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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4:03am

Tue August 6, 2013
It's All Politics

Virginia Governor's Race: Negative And Getting More So

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 9:16 am

The increasingly negative campaign that is the Virginia race for governor between Republican Ken Cuccinelli (left) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe could keep some voters home.
Steve Helber AP

If you like your gubernatorial campaigns negative and nasty, then Virginia's race for governor is for you, and will likely remain so until Election Day in November.

How could it not be with such good raw material for attack ads?

The Republican standard-bearer is controversial Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has acknowledged receiving vacations and other gifts valued at $18,000 from the same businessman who plied GOP Gov. Robert McDonnell and his family with money and gifts valued at more than $145,000.

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4:07pm

Fri August 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Congressional Recess Isn't A Cease-Fire; It's A Chance To Reload

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 4:32 pm

Bill O'Leary The Washington Post via Getty Images

As Congress heads off for its 2013 summer recess, who could blame a citizen for thinking that maybe the slogan above the House dais should be changed from "In God We Trust" to "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here."

Experts in government like Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann have repeatedly warned that compromise, the lubricant that makes the U.S. system work, has been a missing ingredient in recent Congresses, especially in the House. And there were no signs Friday that anything will be different when Congress returns in September from its five-week break.

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5:25pm

Thu August 1, 2013
It's All Politics

What Chris Christie And Rand Paul Share, Despite Their Clash

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 5:54 pm

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey
Julio Cortez AP

Now that the dust has settled somewhat on the rhetorical skirmish between Rand Paul and Chris Christie over NSA data-gathering, it's easier to see the irony of the confrontation.

We witnessed not just the punching and counterpunching of politicians considered likely contenders for the 2016 GOP nomination. It was also a clash between men who each possess a key to winning the White House.

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5:43pm

Wed July 31, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama's Fed Pick Quandary: What Does It Mean For His Legacy?

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 7:56 am

Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, is under consideration to become the first woman to lead the Fed. President Obama reportedly is likely to choose between Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
Franck Robichon EPA/Landov

Of all the legacies presidents leave behind, few are as important — yet as poorly understood in the moment — as their picks for chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Paul Volcker, credited with taming double-digit inflation through backbreaking high interest rates that contributed to the recession of the early 1980s, was among President Jimmy Carter's most consequential appointments.

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5:11pm

Tue July 30, 2013
It's All Politics

Immigration Issue Shows Big Money Doesn't Always Win In D.C.

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 5:17 pm

The crowd cheers speaker Glenn Beck (not pictured) during a Tea Party rally to "Audit the IRS" in front of the U.S. Capitol on June 19.
Gary Cameron Reuters/Landov

Big Money often gets what it wants in Washington. But not always.

In few policy debates is that more true than in the proposed overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

The big donors and corporate leaders of the Republican establishment mostly favor remaking U.S. immigration laws to give those now here illegally an eventual door to citizenship and to increase the annual quota for guest workers.

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4:33am

Tue July 30, 2013
It's All Politics

Abortion Drives Bigger Wedge Between Red And Blue States

Texas, where abortion-rights battles took place in July at the state capitol, is part of an eight-state region that has gotten more conservative on the issue.
Eric Gay AP

Regional disparities over the abortion issue have grown during the past two decades, leading to an ever widening gulf between the nation's most conservative and most liberal regions.

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1:19pm

Fri July 26, 2013
It's All Politics

McConnell's Kentucky Challenger Gets Her Act Together

Originally published on Fri July 26, 2013 1:52 pm

Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes raises her game in a video about her challenge to GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Grimes For Senate

Maybe the Democrat who hopes to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell is ready for prime time after all.

That's one way to view the highly polished Web video in which Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, appears, employing humor, pathos, earnestness and her grandmothers to skewer the leader of the Senate Republicans.

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5:42pm

Wed July 24, 2013
It's All Politics

King Wing Presents Both A Problem And An Opportunity For GOP

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 1:37 pm

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, is taking heat for comparing many young immigrant DREAMers to drug mules.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Both for the Republican Party, in general, and the GOP House leadership, in particular, Rep. Steve King's controversial comments about young immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally are a setback, to put it mildly.

King, as anyone knows who hasn't been single-mindedly focused in recent days on the birth of Prince George Alexander, caused a sizable ruckus with comments that are being called "hateful," "inexcusable" and "reprehensible" — even by some of his fellow House Republicans.

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5:23pm

Mon July 22, 2013
It's All Politics

McConnell's Challenge: Deal-Making Without Fingerprints

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 7:14 pm

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate minority leader, may have previewed his below-the-radar approach to future negotiations with Democrats during the recent filibuster fight.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

It appears that it's just a matter of days before it becomes official that Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate's top Republican, will be forced into a primary by a Louisville businessman with Tea Party backing.

The news that Matthew Bevin, owner of a bell-manufacturing company and an investment company executive, intends to soon announce his effort to oust McConnell is interesting because it appears to place McConnell in something of a bind.

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4:42pm

Fri July 19, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama Explains Black America To White America

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 6:08 pm

President Obama tackled race head-on in his first on-camera response to George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The days are few and far between when President Obama has intentionally reminded us that he is the first African-American president.

Friday was one.

The president did something no other holder of his office has ever had the life experience to do: He used the bully pulpit to, as an African-American, explain black America to white America in the wake of last week's acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

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9:38am

Fri July 19, 2013
It's All Politics

'Worst Governors' List Has Suspicious Deep Red Tinge

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 12:16 pm

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (left) and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, both Republicans, made a watchdog group's list of bad governors that has a very disproportionate GOP skew.
Ronda Churchill AP

Of the 50 state governors in the U.S., 30 are Republicans and 20 are Democrats, a ratio of 3 to 2.

So when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit watchdog group, issued a report this week listing 18 governors it alleged are the "worst in America," it immediately raised eyebrows and partisan ire for the notable party tilt of its examples — only two were Democrats.

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3:23pm

Wed July 17, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama Could Declare An Immigration Amnesty, But ...

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 5:07 pm

President Obama has enough problems with Congress without waving the red cape of a presidential amnesty to immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Univision screen shot

In an interview this week, Univision's Adriana Vargas asked President Obama if, in the event Congress failed to pass immigration legislation, he could simply use his presidential power to give amnesty to the estimated 11 million people currently in the U.S. illegally.

The president didn't exactly shut the door on that possibility, though he did strongly suggest it was a portal he'd rather not go through.

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1:56pm

Tue July 16, 2013
It's All Politics

3 Reasons The Senate Didn't Go Nuclear

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 2:55 pm

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain was credited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with playing a crucial role in the filibuster pact.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

With Tuesday's bipartisan agreement to let senators vote on seven of President Obama's previously stalled nominations, the Senate proved that the art of compromise isn't dead in Washington, even if it might be severely wounded.

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4:13pm

Mon July 15, 2013
It's All Politics

Reid's Limited Senate Options Lead To 'Nuclear' Threat

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 5:23 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warns that if Republicans don't relent on filibusters, they will leave him no choice but to change the chamber's rules.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Sen. Harry Reid may sound a tad hypocritical to some for saying he now supports changing Senate rules in order to end the one that says 60 senators must approve before presidential nominations can get up or down votes. This comes only several years after he indicated he opposed changing the requirement to a simple 51-vote majority.

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4:21pm

Wed July 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Partial Delay In Health Law Challenges Obama More Than Foes

The Affordable Care Act's foes have long had a simpler message than its supporters. The postponement of the law's employer mandate continues that trend.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

It's too soon, obviously, to know how the Obama administration's decision to delay by a year the imposition of penalties on large employers that fail to provide health insurance to their workers will ultimately play out, politically.

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5:47pm

Mon July 1, 2013
It's All Politics

Texas Abortion Fight Follows Familiar Pattern

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis at an abortion-rights rally in Austin on Monday.
Eric Gay AP

For many watching the abortion fight in Texas, it's deja vu all over again.

Abortion-rights protesters once again gathered Monday at the state capitol building to express their outrage at the Legislature's attempt to further restrict abortions in the state. The images from Austin looked a lot like the previous week's when state Sen. Wendy Davis famously filibustered to stop the legislation from passing.

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4:49pm

Fri June 28, 2013
It's All Politics

Gun Group Aims To Stop Immigration Bill

Some gun-rights advocates see a threat to the Second Amendment in Congress' immigration overhaul plans.
Brennan Linsley AP

What does an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws have to do with the Second Amendment right to own guns?

If you're the Gun Owners of America, everything.

The GOA, a smaller cousin of the National Rifle Association that often takes an even more aggressive approach, is branding the just-passed Senate immigration bill, with its path to citizenship for people in the country illegally, as an "anti-gun amnesty."

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4:40pm

Thu June 27, 2013
It's All Politics

Rick Perry Co-Stars In Texas Political Drama

The fight over restrictive abortion legislation in Texas has given Gov. Rick Perry a chance to underscore his conservative credentials.
Tony Gutierrez AP

An irony of the recent Texas political theater: Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster aimed at stopping anti-abortion legislation raised not only her profile but that of Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

Shortly after Davis' talkathon ran out the clock on a bill that would potentially have made abortions much harder for women in Texas to obtain after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Perry put himself back in the national headlines.

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5:11pm

Wed June 26, 2013
It's All Politics

Same-Sex Marriage Fight Shifts Back To States

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 6:35 pm

Allan Hoyle of North Carolina (center) protests gay marriage outside the Supreme Court.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The dual victories the Supreme Court handed to gay-marriage supporters Wednesday seemed to temporarily shift the focus of the fight from Washington to the states.

For instance, one of the more notable reactions to the Supreme Court decisions overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and upholding a lower court ruling that blocked California's Proposition 8 from taking effect came from the American Civil Liberties Union.

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4:15pm

Wed June 19, 2013
It's All Politics

Capitol Hill's Partisan And Racial Divide Cast In Bronze

Vice President Biden joined congressional leaders at the Capitol Hill dedication ceremony for a statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Carolyn Kaster AP

A 7-foot-tall statue of famed, lion-maned abolitionist Frederick Douglass that was dedicated Wednesday on Capitol Hill is perhaps best understood as a bronze symbol of the partisan divide in Washington and of racial politics.

The ex-slave, who later became a friend of President Abraham Lincoln, was a federal official and an important journalist of his day. It took years for a statue of him to land a spot because it became a proxy in the fight over voting rights and statehood for Washington, D.C.

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