Jake Blumgart

Jake Blumgart is a freelance reporter-researcher living in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter.

Recent Articles

Q&A: How Mortgage Lenders Broke the Law and Got Away With It

Financial journalist David Dayen talks about the 2008 fiscal crisis and his new book, Chain of Title, which tells the story of three average Americans who faced foreclosure and fought back.

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
The financial crisis and its aftermath haunt the 2016 elections. The shattering dislocation caused by the Great Recession set the stage for political insurgencies that have shaken both political parties. Free trade without a safety net is one of several issues galvanizing the downwardly mobile white voters rallying behind Donald Trump. On the left, Bernie Sanders weaponized the issue of Wall Street’s duplicity, Hillary Clinton’s ties to it, and the stunning fact that no one went to jail for systemic fraud that plunged the world economy into chaos. The story of how we got into this mess is well known. But many of the accounts have centered on New York skyscrapers and on the corridors of power in D.C. Early this summer, financial journalist (and Prospect contributor) David Dayen released his dramatic account of the disaster from the perspective of three people who lived through foreclosures. Chain of Title focuses on Lisa Epstein, a nurse; Michael Redman, a car salesman; and...

Democrats Uniting, But Wounds Linger

Bernie Sanders backers in Democrats’ Kentucky delegation, which was among the convention’s most divided, explain what made them angry and how they are moving forward.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya
dem_convention_icon.jpg The scene at the Democrats’ gathering in Philadelphia this week looked downright peachy compared with the problem-plagued Republican National Convention in Cleveland. But that doesn’t mean the anger and disappointment of Bernie Sanders voters can be shunted aside. This is a profile of a tiny sliver of the forces within the Democratic Party that want to see more left-wing results than what we’ve been getting for the past 40 years. Tensions ran especially high on Monday and Tuesday, and were palpable both in the Wells Fargo Center and on the streets. The sidewalks of Philadelphia were the scene of occasional confrontations between the two factions. On Tuesday night a 5,000-person column marched down south Broad Street, a combination of diehard Sanders supporters, socialists, and Black Lives Matter activists. Fights broke out, and a few people burned American flags. In the end, the marchers dissipated, leaving behind a vivid illustration of...

Philly’s New Mayor

How many progressive changes can Jim Kenney bring to an old-style city with an antique political culture?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
This article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . No one ever said being mayor of Philadelphia would be easy. America’s fifth-largest city suffers a poverty rate of over 25 percent, $5.7 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, and a school system ravaged by austerity and segregation. The new mayor, Jim Kenney, was elected last year in a landslide by knitting together a disparate coalition and promising big changes ahead. The question is whether a city like Philadelphia, with all its lurking fiscal issues and petty political rivalries, is willing to accommodate a mayor with big policy ambitions. Kenney’s election last year was hailed as the latest in a string of progressive urban electoral victories. Bill de Blasio’s 2013 win in New York was the most notable, but that year also saw liberal Democratic politicians take power in Los Angeles (Eric Garcetti), Seattle (Ed Murray), Boston (Marty Walsh), Minneapolis (Betsy...

Sanders Activists Already Agitating in Philadelphia

(Photo: Sipa via AP)
Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel J. Hilferty lives in the Sylvan byways of Ardmore. It’s one of those neighborhoods on Philadelphia’s Main Line that epitomizes a certain vision of what the American suburb looks like. Big houses, green lawns, gently winding lanes with few sidewalks, because no one is driving very fast anyway. And it’s quiet, the kind of place where birdsong sounds cacophonous. That’s probably why five police cars arrived ten minutes after a mob started chanting slogans in front of the insurance mogul’s house on Wednesday night. This is the latest manifestation of Reclaim Philadelphia, an activist group comprised in part of former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers and volunteers. The group is demanding that the Democratic National Convention Host Committee reveal its financial records and the names of its donors. Organizers also want those at the head of host committee—Hilferty, Comcast nabob David Cohen, and former Pennsylvania...

Q&A: Is Fascism Back?

To some, the reactionary forces sweeping Europe, the United States and Britain carry echoes of fascism. But historian Sheri Berman says today’s demagogues are no dictators.

(Photo: AP/Brynn Anderson)
The specter haunting Europe is no longer communism, as it had been for decades, but ascendant right-wing movements and parties that have resurrected the fear of fascism. Reactionary forces are also on display in Donald Trump’s demagogic presidential campaign, and in the racist, anti-immigration tactics that drove the victorious Brexit referendum. But it’s in continental Europe that the far right is more powerful today than at any time since World War II. National Front President Marine Le Pen is expected to do well in next year’s national elections, while the Austrian Freedom Party lost the presidential election by .6 percent earlier this year. In Eastern Europe , aggressively nationalist and even authoritarian parties are surging. Most extreme is Hungary , where the ruling nationalist conservative Fidez has acted to suppress democratic institutions , while the even further right-wing Jobbik Party is the third-largest in parliament. In Greece, the openly fascist...