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
3:21 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Gas Exports Debate Makes Better Domestic Politics Than Geopolitics

Lawmakers and others are calling on the Obama administration to increase natural gas exports to Europe in an attempt to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his Ukraine incursion.
Alexei Nikolsky AP

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 4:35 pm

Russia's intervention in Ukraine has sparked another debate over the Obama administration's energy policy.

Russia is a major provider of natural gas to Western Europe. That's caused some U.S. policymakers — largely but not exclusively congressional Republicans — to call on the Obama administration to clear the way for increased exports of U.S. natural gas to Europe. That's a two-fer, they argue: It would diminish Russia while helping the domestic energy industry.

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It's All Politics
3:38 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

CPAC's Conservative-Libertarian Split Could Be Hard To Bridge

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., on Friday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 3:03 pm

If any two issues illustrate how difficult it could be for the part of the Republican Party represented by the social and national security conservatives to bridge their differences with libertarians, same-sex marriage and National Security Agency intelligence are good candidates

Discussions at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference got testy Friday, when libertarians defended positions out of synch with the more traditional stances that have defined the Republican Party for decades.

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It's All Politics
4:10 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Bill Clinton, Party-Builder In Chief

Former President Clinton was the one modern Democratic president who focused on building up his party, an effort he continues today.
Luke Sharrett Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 2:59 pm

President Obama may be the standard bearer of the Democratic Party, but his unpopularity in some parts of the country means there are certain places on the campaign trail where it's best for him to stay away.

Enter former President Clinton, who can go where Obama fears to tread.

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It's All Politics
12:48 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Ukraine Is The Latest Overseas Crisis To Blur DC's Partisan Lines

Though some conservatives said President Obama's alleged weakness led to Russian President Vladimir Putin's Ukraine invasion, reaction didn't follow the usual partisan lines.
Mikhail Klimentyev AP

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 1:03 pm

To the list of political issues with which we began this mid-term election year, which had the Affordable Care Act and the economy at the top, we can now add Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

But while the domestic issues divide along fairly clear blue and red lines, the political question of what the U.S. should do about Russian President Vladimir Putin's deployment of the Russian military into Ukraine's Crimea is scrambling Washington's normal partisan lines.

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It's All Politics
3:23 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Hillary Clinton's Political Acumen And Other Tidbits From New Docs

Newly released documents by the Clinton Presidential Library shed light on Hillary Clinton's time as first lady.
Mark Wilson Associated Press

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 2:56 pm

Did we learn anything new about Hillary Clinton from the documents released Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library? Was there anything that could matter if she decides to run for president?

The answer so far appears to be no. That said, there were still aspects of the documents that were singled out as interesting flashbacks to Clinton's time as first lady.

Against Individual Mandate Before She Was For It

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It's All Politics
4:54 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Clintons Provide Firepower Behind DNC 'Voter Expansion Project'

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Clinton huddle under an umbrella during inaugural ceremonies for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Richmond on Jan. 11.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 3:54 pm

Democrats believe they've discovered a way to play more offense against Republican efforts that have had the effect of making it harder for many voters — especially young, senior and minority citizens — to cast their ballots.

Their answer: a new initiative, announced by the Democratic National Committee at its winter meeting in Washington, aimed at countering voter ID and other laws and practices that can dampen voting.

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It's All Politics
10:30 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Pentagon Cuts Promise Political Pain

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel briefs reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. Hagel and President Obama will need to fight through a wall of resistance to their proposed defense budget cuts, say former members of a defense base closing commission.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:17 am

Cutting defense spending in Washington is about as popular as proposing Social Security cuts. In other words, not very.

Which explains why, following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement Monday that the Obama administration's new budget would propose shrinking the Army, closing bases and ditching weapons systems, the responses from Capitol Hill lawmakers have been some version of "over my dead body."

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It's All Politics
7:12 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

FCC Won't Ask Journalists To Explain Themselves After All

Critics told Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler his agency's proposed news media study would threaten press freedom.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 6:59 pm

It may not be in full retreat, but the Federal Communications Commission certainly seemed to be in a major strategic withdrawal from a plan that has caused a political firestorm: a study that would have asked journalists and media owners how they decide what is and isn't news.

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It's All Politics
9:51 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Obama Buoys Democrats By Dropping Social Security Cut Idea

President Obama very likely made Democrats' midterm campaign messaging easier by dropping from his new budget a proposal that would have reduced the size of Social Security checks.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 4:14 pm

For a political party already facing a difficult midterm election the way the Democrats are, the fewer internally divisive issues the better.

And few items were more divisive among Democrats than President Obama's previous proposal to reduce Social Security entitlement spending by using a less generous formula to calculate cost-of-living increases, so long as Republicans agreed to raise revenue by ending or reducing loopholes that would raise revenue.

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It's All Politics
4:40 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

How A Remote Alaska Road Became A Political Wedge Issue

The Alaska village of King Cove wants an all-weather road to the outside world. Election-year politics is complicating that wish.
AP

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 6:02 pm

Judging from an attack by one of his Republican opponents, you could easily draw the conclusion that Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska opposes a road that would serve as a lifeline to the remote Aleutian village of King Cove. But you would be wrong.

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It's All Politics
3:21 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Democrats Seek Cure For GOP Obamacare Attacks

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the House Democrats' recent retreat where much of the discussion was about countering the GOP's messaging against the Affordable Care Act.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 3:04 pm

House Democrats know they can run but can't hide from Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act.

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It's All Politics
4:51 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Rand Paul's NSA Lawsuit Helps Him Lay Claim To A Big Issue

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in front of the federal district court in Washington, where he filed his lawsuit against the Obama administration and the NSA.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 5:26 pm

By filing his lawsuit against the Obama administration, including the National Security Agency, over the intelligence agency's collection of phone call data, Sen. Rand Paul now has ownership of a major issue in a way no other potential 2016 presidential candidate can lay claim.

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It's All Politics
1:21 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Debt Ceiling Vote Relied On GOP's 'Tough Vote' Caucus

House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (left), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (right) were among the 28 Republicans whose votes made it possible for most other Republicans to vote against the debt ceiling hike.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 12:08 pm

Within the House Republican Conference, an unofficial "tough vote" caucus is taking shape.

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It's All Politics
4:03 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Debt Ceiling Standoff? Not This Time

House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republicans could give President Obama the clean debt ceiling increase he wants but not for the reasons the president wants it.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 5:27 pm

When the federal government hits its debt ceiling at the end of the month, don't expect another big red-on-blue confrontation.

The appetite in the House Republican conference for that kind of debt-defying standoff isn't what it was last fall when the nation was hit by the double whammy of the debt limit and partial federal government shutdown.

And the House GOP can't even agree on what points to negotiate with President Obama — who has said he's not willing to negotiate on the debt ceiling anyway.

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It's All Politics
3:35 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

House Republicans May Get To Immigration, Just Not Now

House Speaker John Boehner isn't necessarily walking away from an immigration law overhaul this year.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 5:31 pm

In politics, it always comes down to timing. And right now, it appears the timing just isn't right for congressional Republicans to take up an immigration overhaul.

If you read between the lines, that's what Speaker John Boehner was saying when he talked earlier in the week about how "difficult" the immigration issue is. And it's what GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell was saying when he indicated earlier in the week that he didn't see immigration overhaul happening this year at all.

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