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.

Pages

4:47pm

Wed March 6, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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5:28pm

Mon March 4, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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5:30pm

Thu February 28, 2013
It's All Politics

Some Political Lessons From The Violence Against Women Act Vote

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

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

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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5:17pm

Wed February 27, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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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2:08pm

Tue February 26, 2013
It's All Politics

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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5:01pm

Sat February 23, 2013
It's All Politics

Top GOP Voter ID Crusader Loses Virginia Election Panel Post

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

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

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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5:08pm

Tue February 19, 2013
It's All Politics

Whose Sequester Is It Anyway?

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

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

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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8:52am

Tue February 12, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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4:48pm

Fri February 8, 2013
It's All Politics

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

1:21pm

Fri February 8, 2013
It's All Politics

Death By Drone, And The Sliding Scale Of Presidential Power

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

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

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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6:03pm

Tue February 5, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

(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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5:23pm

Fri February 1, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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6:38pm

Thu January 31, 2013
It's All Politics

Hagel's Hearing: 7 Things We Learned

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 7:56 pm

Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel testifies Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
Alex Wong Getty Images

So what did we learn from Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel's sometimes rocky confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee?

1) We learned that the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska with the reputation for speaking his mind and not sticking to his party's talking points has through the years said lots of things that could be used against him in such a setting.

And they were. Repeatedly.

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11:38am

Thu January 24, 2013
It's All Politics

5 Things To Know About The Congressional Budget Fight

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

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

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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3:35pm

Tue January 22, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

6:03am

Sun January 20, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama So Far: Making History, Inspiring An Opposition

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

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

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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4:54pm

Tue January 15, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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5:57pm

Mon January 14, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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4:39pm

Thu January 10, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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5:42pm

Mon January 7, 2013
It's All Politics

Why Hagel? Let Us Count The Reasons

Originally published on Sun January 13, 2013 9:02 am

President Obama nominates former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to be defense secretary Monday at the White House.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

So why did President Obama choose Chuck Hagel to be his new defense secretary?

First, Hagel is Obama's kind of Republican. The former senator from Nebraska is a realist and pragmatist who hasn't been afraid to buck the orthodoxy of his chosen party, for instance when Hagel opposed the Iraq War.

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4:00pm

Sat January 5, 2013
It's All Politics

What Happens When The Speaker Isn't Talking?

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 10:13 am

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner at the White House in November.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The last thing Washington policymakers need is another obstacle to reaching agreements in the next two months on mandatory spending cuts and raising the nation's debt limit.

But the start of the new 113th Congress brought word that House Speaker John Boehner had sworn off future one-on-one negotiations with President Obama.

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6:45am

Thu January 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Was Boehner's Fiscal Cliff End Run Past GOP The New Normal?

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (right), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., enter a Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

By letting the House take up the Senate's fiscal cliff-dodging legislation that raises income tax rates on the wealthiest earners, Speaker John Boehner answered affirmatively a question that had been on many minds: Would he allow an up-or-down floor vote on a bill opposed by most fellow House Republicans?

Until the New Year's Day vote, Boehner had generally operated the House under what was known as the Hastert Rule. Named for former Speaker Dennis Hastert, it required a "majority of the majority" to support legislation before the speaker approved a floor vote.

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1:27pm

Fri December 21, 2012
It's All Politics

Boehner's Power Outage Dimming Obama's Options As Well

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:53 pm

House Speaker John Boehner speaks at a press conference Friday on Capitol Hill.
Win McNamee Getty Images

The most important measure of power on Capitol Hill can be summed up with a question: "Do you have the votes?"

For House Speaker John Boehner, the answer once again appears to be "no." In a move that's hard to view as anything short of humiliating for the speaker, Boehner had to shelve his own "Plan B" fiscal-cliff-avoidance proposal Thursday evening after it became clear he couldn't get enough fellow Republicans to support it.

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3:24pm

Thu December 20, 2012
It's All Politics

Cory Booker Eyes (Chris Christie-Free) Path To His Political Future

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:25 pm

Newark Mayor Cory Booker greets a 13-year-old at a relief center for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, in November.
Julio Cortez AP

Here was the choice facing Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Run next year against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity would have made the Republican exceedingly difficult to beat; or fix his gaze on the Senate seat now occupied by an 88-year-old fellow Democrat, Sen.

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6:10pm

Wed December 19, 2012
It's All Politics

With Nation's Eyes On Newtown, Washington Distracted By Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 6:34 pm

President Obama, with Vice President Biden at his side on Wednesday, at a news conference about gun violence that became dominated by questions of the fiscal cliff.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Anyone hoping that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre might change dynamics in the nation's capital when it comes to the issue of guns met some level of Washington reality on Wednesday.

President Obama held a news conference to announce his response to the Connecticut killings of 26 grade-schoolers and educators, including his naming of Vice President Joe Biden to head a team that will recommend in a month actions that might help prevent future Sandy Hooks.

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5:50pm

Tue December 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Finding Gun Control Voice, Which Had Gone Quiet In White House

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 6:23 pm

President Obama attends a vigil for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims on Sunday in Newtown, Conn.
Getty Images

If President Obama takes the lead in a movement for more effective gun control now that he's been stirred to action by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it would mark a significant break from his pattern so far as chief executive.

For while Obama has dutifully served as the nation's consoler in chief in localities where the all-too-frequent mass shootings have occurred, that has seemed the extent of the official response observable to White House outsiders.

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12:29pm

Mon December 17, 2012
It's All Politics

Open-Government Watchdogs OK With Closed-Door Fiscal Cliff Talks

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:48 pm

House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the White House on Thursday for a meeting with President Obama. The two men met again in private on Monday in an effort to reach a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
Jacquelyn Martin AP

If President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner's closed-door meetings aimed at solving the fiscal cliff crisis trouble anyone, you'd expect it to be the open-government watchdogs who routinely bark their outrage at public officials who work overtime to avoid public scrutiny.

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6:10pm

Fri December 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Remembers 'Beautiful Little Kids,' Calls For 'Meaningful Action'

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 7:22 pm

President Obama pauses as he speaks at the White House about Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Charles Dharapak AP

Horrible acts of violence have forced President Obama to speak to a shocked nation after several mass shootings — at a shopping center in Arizona, a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and, on Friday, a Connecticut elementary school.

Each time his sadness has been readily visible, mirroring the feelings of millions of Americans.

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2:56pm

Wed December 12, 2012
It's All Politics

When It Comes To Entitlements, Obama Feels Heat From Left And Right

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 3:12 pm

A protester at a fiscal cliff rally on Monday in Doral, Fla.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Despite his re-election and more Democratic seats in Congress, President Obama has far from a free hand to make the kind of comprehensive deal House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans are demanding — one that includes cuts to entitlement programs.

Strong resistance to that notion is coming from the political left, including warnings that while Obama won't have another re-election, most of his allies on Capitol Hill will be facing voters again.

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5:27am

Sat December 8, 2012
It's All Politics

Once Boxed-In, Boehner May Finally Be Master Of The House

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 12:42 pm

Not long ago, it seemed to many observers that the House of Representatives was a case of the tail wagging the dog, with Speaker John Boehner unable to keep in line many of his fellow Republicans, especially freshmen who came to Congress riding the 2010 Tea Party wave.

Now, however, the big dog seems back in control.

Some of the signs are subtle, some not. But as he faces off with President Obama during fiscal cliff negotiations, Boehner enjoys a stronger position with House Republicans than he had during earlier showdowns with the White House.

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