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...

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. That has happened once again with the short-term highway spending bill that Congress and President Obama have lined up behind because of their inability to agree on longer-term legislation....

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. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis found compelling evidence of chicanery in how the lines of two Florida congressional districts were redrawn — the 5th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, and the 10th District, held by Rep....

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. Some have even taken to asking if this isn't Obama's "Katrina moment," an allusion to President George W. Bush's 2005 failure to immediately visit the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast once the storm had passed. Instead, Bush viewed the vast devastation from Air...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpGPymn9fsI 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. That explains why Arkansas Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor has a new ad in which, while holding a Bible and looking earnestly into the camera, he says: "I'm not ashamed to say that I believe in God and...

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. But some Democrats have to be more constrained than others in their objection to the decision, namely those running for the...

Congressional approval ratings are at rock bottom. Why would members pull a stunt likely to make them even more unpopular than they already are? While you ponder that question, here's what they did: As first reported by National Journal, the House Ethics Committee made it harder for journalists and good-government watchdogs to track members' privately financed trips by getting rid of a key travel reporting requirement on the annual disclosure form. Lawmakers still must get prior approval for...

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. Obama also presumably didn't want an immigration bill passed by the Senate a year ago to sit, forsaken, in the House. But that's happened too, with Speaker John Boehner, R...

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. Then again, maybe they won't. A big unknown on the morning of the election is just how many African-American Democrats might actually visit polling places across party lines to vote for Sen. Thad Cochran, age 76, who's been in the Senate for 35 years...

The jockeying for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is already shaping up to be nothing like the 2008 contest. Indeed, it doesn't even resemble a contest. It's not going too far out on a limb to say that, unlike six years ago, the nomination is Hillary Clinton's for the taking, if she wants it. This will inevitably lead to the idea of her inevitability — and there are few words in politics more despised than that one. Presidential aspirants have a love-hate relationship with that...

House Republicans, whose voter strength can be disproportionately found in the red states of the South and Mountain West, have once again elected a majority leader from a state that voted twice for President Obama. But the race for majority whip was won by a red-state representative who made the case for regional diversity in Republican leadership. Hailing from California, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy replaces Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, whose surprising primary loss to a political newcomer...

Iraq has a long history of roiling American politics. And that doesn't appear about to change anytime soon. With the Shiite-led Iraqi government losing control of large parts of its country to the Sunni extremist group known as ISIS, the question of who lost Iraq is starting to reverberate through Washington the way "who lost Vietnam" and "who lost China" did in earlier eras. That all of this is happening during a midterm election stirs even more politics into the mix than if the current...

Does the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a key suspect in the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks, alter the political polarity of the episode? If so, the change wasn't immediately apparent. While Republicans said Tuesday they welcomed the news, they also made clear that their suspicions toward President Obama on all things Benghazi were far from assuaged. Indeed, what appeared to happen was that Khatallah's apprehension added to — rather than subtracted from — the GOP points of contention with the...

So when exactly did Hillary Clinton change her mind on same-sex marriage? That question was left unanswered in the former secretary of state's lively exchange with Fresh Air host Terry Gross. The same-sex marriage portion of the interview made for compelling listening because of how much Clinton bridled at Terry's suggestion that she privately supported it long before she publicly endorsed it, and how much Terry kept asking the question. It was like a prizefight with two battlers refusing to...

Who is David Brat , the slayer of a goliath of congressional politics, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor? The man who rocked the political world Tuesday is a 52-year-old, passionate, self-described "free-market, Milton Friedman economist" and a professor at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia. In addition to economics, Brat has also taught ethics, a testament to having attended Princeton Theological Seminary, where he got a master's degree. He later earned a Ph.D. from American University....

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