UPDATED: August 13, 2020
Biden picks Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as vice-presidential candidate
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.
Nearly 160,000 Americans have died from the Covid-19 virus, with more than 5 million cases reported since February. Many states and localities have been reviving restrictions, having determined that they "reopened" too soon.
Top Pandemic and Trump/Political News
August 13: Trump opposes supplemental funding for United States Postal Service, which needs it to ensure timely delivery of mail-in ballots. Critics blast the president for attempting to undermine the Postal Service for political gain.
Even though Trump insists (without evidence) that mail-in voting results in rampant fraud, CNN reports that he and his wife already requested mail-in ballots for the November 3 election.
August 11 Shortly after Kamala Harris is announced as vice-presidential candidate, Trump takes to Twitter to launch his first personal attacks on her, including claim that she and Joe Biden are "socialists" eager to move the country far to the left. Critics counter that both are "establishment" Democrats..
August 9: The New York Times reports that the White House has reached out to South Dakota's governor, inquiring about the possibility of adding Trump to the four presidents featured on Mount Rushmore. (CNN)
August 8: Citing lack of progress from Congress, Trump signs four executive orders related to economic stimulus, including a suspension of the "payroll tax." Paid by workers, that tax funds Social Security payments to senior citizens and the disabled.
August 8: Some 250,000 bikers are expected at the annual rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. Masks are not required, and few bikers are likely to take any precautions against Covid-19 infection.
August 8: Trump abruptly halts news conference whtn a reporter estions his claim to have signed the Veterans Choice bill. (CNN)
August 7: CNN 8/7: During impromptu news conference at his New Jersey golf club, Trump accuses Democrats of "cheating" on election, because of their attempted negotiation with Republicans regarding the stimulus extension. CNN's Daniel Dale calls this claim "nonsense."
Trump also says he intends to issue an executive order requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions, claiming that "this has never done before." President Obama included such a provision in the Affordable Care Act, which Trump and Republicans have been trying to kill for years, branding it unconstitutional.
August 7: Democratic proposal for $2 trillion compromise on stimulus payments is immediately rejected by Republicans, leading negotiators to "walk away" from a possible deal. Trump is being advised to issue executive orders on the subject. (CNN)
August 6: Trump's advisors "had to be careful what options you gave him," said one of them. As reported by CNN, they feared that if given any military options, the president might order an attack and start a war. They even "warned adversaries" of this concern.
August 6: Interviewed by Geraldo Rivera, Trump insists that he made no mistakes in his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. "I think we've done an unbelievable job," he said. (CNN)
August 6: Joe Biden, comparing Latinx to Blacks, said that unlike most African-Americans, Latinx are very diverse. Despite his history of racially-charged statements, Trump wasted no time hitting back on Biden.
August 5: "This thing's going away," Trump insists about the coronavirus. "It's going away now. Like things do." Furthermore, children are "almost immune from this disease." In real-world studies, kids of color have been found to be far more likely to test positive than white youngsters.
August 5: Trump warns that his opponent, Joe Biden (a devout Catholic), will "take away your guns" and religion, and "hurt God." He's "against God, he's against guns," Trump added.
August 3: Dr. Deborah Brix, the White House coordinator of coronavirus task force, warns that Covid-19 is "extraordinarily widespread." Trump quickly tweets attack on Dr. Birx for the first time, calling her "pathetic" and insisting that "we're doing very well ... we have done as well as any nation."
July 31: "Nobody Likes Me," Trump whines, attributing his loss in popularity to his personality. Meanwhile, Senate leader Mitch McConnell suggests that Republican Congressonal candidates can distance themselves from Trump, if necessary for their own election prospects. (CNN)
July 30: Trump tweets suggestion that November election be postponed, even though he lacks authority to set voting date. Pushback is swift, even from some Republicans in Congress.
July 29: Trump requests that nearly 12,000 troops start to leave Germany, after decades of deployment there. Critics assert that the move, which will cost billions and take years, is motivated by the president's animosity toward Germany, a long-standing ally,rather than national security.
July 29: As Senate and House of Representatives fail to agree on extension of special unemployment benefits, an estimated 26 million Americans (including children) lack sufficient food. (PBS NewsHour)
July 27: Six mayors send letter to White House to remove unwanted, unwelcome federal agents from their cities. Supplied by the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, the clandestine agents have clashed with protesters. Critics charge they are escalating tensions rather than easing them.
July 27: Republicans issue two-pronged proposal to provide economic stimulus payments to families: (1) issue $1,200 checks to most, but not all, Americans; and (2) continue special benefits for workers collecting unemployment benefits, but reduced from $600 to $200 per week.
July 25: Congress fails to renew $600/week unemployment benefit.
July 25: Federal agents in Portland have become active blocks away from the federal buildings they were charged with protect. "Walls" of moms and of veterans have lined up between protesters and the federal force. (The New York Times)
July 22: Portland's mayor is among those hit with tear gas, while speaking with protesters. A day later, Trump says he could send as many as 50,000 to 75,000 federal agents into American cities. After acknowledgin that they would have to be invited to help by local authorities, he adds that "At some point ... something stronger" will be necessary. (CNN)
July 22: Despite pleas from mayors and governors to keep clandestine federal agents out of their cities, Trump announces intent for "surge" of officials, starting with Chicago. Critics have blasted White House for excessive force employed in Portland, with unbadged, camouflaged employees from various federal agencies grabbing protesters off street and forcing them into vans, while releasing tear gas.
July 20: Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a face mask, and announces intent to revive coronavirus briefings. Despite rises in Covid-19 cases in at least 39 states, he continues to oppose a national requirement for wearing masks.
July 20: Unless Congress acts, supplemental unemployment benefits ($600 weekly) are scheduled to end on August 1.
July 19: Interviewed by Fox News' Chris Wallace, Trump claims U.S. has one of lowest Covid-19 mortality rates. According to Johns Hopkins University, it's the eighth worst, just behind France and Chile. Asked if he would accept November's election result, Trump declined to give a specific answer, stating that "you dont know until you see."
July 18: Trump administration seeks to cut billions of dollars from a relief proposal that includes funding for coronavirus testing and contact tracing. The proposal was drafted by Senate Republicans. (The New York Times)
July 18: CNN reports that Trump, citing Covid-19 concerns, plans to hold phone-based town hall meetings for supporters, substituting for traditional rallies. The area's U.S. attorney is calling for investigation.
July 17: Activists charge that masked, unbadged, camouflage-wearing federal officials have been arresting peaceful protesters in Portland, Oregon.
July 16: New Covid-19 cases in U.S. set record: 77,255 in 24 hours. More than 940 patients die in a single day, breaking another record. Earlier in week, Florida alone saw 15,299 new cases in one day.
July 16: Georgia's governor bars cities in his state from enacting their own laws requiring use of face masks.
Please Click Here for News Briefs from mid-March through mid-July 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.
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.