When Democracy Dies

by Mitch Feierstein about 5 months 1 week ago

Planet Ponzi – the massive build-up of debt, the total loss of political transparency – had caused multiple casualties across the world. The failure of banks, the huge rise in government debt, the failure of business, the loss of jobs, the pressure on real incomes – all these things stem from the same dark causes.

But there’s one consequence greater than any of these things. In the last few weeks, democracy has taken a pasting. For all Berlusconi’s faults (and there are many), he was the democratically elected leader of his country. The new Italian government does not boast a single elected politician. The Italian people have had nothing to do with choosing the direction of their country. Given that their nation has faced no more serious issues since the Second World War, this is a somber thought indeed.

It’s the same thing in Greece. George Papandreou may not have been a perfect leader, but he was the country’s elected leader. When Europe presented Greece with an ultimatum, Papandreou’s first instinct was to take that offer to his country. The future of the Greek people would be defined over the next ten years or more by these matters: Papandreou was right to consult his nation. As soon as the ‘international community’ got wind of those plans, he was promptly rebuked, he left office – and a new government took power without an election.

In the United States: the same thing. The budgetary ‘super-committee’ was set up in the wake of the debt-ceiling vote to define a budget strategy for the US government. That is: party apparatchiks chose – without election or public consultation – the men and women who will plan the nation’s fiscal future. Again: a total absence of democracy, a total lack of transparency.

And what happens? What emerges from this process? Answer: failure. The politicians in America, as in every country, are chosen in order to debate and solve the leading issues of the day. They need to solve those issues through open debate and place themselves in front of the electorate sufficiently often that the electorate can express a view.

In America, our political process has shown itself, so far, incapable of this basic task. To speak bluntly but fairly: American democracy is, at the present time, failing the nation.

Even in the countries, like Germany, that are not a part of Planet Ponzi, democracy seems close to collapse. Why should the German people be asked to bail out their southern neighbours and not get a vote on it? Why should the ECB pile into buying Italian bonds – probably illegally – and yet the people of Europe have no say on these things? Why should the British government refuse a Euro referendum, simply on the grounds that the leaders might not like the answer?

The solutions to Planet Ponzi are simple. More democracy not less. Less debt, not more. At the moment, we have things – tragically – the wrong way round.

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#SaltBae: Where’s the Beef? Nusr-Et Manhattan Steakhouse

by Mitch Feierstein about 10 months 2 weeks ago

Nusr-Et NYC Steakhouse

Salt Bae: Doing what he does.

Where’s the beef? You no longer need to ask. If you want meat chargrilled to perfection, Nusr-Et is the place for you.

After months of hype and build-up, the Manhattan debut of the 150-seat Turkish steakhouse Nusr-Et finally happened. I was skeptical whether the butcher, Nusret Gökçe, was the real deal and if this Turkish culinary wizard could deliver in New York’s oversaturated, highly competitive steakhouse business.

Nusret Gökçe, or Salt Bae as he’s known after an internet meme of him showing off his flashy “salt moves” earned him over ten million Instagram followers, quickly evolved from a skilled Turkish butcher to an iconic culinary artisan.

His success stems from adept precision. Gökçe not only delivered, but delivered beyond my lofty expectations.

Located at 60 West 53rd St., opening night at Nusr-Et was exceptional in every way. The buzz was incredible. All of the staff were warm and friendly, treating everyone as if they were not only regulars, but friends. My extremely attentive server, Maysa, patiently detailed each menu item to me, and given that this was a new menu on opening night, I was suitably impressed by the feat.

I asked Maysa to give me the signature dishes and to “knock my socks off.” I started with meat sushi, fired up tableside and served with avocado crème and shaved shoestring potatoes. The three delectable bite-sized pieces were fabulous and the taste combinations worked very well. Next up was a quick sample of “spaghetti.” This dish consisted of thinly sliced steak strips that you twirl around your fork like spaghetti. They tasted magnificent and the strips simply melted in my mouth.

For my main course, I had the excellent Ottoman steak – a huge mustard-marinated, bone-in ribeye, grilled to perfection and sliced at my table by Nusret Gökçe, who demonstrated his mastery with his knives and flashed his patented “salt move” as the finale. For dessert, I had pistachio baklava with ice cream, which was heavenly.

Nusret now has a total of eleven restaurants located in Turkey, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, and, most recently, the USA. His first restaurant in the U.S. recently opened in Miami where we are told they serve 1,500 meals a day! If you are in New York or Miami and love grilled meats, Nusr-et is a must.

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