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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6:09pm

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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6:27pm

Thu December 5, 2013
It's All Politics

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

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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6:39pm

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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2:31pm

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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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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4:19pm

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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1:45pm

Wed November 20, 2013
It's All Politics

Education Secretary Loses Some Of His Luster

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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8:14am

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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8:50am

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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9:12am

Wed November 13, 2013
It's All Politics

Wednesday Political Mix: Obamacare IT Officials Face Issa

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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8:45am

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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12:52am

Wed November 6, 2013
It's All Politics

Gov. Chris Christie Wins Re-Election In N.J.

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 11:16 pm

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with wife, Mary Pat Christie, after they voted.
Mel Evans AP

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won re-election to a second term.

The Associated Press projected Christie, a Republican, the winner over Democrat Barbara Buono shortly after the polls closed in New Jersey at 8 pm ET.

While a big win by Christie was expected for months with polls showing him with a commanding lead, the victory nevertheless provides a springboard for a potential 2016 presidential run.

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12:52am

Wed November 6, 2013
It's All Politics

Bill De Blasio Wins New York City Mayoral Election

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 11:17 pm

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio with his daughter Chiara and son Dante as he talks to the media in Brooklyn after voting, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
Mark Lennihan AP

Democrat Bill de Blasio won the New York City mayor's race, defeating Republican Joseph Lhota. He became the first Democrat to win the office since 1989.

The Associated Press declared de Blasio the winner about 45 minutes after the city's polls closed at 9 pm ET. De Blasio had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in polls heading into Election Day.

The election of de Blasio, an unabashed liberal, marked a definitive end of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg era.

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12:52am

Wed November 6, 2013
It's All Politics

Democrat Terry McAuliffe Wins Virginia Governor's Race

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 2:27 am

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe leaves Spring Hill Elementary School after voting, accompanied by his daughter Mary and wife Dorothy.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the hotly contested Virginia governor's race, defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who was supported by the Tea Party.

The race turned out to be far closer than polls heading into Election Day indicated. That suggested that voter turnout may have failed to reach the levels Democrats had hoped to achieve and that the Affordable Care Act may have hurt the Democratic effort.

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12:51am

Wed November 6, 2013
It's All Politics

In Alabama, Big Business Beats The Tea Party In A GOP House Race

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 11:44 pm

Bradley Byrne won the GOP nomination in Alabama's 1st Congressional District.
Phillip Rawls AP

The battle between the business and Tea Party wings of the Republican Party for Alabama's 1st Congressional District was won by Bradley Byrne, the choice of Chamber of Commerce types.

Byrne defeated Dean Young in the primary election Tuesday, getting 53 percent of the vote versus 47 percent for Young. Winning the GOP primary in the reliably Republican district is seen as tantamount to winning the special election.

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6:50pm

Tue October 15, 2013
It's All Politics

Shutdown Diary: Hope Turns Into Wall Street Warning

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 7:07 pm

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, walks to a GOP meeting Tuesday.
Evan Vucci AP

Day 15 of the government shutdown started with as much promise as any recently: There was a bipartisan proposal by Senate leaders to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

But any hopes were quickly dashed when leaders of the Republican-controlled House said they would offer a competing proposal because of their dissatisfaction with the Senate effort.

The Senate's Bipartisan Proposal

The Senate agreement between Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came after weekend negotiations.

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8:31am

Fri October 11, 2013
It's All Politics

Friday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 9:05 am

House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, took steps to talk with Democrats with the goal of ending the fiscal impasse.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Happy Friday, fellow political junkies. It's the 11th day of the partial federal government shutdown, 2013 edition.

President Obama and House Republicans at least opened a line of communications before the second week of the shutdown ended, so that was good news.

Less positive was that it came only a week before the Oct. 17 expiration date Treasury Secretary Jack Lew gave for when he would run out of tricks to keep the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations.

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6:19pm

Thu October 10, 2013
It's All Politics

Shutdown Diary: Boehner Offers Debt Limit Deal

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 7:33 pm

House Speaker John Boehner shows his softer side Thursday before resuming his tough guy role in the fiscal fight.
Evan Vucci AP

Day 10 of the partial government shutdown brought a flurry of excitement — enough to get Wall Street's animal spirits going as investors were optimistic that the U.S. might avoid a default.

Unfortunately, furloughed federal workers who don't know when they'll be paid next weren't as sanguine. The day's highlights:

Boehner's Proposal

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8:51am

Thu October 10, 2013
It's All Politics

Thursday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 9:02 am

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and a sign of the times.
Evan Vucci AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies. It's Day 10 of the federal government's partial shutdown. And while it's a dreary, rainy day in Washington, there did appear to be more glimmers of hope this morning than in recent days.

Today's theme is movement, as in, there seem to be some tentative steps towards resolving the current fiscal impasse as President Obama and House Republicans are scheduled to meet at the White House later Thursday.

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6:34pm

Wed October 9, 2013
It's All Politics

Shutdown Diary: Paul Ryan's Plan Gets Tea Party Pushback

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 7:13 pm

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., offered a path forward in the fiscal stalemate, but Tea Party hard-liners weren't impressed.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Are House Republicans still seeking Democratic concessions on the Affordable Care Act? Or have they switched their sights to even bigger targets: federal spending on entitlements like Medicare and Social Security?

The answer on Wednesday depended on which Republican you asked.

Paul Ryan's Pitch

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7:15am

Wed October 9, 2013
It's All Politics

Wednesday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 8:18 am

President Obama gets some support outside the White House, Oct. 8, 2013.
JEWEL SAMAD AFP/Getty Images

Good morning, fellow political junkies. It's Day 9 of the partial federal government shutdown. Global financial markets at this point still appear to expect sanity to eventually prevail in the Washington fiscal standoff. We'll have to see if they're right.

The day's big news is expected to be President Obama's choice to head the Federal Reserve of the candidate thought to be his second choice since his first proved politically problematic.

Here are some of the more interesting politically related items that caught my eye this morning.

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6:41pm

Tue October 8, 2013
It's All Politics

Shutdown Diary: Obama Takes On The Default Deniers

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:30 pm

At a Tuesday news conference, President Obama underscored Democrats' refusal to negotiate with Republicans on bills to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Charles Dharapak AP

On Day 8 of the federal government's partial shutdown, President Obama called House Speaker John Boehner. But the morning phone call produced no movement toward resolution, according to readouts by aides to both men.

Here are some of Tuesday's news highlights:

President Obama

Obama gave his first lengthy press conference since early August, answering questions for more than an hour.

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4:56pm

Tue October 8, 2013
It's All Politics

House GOP's Latest Idea: A Fiscal Supercommittee, Sort Of

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) at the hearing where he discussed his bill to create a bipartisan committee to tackle fiscal issues.
C-SPAN screen shot

The latest House GOP gambit in the fiscal fight is ... wait for it ... a supercommittee.

But Republicans aren't calling it a supercommittee since that's the term for the failed panel that brought us the the sequester.

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