Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

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It's All Politics
3:03 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

When A Good Jobs Report Is Bad For Political Spin

Trader Warren Meyers works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. Stocks opened higher after the government reported a burst of hiring last month that sent the unemployment rate to a four-year low. But both the White House and congressional Republicans reacted to the news in less than celebratory fashion.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 3:26 pm

The February jobs report was just the latest proof that the economy doesn't really care how much it confounds the messaging strategies of Washington's political class.

News that the economy created 236,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in more than four years, caught nearly everyone by surprise after economists forecast perhaps 171,000 new jobs.

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It's All Politics
6:14 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Watchdogs Not Celebrating Obama Group's Switch On Big Donors

Jim Messina (left), the head of Organizing for Action and a former top Obama campaign and White House aide, watches President Obama make a statement in the White House Cabinet Room in 2010.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:49 pm

Caught between the gritty political realities of needing cash and being linked to a political leader who has repeatedly denounced money's influence in Washington while raising record sums, former campaign aides to President Obama appeared to side with the money.

That had opened officials now heading Organizing for Action — which was formed from the Obama for America campaign committee to promote the president's second-term agenda — to charges of hypocrisy.

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It's All Politics
4:47 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Obama's Outreach To GOP: More Optics Than Opportunity?

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire at the Capitol last month. The senators are among a group invited to dine Wednesday with President Obama.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 5:21 pm

President Obama recently acknowledged the obvious: He doesn't have the supernatural powers necessary to do a mind meld, Jedi or otherwise, with Republican congressional leaders that would lead to pacts on fiscal policy or anything else for that matter.

But if he doesn't have the power to force meetings of the minds with his Republican opponents, he can at least still get meetings with them.

Popping up on the president's schedule all of a sudden was a Wednesday night dinner at a Washington, D.C., hotel with a group of GOP senators.

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It's All Politics
5:28 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Scientists Are The New Kings (Or At Least Secretaries) At Energy Department

Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Ernest Moniz is introduced by President Obama as the nominee to run the Energy Department, Monday at the White House.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 6:18 pm

With President Obama nominating Ernest Moniz to be the nation's next energy secretary, he continued a relatively recent trend of putting scientists atop a part of the federal bureaucracy once overseen by political types.

If confirmed by the Senate, Moniz, an MIT physicist, will follow Nobel laureate Steven Chu, a University of California physicist who served as Obama's first-term energy secretary.

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It's All Politics
5:42 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Some Political Lessons From The Violence Against Women Act Vote

Supporters of the Violence Against Women Act rally in front of the U.S. Capitol last June. On Thursday, the House passed a reauthorization measure.
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Flickr

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 7:22 pm

The fight over reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is now behind us. But like much of what happens in Washington, the process wasn't pretty.

In the debate leading up to Thursday's House vote, you had Democrats accusing Republicans of continuing a "war on women," and Republicans accusing Democrats of crass political pandering.

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It's All Politics
4:55 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

For Bloomberg, Guns (Like Big Sodas) Are A Health Issue

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media outside the White House after meeting with Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday to discuss the administration's proposals to reduce gun violence.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 5:17 pm

The victory of a pro-gun-control candidate in the Illinois Democratic primary race to replace Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was also a political win for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose superPAC backed the winner over a candidate it linked to the NRA.

But Robin Kelly's victory Tuesday was, for Bloomberg, more than just another achievement on the gun control front. It was one more win in Bloomberg's unique assault on what he views as the public health problems of our time.

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It's All Politics
2:08 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Obama's Sequester Gamble: What If Nobody Notices?

President Obama speaks about the sequester on Feb. 19.
Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama has for weeks warned congressional Republicans and the American public of the dangers facing the nation from the sequester budget cuts.

Failing to reach a deal between the White House and Congress by Friday could lead to some young children being dropped from Head Start, the FBI furloughing agents and fewer food inspectors, according to the president.

If the cuts unleash these and other harms, like longer lines at airports, Congress and voters won't be able to say they weren't warned.

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It's All Politics
5:01 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Top GOP Voter ID Crusader Loses Virginia Election Panel Post

Hans Von Spakovsky in his official FEC photo taken during former President George W. Bush's administration.
FEC.gov

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:24 am

To those who closely follow the voter ID wars, Hans von Spakovsky is a household name, one of the nation's leading crusaders against voter fraud, and also one of its more controversial. Days before the 2012 election, The New Yorker profiled him as "the man who has stoked fear about imposters at the poll."

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It's All Politics
5:08 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Whose Sequester Is It Anyway?

President Obama, accompanied by emergency responders — workers the White House says could be affected if state and local governments lose federal money as a result of budget cuts — speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington on Tuesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 6:02 pm

By now, it's widely accepted that indiscriminate spending cuts in defense and domestic programs due to start March 1 are likely to occur owing to the failure of President Obama and the Republican-led House to reach an agreement to avoid the budgetary cleaver.

So now, the contest boils down to each side scampering for the higher ground of moral indignation.

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It's All Politics
6:33 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Lautenberg Retirement Ends Potential May-December Senate Fight With Booker

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker speaks last year at a ceremony at City Hall.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 7:21 pm

The potential Democratic Party contest for a U.S. Senate seat between 89-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg and 43-year-old Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker had been shaping up to be a generational battle royale.

Alas, it won't happen now that Lautenberg has announced that he won't run for re-election in New Jersey's 2014 Senate race. In a statement, the octogenarian senator said:

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It's All Politics
8:52 am
Tue February 12, 2013

4 Things To Expect In Obama's State Of The Union Address

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address last year. On Tuesday night, he will be back at the Capitol for another address to a joint session of Congress.
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 9:32 am

President Obama's second inaugural address was widely perceived as a throwing down of the gauntlet in how it framed his progressive faith in government and challenged his Republican political opponents in any number of ways.

Given that, expect to see more glove-throwing Tuesday as the president delivers the first State of the Union speech of his second term.

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It's All Politics
4:48 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

6 Reasons Ashley Judd Is The Target Of An Attack Ad

Ashley Judd, who has said she's considering a challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, is now the subject of a Karl Rove-backed attack ad.
Matt Sayles AP

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It's All Politics
1:18 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Death By Drone, And The Sliding Scale Of Presidential Power

An unmanned drone armed with Hellfire missiles is shown over southern Afghanistan. A Hellfire missile fired from a drone was used in 2011 to kill an American in Yemen who the Obama administration says was an al-Qaida leader. Another American died in that attack, and a 16-year-old American was killed in a separate drone strike.
Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt AP

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 2:00 pm

The controversy over President Obama's targeted-killings-by-drone policy is a reminder that the default position of presidents in times of crisis is generally to side with national security over civil liberties.

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It's All Politics
6:02 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Viral Story About Free Wi-Fi Spotlights Mostly Hidden Policy War

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski last year warned of a "war on Wi-Fi."
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 12:48 pm

(Revised on 2/6/1013 at 12:28 pm ET to include FCC comment.)

In Washington, there's always one kind of alleged war or another against some group or idea — the war on women, the war on religion and the war on the Second Amendment come quickly to mind.

This week, many of us became aware of another supposed conflict we had never heard of: essentially, a war on Wi-Fi.

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It's All Politics
5:16 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Why Steven Chu Was One Of Obama's Most Intriguing Choices

Energy Secretary Steven Chu tours the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga., last year.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 5:43 pm

Of all the individuals in President Obama's first-term Cabinet, physicist Steven Chu was arguably the least likely to be found in official Washington.

The Energy Department secretary, after all, was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from the University of California, Berkeley, the first science laureate to serve as a Cabinet secretary.

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It's All Politics
11:38 am
Thu January 24, 2013

5 Things To Know About The Congressional Budget Fight

Sen. Dean Heller (left), R-Nev., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speak Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol about legislation to delay a potential clash over the debt ceiling until May — and to freeze the paychecks of lawmakers if they don't pass a budget resolution.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 12:11 pm

As if the federal budget process isn't confusing enough, now we get the fog of partisan war created by the charges and countercharges flying between congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans accuse the Democrats who control the Senate of shirking their duty by not producing "a budget" in recent years; Democrats accuse Republicans of not telling the whole truth.

What's going on? Here are five points to consider.

1) The Budget Control Act

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It's All Politics
3:32 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

For GOP, Obama's 'Very Ideological' Speech Not Wearing Well

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., arrives at President Obama's inauguration Monday on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, Ryan, who ran for vice president on the losing Republican ticket last year, said Obama's inaugural address showed a "proud and confident liberal progressive."
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 6:15 pm

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It's All Politics
6:03 am
Sun January 20, 2013

Obama So Far: Making History, Inspiring An Opposition

President Obama walks outside the Oval Office on May 3.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 9:17 am

Any American president hoping to stake a claim to being viewed by future generations as great and transformative — or at least very good and effective — would be wise to choose his predecessor well.

To that end, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan probably couldn't have done better than to follow, respectively, James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

Similarly, President Obama no doubt benefited from comparisons to George W. Bush, who's unlikely to make many historians' lists of the presidential greats.

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It's All Politics
4:45 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Don't Be Fooled By New York; Gun Control Faces Long Odds In States, Too

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs New York's new gun-control law Tuesday in Albany, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 6:41 pm

If you didn't know any better, you might think that even if new gun control proposals from President Obama become stalled in Washington's gridlock, the states will rush in to fill the void.

After all, under its Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has responded to December's Newtown tragedy by passing legislation banning assault weapons and making it harder for seriously mentally ill individuals to legally obtain firearms.

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It's All Politics
5:39 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Obama's Woman Problem Is A Problem Of His Own Making

President Obama holds a news conference Monday in the East Room of the White House.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 2:45 pm

Does President Obama have a problem with women?

On the level of appearances, he certainly does. Which is why at his Monday news conference, he found himself responding to criticisms about the lack of diversity in his picks so far for his second-term Cabinet — State, Treasury, Defense and CIA — who have all been white men.

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