Ari Shapiro

Almost all of the federal government's actions against terrorism — from drone strikes to the prison at Guantanamo Bay — are authorized by a single law: the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Congress passed it just after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Now, President Obama says he wants to revise the law, and ultimately repeal it.

Organizing for Action — a group that formed out of President Obama's re-election campaign — has posted five tweets in the past week about climate change using the @BarackObama Twitter account.

OFA's mission is to promote the president's agenda on a wide range of issues, from guns to immigration. But now that it's focused on global warming, there's some tension with the agenda inside the administration.

The phrase "second term curse" is so familiar that it's become a cliche of American politics. Whether it's President Richard Nixon's resignation or President Bill Clinton's impeachment, presidents tend to have a tough time during the back half of an eight-year presidency.

President Obama had a reputation when he took office as a liberal former constitutional lawyer who had condemned Bush-era national security policies.

But he has proven to be even tougher than President George W. Bush on prosecuting national security leaks. The seizure of Associated Press phone records is just the latest example.

President Obama has spoken at two memorial services in just over a week — one for victims of the Boston Marathon attack and one for those who died in the chemical plant explosions in West, Texas. In both speeches, he focused on victims and survivors.

But other Democrats are using these events to talk about another subject: the role of government.

President Obama's time in office has not been defined by terrorism as President George W. Bush's was. Yet incidents like the one in Boston have been a regular, painful through line of his presidency.

When a new administration walks into the White House, nobody provides a handbook on how to respond to a terrorist attack. So the Obama administration has been on a steady learning curve.

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This week marked a new step in Michelle Obama's evolution as first lady. In her hometown of Chicago, she delivered one of the most emotional speeches of her career — about kids dying from gun violence.

"I'm not talking about something that's happening in a war zone halfway around the world," she said. "I am talking about what's happening in the city that we call home."

Republicans don't often make high-profile speeches at Howard University, one of the country's most prominent historically black schools. But on Wednesday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will talk to Howard students about how his party can be more inclusive.

Paul believes one answer is libertarianism — and party leaders are starting to think he might be on to something.

President Obama will visit Connecticut on Monday to keep pushing for new federal gun laws. The poster children for this campaign are just that — children.

The president has invited kids to the White House to watch him sign new executive orders on guns. And the images of the kids who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School are a constant reminder of the toll gun violence can take.

The Republican and Democratic parties have been in a digital arms race for years. And this week, Republicans frankly admitted that they are losing.

Now, the GOP has ambitious plans to improve its game.

Monday's report from the Republican National Committee puts it bluntly: "Republicans must catch up on how we utilize technology in our campaigns. The Obama team is several years ahead of everyone else in its technological advantage."

Gays and lesbians have adopted the phrase "it gets better" as a kind of slogan to assure young people that life won't always be so tough.

Looking back, life has gotten dramatically better for LGBT people in the United States in a very short period of time. The modern gay rights movement began less than 50 years ago. Today, supporters of same-sex marriage outnumber opponents.

Now, the Supreme Court is about to hear two big cases that could shift the landscape for gay rights again.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush often made a provocative claim: He argued that the U.S. was fighting a war without a typical battlefield. In effect, he said, this war is everywhere.

"Our enemies make no distinction based on borders," he said in a 2007 speech in Michigan. "They view the world as a giant battlefield and will strike wherever they can."

The country has been debating gun regulations for months. Later this week, a Senate committee will start work on various proposals, including a background check on every gun sale and a ban on assault weapons.

But this debate over guns goes beyond disagreements about policy. Advocates on both sides quite literally disagree on the terms of the discussion — as in, the words they use to describe it.

Ask "gun control advocates" to describe what this debate is about, and they'll say "control" really isn't the word they prefer.

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