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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6:02pm

Mon December 16, 2013
It's All Politics

New Year Likely To Ring In Old Debt Ceiling Fight

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:00 pm

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (right), accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, takes reporters' questions during a Dec. 11 news conference.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

At the moment, Washington fiscal policy is a good news, bad news story.

The good news is that the budget agreement, overwhelmingly passed by the House last week in a bipartisan vote, is likely to be approved by the Senate this week. That takes another costly government shutdown off the table.

The bad news? Another debt ceiling fight, with all the attendant risks of a U.S. government default, appears to be right around the corner.

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6:18pm

Thu December 12, 2013
It's All Politics

Boehner Blasts Tea Party Groups Over Budget Deal Criticism

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise during a Thursday news conference on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Some moments feel like turning points. Speaker John Boehner's rhetorical takedown of his party's Tea Party faction seems like one such moment.

For two days running, Boehner, R-Ohio, has made clear that he's heard just about enough from conservative advocacy groups such as the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks.

On Wednesday, he called them "ridiculous." On Thursday, he said "they've lost all credibility."

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1:41pm

Wed December 11, 2013
It's All Politics

6 Things Missing From The Budget Agreement

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 3:46 pm

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., walk to announce a tentative agreement Tuesday between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The essence of the budget deal reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is better understood by looking at what's missing, rather than what's included in it.

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6:09pm

Mon December 9, 2013
It's All Politics

Senate GOP Could Taste Sweet Revenge In Supreme Court Case

Miguel Estrada, whose 2002 nomination to a federal judgeship was filibustered by Senate Democrats, will represent Senate Republicans in their recess appointments case against President Obama.
Kiichiro Sato AP

If revenge is a dish best served cold, in Washington it can also be served with a heaping side of irony.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to Sen. Mitch McConnell's request to let Senate Republicans participate in the high-profile case Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board.

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5:27am

Sat December 7, 2013
It's All Politics

How Mandela Expanded The Art Of The Possible

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 11:35 am

President-elect Nelson Mandela and President F.W. de Klerk outside the South African Parliament in Cape Town, May 9, 1994.
Frank James

When I was coming of age in the late 1970s, as an African-American high-schooler and college student, I had two certainties: Nelson Mandela would die in prison in apartheid South Africa and no black person would become U.S. president in my lifetime.

So much for my youthful powers of prediction.

Little could I have known then that I would become a journalist who would one day get to cover events I once thought would never happen, at least not during my time on Earth.

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5:22pm

Thu December 5, 2013
It's All Politics

For Biden, All The World's A Stage For Possible 2016 Run

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 6:27 pm

Vice President Biden chats with his Chinese counterpart Li Yuanchao before heading to their luncheon at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Thursday.
Andy Wong AP

Vice President Biden hasn't announced his 2016 presidential plans. It's far too early for that; we haven't even hit the first anniversary of President Obama's second inaugural, after all.

But as Biden traveled this week to Japan, China and South Korea where he met top leaders, he certainly gave the impression of a man doing a full dress rehearsal for the presidency.

Of course, if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, rehearsing for the presidency may be as close as Biden gets to the Democratic nomination.

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6:44pm

Tue December 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Lawmakers In Name Only? Congress Reaches Productivity Lows

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:00 pm

Speaker John Boehner told reporters Tuesday that if a productivity problem existed in Congress, it was in the Senate, not his House.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Here's a variation of the does-a-falling-tree-make-a-sound-if-no-one-hears-it riddle: Can the House be considered productive if it passes bills the Senate won't ever take up and the president won't ever sign?

According to Speaker John Boehner, the answer is yes — the House can be judged as very productive under such circumstances.

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3:10pm

Mon December 2, 2013
It's All Politics

A Poorly Worded RNC Tweet On Rosa Parks Backfires

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 6:06 pm

Schoolchildren tour the bus that civil rights icon Rosa Parks made famous when she refused to give up her seat.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.

Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.

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2:38pm

Wed November 27, 2013
It's All Politics

Conservative Groups Would Take Hit From New IRS Rules

Conservatives have criticized the new Internal Revenue Service rules for political dark money as an Obama administration attempt to gain political advantage.
Susan Walsh AP

The new U.S. Treasury/Internal Revenue Service rules aimed at clarifying what constitutes political activity for tax-exempt "social welfare" organizations are likely to give more heartburn to conservative groups than their liberal counterparts.

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6:50pm

Tue November 26, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama Helps 2014 Democrats One Way He Still Can — With Cash

Marine One, with President Obama aboard, lands at a Los Angeles park on Monday as part of Obama's three-day West Coast trip that combined fundraising and official business.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Should President Obama be as unpopular once the 2014 midterm campaign is in full swing as he is now, there are likely to be more than a few vulnerable Democrats who'd prefer that he stay as far away from their districts as possible.

But the money he's raising for their campaigns is an entirely different matter.

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4:30pm

Mon November 25, 2013
It's All Politics

5 Ways The Iran Nuclear Deal Collides With U.S. Politics

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 8:49 am

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shake hands Sunday at the United Nations Palais in Geneva.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The historic nuclear deal with Iran marks the first time in three decades that the Persian nation has agreed to slow its work toward a nuclear weapon and allow international monitors in to verify.

It's a significant accomplishment, but the accord is about to become entangled in U.S. politics for months to come, complicating the pact's future on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here are five reasons why:

1. President Obama's Credibility

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5:05pm

Fri November 22, 2013
It's All Politics

5 Ways JFK Still Influences Presidential Politics

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 6:06 pm

Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy showed some of the charisma that powered his presidential bid as he greeted college students in Charleston, W.Va., in April 1960.
AP

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death in Dallas is a time when much attention is aptly focused on the abrupt and tragic end to his presidency.

But it's also a moment to consider the beginning of JFK's presidential story, since he redefined the art of campaigning for the White House.

Here are five ways Kennedy's influence is still being felt in presidential politics:

1. The Self-Selected Candidate

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12:07pm

Wed November 20, 2013
It's All Politics

Education Secretary Loses Some Of His Luster

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 1:45 pm

Education Secretary Arne Duncan tours a Wheeling, Ill., high school nanotechnology lab on Oct. 24.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

If Americans know Education Secretary Arne Duncan for anything at this point, it would be as that guy who claimed last week that opposition to the Common Core national K-12 educational standards sprang from "white suburban moms" who feared that tougher requirements would reveal their children to be as not "brilliant" as they thought.

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8:27am

Mon November 18, 2013
It's All Politics

Monday Political Mix: Bitcoins In Congress' Spotlight

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 9:15 am

Bitcoins have gone from an Internet oddity to much more and Congress wants to understand them and other virtual currencies better.
Rick Bowmer AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

This week contains major anniversaries of events that involved the first and last presidents killed in office, a tragic link captured in a famous newspaper editorial cartoon. Friday is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

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5:54pm

Fri November 15, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama And Health Insurers Eye Each Other Warily

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:14 pm

President Obama makes a statement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday, before the start of a meeting with representatives of health insurance companies. The president said he brought health insurance CEOs to the White House to brainstorm ways to make sure Americans know what their coverage options are under the law.
Evan Vucci AP

In "The Defiant Ones," a classic film directed by Stanley Kramer, two escapees from a Southern chain gang hated each other but were handcuffed together, meaning they could survive only by working together.

Which is pretty much a metaphor for where President Obama and insurance company executives have found themselves all along with the Affordable Care Act.

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