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
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

Some observers are wondering why American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-inspired superPAC, would bother to run a political attack ad against Hollywood star Ashley Judd, an outspoken supporter of President Obama who has said she's mulling a 2014 run against Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

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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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It's All Politics
4:20 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Experience Trumps Hope In Obama's Second-Term Cabinet Selections

President Obama nominates Jacob Lew to be his second-term Treasury secretary on Thursday at the White House.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 12:34 pm

A re-elected president who gets to choose a second-term Cabinet has much more knowledge of the kind of team he needs than he did the first time around.

That's one simple way to understand President Obama's decisions as he creates his Cabinet 2.0.

The choices are not those of a president-elect who hasn't moved into the White House, or of a green president who hasn't watched his first international crisis unfold from his leather seat in the White House Situation Room.

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It's All Politics
4:49 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

The Race To 270: A Swing State Scorecard

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 10:11 am

From now until Election Day, the U.S. might as well consist of just eight or so states, not 50.

Those are the battleground states where President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, their running mates and spouses will be spending much of their time in what remains of the 2012 race for the White House.

It's all about amassing the 270 electoral votes required to be elected president. NPR's analysis of the race at this point suggests the eight states that are most in play are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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It's All Politics
7:02 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Obama, Romney Reprise Their Greatest Debate Hits On Campaign Trail

President Obama campaigned at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Wednesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

A day after their second presidential debate, President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney were in different swing states, reprising some of their greatest hits from Tuesday night.

And "hits" is the exactly the right word because each man energetically repeated attacks he made on his rival.

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It's All Politics
4:58 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Romney's Business Skills Evident In His Strong Debating Style

Mitt Romney at the first presidential debate at the University of Denver on Oct. 3.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 5:07 pm

If there was any surprise in the first 90-minute presidential debate, it was President Obama's apathetic performance, not Mitt Romney's energetic and assertive pounding of the commander in chief.

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It's All Politics
5:05 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

'I Was Just Too Polite,' Says Obama, Vowing To Hit Hard At Next Debate

President Obama promised to take it to Mitt Romney in future debates.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 5:44 pm

No more Mr. Nice Guy. That was essentially what President Obama told Tom Joyner, the black-radio megahost, to expect at upcoming presidential debates.

On Wednesday, the president explained that his main mistake at last week's debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney was an excess of gentility.

Obama's self-critique, such as it was, came in response to a Joyner question:

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It's All Politics
7:20 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Romney Shows His Soft Side; President Tightens His Pitch

Mitt Romney on a farm in Van Meter, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 7:56 pm

With 27 days until the general election, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was on an Iowa farm Tuesday where he did what he's done for months: criticized President Obama's economic policies, though his critique understandably had an agricultural slant.

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It's All Politics
1:25 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Sesame Workshop To Obama Campaign: Leave Big Bird Out Of It

Sesame Workshop asked President Obama's campaign to stop running an ad featuring its Big Bird character.
Obama campaign ad

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 2:12 pm

In its attempt to turn the tables on Mitt Romney following the Republican presidential nominee's big win in the first presidential debate, President Obama's campaign has sought to enlist Big Bird.

The president has repeatedly reminded supporters at rallies that Romney, during the debate, specifically cited Big Bird when he promised to defund the Public Broadcasting Service to reduce federal deficits.

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It's All Politics
1:07 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

For Obama, 7.8 Could Be Lucky Number

President Obama smiles during a rally Friday at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 1:09 pm

To become president and to be re-elected president takes much luck (among other factors, like money and political skill.) And President Obama appears to be one of the most fortunate presidents in recent memory with the release of the latest employment report.

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It's All Politics
7:38 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Obama Aims Post-Debate Barbs At Romney As Many Ask: Why'd He Wait?

President Obama drew a crowd in Madison, Wis., the day after his widely panned first debate against GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 7:39 pm

For President Obama, Thursday appeared to have its share of what the French call staircase wit.

We've all experienced it. Heading up the stairs to bed, you think of the perfect response to something someone else said earlier. Of course, it's too late.

The day after his widely panned presidential debate performance, Obama delivered the sort of retorts to his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, that were mainly absent the night before.

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