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
8:48 am
Fri February 7, 2014

What If Hillary Clinton Doesn't Run?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks to the National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in New Orleans on Jan. 27.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 12:13 pm

The groundwork being laid for a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016 overlooks a single, almost unthinkable scenario: What if she doesn't run?

After all, while that might sound like heresy to the various Democratic groups now raising money, locking down political talent and generally acting as a campaign-in-waiting on her behalf, it's not certain she will run.

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It's All Politics
4:22 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Senate Retreats Offer Chance To Bond, Plot Strategy

President Obama's motorcade returns to the White House after visiting with Senate Democrats at their retreat at Washington Nationals Park.
Carolyn Kaster AP

It was annual Senate retreat time in Washington this week, a moment when senators get away from the U.S. Capitol, free themselves of their staffs and daily legislative, office and fundraising chores, and try to gain some fresh perspective.

They didn't go far, mind you. Senate Democrats met Wednesday at Washington Nationals Park about a mile and half away from Capitol Hill, still in sight of the Rotunda. Republicans merely repaired to their usual place across the street from the Capitol, the Library of Congress.

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It's All Politics
2:26 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

RNC's Priebus Insists Minority Outreach Effort Is Built To Last

Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music gospel choir perform Tuesday at the Republican National Committee's awards lunch at Washington's Howard Theatre.
Frank James NPR

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 8:56 am

Much of politics is about symbols and gestures. And there were plenty of them at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

Under Chairman Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee vows to be much more serious about outreach to African-Americans than ever before.

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It's All Politics
11:59 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

5 Things We Learned From The President's Speech

President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Larry Downing Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 6:21 am

Much of what was in President Obama's fifth State of the Union address was expected — it was signaled for days leading into the speech. Even so, there were a few revealing moments.

Here are five that stood out:

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Health And Wages
4:49 am
Tue January 28, 2014

5 Things To Expect In Obama's State Of The Union Address

President Obama gestures to Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner before giving his 2013 State of the Union address.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 11:35 am

As President Obama prepares to deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, he does it against a backdrop of some of the lowest voter-approval ratings of his presidency, with a divided Congress that has largely stalled his second-term agenda and with Washington's collective focus starting to shift toward the midterm elections and beyond.

Here are five things to expect from the president in his fifth State of the Union speech:

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It's All Politics
12:11 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Michigan Governor: Immigrant Influx Could 'Jump-Start' Detroit

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is pushing for changes to federal law to allow more skilled immigrants into the country. Snyder, a Republican, has proposed funneling 50,000 skilled immigrants into Detroit over five years as a way to rejuvenate the moribund city.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 7:09 am

Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was in Washington this week to talk about immigration reform. I got a few minutes with him before his appearance with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. So, of course, the first thing I asked was how the troubles of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell might affect the Republican brand.

Not surprisingly, Snyder, a very successful business leader in his first term as governor, politely sidestepped that question.

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It's All Politics
5:05 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Latest 'Rising Stars' Highlight GOP's Outreach To Women

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day (third from right) introduce the group's latest "rising stars" Thursday in Washington: Alison Howard (from left), Chelsi P. Henry, Monica Youngblood, Kimberly Yee and Alex Smith.
Andrew Harnik The Washington Times/Landov

As if to underscore GOP efforts at outreach to female voters, a breakout session of the Republican National Committee's latest "rising stars" at the group's winter meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C., entirely comprised young women.

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It's All Politics
1:13 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Obama's Marijuana Remarks Light Up Legalization Debate

President Obama graces the cover of Cannabis Now magazine at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 2:50 pm

That President Obama could openly speculate about marijuana being less dangerous than alcohol — and embrace the state-level legalization of the drug — is a measure of just how far the nation has moved since the 1980s.

Back then, the Reagan administration's approach was absolute: "Just Say No." It's more complicated today.

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It's All Politics
3:01 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Congress Vows To Step Up To Surveillance Policy Challenge

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., after President Obama's speech.
Charles Dharapak AP

If there was a consensus emanating from Congress Friday after President Obama's NSA reform speech, it was — not surprisingly — that Congress itself has a major role to play in the ultimate fix.

Whether from strong NSA supporters or agency critics, the reactions sounded similar: Congress intends to do much of the steering in the drive to overhaul the NSA's gathering of certain non-public information, especially consumer phone records, in the nation's counterterrorism efforts.

Even so, if you listened closely, you could hear the sound of politics in some of the reaction.

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It's All Politics
8:18 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Behind The NSA Speech, A Political Backdrop

President Obama speaks Thursday in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building's South Court Auditorium on the White House complex.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 9:07 am

The significant changes to National Security Agency practice and oversight that President Obama announced Friday will no doubt renew the debate over national security and civil liberties.

They're also likely to generate discussion of the political dimensions of that speech. Here are a few of the themes that serve as a backdrop.

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It's All Politics
1:36 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

For Obama And Senate Democrats, The Goal Is Mutual Protection

Senate Democrats at the White House last fall during the government shutdown fight.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

For President Obama and Senate Democrats, who gathered in a White House meeting Wednesday, it's all about mutual aid at this point.

If Obama is to maintain any leverage in Congress, he needs Democrats to keep control of the Senate since the House appears likely to remain in Republican hands. And if his second term agenda has any hope of being achieved — such as tackling income inequality, overhauling immigration or reaching a durable nuclear deal with Iran — he'll need a Democratic Senate majority working side-by-side with him.

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It's All Politics
3:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

5 Takeaways From The Omnibus Spending Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where a massive spending bill, aimed at funding the government through October and putting to rest the bitter budget battles of last year, is getting generally positive bipartisan reviews.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:13 pm

Regular order. That phrase refers to Congress conducting business in a methodical way, like it used to back before "dysfunctional" came to seem an official and permanent part of Congress' name.

When the House and Senate appropriations committee chairs announced late Monday evening that they had agreed on how to allocate the $1.012 trillion in federal spending, it was yet another step on the path to regular order that Congress forced itself to return to after years of regular disorder, best symbolized by last year's partial government shutdown.

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It's All Politics
8:16 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Bridge Scandal Creates Unique Hurdles For Christie

Democratic New Jersey Assemblymen (from left) Lou Greenwald, John S. Wisniewski and Vincent Prieto take questions at a news conference announcing a renewed investigation into the George Washington Bridge scandal.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 9:23 am

By most accounts, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie passed the leadership challenge posed by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

But the political storm created by the George Washington Bridge scandal is testing him in different ways, fueled by a combination of factors that make it difficult even for a politician as manifestly self-assured as Christie.

Christie will have a promising opportunity Tuesday to move beyond the mess caused by the politically inspired closing of toll lanes on the nation's busiest bridge in his State of the State speech.

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It's All Politics
4:27 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Will Bad Jobless Data Spur Action On Unemployment Insurance?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., cited the bad December jobless numbers as a reason Congress should extend federal unemployment insurance.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Just as the Senate seemed to descend into another round of partisan gridlock, this time over extending emergency jobless benefits, the arrival of a surprisingly weak December jobs report raised the pressure on Congress to act.

The question is whether news that the economy created a mere 74,000 jobs last month — far fewer than the 200,000 forecasters predicted — delivered enough of a jolt to Capitol Hill, where what seemed like bipartisan progress on the issue early in the week had reverted to partisan nastiness.

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It's All Politics
4:24 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

A Newly Potholed Bridge Pops Up On Christie's Road To 2016

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie conducts a lengthy news conference Thursday about his administration's role in traffic tie-ups on the George Washington Bridge.
Jeff Zelevansky Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has found the George Washington Bridge in his way on the road to a potential 2016 presidential run. Right now, it's still an open question whether he'll get over it.

Thursday's marathon news conference was certainly an important moment in that journey. The heretofore 2016 Republican frontrunner apologized and took responsibility for members of Team Christie exacting political revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., by closing lanes to the nation's busiest bridge in September, causing major traffic snarls.

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