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
6:03 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
5:23 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
6:38 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Hagel's Hearing: 7 Things We Learned

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

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

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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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
3:35 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
4:54 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
4:39 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
5:42 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Why Hagel? Let Us Count The Reasons

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

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

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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It's All Politics
4:00 pm
Sat January 5, 2013

What Happens When The Speaker Isn't Talking?

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

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

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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It's All Politics
6:45 am
Thu January 3, 2013

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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It's All Politics
1:27 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
3:18 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
6:10 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

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

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

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

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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