Recent Grenadian History Revisited

Going deeper down the Grenada rabbit hole I fell into just a week ago, I recently learned of a limited series podcast titled The Empty Grave of Comrade Bishop. I’m only two episodes in (episode 5 released on November 15) and I am completely absorbed. The title of the podcast isn’t clickbait–it’s literally the truth. Forty years after he and members of his cabinet were lined up against a wall and machine gunned to death the whereabouts of their remains is still unknown.

It has been fascinating to revisit the early 1980s as this podcast does and hear just how often Ronald Reagan talked about this little island in speeches, as well as animosity at least one leader of Grenada’s revolution had for Reagan. The episodes I’ve listened to so far went into some depth regarding Eric Bishop’s predecessor as prime minister, Sir Eric Gairy. His iron-fisted rule of Grenada, which stretched back before it achieved independence from Great Britain, was enforced by the Mongoose Gang. The descriptions of this group of thugs with police powers reminded me of the Tonton Macoutes of Haiti under Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Listening to episode 2 in particular, it was sad to see how quickly Bishop adopted the rhetoric of Gairy, even if he didn’t go as far as forming a secret police. Bishop’s rule in Grenada ultimately ends in gunfire either as a result of unwillingness to share power, not being extreme enough in his embrace of Cuba and the Soviet Union, rivalry and jealous within the New Jewel Movement, or some combination of all of the above. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series and what else I can learn from it.

The Muscle Memory of Surrender: A Brief History of the Modern GOP

All of these smart Republicans who frankly did not understand how thoroughly corrupted their party had become, or the fact that if you cave in over and over again, you develop a muscle memory of surrender, and it’s hard to get back.

Charlie Sykes, The Bulwark Podcast, November 9, 2023

The quote above effectively summarizes the modern history of the GOP. Given his pre-Bulwark history in Wisconsin, perhaps he should have explicitly included himself in that collection of smart Republicans. Syke’s interview with McKay Coppins just one week earlier on his new book Romney: A Reckoning served as a speed run of recent GOP history of how far and how quickly the party moved away from those so-called smart Republicans many years before they actually realized it. Syke’s interview with Coppins actually jogs his own memory around 17 minutes into the interview that he actually had Donald Trump on his radio show at the time back in 2004.

When I listened to the interview, Romney’s book sounded like an extended attack of conscience regarding his own role in paving the way for the GOP to move even further to the right. To me, Mitt’s father George looks much better than his son by comparison because at every possible point, Mitt looked at the choices his father made (and the negative political consequences of those choices) and decided not to follow his father’s example. George Romney turned around a struggling automaker in Detroit in the 1950s. George Romney supported the civil rights movement, even trying and failing to prevent the GOP from surrendering to the likes of Barry Goldwater and his ultimately successful efforts to push black voters out of the GOP. George Romney served the Nixon administration as HUD secretary, trying to increase the supply of housing available to the poor and to desegregate the suburbs, but was deliberately undermined by Nixon in many cases.

His son Mitt by contrast wrote a New York Time op-ed titled Let Detroit Go Bankrupt in 2008. In his 2012 run for president, he famously told a private audience of wealthy campaign donors that “Obama backers will vote for the president ‘no matter what.’ Romney said that they account for ’47 percent’ of voters and he does not ‘worry about those people.'” Also during that campaign, Romney actively solicited the endorsement of Donald Trump–who was still actively fueling the birther conspiracy about Barack Obama at the time. Coppins cites numerous earlier examples of choices he consciously made in the interest of political expediency. A couple that stand out (though not as baldly and badly as seeking Trump’s endorsement):

  • taking a pro-choice position to win the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts despite his personal opposition to abortion
  • talking about “repealing the death tax” as an applause line to an audience filled with people who would never have to pay it

The interview goes on to talk about Romney bowing the knee to Trump in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to be appointed Secretary of State (effectively because he didn’t bow the knee far enough and publicly repudiate all the negative things he had said about Trump).

Perhaps the clearest indicators of the lack of understanding of the so-called smart Republicans that Sykes would criticize the following week can actually be found in the part of his interview with Coppins when they talk about who wins the GOP nomination in 2012 and 2008. Coppins expresses the belief (and Sykes seems to agree) that the turn of the GOP was a sudden one when in fact it was not. Here’s what Sykes says per the transcript:

You know, it occurs to me that his nomination in 2012 in many ways was a false indicator because, the party had already begun to change dramatically, but we were able to tell ourselves as conservatives that the center would hold that this was still the party that would nominate George Bush and John McCain and Mitt Romney. So it’s not the party of Pat Buchanan. It’s not the party of Don[ald] Trump. I mean, they’re there, but there’s a reason why, you know, people like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich don’t ultimately win. Yes.

Charlie Sykes, The Bulwark Podcast, November 2, 2023

Sykes is at minimum 4 years too late in identifying the “false indicator” election for the GOP nomination. The John McCain who won the GOP nomination in 2008 was a far cry from the man who ran in 2000. The John McCain of 2000 who specifically (and correctly) named Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as agents of intolerance on the political right was replaced in 8 years by a version who made peace with them, and cemented their support by choosing Sarah Palin as his vice president. What I was not aware of at the time, was that Palin was known commodity among the ardently pro-life in the GOP. Mitt Romney placed a distant third in pledged delegates in the 2008 GOP primary, behind Mike Huckabee. In 2012, Romney would follow McCain’s playbook in staking out hard right positions (for political expediency) to beat his contenders for the GOP presidential nomination only to be defeated when voters didn’t buy his attempts to move back to the center for the general election. As Romney (and others in the GOP) would demonstrate again and again in subsequent years (through the Trump presidency to the present day), having power was more important than having integrity.

Now, even one of those in the GOP who briefly showed sufficient spine to vote in favor of impeaching Trump for his role in the January 6th insurrection has begun to develop his muscle memory for surrender. Peter Meijer, one of 10 House Republicans who did so (and was ultimately defeated for re-election as a result), has pledged to support the Republican nominee for president in his current run for the Senate–going even further to say that Joe Biden had done more to disgrace the office of the presidency than the man he voted to impeach just a couple of years ago.

Meijer is no worse than the current pretenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. Nearly all remaining contenders pledged to support Trump even if he is convicted on one (or many) of the 91 different felonies he has been charged with. One angry social media outburst from Trump and the House speaker candidacy of Tom Emmer (notable for his relative lack of surrender to Trumpist priorities) went down in flames. His replacement–Mike Johnson–is unknown and inexperienced as a legislator, but was one of the key advocates of the Big Lie regarding the 2020 election and still to this day refuses to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election. Even as Trump-backed candidates and priorities continue to cost them victory after victory in ballot initiatives (like the one in Ohio that put the right to abortion into the state constitution) and in elections (like the ones in Virginia that saw Democrats retake full control of the General Assembly and the Kentucky gubernatorial election that kept the Democrat Andy Beshear in power and rejected the Republican state attorney general Daniel Cameron), the GOP’s muscle memory for surrender to its most extreme elements is too strong for them to break.

Postmarks Revisited

Since my initial post on Postmarks, I made two minor changes to my bookmarking site:

  • I edited src/pages/layouts/main.hbs to eliminate the Login link from the header and the footer
  • I also removed the About link from the header
  • I moved the divider in the footer after the About link from outside the {{#if loggedIn}} to inside

This gives the site a slightly cleaner look I prefer.

Digging into the admin functionality a bit, I noticed the input textbox hid most of the JavaScript for the bookmarklet, so I replaced it with a readonly textarea and gave it the same id as the textbox I removed. This preserved the functionality while making all of the javascript visible. The bookmarklet itself works nicely, opening a pop-up that autofills the New Bookmark page with the URL, title, and description fields. When adding a bookmark, I forgot that multi-word tags weren’t allowed and got an error message like the one below:

invalid tags: tag must be in , tag name supports a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and the following word separators: -_.

When you get that error, the bookmark isn’t created. I updated line 11 of src/pages/partials/edit_bookmark.hbs to add the following reminder:

Remember: multi-word tags must be separated by dash (-) or underscore (_).

A nicer way to handle this might be to prevent the save attempt and allow the bookmarker to correct the bad tag. If I figure that out at some point and implement it, the new capability will be available for everyone who opts to remix my version of Postmarks.

Remembering 9/11

It’s hard to believe 22 years have passed since the terrorist attacks of that day. I still remembering being on the way to work when I heard the news on the radio of the first tower being hit by a plane. I still remember a lot of my coworkers with children in school leaving the office early to pick them up and go home. I still remember how soon afterwards letters laced with anthrax started showing up in the mail.

I personally didn’t lose any family or friends in the attacks. But a girl I was seeing at the time lost her older sister, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald—a firm noted often in the news at the time for just how much of their staff they lost. I remember spending a lot of time on the road between DC and New York visiting her, and supporting her and her family at the memorial service.

The intervening years have made certain memories fuzzy—fuzzy enough that some people engage in mythmaking when it comes to the country being unified by the attacks. But Spencer Ackerman remembers the way things really were–particularly in New York City. This piece I read yesterday is a stark reminder of how our nation actually treated Muslim Americans in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He plans to post follow-up pieces that I am looking forward to with great interest.

I wrote last year about how this country’s response to 9/11 would ultimately pave the way for insurrection on January 6th. Were I to update that piece today, I would certainly connect Trump’s various (and ultimately successful) attempts at Muslim bans to the surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and discriminatory treatment inflicted on Muslims in Brooklyn by the NYPD, INS, and FBI in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Years after it happened, I recalled that Trump’s initial Muslim ban kept the spouse of one of my co-workers at the time from joining him. A second co-worker at the same job was married to a man from Somalia, one of the seven countries subject to that ban. Ending birthright citizenship (in direct opposition to the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution) is another idea that gained currency on the political right during Trump’s term, but has had advocates among so-called conservatives before then.

Other anti-democratic impulses unbound by terrorist attacks of 9/11 threaten every American today, but especially those of us more traditionally and more easily “othered”. The Department of Homeland Security was a bipartisan creation, certain of whose component parts were responsible for civil rights abuses of protesters ordered by Trump, others who were responsible for the vile child separation policy at our southern border. The moral outrage that is Guantanamo Bay remains open, despite the end of US troop deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Even if Biden wins the 2024 presidential election (which is by no means a certainty), small-d democracy remains under threat in this country.

What The End of Affirmative Action in Higher Education Means (and Doesn’t): Addendum

Finally (for now), the end of affirmative action is far from the end of anti-black rulings from this court. Affirmative action in employment will almost certainly be the next thing to be ruled unconstitutional.

June 29, 2023 blog post at

The corpse of affirmative action (except the carve-out for U.S. military academies) is barely cold, and already (July 3, 2023) the anti-woke hounds are baying at the heels of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the workplace.

But as a brief glance at the historical record will show, complaints about black people getting “special treatment” originating from people who aren’t black have a rather long history in this country. On March 27, 1866, President Andrew Johnson gave an entire speech regarding why he was vetoing civil rights legislation passed by both houses of Congress. Among his many objections were that black people would receive “Federal citizenship” immediately while 11 states were not represented in Congress. The 11 states (of course) were the ones that started (and lost) the Civil War. Having “just emerged from slavery into freedom”, President Johnson questioned whether or not black people “possess the requisite qualifications to entitle them to all the privileges and immunities of citizens”. But here is the passage that perhaps best explains and exemplifies the sense of entitlement—both then and now—that some have when compared to the black people who built and fought for this country:

The bill in effect proposes a discrimination against large numbers of intelligent, worthy, and patriotic foreigners, and in favor of the Negro, to whom, after long years of bondage, the avenues to freedom and intelligence have just now been suddenly opened.

Paragraph 4 of the transcript of President Andrew Johnson’s March 27, 1866 speech vetoing civil rights legislation

If there is any meaningful difference between the logic President Johnson applied to reject civil rights legislation and the logic the conservative majority on the Supreme Court used to end affirmative action, it is not readily apparent. Within President Johnson’s objections to the granting of “Federal citizenship” to black people and the states right argument he advances to separate “State citizenship” from it are the seeds of modern arguments against birthright citizenship that we hear today from the same people who find common cause with the Confederates of that day. Should this country put the wrong person in the White House yet again, perhaps birthright citizenship will be among the many rights at risk.

Salman Rushdie Talks Writing, Democracy, History & More

I recently listened to David Remnick’s interview of Salman Rushdie–his first since barely surviving attempted murder by a young man not even born at the time Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa calling for Rushdie’s assassination in 1989. He took the opportunity primarily to talk about his latest book, Victory City, but along the way talked about the attack on him, the impact of the fatwa on him, and democracy and history in India, England, and the United States. There are many places to listen to and/or watch the full interview, as well as reading Remnick’s piece in The New Yorker

Toward the end of the interview, Rushdie’s response to one of Remnick’s questions did an excellent job of summarizing the danger democracy faces in all the places he is connected to by birth, education, and citizenship. I’ve attempted to transcribe Rushdie’s spoken words below, emphasizing what stood out most to me:

The problem in India is this, that the current government, which to people of my way of thinking is alarming, is very popular. It’s the difference for example between India and Trump. Trump was only just about popular. And his level of unpopularity was at least as high as his popularity, that’s not so in India because the Modi government is very popular in India, has huge support. And that makes it possible for them to get away with it.  To create this very autocratic state which is unkind to minorities, which is fantastically oppressive of journalists, where people are very afraid. Which in a way it’s getting to be difficult to call it a democracy.

A democracy is not just who wins the election, it’s whether you feel safe in the country whether you voted for the government or not. India has a problem. The way in which this book just marginally engages with it is that it takes on the subject of sectarianism, and tries to say this is not the history of India. The history of India is much more complicated than that.  It’s not that there was an ancient culture that another culture came in and destroyed, that’s a false description of the past.

And as we know we live in a world in which false descriptions of the past are being used everywhere to justify terrible behavior in the present. England pretending there’s a golden age before any foreigners showed up, and completing ignoring the fact that they were <expletive> over foreigners in their countries in order to make possible their wealth and affluence at home.  America, talking about being great again. I want to know when was that? What was the date? It was obviously before the Civil Rights Act. Was it before women had the vote? Was it when there was still slavery? What are we hark[en]ing back to? A fantasy past becomes a way of justifying bad behavior today.

David Remnick interview with Salman Rushdie from February 6, 2023

India’s Ministry of Finance searching the offices of the BBC in New Delhi and Mumbai and accusing them of tax evasion so soon after their airing of a show critical of Prime Minister Modi is exactly the point Rushdie was making about oppression of journalists. Shireen Abu Aqla was shot in the head and killed in the West Bank, likely by a soldier in the Israeli military (according to their own investigation). Here in the U.S., police arrested, shot, and tear-gassed numerous journalists covering protests that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police. Ali Velshi and his team of journalists were shot by rubber bullets from police during a live broadcast. A photojournalist named Lindo Tirado was shot by police with a non-lethal round and lost sight in one eye as a result. At least one journalist was arrested, handcuffed, and taken away while in the middle of a live broadcast. Nearly three years later, I haven’t seen any evidence of disciplinary action against the cops who did all this shooting.

Rushdie’s definition of democracy was an especially interesting one to me. My parents’ native Jamaica has a long history of political violence where the party you supported could have the most serious consequences for your physical well-being. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has written about mob violence and vigilantism occurring w/ the knowledge and consent of political parties not just in India, but elsewhere in southern Asia ( Here in the U.S., video from some of these school board meetings, heavily-armed people protesting COVID restrictions, threats and harassment of election workers, voter intimidation, and the insurrection at the Capitol in 2021 make me worry that we’re returning to the sort of political violence which was once the stuff of history books.  

What Rushdie says about false or fantasy pasts being used to justify bad behavior in the present resonated the most strongly with me because of how much present bad behavior it explains. Putin comparing himself to Peter the Great as he rationalizes his continuing invasion of Ukraine is a present example. The MAGA movement led by Donald Trump (though leadership of that movement is being quite vigorously contested now) is certainly another. The conservative Christian groups I’ve written about previously are certainly harkening back to a pre-Civil Rights Movement point in American history as the place to which they want the entire country to return. In retrospect, even some of the rulings of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court are explained by this framing. As I wrote last year after the leak of Alito’s draft opinion which would ultimately overturn Roe vs Wade, black men and women had no rights the government was bound to respect and (white) women were scarcely better off than that. I’m old enough now to remember a culture warrior from decades earlier, Pat Buchanan, harkening back to what (in my memory at least) was probably the Revolutionary War with his “ride to the sound of the guns” catchphrase.

Beyond Rushdie’s clear-eyed views of India, England, and the United States, his life speaks volumes regarding how petty and small what we call “cancel culture” today really is. The list of detractors regarding his novel The Satanic Verses is quite long, and included Prince (now King) Charles, John le Carré, Roald Dahl, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the British Foreign Secretary, and Jimmy Carter, among others. Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) agreed with the fatwa calling for Rushdie to be murdered. Remnick’s piece includes the following shameful remark from the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper:

I would not shed a tear if some British Muslims, deploring his manners, should waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them. If that should cause him thereafter to control his pen, society would benefit, and literature would not suffer.”

The Defiance of Salman Rushdie, by David Remnick, The New Yorker, February 13 & 20, 2023 Issue

Trevor-Roper’s remark can only be seen as more gruesome in the light of attempted and successful murders of translators of the book into Italian and Japanese, the attempted murder of the book’s Norwegian publisher, and the firebombing of bookstores that carried it. In light of the rough reception his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid would receive less than two decades later, I wonder if former president Carter ever revisited and revised his opinion of Rushdie’s book. Rushdie proves far more gracious to at least one of his critics than they were to him:

Meanwhile, the New York Times published a defense of J.K. Rowling–using Rushdie as an example of what could happen to her if she continued to be criticized–just a day after hundreds of current and former New York Times contributors published an open letter critical of the paper’s coverage of trans people. Rowling, like Rushdie, was a signatory of the Letter on Justice and Open Debate published in Harper’s Magazine a couple of years ago. The ways in which the two signatories choose to use their free speech (one to attack trans people, the other to write novels) couldn’t be more different, but the New York Times (predictably, in my view) treats them as the same. I still believe, as I wrote then, that the signatories of the Harper’s letter were asking that “controversial” speech be somehow more privileged than other speech. But Rushdie has paid a far higher price for his art–from other artists and his own government (beyond the one that actually issued the fatwa)–than Rowling has paid (or will ever pay) for using her substantial platform to punch down at a community that has been, and continues to be under siege.

Exploring Mastodon Continued: Moving to

After almost 4 months of using Mastodon, I found the community on (and its administrator, Kris Nóva) so interesting that I decided to move from the larger instance I initially joined ( The advice in my first post about sticking with a larger server unless you come across a particular server/community that really interests you still holds. The specific way I applied it is tied to a Mastodon feature I didn’t fully grasp the utility of back then: the Local timeline. I wrote about timelines later, but what only became clear after creating an account on and using Local timeline was that because the vast majority of people there are techies like me, there was a much higher volume of interesting toots there than on a large instance like

One of my Mastodon mutuals switched from to due to racist harassment being directed at his account from a domain they don’t block. Not only does proactively block that domain, they do things like give you a chance to review certain follow requests even if your account isn’t locked, as shown below:

Screenshot of follow request approval on

The actual steps I followed to migrate were a combination of this article, and this post from Eugen Rochko (in that order). Migrating doesn’t delete the old account, but it does disable the old account so it looks like this:

My disabled account on

Migrating to a new account meant updating my account metadata as well to verify that new account belongs to me.

Only the posts from my original Mastodon account can’t make the move to–but only because I don’t control the instance. If I were willing to run my own Mastodon server, it might be possible to import the archive I downloaded from my previous account and republish them there.

In addition to migrating to, I provided a small donation to the administrator through In addition to the charitable giving I’m doing this year, I’ll be putting more into these tip jars for online services that I find valuable. I contribute a bit to the main Mastodon project through Patreon.

Jamaicans Doing Big Things in America: Susan M. Collins

Susan M. Collins is the new president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Per the bank’s press release, Collins is just the second woman to lead the organization as well as the first person of color. I didn’t know until reading the Bloomberg piece that 1969 was the year Jamaica put their own dollar into circulation, replacing the pound. That’s also the year both my parents left the island to immigrate to the U.S. Another thing that stood out to me in the Bloomberg profile is her parents–particularly her father. His work for the United Nations reminds me of my own father’s work for another international organization–The World Bank. The bit about his challenges winning arguments against economists (his Ph.D. was in social anthropology) also reminds me of my dad, in that I saw (and would later participate in) many a debate on the issues of the day with family members and friends.

2022 Year in Review

Some highlights from this year:

  • Very strong year-end review (best ever at my current employer)
    • Substantial pay raise
    • RSUs added to my compensation package for the first time in my career
  • Promoted to senior manager at mid-year
  • Returned to the office
    • Hybrid model of Tuesday-Thursday in-office with Mondays and Fridays still remote
  • 11th wedding anniversary
  • Twins turned 7 years old
  • I lost about 10 pounds
  • Wrote 22 blog posts (including this one)
    • Moved this site to Amazon Lightsail (more on that in a future post)
  • Finally updated my library card so I can borrow books with Libby and in-person
  • Completed some reading for pleasure, including:
    • Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies (by Dick Gregory)
      • Borrowed physically from the library
    • The first three books of Mick Herron’s Slough House books
      • Slow Horses
      • Dead Lions
      • Real Tigers (borrowed via Libby)
    • They Called Us Enemy: Expanded Edition (by George Takei)
    • Black Cop’s Kid: An Essay (by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
  • Completed Building Microservices (by Sam Newman) in technical book club at work
  • Took an actual solo vacation (Philadelphia)
  • Moved this blog from AWS to Amazon Lightsail

Some lowlights from this year:

  • Ending contractor terms early for performance reasons
  • Navigating a headcount freeze (which will persist into 2023)
  • Not enough exercise