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
5:19 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

10 Things We Learned From the IRS Inspector General Report

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

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

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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It's All Politics
3:53 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Controversies Risk Starving Obama's Agenda Of Air

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

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

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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It's All Politics
6:55 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Clinton White House Crisis Manager Dings Obama's Message Team

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

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

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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It's All Politics
7:09 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

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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It's All Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
6:51 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

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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It's All Politics
5:41 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Ayotte Becoming Gun Control Lightning Rod

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

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

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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It's All Politics
5:33 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
6:45 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Budget Cuts Delay Flights But Not Fingerpointing

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

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

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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It's All Politics
7:38 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Immigration Overhaul Seems On Track Despite Boston Tragedy

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (right), talks during a hearing at which he angered Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa (far left). Grassley thought Schumer was accusing him of using the Boston bombings as an excuse to slow or kill the immigration overhaul.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon April 22, 2013 9:36 pm

No sooner did the first reports emerge that the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were Chechen immigrants than did that fact intrude into Washington's debate on immigration.

Opponents of immigration reform seized on the fact to raise doubts about efforts to change immigration laws to, in part, bring the estimated 12 million people now in the U.S. illegally out of limbo.

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It's All Politics
5:49 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Stubbornly, Manchin Maintains Optimism On Background Checks

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., meets in his office last week with families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. A bipartisan plan to expand background checks for gun buyers was defeated Wednesday in the Senate.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who lent his name to bipartisan legislation that would have extended background checks for gun purchasers to gun shows and online sales, isn't letting go.

At least not yet.

To Manchin, the bipartisan compromise he co-sponsored with Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican of consistent conservative credentials, fell victim to a steady stream of misinformation spread by some gun rights absolutists, including the National Rifle Association.

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It's All Politics
6:31 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Obama Uses And Loses Political Capital On Gun Control

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

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

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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It's All Politics
6:43 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Obama's 'Terrorism' Description Follows Cautious First Words

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

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

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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It's All Politics
5:44 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Background Checks Bill Gains Backers On And Off Capitol Hill

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

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

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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It's All Politics
6:11 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Tiny Group Linked To McConnell Recording Causes Big Stir

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

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

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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