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.

A federal court threw Rep. John Conyers a lifeline Friday with a decision that stops Michigan election officials from throwing the veteran lawmaker off the primary ballot.

The possibility of the 25-term Democratic congressman — who would become the longest-serving member in the House if he wins another term — fell into doubt when election officials said Conyers failed to secure enough legitimately collected signatures on his petitions for a spot on the ballot.

The United States Senate ratcheted up the pressure on owner Daniel Snyder on Thursday after a letter — signed by half the Senate — was sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, asking him to use his authority to get the Washington Redskins to change a team name that many consider racist.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's decision to have Democrats participate on the House Benghazi select committee? A defensive move.

Some of her Democrats had urged Pelosi to boycott the committee. In their view, to take part would be to play into the hands of House Republicans who want to use the ninth investigation of the September 2012 attack in Libya, which left four Americans dead, to rally conservatives for the midterm elections.

It says something about Kentucky's Republican Senate primary that its most memorable aspect wasn't some fiery debate exchange between Sen. Mitch McConnell and challenger Matt Bevin, or any kind of clash like that. There was no debate.

Instead, it was a weird viral Web video from the Senate minority leader's campaign that featured him smiling in different contexts. Naturally it was one endlessly mocked by late-night comedians and parodied on the Web — it also led to the coining of a new word: "McConnelling."

If the polls are correct, the Pennsylvania governor's race is poised to see the usual political script flipped.

The Republican incumbent, Gov. Tom Corbett, is using a populist attack against the challenger who is leading the Democratic primary field — accusing Tom Wolf of being an opportunistic businessman who profited at the expense of taxpayers and workers.

The race between Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna, two California Democrats vying to represent a Silicon Valley-based congressional district, is a classic example of a generational contest — a youthful challenger claiming to represent the future taking on a popular longtime incumbent.

It's basically Politics 101. To get on the ballot in many states, candidates for office must first collect a designated number of valid signatures from voters, and present those petitions to election administrators.

The name "Benghazi" used to just inflame conservatives. Now it is demonstrating its power to outrage progressives as well, though for different reasons.

To be precise, Democrats are angered not just by the House GOP's creation of a special committee to probe the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead but by Republican fundraising in connection with the Benghazi probe.

Updated on May, 7, 2014 at 10:46 am

Late Tuesday, House Republicans made public on Speaker John Boehner's website their draft resolution to create the Benghazi select committee. The resolution calls for a panel of seven Republicans and five Democrats and no written rules for the panel.

Sure, you can still hear congressional Republicans talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act.

But there's clearly something different about the current climate, and the GOP approach to Obamacare. The thrill of repeal may not be gone for Republicans, but much of the urgency of repeal is.

For starters, the House GOP doesn't have more repeal votes lined up for these weeks after the spring recess.

Let's stipulate that Speaker John Boehner doesn't really have to worry about his Republican primary challengers Tuesday.

Youth is a time of idealism and energy, except, perhaps, when it comes to voting in the midterm elections.

A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds that interest in voting in the November 2014 elections among 18- to 29-year-old voters is lower now than just several months ago — and even lower than it was at a similar point in 2010.

Voting to overhaul the nation's immigration laws would be a difficult vote for many House Republicans at any time, but especially in an election year.

Which explains why many of them don't want the issue to come to the floor this year for a vote.

Here's a measure of Maryland's Democratic tilt: Even an epic failure in launching the state's health care website isn't enough to derail the political fortunes of the official responsible for it. The Affordable Care Act is that popular.

Now that Allyson Schwartz has become perhaps the first Democratic candidate to warmly embrace the Affordable Care Act in a 2014 campaign ad, will other Democrats in statewide races follow suit?

Unlikely.

On Earth Day 2014, it wasn't easy being green in the Republican Party. Just ask Rob Sisson, president of ConservAmerica.

ConservAmerica is a membership organization created in 1995 to keep the environmental spirit of GOP President Theodore Roosevelt alive in his party. Back then, the group was known as Republicans for Environmental Protection.

Few mixtures in American life are more emotionally combustible than the one formed by the combination of politics and race.

That helps explain why Democrats, in general, and President Obama, in particular, have tended to steer clear of overtly raising race as an issue to explain some of the opposition to Obama's presidency and agenda.

There seems to be a shift in recent days, however.

Top Democratic party officials have either directly or indirectly blamed race for some of the hostility to Obama, his policies, or both.

If the jockeying before the 2016 presidential race is a game of political chess, the most powerful queen on the board would obviously be Hillary Clinton.

So much of what will happen in 2016 hinges on Clinton's decision on whether to run, which she has said she'll announce by the end of this year.

If the former secretary of state and New York senator enters the race, she reduces the space on the board for any competitors within her own party. That would be particularly true for the Democratic women mentioned as possibilities for national office.

An erectile dysfunction ad isn't the kind of thing most politicians would typically gravitate toward.

OK, there was former Sen. Bob Dole pitching Viagra years ago. But he was already out of office when he became a spokesman for the virility drug.

This was the week that included Equal Pay Day, the point on the 2014 calendar to which the average female worker must work to match the average man's 2013 pay.

To mark the occasion, President Obama held a White House event Tuesday to sign executive orders aimed at providing more transparency about what federal contractors pay their workers. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats held a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed in a vote that largely fell along partisan lines — the third time that's happened.

Revenge and asparagus are apparently dishes best served cold — at least when served by Attorney General Eric Holder.

After a testy exchange Tuesday with Rep. Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican who had clearly gotten on his last nerve, Holder delivered a dose of ridicule.

The pay equity issue, which President Obama and Democrats are making a central theme of the 2014 midterm election campaign, is often framed as a women's issue. But Democrats are expecting it will also have crossover appeal to men.

For many men, it's a matter of self-interest: Two-income families are part of a long-term trend, as many families find two paychecks essential to cover the bills in an era of rising prices and stagnant, if not falling, wages.

A new video ad you can see online (or this Sunday on the Fox News Channel) features Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush describing what constitutes a "New Republican."

The new NPR poll had good news for Republicans and Democrats. As NPR correspondent Mara Liasson reported for Morning Edition, likely voters were nearly split evenly between support and opposition to the Affordable Care Act, with 51 percent against and 47 percent for.

The Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision has been described both as a victory for the First Amendment and as another damaging blow to campaign finance laws.

One thing seems certain: The decision, which overturned limits on the aggregate amounts individual donors can give to candidates and campaigns, will mean more money sloshing around political campaigns.

In practical terms, that means more business for the political consultants who orchestrate most serious federal political campaigns.

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