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.

Both parties are sounding confident right now about their midterm election prospects, but only one can be right. As it stands now, Republicans clearly have more reason for optimism.

On their side, Republicans have history and a current political environment in which the Republican base looks to be more excited about the coming election than Democrats.

Meanwhile, voters are consistently telling pollsters that they're dissatisfied with the nation's direction, which usually portends bad news for the party holding the White House.

If kicking the can down the road were a competitive sport, the championship trophy would never leave Washington.

When the need to make a difficult choice collides with an unyielding deadline, the tendency in a city where partisan gridlock is the norm is to put the tough decisions off for another day.

And the winner of the debate between Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue, both vying in a runoff to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Georgia, was — Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn.

If you have some time over the weekend or need a break from the endless LeBron James coverage, you could peruse the highly readable opinion by a Florida judge who invalidated some of the redistricting efforts by the state's Republican Legislature.

Six years into his administration, President Obama has apparently not given up on the "hope" that was a major theme of his first run for president.

What else but undying optimism could explain the president's hope for the Texas congressional delegation expressed in his visit to their state this week?

Much of President Obama's presidency currently falls into the category of damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

That certainly is true on the question of whether he should visit the U.S.-Mexico border during his two-day visit to Texas.

Here are two rules of American politics: Never let an opponent's attacks go unanswered, and if you're running in the South and have a good reason to be pictured holding a Bible, go for it.

The first is a long-standing rule. The second is hard to argue with.

It's been 13 days since Sen. Thad Cochran, by most accounts, won Mississippi's Republican primary over Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, with African-American Democrats largely providing the 6,800-vote margin of victory out of some 375,000 votes cast.

But as of Monday, McDaniel still hadn't conceded, and your guess is as good as anyone's as to when — or even if — he ever will.

For the typical Democrat running in 2014, frequent condemnation of the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby decision is a no-brainer as a rallying cry to raise money and energize voters — especially women.

Monday's ruling allows family-owned and other closely held companies to opt out of the federal health law's contraception mandate if they have religious objections.

Congressional approval ratings are at rock bottom. Why would members pull a stunt likely to make them even more unpopular than they already are?

President Obama's tough predicament on immigration is only getting worse.

He certainly didn't want to be dealing with an influx of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S. across the Southern border, overwhelming the Homeland Security Department's ability to deal with them during a critical midterm election year.

There might not be much legislation traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue for President Obama to sign, but there's plenty of back and forth over the president's use of executive power to act when Congress doesn't.

Week's end found Obama dismissing a lawsuit threatened by Speaker John Boehner, who alleges the president is violating the Constitution by exercising this often controversial power.

Following up on its recent report on the ever-widening ideological gulf between Americans, the Pew Research Center unveiled its latest sorting of voters into categories based, in part, on the relative strength or weakness of their partisan attachments.

The Export-Import Bank, created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934 to boost U.S. exports during the Great Depression, needs its charter to be reauthorized by September's end if it is to continue providing loans to U.S. exporters and overseas companies.

The bank has the support of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, so it sounds like an easy vote.

But Cantor was recently defeated in his primary by David Brat, the libertarian college professor who portrayed the soon-to-be-ex-majority leader as a shameless tool of big business.

It's a rich irony that on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders risking life and limb in Mississippi to help African-Americans register to vote, black Democrats may decide which Republican wins Tuesday's runoff for the GOP Senate nomination.

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