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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6:07pm

Tue May 21, 2013
It's All Politics

Former IRS Head To Senate: It Wasn't My Fault

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 6:13 pm

Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies Tuesday on Capitol Hill, before a Senate Finance Committee hearing.
Charles Dharapak AP

It was the Senate's turn Tuesday to grill the Internal Revenue Service, or more accurately, former agency officials, about its handling of the scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

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6:25pm

Thu May 16, 2013
It's All Politics

A New Front in the War on Obamacare: Twitter

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 6:48 pm

Few things likely please the Obama White House as a political battle fought on social media. Above, President Obama participates in a "Twitter Town Hall" in 2011.
Charles Dharapak AP

A simple idea: attack Obamacare tersely.

On the same day House Republicans scheduled their latest symbolic vote to repeal Obamacare, as part of their full-court press against the law they also took to Twitter to say, in three words, why they oppose the legislation.

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5:19pm

Wed May 15, 2013
It's All Politics

10 Things We Learned From the IRS Inspector General Report

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 6:29 pm

The John Weld Peck Federal Building in Cincinnati, where many of the missteps by IRS workers who targeted conservative groups occurred.
Al Behrman AP

Scintillating isn't how you'd describe the report issued by the Treasury inspector general's report on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups.

It was written, after all, by government bureaucrats for government bureaucrats. Enough said.

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3:53pm

Tue May 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Controversies Risk Starving Obama's Agenda Of Air

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 4:55 pm

The controversies facing his administration could be creating a stiff headwind for President Obama's second-term agenda.
Jack Plunkett AP

This was the critical moment, the brief time between his inaugural and when the nation's collective focus turns to whom his successor will be, when President Obama had to make real progress on his second-term agenda and thus forge his legacy.

Instead, the president finds his administration, the public, Congress and the news media distracted by controversies over Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups and a leak investigation in which the Justice Department secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.

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6:55pm

Mon May 13, 2013
It's All Politics

Clinton White House Crisis Manager Dings Obama's Message Team

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 11:07 am

President Obama listens as British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during their joint news conference Monday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Lanny J. Davis, a former special counsel for President Clinton, is a man who knows something about managing a White House crisis. And he isn't exactly impressed by how President Obama's aides have handled the fallout from numerous crises, from Solyndra to Benghazi and now with the Internal Revenue Service controversy.

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7:09pm

Fri May 10, 2013
It's All Politics

IRS's Tea Party Scrutiny Adds To Conservatives' Case Against Obama

An Internal Revenue Service official apologized for workers who targeted certain conservative groups. But that did little to defuse the situation.
Susan Walsh AP

Benghazi move over, make room for IRS-gate.

As if the Obama administration's conservative critics didn't have enough fodder with last year's attacks on a U.S. Consulate that killed four Americans, now comes Friday's startling revelation that Internal Revenue Service workers between 2010 and 2012 singled out groups with "Tea Party" and "Patriots" in their name for extra scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status.

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5:47pm

Tue May 7, 2013
It's All Politics

Both Sides Hopeful In Last Hours Of Sanford, Colbert Busch Race

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 9:58 pm

Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch and her Republican opponent, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, debate in Charleston, S.C., on April 29.
Randall Hill Reuters/Landov

Updated at 9:29 pm ET --- Former South Carolina Republican governor Mark Sanford easily beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to regain the House seat he once held.

For Sanford, the victory in the strongly Republican 1st Congressional District was sure to be widely viewed as a personal redemption. Sanford left the governor's mansion in 2009 after an extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman who is now his fiancee led to the breakup of his marriage.

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6:51pm

Mon May 6, 2013
It's All Politics

DeMint's Departure: A Onetime Ally Spurns Rubio

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 11:28 am

There was a time when Jim DeMint was committed to helping Sen. Marco Rubio achieve his goals.

Not anymore.

At least not when it comes to remaking the nation's immigration laws.

DeMint is president of the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, which on Monday released a report contending that an immigration overhaul would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion over 13 years in direct and indirect spending like welfare and public schools.

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5:41pm

Thu May 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Ayotte Becoming Gun Control Lightning Rod

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 6:37 pm

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., has drawn the focus of gun control proponents for voting against a bid to expand criminal background checks for gun buyers.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Of the senators who have become lightning rods for voting against expanded criminal background checks for gun buyers, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte is drawing the most bolts.

Video of Ayotte being questioned by the daughter of the principal killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., has gone viral.

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5:33pm

Wed April 24, 2013
It's All Politics

Giffords Group's Radio Ads Hit McConnell, Ayotte On Gun Vote

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 5:58 pm

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, at an April 16 ceremony naming a Capitol Hill conference room for her aide Gabe Zimmerman. Zimmerman died in the same Tucson, Ariz., shootings that Giffords wounded.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

After the Senate failed to pass bipartisan legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases, the superPAC created by shooting victim and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, onetime astronaut Mark Kelly, vowed to remind voters of which lawmakers voted against the plan.

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6:45pm

Tue April 23, 2013
It's All Politics

Budget Cuts Delay Flights But Not Fingerpointing

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 11:02 am

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and fellow GOP senators accused the Obama administration of creating a "manufactured crisis" by furloughing FAA air traffic controllers and causing delayed flights.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Blame shifting was in high gear Tuesday on Capitol Hill and at the White House as the first air traffic delays tied to the furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration controllers began to get attention.

The Republicans' message: Delays at some airports this week — a result of automatic spending cuts known as the sequester that took effect in March, but whose resulting furloughs are just kicking in — was a "manufactured crisis," and that the administration wants voters angry enough to force Congress to give President Obama the higher taxes he seeks.

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6:31pm

Wed April 17, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama Uses And Loses Political Capital On Gun Control

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:53 pm

Mark Barden, the father of a young Newtown, Conn., shooting victim, speaks at a White House news conference on Wednesday, with President Obama and former Rep. Gabby Giffords. Obama denounced the Senate's defeat of a measure to expand background checks for gun buyers. "This was a pretty shameful day in Washington," he said.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The Senate's rejection of more robust gun purchase background checks was a stinging blow to President Obama that raised questions about his second-term agenda.

Expanding background checks had become a key part of Obama's post-Newtown push for tougher federal gun control laws. And in recent weeks, the president had campaigned for overall gun control legislation — especially the bipartisan background-check compromise — with a sense of urgency.

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6:43pm

Tue April 16, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama's 'Terrorism' Description Follows Cautious First Words

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 7:30 pm

President Obama leaves the White House briefing room Tuesday after making a statement about the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

On Monday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and some others made a point of highlighting President Obama's failure to use the words "terror" or "terrorism" in his first remarks following the Boston Marathon bombings.

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5:44pm

Mon April 15, 2013
It's All Politics

Background Checks Bill Gains Backers On And Off Capitol Hill

Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 6:38 pm

Newly made AR-15 rifles at Stag Arms in New Britain, Conn., last Wednesday.
Charles Krupa AP

The Senate was due on Tuesday to take up legislation embodying the bipartisan compromise reached by two senators, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey.

The effort to extend background checks to weapons purchases at gun shows and online received a boost over the weekend when an important gun rights group, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, announced its support for the measure.

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6:11pm

Fri April 12, 2013
It's All Politics

Tiny Group Linked To McConnell Recording Causes Big Stir

Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 7:19 am

Sen. Mitch McConnell and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, at a Republican dinner in Winchester, Ky., last month.
Roger Alford AP

So who exactly comprises Progress Kentucky, the superPAC linked to the surreptitious recording of a meeting at Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign headquarters? In the recording, an aide is heard disparaging actress Ashley Judd, who was then considering a Senate run to challenge the Senate's top Republican.

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2:44pm

Tue April 9, 2013
It's All Politics

Blacks' Election-Day Waits Nearly Double Those Of Whites, But Why?

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 3:11 pm

People stood in line to vote on Election Day 2012 at the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center in Apex, N.C.
Gerry Broome AP

On Election Day 2012, black voters waited on average nearly twice as long to vote as did white voters, while the wait time for Hispanic voters fell in between those two groups.

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5:36pm

Fri April 5, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama Riles His Own Party With Social Security Offer

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 6:11 pm

President Obama prepares to depart San Francisco on Thursday.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Few things indicate a president no longer needs to worry about re-election more than his willingness to ignite an intraparty firestorm.

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5:07pm

Wed April 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Sen. Landrieu's First GOP Rival Sets In Motion Key 2014 Contest

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 5:44 pm

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La. (right), poses with his family and House Speaker John Boehner at the start of the new Congress, on Jan. 3. On Wednesday, Cassidy announced that he would challenge Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2014.
Cliff Owen AP

Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, considered among the most vulnerable of the Senate's red-state Democrats facing 2014 re-election, now has at least one potential Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, whose congressional district includes Baton Rouge.

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5:38pm

Tue April 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Reality Often Rivals Fiction In Political Corruption Scandals

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 6:22 pm

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara outlines corruption charges against several New York politicians on Tuesday.
Richard Drew AP

The federal criminal complaint against New York politicians arrested after an FBI sting was a reminder of how often real-life political scandals can read like the imaginings of Hollywood screenwriters.

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4:29pm

Mon April 1, 2013
It's All Politics

Immigration Overhaul Inches Forward, But Big Hurdles Remain

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says talk of a bipartisan agreement among eight key senators working on immigration law is "premature."
Susan Walsh AP

It's still far too early to know whether Congress will actually be able to achieve a comprehensive overhaul to the nation's immigration laws. All that's certain at this stage is that lawmakers on both sides of the partisan divide, and in both chambers, continue to act as though they think they can.

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10:12am

Sat March 23, 2013
It's All Politics

A Hint Of Bipartisanship On This Obamacare Tax?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, was joined by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch in taking steps to try to stop an Obamacare medical device tax.
Jim Mone AP

Anyone looking for a glimmer of bipartisanship in Washington might want to pay attention to the medical device tax that is part of Obamacare. It took a notable, if largely symbolic, hit this week from the left and the right.

The 2.3-percent excise tax on devices ranging from MRI machines to pacemakers to stethoscopes was meant to raise $20 billion over 10 years to help pay for extending health care coverage to the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.

But so far it has raised more ire than revenue.

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4:58pm

Wed March 20, 2013
It's All Politics

Administration Still Fighting For Assault Weapons Ban, Biden Says

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 12:00 pm

Vice President Biden at a December 2012 meeting of police chiefs on gun control, held in Washington, D.C.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Vice President Joe Biden told All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block in an interview Wednesday that he and the Obama administration plan to continue to fight for a ban on assault weapons to be included in a larger bill in Congress.

That despite signs that such a ban doesn't have enough support, even from members of Biden's own party, to make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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3:45pm

Wed March 20, 2013
It's All Politics

Pew Poll: For Many Who've Changed Same-Sex Marriage Views, It's Personal

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 4:09 pm

Frank Capley (left) and Joe Alfano protest the San Francisco county clerk's denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Feb. 14.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio conservative Republican who recently said he now supports same-sex marriage because he has a gay son, evidently has plenty of company.

A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press suggests that many Americans have changed their minds — going from opposing to supporting same-sex marriage — because they personally know someone who is gay.

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5:23pm

Tue March 19, 2013
It's All Politics

Scholar Outlines The Long, Rocky Road Of GOP Outreach Efforts

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 6:04 pm

Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., speaks on Oct. 22, 1977, in Atlanta. A political scientist says the GOP has suffered some missteps in its outreach efforts to certain voters since at least the time of Dole.
AP

One of the most interesting observations we've seen regarding the Republican National Committee's latest effort to win the hearts and minds of minorities, women and young voters was to be found on a blog that promotes a

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2:18pm

Mon March 18, 2013
It's All Politics

Republicans' Secret To Success? Sound And Act More Like Democrats

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 7:17 pm

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

If Republicans hope to recapture the White House in the foreseeable future, they basically need to sound and campaign more like Democrats.

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6:44pm

Fri March 15, 2013
It's All Politics

Romney, Yesterday's Man At CPAC, Gets A Winner's Reception

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney leaves the stage after speaking Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland's National Harbor.
Alex Wong Getty Images

It was one of the most anticipated moments at this year's large gathering of conservative activists.

What would Mitt Romney say in his first major speech since he lost the presidential election and, even more importantly, how would the crowd treat him?

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6:26pm

Thu March 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Marco Rubio, Rand Paul Bring Charisma, Red Meat To Receptive CPAC

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 6:55 pm

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addresses the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday in Maryland's National Harbor outside Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong Getty Images

The next Republican presidential primary is so far off that some of those attending the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday could be spotted wearing stickers for two potential candidates: Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

It's just too early to choose.

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9:28am

Thu March 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Will CPAC Tell Us Which Way The GOP Is Headed?

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 1:36 pm

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul filibusters John Brennan's nomination as CIA director last week. Paul is scheduled to speak Thursday at CPAC.
AP

Which way the Republican Party?

In the hope of getting answers to that and other questions, many activists, party big wigs and political journalists have descended on a hotel in a Washington suburb to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, which started Thursday.

This annual CPAC gathering is the first since President Obama thwarted Republican efforts to retake the White House, a defeat of Mitt Romney that many in the GOP didn't see coming.

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3:10pm

Tue March 12, 2013
It's All Politics

Ryan's Budget: The First Of The DOA Proposals

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (second from right), arrives with other GOP members of the House Budget Committee he chairs, for a news conference, March 12, 2013.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Like the famous cherry blossoms forecast to bloom in a few weeks, this time of year is also marked by the arrival of competing, partisan federal budget proposals that political foes immediately declare dead-on-arrival, though not so dead that they can't be used as campaign fodder.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) got the process underway Tuesday by introducing the House Republican budget for the coming fiscal year, DOA because it has no chance of getting through the Democratic Senate or to be signed by President Obama.

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4:41pm

Mon March 11, 2013
It's All Politics

Ben Carson Says No Apology Needed After Controversial Speech

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 1:35 pm

Dr. Ben Carson, right, signs a book for Delegate William Frank in Annapolis, Md., on Friday.
Brian Witte AP

Anyone still looking for Dr. Ben Carson to apologize for criticizing President Obama's policies to his face at the recent National Prayer Breakfast, won't hear one in his conversation with host Michel Martin's of NPR's Tell Me More.

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