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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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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1:15pm

Thu November 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Democrats Try To Stanch Political Bleeding From Obamacare

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 3:21 pm

President Obama speaks about his signature health care law Thursday at the White House.
Charles Dharapak AP

Among the Affordable Care Act's accomplishments is that it took the remarkable Democratic Party unity that existed during the government shutdown and smashed it to smithereens in near record time.

In sharp contrast to the image of Democrats standing shoulder to shoulder with President Obama during the recent fiscal fight, it's distance from Obama, not proximity to the president, that many Democrats are now seeking.

The problems of the HealthCare.gov site and the poor first-month enrollment numbers released Wednesday are bad enough.

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9:01am

Thu November 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Thursday Political Mix: Obamacare's Data Dump Fallout

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 10:25 am

Insurance agents in Miami, Fla. help people with information about policies that are available to them under the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 5, 2013.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

Well, the Obama administration warned us that the enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act would be low and (surprise!) they were.

Still, it's one thing to get an abstract, data-free warning, another to see actual numbers, 27,000 people enrolling for private insurance through the federal portal, 106,185 overall if you throw in the states.

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8:46am

Wed November 13, 2013
It's All Politics

Wednesday Political Mix: Obamacare IT Officials Face Issa

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 9:12 am

On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, finally got its turn to pummel the Obamacare rollout. The photo is from a Benghazi hearing in September 2013.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

Pressure continues to rise on congressional Democrats with every new story about someone whose health plan was cancelled as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

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12:42pm

Tue November 12, 2013
It's All Politics

Chris Christie's Surprising Role Model For Minority Outreach

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 4:06 pm

Ronald Reagan walks over rubble in a South Bronx lot in August 1980.
Pickoff AP

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he can teach national Republicans an important lesson: If they want to appeal to voters beyond their traditional conservative base, they need to go to where those voters are.

As he made the rounds of Sunday's Washington talk shows, Christie explained his rationale to Fox News' Chris Wallace:

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9:06am

Mon November 11, 2013
It's All Politics

Monday Political Mix: GOP To Keep Obamacare Fans On Defensive

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 9:44 am

Veterans are often found at Washington's war memorials, like the one to U.S. service members who died in Vietnam, recalling lost buddies and lost youth.
J. David Ake AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's Veteran's Day 2013. Our deepest thanks to those who've worn the nation's uniform both home and abroad and made countless sacrifices to serve it with courage and integrity.

The House returns this week from a recess. Its Republican leaders will waste little time placing Democrats on the defensive and positioning the GOP as coming to the rescue of those beleaguered individuals who have received notices that their health plans were cancelled. The GOP-controlled House plans to vote this week on the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013.

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12:59pm

Fri November 8, 2013
It's All Politics

Presidential Apologies: Regrets, They Have A Few

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 2:31 pm

President Obama walks from the White House to Marine One on Friday. In an interview Thursday with NBC News, he apologized for breaking a promise regarding the Affordable Care Act.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Now that President Obama has apologized to those who've seen their health care plans canceled due to the Affordable Care Act, losses he pledged beforehand wouldn't happen, he joins the line of modern presidents who have had to look the American people in the eye and give their regrets.

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8:59am

Thu November 7, 2013
It's All Politics

Thursday Political Mix: Obama, Insurers Need Each Other

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 4:58 pm

President Obama visited Dallas Wednesday partly to cheer up volunteers who help people enroll in Obamacare.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

The assessments of the meaning of the 2013 off-year elections continue, with both parties trying to draw lessons from Election Day's outcomes, with the likely overinterpretation of some of them, though it wasn't always clear which.

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5:13pm

Wed November 6, 2013
It's All Politics

How Long Must Rand Paul Stay In 'Detention' For Plagiarism?

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 6:16 pm

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is sorry for the plagiarized material in his speeches and op-eds. And he thinks some journalists are just plain sorry.
Jose Luis Magana AP

If you were a high-profile politician caught plagiarizing, would you:

  • A) Say something like "my bad," apologize profusely, promise to sin no more and quietly move on, hoping reporters would do likewise? Or ...
  • B) Acknowledge that mistakes were made, then lash out at the news media?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been going with the second option lately.

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8:41am

Tue November 5, 2013
It's All Politics

Tuesday Political Mix: The Young Skip Obamacare, For Now

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 8:59 am

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greets supporters on the eve of the election in a race that looks like a launchpad for a 2016 presidential run.
Mel Evans AP

Election Day 2013 is finally here, fellow political junkies!

Tuesday may be an off-year election, but that doesn't mean those whose job it is to explain the implications of elections won't attempt to wring every last bit of plausible and implausible meaning from it.

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5:43pm

Mon November 4, 2013
It's All Politics

Biden, A Man Of Many Words, Omits One At Va. Rally: 'Obama'

Vice President Biden is greeted by Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., before speaking at a backyard rally for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Monday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Anyone waiting expectantly for Vice President Biden to name check President Obama at an election eve rally Monday went away disappointed.

Besides singing the praises of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe at the Northern Virginia event, Biden mentioned Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (favorably) and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (unfavorably). He singled out McAuliffe's Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, by name. Biden even referred to his own wife and his father.

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8:40am

Mon November 4, 2013
It's All Politics

Monday Political Mix: A Congressman Comes Out

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 9:15 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

This week, the political headlines are expected to be dominated by several important off-year elections whose outcomes seem a foregone conclusion, if you believe the polls.

Democrat Terry McAulliffe in Virginia and Republican Chris Christie in New Jersey have significant polling leads in their governor's races. In New York City, Democrat and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio appears poised to win in a blowout.

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7:24pm

Fri November 1, 2013
It's All Politics

3 Lessons For Future Presidents From Obamacare's Ills

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 8:04 pm

President Obama speaks about the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday in Boston.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

The Affordable Care Act's early travails are yielding some lessons for future presidents and lawmakers. Here are three:

1) Presidents can't be too careful about making high-profile promises.
President Obama dented his credibility significantly by repeatedly promising that the Affordable Care Act would allow Americans with insurance they liked to keep those policies.

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9:01am

Fri November 1, 2013
It's All Politics

Senate Judicial Fights Become As Much About Obama As His Picks

On June 4, President Obama introduces his nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit: from right, Patricia Ann Millett, Cornelia T. L. Pillard and Robert L. Wilkins.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Senate judicial confirmation fights sure have changed over the past decade.

The battles of 2005, particularly the fights over three judges President George W. Bush nominated to federal appeals court positions, were very much about the ideology of the nominees.

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