication/Technology, Consumption, Politics and Law, Pastimes, Sex, and Transportation. Scheduled to go on sale in fall 2018.

Untied Knots - Fiction by Flammang: two groups of short stories, each with a tangy twist. One group is travel-based; the other focuses on stay-at-home folks. The collection also includes several stories, previously unpublished, from the author's archive.

Fraidy-Cat: Surviving a lifetime of unwarranted fear and fright. A personal look backward, focusing on lessons learned about debilitating fear and anxiety, including ways to cope and survive.

Work Hurts: Reflections on a wasted life questions the conventional wisdom on work and careers. For untold millions, including many with "good" jobs, each day's toil delivers no joy and little reward.

Hotel Life, subtitled "Living small in an age of large," assesses the satisfactions of simpler living and minimal consumption, while chronicling the joys (and drawbacks) of residing in low-end accommodations.

Also in progress, for near-future publication:
Steering Toward Oblivion is a caustically critical but humorous observation of the car culture and auto business. Note: Outline will be updated to reflect current conditions.

For further information, please contact us at JF@tirekick.com.

• Articles and essays on topics related to current affairs, and occasionally about relevant automotive subjects, will be posted here periodically.

• New editorials, automotive and non-automotive, will be posted periodically.

• Occasional reviews and disussions of auto-related issues, including self-driving cars, will appear in this space.

Editor James M. Flammang also contributes to vehicle reviews at NewCarTestDrive.com.

Tirekicking Today editor James M. Flammang, a veteran independent auto journalist, has contributed countless product reviews and feature articles to such publications as autoMedia.com, New Car Test Drive, CarsDirect, and Kelley Blue Book. He has written extensively for a variety of major outlets, including J.D. Power, cars.com, and the Chicago Tribune. Flammang is a member of the Freelancers Union, the International Motor Press Association, and Midwest Automotive Media Association (past president). The author of more than two dozen books, mostly on auto history, also has contributed extensively to Consumer Guide publications and to such trade publications as Ward's Dealer Business. TK Press, established in 2014 as a division of Tirekicking Today, has already published three books by Flammang. Several more titles are well undreway, scheduled for publication in 2019.

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

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

Countdown to Trumpland

Early January, 2017

Leading Up to Inauguration

Delight or Disaster?

Trump presidency signals either his promised return to a “Great” America, or the demise of Constitutional Democracy, with economic tragedy for lower and middle classes.

As the New Year begins, Americans face a political scene that can only be called unprecedented. To about half the voters in November’s election, the arrival of Donald Trump as president-elect demonstrated a fresh start for the country. To the other half, seeing this willfully ignorant, ill-behaved, flagrantly self-absorbed bully prepare to take the reins of government – despite fierce distaste for so many of the principles and values upon which this nation was founded – is an occasion for dread, distress, and abject hopelessness....

Click here for more.

As soon as Donald Trump entered the White House 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.

For latest commentary, as well as details on protests and resistance, please click here.

For commentary and protest reports from the first seven months of the Trump presidency, please click here.

For Latest News of Trumpland, please click here.

For news briefs from the first seven months of the Trump Administration, please click here.

News Headlines
in the Auto World

• Ford promotes 50th anniversary of Mustang Bullitt. The original Bullitt was driven by Steve McQueen in popular film of that name, including what many regard as the best car-chase scene ever.

• Ford issues "do not drive" notice to owners of 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series compact pickups, due to faulty Takata airbags.

• Ford announces that sedans sold in U.S. will cease production, including Fiesta, Fusion, and Taurus, as company turns solidly to SUVs and trucks.

• Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz will not participate in Detroit's 2019 auto show. (May 10)

• Trump administration submits plan to ease auto-emission standards, permitting cars to emit more pollutants. (May 31)

• Automakers are among the manufacturing companies concerned about Trump administration's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada or Mexico.

• In June, U.S. president complains that too many German cars are imported, suggesting the possibility of a 35-percent tariff. Majority of those German-brand vehicles are made in America.

• Audi CEO arrested in Germany, in connection with Volkswagen company's diesel-emissions testing scandal. In December 2017, a U.S. Volkswagen executive was sentenced to prison for diesel emissions cheating.

• GM warns that tariffs introduced by Trump administration are likely to raise cost of cars as well as result in job losses.

• Sergio Marchionne, head of FCA (FiatChrysler) steps down after suffering problems with surgery. In late July, CEO passes away.

• Volkswagen plans to drop Beetle in 2019. Revived Beetle had been launched as a 1998 model.

• Porsche to drop diesel-engine models, in favor of hybrid and full-electric powertrains. (Sept. 23)

• Auto-industry icon Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan, is arrested in Japan for financial impoprieties over many years. Nissan board considers whether to oust Ghosn from his position. (November 19)

• General Motors to drop six car models, considered to have sagged in popularity: Buick LaCrosse' Chevrolet Cruz, Impala, and Volt; and Cadillac CTS and XTS. At least three North American factories will be shut down, dismissing "thougns of staff," according to CNN. Company intends to focus strongly on autonomous (self-driving) cars. (November 26)

January 4, 2019: Ford recalls 953,000 vehicles worldwide, because of possible explosions\ in inflators of Takata airbags.

January 10: CNN reports that FiatChrysler will pay "hundreds of millions" of dollars to settle charges of fraudulent reports emanating from emission testing.

January 14: Ford and Volkswagen announce formation of an alliance to produce vans and pickup trucks.

January 14 Electric vehicles highlight Detroit's North American International Auto Show, despite unstimulating sales totals of battery-powered models.

January 22: Carlos Ghosn, former head of Nissan/Mitsubishi/Renault automotive group, remains in Tokyo jail after application for bail is denied for second time. Ghosn has been charged with fraudulently understating his income, avoiding taxes.

All editorials, essays, and articles are available for reprinting.
Editors are invited to contact us for rates and full details.

TIREKICKING TODAY began in 1993 as a monthly print publication. Created by widely-known automotive writer/editor James M. Flammang and associate editor Marianne E. Flammang, it went on the Internet in 1995. TIREKICKING TODAY has given consumers, enthusiasts, and industry leaders an abundant supply of valuable automotive information, incuding new-vehicle reviews, used-car buying advice, editorial commentary, and feature articles. By 2016, we were ready to ease away coverage of automobiles, and take the publication on a completely different track - focusing primarily on topics that had become far more crucial than cars.

©All contents copyright 1997-2019 by Tirekicking Today.
Material may not be reused in any way without express permission from Tirekicking Today.
For information on reprinting and syndication rights,
please contact us at JF@tirekick.com.
If you would like a response to a question or comment, please provide your e-mail address.