Relief!

While The Netherlands is heading into stricter lockdown, with an evening curfew proposed to start this weekend, I can’t help but still feel joy and it’s all due to a new president of the USA! I feel a huge amount of relief that the White House will have some decency again. For me, it began yesterday evening with the touching memorial for the 400.000 who passed away due to Covid-19…

I watch the inauguration ceremony and I feel I can breathe again after the four years of terror a Trump presidency gave us.

On a side note, the Biden-Obama bromance still lives…

… and I love this Kamala Harris and Barack Obama first bump picture.

Kamala Harris was sworn in…

… as was Joe Biden…

… and for the first time in a long time I can look to the future again with some hope. I thought I’d be blubbering tears but really, my heart is just skipping with joy. Biden called for unity and truth in his inauguration speech just now and it’s just such a relief to hear a little sense coming out of a US president’s mouth again, delivered with heart and warmth. A Joe Biden presidency doesn’t only mean a lot to America but also to the world and he seems to realize that as well, going by his speech. I hope Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will do well and above all, do good, as they intend to.

Political scandal

We have our own political scandal here in The Netherlands now. This afternoon our Dutch government resigned over mismanagement of childcare subsidies. From the Reuters news agency:

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the resignation of his government on Friday, accepting responsibility for years of mismanagement of childcare subsidies, which wrongfully drove thousands of families to financial ruin.
Rutte said he had handed his resignation to King Willem-Alexander. The cabinet would remain in place in a caretaker capacity to manage the coronavirus crisis for now, with an election already due on March 17.
The resignation follows a parliamentary inquiry last month that found bureaucrats at the tax service had wrongly accused families of fraud. (Rest of the article here in case you’re interested or another one here).

The man in the middle is our king Willem-Alexander, the guy on the left next to him with the dark blue tie is our Prime Minister Mark Rutte

This whole scandal has been going on for a quite a while now and two months before our next planned elections this resignation of the cabinet has now happened. Mr Esther, due to his work, knows a lot about this issue and says it’s all indeed a mess of miscommunication between parliament, government, ministries and an administrative mess at the tax service. What irks him about this whole scandal is not that the government has resigned but the sensationalist tone the media takes that implies that everyone in government is corrupt and not to be trusted, as if people intended this to happen! No one intended this, and yes, it’s all been a mess but no one made this happen because of any personal gain. People in government are very well-intentioned, social, and all really care that this mess has happened and want to do everything to make things better. They are working on new strategies right now because no one wants something like this to happen again. But learning from mistakes and well-intentioned people trying to make things better are not news.

Now, with the elections coming, especially far right creepy politicans like Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet will milk this as if government is not to be trusted and only wants bad things for people.

They won’t look at the grey areas and won’t help make things better, they’ll just bully and divide and come up with short-sighted slogans and ‘solutions’ and a lot of people will follow them for that. I hope the far right won’t gain too much over this scandal. Geert Wilders recently published a reprehensible racist anti-Islam agenda for the upcoming election and I don’t want him gaining any more supporters than he already has (his party is the second largest in parliament right now, but luckily he is reduced to being in the opposition and not in governement).

As for other politicians in the upcoming election: I wonder whether our prime minister will suffer losses over this. I’ve never been a huge fan of Mark Rutte and his VVD centre-right party but he’s been an OK prime minister and people (me too) have been generally approving of his handling of the Corona crisis, so that may help him. I’ll never vote for him (even before this crisis) but he will be far preferred to any of the two wankers here above. I like some of our central/left politicians alright but not enough to vote for them, so I’m eagerly awaiting who the new Labour Party candidate will be, maybe that will help. Of course, party policy strategies will weigh strongly in my decision but it helps if the party I like also has a good leader that I like. Elections on March 17th here will be another emotional rollercoaster for me, I just know it.

Second Wednesday in a row…

… that I’ve been stuck to the screen watching US politics unfold in their congress. Last week the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election win in congress was interrupted by the awful riot by Trump supporters on the Capitol. Today Donald Trump was impeached for the second time during his presidency for inciting that riot. Just like with all those Brexit debates and votes in the British parliament in 2019, I was glued to the screen this evening with the impeachment debate and subsequent vote in the US House of Representatives. (Good thing about watching these UK and US debates is that I learn a lot about how democracy is conducted there).

The US House of Representatives vote was 232 for and 197 members against impeachment and I wonder why 4 Republicans didn’t vote on such a monumental resolution. I took a screenshot of the moment the 10th Republican voted for impeachment…

I have to say, the arguments Republicans brought about ‘needing to unite and bring the country together’ felt very hypocritical to me after they only deepened the huge divide through repeated lies and spreading hatred during at least the past four years. Also, they didn’t seem to be able to keep their arguments to the point, citing the current president’s accomplishments and referring to Black Lives Matter protests that were violent. Yes, that violence was terrible too but those arguments didn’t seem pertinent to me to the issue at hand, namely that lies told for months on end and Trump’s speech on January 6th only emboldened his base to do what they ended up doing in that riot. The Republicans speak of healing, but healing can only begin if politicians start telling the truth and especially Republicans need to state at the very least the truth that there was no widespread election fraud. You can disagree on policies, you can’t disagree on the truth. Apparently 197 representatives don’t see it that way and continue to support a lying president. Thank goodness he’ll be gone next week when I’ll be stuck to the screen again, watching the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Images I have seen today of the National Guard having to rest in the Capitol to protect it from their own countrymen and women are extremely depressing, they don’t belong in a country which has always said it holds democratic values high.

A three week extension of our Covid lockdown here in The Netherlands until February 9th and the consideration of possibly even a curfew (as announced yesterday) is disheartening but almost feels like peanuts in comparison. US democracy is under siege and it’s heartbreaking to witness from the outside. I really hope the inauguration next week will remain peaceful!

Quarantine continues

We’re just about ten months into Corona quarantine now. We see a handful of other people/family (socially distanced) on occasion but most of all we’re in and around our home, for work and for most of our free time as well. We go for walks, like today, with the sheerest, thinnest sheet of ice on the water. Alas, it isn’t cold enough for the ice to become thick enough to stand on.

As we’re in quite a strict lockdown now, everything’s closed and there’s nothing much else to do outside the house than that. In all that time, I’ve only had my hair cut (a bit) once, so it’s grown quite long now, the longest it’s been since my early twenties, which means I can now even braid it again…

Vaccinations have started here this past week but it will be a while yet before it’s our turn. Mr Esther has asthma, so he may be called in for a vaccination first (just checked, they say from February) before the kids and I (from April/May). Already, they aren’t sure whether this schedule can be adhered to, it all depends on enough vaccines being available. The number of hospitalizations and positive tests here aren’t falling fast enough…

Source

… so there is every chance this stricter lockdown will be extended after January 19th. We have quite a way to go yet, so I guess it’s just best to not look too far ahead. Speaking of the short term, what would really make my week next week would be if Donald Trump were indeed impeached and kicked out of office – not likely, but I live in hope.

I was up all night…

… fascinated by the whole process of certifying the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I didn’t mean to stay up but in the end I just couldn’t go to bed without seeing this happy ending to the tragic events of yesterday…

It’s 4 am in Washington DC and it’s 10 am here where I live. I worked a bit during the Pennsylvania debate where the Republicans were so disheartening that I didn’t want to waste my time listening to them after the first 45 minutes or so. I hope that the worst is now over and we can actually look forward to something better coming from the US from now on. In the meantime, let me share again a video made just after the presidential election last November, celebrating the victory and especially Stacey Abrams role in Georgia. After the past 12-16 hours or so, I think everyone can use a smile again…

I have taken the rest of the day off, am going to bed now for a bit of sleep. Here’s to a much better USA than we’ve seen the past four years!