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 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 controversy over President Obama's targeted-killings-by-drone policy is a reminder that the default position of presidents in times of crisis is generally to side with national security over civil liberties.

(Revised on 2/6/1013 at 12:28 pm ET to include FCC comment.)

In Washington, there's always one kind of alleged war or another against some group or idea — the war on women, the war on religion and the war on the Second Amendment come quickly to mind.

This week, many of us became aware of another supposed conflict we had never heard of: essentially, a war on Wi-Fi.

Of all the individuals in President Obama's first-term Cabinet, physicist Steven Chu was arguably the least likely to be found in official Washington.

The Energy Department secretary, after all, was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from the University of California, Berkeley, the first science laureate to serve as a Cabinet secretary.

So what did we learn from Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel's sometimes rocky confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee?

1) We learned that the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska with the reputation for speaking his mind and not sticking to his party's talking points has through the years said lots of things that could be used against him in such a setting.

And they were. Repeatedly.

As if the federal budget process isn't confusing enough, now we get the fog of partisan war created by the charges and countercharges flying between congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans accuse the Democrats who control the Senate of shirking their duty by not producing "a budget" in recent years; Democrats accuse Republicans of not telling the whole truth.

What's going on? Here are five points to consider.

1) The Budget Control Act

Any American president hoping to stake a claim to being viewed by future generations as great and transformative — or at least very good and effective — would be wise to choose his predecessor well.

To that end, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan probably couldn't have done better than to follow, respectively, James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

Similarly, President Obama no doubt benefited from comparisons to George W. Bush, who's unlikely to make many historians' lists of the presidential greats.

If you didn't know any better, you might think that even if new gun control proposals from President Obama become stalled in Washington's gridlock, the states will rush in to fill the void.

After all, under its Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has responded to December's Newtown tragedy by passing legislation banning assault weapons and making it harder for seriously mentally ill individuals to legally obtain firearms.

Does President Obama have a problem with women?

On the level of appearances, he certainly does. Which is why at his Monday news conference, he found himself responding to criticisms about the lack of diversity in his picks so far for his second-term Cabinet — State, Treasury, Defense and CIA — who have all been white men.

A re-elected president who gets to choose a second-term Cabinet has much more knowledge of the kind of team he needs than he did the first time around.

That's one simple way to understand President Obama's decisions as he creates his Cabinet 2.0.

The choices are not those of a president-elect who hasn't moved into the White House, or of a green president who hasn't watched his first international crisis unfold from his leather seat in the White House Situation Room.