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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3:52pm

Wed June 1, 2011
It's All Politics

Gov. Chris Christie Really Wants To Prove He's Not Running For President

Maybe people will now believe New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he insists he's not running for president.

Because probably one of the last thing any populist politician hoping to run for president would do, and Christie is nothing if not a populist, would be to fly in a state helicopter to his son's baseball game as the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

An excerpt:

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3:23pm

Wed June 1, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama, House GOP Show Each Other (And Voters) How Reasonable They Are

It was a foregone conclusion that Wednesday's White House meeting between President Obama and House Republicans would result in no forward progress in addressing the nation's fiscal issues. Presidents don't negotiate with scores of lawmakers from the other party.

But that's not to say both sides didn't get something out of it.

For Obama, it was another chance to show himself reaching across the aisle to at least talk civilly with Republicans. Independent voters essential to his re-election have repeatedly told pollsters they like him better when he does that.

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10:50am

Wed June 1, 2011
It's All Politics

As Anthony Weiner Tries To Move On Media Won't

Not a whole lot is certain about Weinergate, at least not for anyone not directly involved.

A few things do seem safe to say, however. One, Rep. Anthony Weiner's strategy of refusing to talk further about the crotch shot that was sent from his Twitter account to a college student (Weiner says his account was hacked) will only get us news media types more worked up.

Some journalists will see his refusal to answer more questions as a challenge to stay on the story, if only to show the New York Democrat and everyone else that they won't be easily dissuaded.

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5:02pm

Tue May 31, 2011
It's All Politics

Democrats Told To Vote 'No' On Debt-Ceiling Boost

Politics is not only the art of the possible; it's the art of setting traps for your opponents.

Which is why House Democrats are being told by one of their leaders to vote against the very thing many of them said they wanted.

For weeks, a number of Democrats have called for a "clean" vote on raising the $14.3 trillion debt-ceiling, a vote on legislation containing no controversial spending cuts.

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1:49pm

Tue May 31, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Chooses Ex-Utility Exec, John Bryson, For Commerce Secretary

President Obama has chosen his new Commerce secretary. He's John Bryson, former chief executive of Edison International, the large Southern California electric utility.

By choosing Bryson, 67, who sits on the boards of Boeing and Walt Disney Co., the president appears to be sending another pro-business signal to corporate America.

Should Bryson be confirmed by the Senate, he would provide the president with another administration member well-connected to the U.S. business community.

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8:19pm

Fri May 27, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney In Iowa Calls Arnold Schwarzenegger 'My Friend'

Arnold Schwarzenegger might be a little radioactive for most politicians right about now, especially in a state full of social conservatives like Iowa.

But that didn't stop Mitt Romney who was campaigning in Des Moines Friday from telling a story in which he referred to the former California governor as "my friend" and seemed completely oblivious to the actor-turned-politician's lovechild scandal.

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5:47pm

Fri May 27, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama's Autopen 'Signing' Of Patriot Act Raises Eyebrows, Has Unlikely Ally

With his real hand in Europe, President Obama authorized the use of an autopen to sign into law the Patriot Act extension.
JEWEL SAMAD AFP/Getty Images

President Obama's authorization of an aide back in Washington to use an autopen to affix the presidential signature to the bill extending the Patriot Act is is being challenged by some, including a Republican House member who sent a letter to the White House.

But the president, who was in Europe at the time, has some sound legal backing for his use of the autopen (here's what some look like) to "sign" a bill into law and from an unlikely source, the President George W. Bush's Justice Department.

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2:31pm

Fri May 27, 2011
It's All Politics

House GOP Effort To Refocus On Jobs Draws Liberal Jibes

Voters in just about every poll where the question is asked say their number one priority is jobs and the economy.

But House Republicans have gotten mired in a debate about their proposal to privatize Medicare. And other issues that have drawn a lot of attention to culture war issues, like efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, haven't exactly addressed what voters say they're mainly concerned about.

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11:33am

Fri May 27, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney Picks 'Bittersweet' Place To Announce White House Run

Mitt Romney's choice of a place called Bittersweet Farm as the site to make his campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination official next Thursday might at first strike as odd since the farm's name doesn't seem especially propitious.

But not to worry if you're a Romney supporter. The farm is apparently a popular stop for the national Republican establishment.

From Seacoastonline.com, a New Hampshire news outlet:

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9:56am

Fri May 27, 2011
It's All Politics

Consumer Finance Protection Agency Struggle Continues

Elizabeth Warren testifies before a House subcommittee, May 24, 2011.
SAUL LOEB AFP/Getty Images

For anyone who hasn't been closely following the debate over the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, NPR's Tamara Keith provided a useful review on Friday's Morning Edition of where things stand.

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6:20pm

Thu May 26, 2011
It's All Politics

Bill Clinton Retracted GOPish Debt-Ceiling Remark After White House Request

It was more than passing strange when former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday that the nation could endure a short default on its debt without a calamity ensuing.

His precise words at a fiscal summit hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation were:

"If we defaulted on the debt once for a few days, it might not be calamitous. But if people thought we were literally not going to pay our bills anymore, then they would stop buying our debt."

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4:59pm

Thu May 26, 2011
It's All Politics

Sarah Palin Bus Tour, Home Purchase, Film Fuel 2012 Speculation

Can't an Alaskan woman announce an East Coast bus tour that will take her to New Hampshire; buy a house in the lower 48, and be the subject of a new, authorized documentary without triggering all kinds of speculation that she'll soon be running for president?

Not if she's Sarah Palin.

News of all these events is generating coverage of the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee this week and causing some to ask whether she's gearing up for a presidential run. Or not.

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3:09pm

Thu May 26, 2011
It's All Politics

Paul Ryan: Time's On GOP Side On Winning Voters To Medicare Plan

Rep. Paul Ryan.
Erin Schwartz NPR

You don't get to be chairman of a major congressional committee like the House Budget Committee if you're the type to shrink from a challenge and Rep. Paul Ryan certainly doesn't appear to be that.

His current challenge, of course, is a daunting one, to convince fellow Republicans that his plan to privatize Medicare won't be as toxic to their 2012 electoral hopes as Democrats gleefully insist it will be, especially if they have anything to say about it.

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4:41pm

Tue May 24, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Turns Back Hands Of Time In Westminster Abbey

Well, at least President Obama got the day right.
JOHN STILLWELL AFP/Getty Images

It looks like we have a textbook case of presidential brain fade.

In signing the guest book at Westminster Abbey during his state visit to Great Britain, President Obama dated his message "24 May 2008."

Now, most of us have had the experience of writing the prior year's date when writing a check? But being a whole three years off? That's a little different.

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2:54pm

Tue May 24, 2011
It's All Politics

If Democrat Wins New York Special Election, It May Not Portend Much

Originally published on Tue May 24, 2011 4:52 pm

Republican Jane Corwin votes in Clarence, N.Y., Tuesday, May 24, 2011.
David Duprey AP

Here's hoping that by this time Wednesday we'll all know the winner of the special election to fill the vacancy in New York's 26th Congressional District.

The polls close at 9 pm Tuesday so it could be a long night in a race that is being seen by many as a referendum on the House GOP proposal to privatize Medicare.

Recent polls have given Democrat Kathleen Hochul a small lead over Republican Jane Corwin in the district that's been reliably Republican.

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11:13pm

Mon May 23, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama's Ireland Trip A Reminder Of His White Family

President Obama admires an Irish toddler to the delight of the crowd.
AFP/Getty Images

It would be a mistake to read too much into President Obama's trip to Ireland Monday.

Then again, it would be also be wrong to ignore entirely some of the ways in which it could prove useful to the president.

The long-standing ties between the U.S. and Ireland and the tens of millions of Americans with Irish ties would be enough of a reason for a presidential visit.

But the president's own genealogical link to Ireland certainly comes in very handy.

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5:07pm

Mon May 23, 2011
It's All Politics

Herman Cain Wasn't Able On Palestinian Right Of Return Question

Remember when Sarah Palin got stumped look when then-ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson asked her in September 2008 if she believed in the Bush doctrine?

On Fox News Sunday with host Chris Wallace, Herman Cain, the former head of Godfather's Pizza who's running for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, got that look, too.

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5:32pm

Fri May 20, 2011
It's All Politics

Tim Pawlenty To Announce Presidential Campaign Monday

Tim Pawlenty in Iowa at the Fayette County Republican Party Spring Fundraiser, April 2, 2011.
Martin Kaste NPR

As he prepares for his big announcement Monday that he is officially entering the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Tim Pawlenty can take comfort in knowing he has higher name recognition than, say, Mitch Daniels though he's essentially tied with Rick Santorum.

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1:11pm

Fri May 20, 2011
It's All Politics

Truce After Goodwin Liu's Failed Nomination To U.S. Court? Unlikely

While the ashes still smolder from President Obama's failed nomination of Goodwin Liu for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it's probably worth asking, how can the Senate get past the cycle of retribution that makes it resemble the Appalachian feud the Hatfield and McCoys?

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5:24pm

Thu May 19, 2011
It's All Politics

Huntsman's NH Schedule Reminds Some Of McCain

At the risk of hurting Jon Huntsman's chances at the Republican presidential nomination (some conservatives are leery of him in part because of his growing mentions in the mainstream media), let me recommend a piece by NPR's Liz Halloran on his visit to New Hampshire.

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3:39pm

Thu May 19, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama's Mideast Speech Mindful Of U.S. Politics, Too

While much of President Obama's speech about U.S. foreign policy after the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa was aimed at an international audience, he also spoke for domestic consumption as well, of course.

And because the 2012 presidential election campaign is underway, how the speech might play out in that context is worth taking a few minutes to ponder.

To give his domestic listeners a framework they could readily relate to, Obama likened the street protests that have characterized the Arab Spring to evocative touchpoints in American history.

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12:49pm

Thu May 19, 2011
It's All Politics

Debt Ceiling Crisis Could Require Obama, Congress To Buck Polls Once More

While policy makers in Washington and financial centers like New York and London and plain old policy wonks worry about when and even if the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt ceiling will be raised, a lot of U.S. voters apparently couldn't care less or are hostile to the idea.

Politico.com examines how House Republicans aren't hearing much in the way of concern from voters in their districts about the debt limit.

An excerpt:

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6:02pm

Wed May 18, 2011
It's All Politics

Huntsman's Trust In Global-Warming Science Leaves Conservatives Cold

A recent interview with Jon Huntsman in Time Magazine has underscored for some conservatives the concerns they have with former Utah governor, that he is, as some Republicans would say, a RINO.

He already was giving them the blues because he, until recently, served in the Obama administration as U.S. ambassador to China.

Huntsman told Time's Melinda Hennenberger that he accepted the science on climate change.

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3:44pm

Wed May 18, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Campaign T-Shirts Mock Birthers

https://donate.barackobama.com/

How best to marginalize an already dwindling conspiracy movement and raise some campaign cash at the same time?

President Obama's re-election campaign has at least one answer. For a campaign donation of at least $25, it's offering a limited edition t-shirt that pokes fun at the birther controversy.

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1:05pm

Wed May 18, 2011
It's All Politics

McCain Aide Has One Word For Santorum On Enhanced Interrogation

"Who?"

That was the one-word diss by an aide to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who was asked by the Washington Post's Greg Sargeant to respond to a comment by Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, to the effect that McCain "doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works."

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12:03pm

Wed May 18, 2011
It's All Politics

Senate Gang Problem Strikes Again As Coburn Walks Away

You just knew someone was going to see the obvious Twitter possibilities in the news that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), he of the John Ensign sex scandal, was leaving the bipartisan "gang of six" group of senators trying to achieve a grand bargain to narrow the nation's deficits and debt.

Here's one getting some attention:

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10:46am

Wed May 18, 2011
It's All Politics

Newt Gingrich May Have Set Political-Obit Speed Record

It's a week since Newt Gingrich launched his presidential campaign and already his political obituaries are springing up all over the place like the dandelions in my yard.

That the obituaries are happening isn't a surprise, mind you. Gingrich wasn't exactly a frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He was already a candidate with issues, to put it politely, before his most recent gaffe.

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6:29pm

Tue May 17, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney, GOP Money Magnet

Mitt Romney may have trouble convincing many Republicans that there's much of a difference between the health care individual mandate he signed into law as Massachusetts' governor and the federal one.

But when it comes to his still-not-officially-announced presidential campaign persuading people to give money is clearly not an issue.

As NPR's Peter Overby reported for the network's newscast, Romney raised serious money Monday:

The Romney organization says it rounded up some 800 supporters for a 9-to-5 workday of making phone calls.

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5:34pm

Tue May 17, 2011
It's All Politics

Revenues Up In Some States But Don't Pop Champagne Corks Yet

Not much in the way of good news has come out of state capitals in recent years, with most states struggling with deficits, layoffs and cuts to essential services.

So the spate of good budget news is definitely worth nothing. This week word came that tax revenues were significantly higher than expected in several large states — California, Michigan and New Jersey.

New York earlier forecast it would take in $2 billion more than it anticipated.

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11:10am

Tue May 17, 2011
It's All Politics

Reports: Paul Ryan Won't Attempt Senate Run, Tommy Thompson Will

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican from Wisconsin most identified with the controversial GOP proposal to revamp Medicare, has decided against running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl, according to news reports Tuesday morning.

It's also being reported that Tommy Thompson, 69, the Republican former Wisconsin governor and George W. Bush Administration cabinet member plans to run for the seat.

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