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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4:35pm

Fri April 15, 2011
It's All Politics

Donald Trump, Birther In Chief? Poll Has Him Leading GOP Field With 26 Percent

We journalist types should be lavishing less attention on Donald Trump and greater attention on more substantial people who are likely to win the Republican nomination.

At least, so says Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic who, arguing that journalists should pay more attention to candidates of political substance, recently wrote:

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3:34pm

Fri April 15, 2011
It's All Politics

House GOP Hangs Together (Democrats, Too) On 2012 Budget Vote

A day after scores of House Republicans abandoned their leadership on a floor vote on the spending bill that avoided a partial government shutdown, they held their ranks Friday in what some saw as an even bigger test of House Speaker Boehner's ability to maintain party discipline.

With only four defections, Republicans voted solidly for Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget proposal which would privatize Medicare and turn Medicaid into a block grant program to the states.

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11:56am

Fri April 15, 2011
It's All Politics

Arizona Becomes First State To Pass Birther Bill

Arizona continues to lead where so far few other states appear willing to follow.

The state's House of Representatives passed by a wide margin a birther bill Thursday requiring presidential candidates to provide proof they were born in the U.S., becoming the first state to do so. The bill now awaits Gov. Jan Brewer's signature.

It's unclear whether she will sign it, veto it or just let it sit on her desk, in which case it would become law after five days.

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7:43pm

Thu April 14, 2011
It's All Politics

Rep. Ryan Defends GOP Proposals For Medicare, Tax Rate Cuts In NPR Interview

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the 2012 budget plan that would, among other things, privatize Medicare, defended his proposal on All Things Considered Thursday.

Much of the interview with NPR host Robert Siegel centered on the Medicare plan which would radically change the program from a single-payer approach.

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3:34pm

Thu April 14, 2011
It's All Politics

Nancy Pelosi. Remember Her?

You really don't hear much about Rep. Nancy Pelosi these days. Which is really saying something since as House Speaker just a year ago she was seemingly at the center of everything.

Including the health-care law which might not have happened had it not been for her skillfully navigating one of the most ambitious and controversial pieces of the legislation in modern memory past potent opposition.

Now the first woman speaker in history is an afterthought. Or maybe worse.

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11:46am

Thu April 14, 2011
It's All Politics

How Washington Turned $38 Billion Into $352 Million

This will be old news to people who closely follow congressional reporting closely since it was initially reported Wednesday but maybe there are a few people out there who still haven't heard that Washington has taken $38 billion and turned it into $352 million.

No, it's not that some federal worker invested in a Ponzi scheme. The $38 billion is the amount of money cut from 2011 federal spending as part of the agreement that averted a government shutdown.

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1:01pm

Wed April 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Nation Not Out Of Government Shutdown Woods Yet

In case you thought the risk of a government shutdown was past, think again.

NPR's David Welna reports that there's some anxiety on Capitol Hill that there could be a government shutdown if the latest stopgap expires and the compromise legislation to fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2011 doesn't pass beforehand.

As David put it in a note to some of us:

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11:43am

Wed April 13, 2011
It's All Politics

Rep. Tim Scott: Planned Parenthood Was Valid Target On Spending Grounds

In a Morning Edition interview by host Steve Inskeep of Rep. Tim Scott, a freshman South Carolina Republican, the congressman used an interesting rhetorical tactic, one he is certainly not alone in using; he redefined abortion from being a social issue to a spending issue.

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4:42pm

Tue April 12, 2011
It's All Politics

Slavery, Not States' Rights, Caused Civil War Whose Political Effects Linger

It's the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War when Southerners fired on the union redoubt of Ft. Sumter in Charleston, SC's harbor.

If one of William Faulkner's most famous lines ever applied to anything — "The past is never dead. It's not even past." — it is the Civil War.

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6:21pm

Mon April 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney Takes Key Step Toward Presidential Run

Mitt Romney drew one step closer Monday toward the full-bore announcement that he's again running for the Republican presidential nomination by announcing he has formed an exploratory committee.

On Twitter Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said:

"I am announcing my Exploratory Committee for President of the United States."

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3:33pm

Mon April 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Poll: Obama, Democrats Get More Credit Than GOP For Dodging Shutdown

More people are crediting President Obama and congressional Democrats for avoiding the partial shutdown of the federal government than they do Republicans, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll.

The survey done over the weekend found 48 percent saying Obama and Democrats deserved more of the credit for resolving the impasse while 35 percent gave Republicans the greater share of the credit.

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1:32pm

Mon April 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Waited For GOP To Reveal Deficit-Reduction Hand Before Showing His

President Obama, now scheduled to give a major speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University on deficit reduction, has been criticized for arriving so late to this particular fiscal-responsibility party.

As has been widely noted, the president didn't fully embrace the results of his Simpson-Bowles fiscal reform commission which in December recommended a series of spending cuts, including reforms of both entitlements and taxes, to reduce the nation's deficits.

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1:17am

Sat April 9, 2011
It's All Politics

Deal Averting Shutdown Proves Compromise Is Alive, If Not Well

Reports of the death of compromise in Washington are greatly exaggerated.

That's one important message from the 11th-hour agreement that averted a partial shutdown of the federal government Friday night.

"No compromise" has been the rallying cry of the Tea Party movement. Some Republican lawmakers have echoed that.

But the agreement reached Friday was the epitome of compromise. Republicans had come into the negotiations demanding $61 billion in spending cuts from the remainder of fiscal year 2011 which ends in September.

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5:02pm

Fri April 8, 2011
It's All Politics

Is Shutdown Impasse Over Spending Cuts Or Family Planning? Actually, Both

Anyone who's been watching the dueling Capitol Hill press conferences Friday heard seemingly conflicting reasons for the impasse given by Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

House Speaker John Boehner indicated that the disagreements between the parties over policy riders on the spending legislation being negotiated were mostly resolved and that the remaining issue was the size of the cuts.

Senate Majority Reid, however, said there was agreement on the spending cuts but that the disagreement boiled down to a proposed GOP policy rider on Planned Parenthood.

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1:02pm

Fri April 8, 2011
It's All Politics

In Shutdown Showdown, Who Gets To Be James Dean?

The spending fight between Republicans and Democrats in the nation's capital that could result in the government partly shutting down midnight Friday has been described in recent days as a game of chicken.

Which got me thinking of the famous "chickie run" scene from "Rebel Without a Cause" featuring James Dean, Natalie Wood and Corey Allen.

In that scene, Allen's character Buzz winds up losing the game of chicken in the worst possible way, by driving over a seaside cliff.

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11:45am

Fri April 8, 2011
It's All Politics

Planned Parenthood: Budget Fight About Us, Not Abortion Funding

Many journalists have reported that a major hitch in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over funding the federal government for the rest of the year comes down to a fight over abortion funding.

But Planned Parenthood has issued urgent messages to journalists, asking us be more careful about saying the spending fight is about money for abortion since, as the organization points out, it's against federal law for U.S. taxpayer dollars to be used for abortions except in certain emergency situations, like the life of the mother.

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11:03pm

Thu April 7, 2011
It's All Politics

Wisconsin Supreme Ct Shocker: Error Fix Gives GOP Judge Big Lead

Wisconsin used to be such a predictably stolid Midwestern state. Now it may as well be Florida.

When I previously wrote, on Wednesday, about the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, JoAnne Kloppenberg, the Democratic challenger to Justice David Prosser, a Republican, had declared victory in the nationally watched race after gaining a lead of 204 votes.

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5:53pm

Thu April 7, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Childhood Friend Arrested In Hawaii On Prostitution Charges

As if President Obama doesn't have enough on his mind currently, a close friend in Hawaii whom the president has golfed with and whose home he visited as recently as January when he was back in the Aloha State for the holidays, was arrested earlier in the week for allegedly soliciting a prostitute.

Robert Richard Titcomb, a childhood friend of the president's, was picked up by Honolulu police as part of an undercover sting.

From Hawaii News Now:

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1:35pm

Thu April 7, 2011
It's All Politics

Speaker Boehner Says 'No Daylight' Between Him And Tea Party

Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid have charged that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would make a deal with them over federal spending for the remainder of the fiscal year if not for pressure from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.

So it was interesting to hear Boehner's response to a question based on that charge that ABC News' George Stephanopoulos put to the speaker in an interview.

The relevant exchange:

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11:53am

Thu April 7, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Calls Boehner, Reid Back To White House To Try Averting Shutdown

In the game of chicken (or is it Russian roulette?) that could have as its outcome a partial shutdown of the federal government, President Obama has invited Congress' two top leaders — Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) back to the White House for more negotiations early Thursday afternoon.

The two will return to the White House a little more than 12 hours after they left it without reaching any agreement to bridge the gap between the Democratic and Republican positions.

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6:59pm

Wed April 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Democrat In Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Claims Victory

A 204 vote lead may not be much when nearly 1.5 million people cast votes.

But it was enough for the Democratic candidate in a nationally watched contest for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat to declare victory after all precincts were finally counted Wednesday.

JoAnne Kloppenberg, an assistant attorney, claimed victory in her race against Republican incumbent Justice David Prosser that was partly seen as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker.

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6:49pm

Wed April 6, 2011
It's All Politics

GOP Strategist Offers NPR Messaging Advice

You wouldn't necessarily expect a Republican messaging strategist to give NPR talking points to defend itself against the House Republican effort to defund the public radio network.

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5:59pm

Wed April 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama, Harry Reid, John Boehner To Meet At White House Late Wednesday

In yet another attempt to avert a partial shutdown of the federal government that could could start as early as Saturday, President Obama has invited Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to the White House for a Wednesday evening meeting to try and reach a spending deal.

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3:25pm

Wed April 6, 2011
It's All Politics

So Much For The 'Dump Biden' Movement

In case anyone still harbors the hope that President Obama will, in his bid for re-election, ditch Vice President Biden despite the president in the past giving every indication that he won't, NPR's Peter Overby sends this note:

So much for the Dump Biden movement. Obama's statement of candidacy, filed Monday at the FEC, includes both Obama & Biden on the candidate line. And both [electronically] signed it.

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3:00pm

Wed April 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Shutdown's Collateral Damage - Military Paychecks; Home Loans

Maybe the Obama Administration is trying to scare Americans into pressuring House Republicans reach a budget deal for the rest of the year by outlining the potential affects of a government shutdown.

If that's the case, they've picked some truly effective examples.

One that leaps out immediately. Members of the U.S. armed services would not receive paychecks.

Servicemembers would still be credited for the pay due which they would receive in future checks. But they wouldn't be paid during the time of the shutdown.

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7:16pm

Tue March 29, 2011
It's All Politics

Congress' Lawmakers Raising Oodles Of Cash For Redistricting Efforts

Many people probably don't realize that members of Congress can raise unlimited cash for state redistricting efforts.

I know I didn't. Somehow I missed the Federal Elections Commission opinion issued nearly a year ago that members of Congress can raise unregulated cash for this purpose.

The FEC reasoned that since the money wasn't being raised for elections, it didn't fall under federal campaign money limits.

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5:00pm

Tue March 29, 2011
It's All Politics

Scholar: Economic Losers Embracing Conservatism

Richard Florida, a thinker who ponders many subjects, including demographic trends, makes a fascinating if controversial observation. Conservative states seem to be becoming even more so. And that seems to be linked to growing conservatism among Americans in those states at the relatively lower end of the income ladder.

He writes in a blog post on The Atlantic web site:

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5:55pm

Mon March 28, 2011
It's All Politics

Democrats Put GOP On Social Security Notice As Shutdown Looms

There are just two weeks left before the latest temporary spending legislation under which the federal government is now operating ends and Democrats and Republicans seem no closer to an agreement on a budget for the rest of the year than before.

The latest news reports suggest that the odds of a government shutdown have risen significantly even though both sides have said such a disruption of government services is the last thing they want to happen.

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7:16pm

Fri March 25, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Will Speak To Nation On Libya Monday Evening

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike, as well as journalists, have asked White House officials: why doesn't President Obama address the nation about Libya?

The president has heard those calls. The White House said late Friday Obama will speak Monday evening.

Their news release:

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6:48pm

Fri March 25, 2011
It's All Politics

Gov. Haley Barbour Defends Use Of State Jet

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has been drawing heavy criticism for his frequent flights to political events on his state's Cessna Citation jet.

Barbour and his aides have defended the Republican governor who's considering a presidential run by saying that he's conducting the state's business on these trips.

And Barbour defended himself more Friday by telling an Associated Press reporter he's not doing anything much differently than his Democratic predecessor in the Magnolia State's governor's mansion.

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