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.

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 word when it's attached to them.

To hear Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and once and maybe future Democratic presidential candidate tell it, her new book, Hard Choices, isn't the kickoff to a 2016 campaign.

She still hasn't made up her mind about another run for the presidency, she told Renee Montagne, co-host of NPR's Morning Edition. It's more a review of the decisions she made as the nation's top diplomat.

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

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.

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.

Republicans seem to have all the momentum lately when it comes to the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

GOP chances were already looking brighter because of the drag on Democrats from the Affordable Care Act and President Obama's low approval ratings. Then came two developments that suddenly expanded the playing field: Former GOP Sen. Scott Brown recently announced his intent to run against New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner jumped in against Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

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:

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:

For many watching the abortion fight in Texas, it's deja vu all over again.

Abortion-rights protesters once again gathered Monday at the state capitol building to express their outrage at the Legislature's attempt to further restrict abortions in the state. The images from Austin looked a lot like the previous week's when state Sen. Wendy Davis famously filibustered to stop the legislation from passing.

What does an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws have to do with the Second Amendment right to own guns?

If you're the Gun Owners of America, everything.

The GOA, a smaller cousin of the National Rifle Association that often takes an even more aggressive approach, is branding the just-passed Senate immigration bill, with its path to citizenship for people in the country illegally, as an "anti-gun amnesty."

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