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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It's All Politics
5:58 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Monday Political Mix: A Congressman Comes Out

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 6:15 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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It's All Politics
4:24 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

3 Lessons For Future Presidents From Obamacare's Ills

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

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:04 pm

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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It's All Politics
6:01 am
Fri November 1, 2013

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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It's All Politics
5:34 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Friday Political Mix: Democratic Jitters Over Obamacare's Woes

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough after anxious Senate Democrats met privately on Capitol Hill with Obama administration officials about Obamacare, Oct. 31, 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite - AP Photos J. Scott Applewhite AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's one month since the Affordable Care Act's health-exchange website went live and many Democrats would clearly love a do-over.

While that won't be forthcoming, they did get some handholding from Obama administration officials Thursday. But it will take more than that to quell the jitters as Democrats see what they had hoped would be a political asset in 2014, their signature healthcare legislation, threaten to become a liability.

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It's All Politics
5:40 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Thursday Political Mix: For Obama, Halloween Comes Everyday

Pumpkins with likenesses of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on display at Madame Tussauds in New York, October 22, 2013.
EMMANUEL DUNAND AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 6:35 am

Happy Halloween, fellow political junkies.

It was predictable that President Obama would face more political tricks than treats as a re-elected president than he did as a new one if only because, unlike his first term, he started his second with a Republican House largely hostile to him and his agenda.

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It's All Politics
8:08 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Tale Of The Tape: Comparing The Budget Committee Heads

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., differ in style and ideology but show signs of having a good working relationship.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 11:17 am

Two wily veterans of Congress' fiscal wars will lead the budget talks scheduled to start Wednesday: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the heads of the House and Senate budget committees.

As the 29 lawmakers on the budget conference committee — 22 from the Senate and seven from the House — sit down to begin negotiations, they'll have in Ryan and Murray two lawmakers who from most accounts get along well despite their many differences.

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It's All Politics
5:48 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Tuesday Political Mix: Obamacare Official In The Batter's Box

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, (who we're sure was not intentionally making the "choke" sign) and Marilyn Tavenner, head of the HHS agency that oversaw the Obamacare website project.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 6:39 am

Good Tuesday morning, fellow political junkies.

As you go through your day, keep this in mind: at least you're not Marilyn Tavenner. When critics of the Obama administration's botched launch of the Affordable Care Act call for heads to metaphorically roll, Tavenner, the top official of the Health and Human Services agency that oversaw the ill-fated website project, is high on that list.

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It's All Politics
5:06 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Monday Morning Political Mix: Obamacare Site Hits Another Snag

President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Russia in September in happier times before revelations that the NSA electronically eavesdropped on U.S. allies.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 7:54 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's the last week of October. That means the administration has just a month to meet its self-imposed deadline to have the Affordable Care Act website running as efficiently as it and millions of Americans had originally envisioned.

But the first item in our Monday political mix of some of the more interesting tidbits that caught my eye this morning indicates why setting such a deadline might be easier than meeting it.

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It's All Politics
1:59 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

White House Turns To 'Rock Star' Manager For Obamacare Fix

Jeffrey Zients was tapped to help fix problems with the Obama administration's heath care website.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 3:58 pm

Jeffrey Zients isn't exactly a household name. But if he can cure what ails the Affordable Care Act website, he'll be one of the best-known figures in the Obama administration.

Zients (rhymes with Heinz) is the professional manager President Obama turned to in order to solve the by-now-infamous problems with the federal government's health care exchange website.

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It's All Politics
3:03 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

5 Questions Kathleen Sebelius Must Answer

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is likely to have a very long day when she testifies before Congress about the Affordable Care Act website problems.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 4:12 pm

The hottest hot seat in Washington is the one occupied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose office confirmed Monday she'll testify about the Internet disaster that is HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act website.

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It's All Politics
11:34 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Obama's Immigration Pivot Hits A Bruised GOP's Weak Spot

Demonstrators supporting an immigration overhaul stage a sit-down protest at the offices of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., on Oct. 11.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:58 pm

After successfully staring down congressional Republicans in the shutdown-debt ceiling fight, President Obama pivoted to immigration in a move with almost no downside.

That makes it perfect as the next vehicle for him to use to cause the GOP major indigestion.

Before being re-elected last year, President Obama said he hoped the Republican "fever" of opposition to him would break during his second term. But if the just-completed standoff is any indication, that temperature is still spiking.

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It's All Politics
8:12 am
Thu October 17, 2013

10 Takeaways From The Fiscal Fight

With the shutdown-debt ceiling fight over, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, appeared to strengthen his hand within the House GOP caucus but weaken it outside that group.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 9:50 am

With the double crises of a partial government shutdown and a potential debt default resolved, it's a good time to consider some of the lessons we learned from the dysfunction and drama of recent weeks.

Here are 10 of them:

Shutting Down The Government Is Not A Winning Political Strategy

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It's All Politics
10:56 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Good Cop, Bad Cop Routine Gets A Result For Obama And Reid

President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., shared the same goals but had notable stylistic differences in their approaches to the fiscal fight.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 12:40 pm

Since the start of the fiscal standoff that led to a government shutdown and a flirtation with a historic debt default, Democrats have been led by the tag team of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

At times, their tactics resembled the good cop, bad cop routine where one officer offers the suspect a cup of coffee and the other smacks it from the suspect's lips. Reid, of course, is the smacker.

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It's All Politics
3:50 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Shutdown Diary: Hope Turns Into Wall Street Warning

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

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 4:07 pm

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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It's All Politics
5:19 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Friday Morning Political Mix

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

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 6:05 am

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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