2018 Presidential Election

BBC News

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Downing Street cat enters into standoff with police dog

All eyes were on 10 Downing Street this morning, but it wasn’t for the Prime Minister. Instead, the press was focused on a brief standoff between Downing Street’s top rodent killer and a police dog.

Downing Street cat Leo faced off against police sniffer dog Marbury, a springer spaniel who looked more interested in playing than scrapping with the 4-year-old feline.

With his back arched, his claws out and his hissing seen by others, Leo held his ground against the playful police dog who was quickly called back to his duties by officers at Downing Street’s front gate to inspect entering vehicles.

On his official Twitter account, Leo tweeted a picture of police dog Marbury running back to his post with the caption reading "You'd better keep walking...".

Since taking office, The Prime Minister and Downing Street staff have confirmed that Leo has killed 12 mice so far. He’s been described as very shy especially around men, creating speculation that he may have had some bad experiences since he was a rescue cat. However, according to Prime Minister Samuels, U.S President Sam Seaborn is an apparent exception to this fear.

He said "Leo is not very keen on men but seemed happy to be stroked by President Seaborn when he visited London in June."
Friday August 9th 2019

Labour TV debate ends in chaos as four contenders walk off over Lamont attack on Kendrick

The second TV debate shown on Sky News, in the Labour leadership race ended in chaos last night when three of the five contenders walked off the stage in defence of Oliver Kendrick after an argument with former Chancellor Daniel Lamont.

Jack Coll, Rachel Lilburn and Ruth Butler all walked off after Lamont accused Kendrick of using his infant son's death in 2012 as a "political prop". The row came after a question regrading religion and the teaching of religion in schools. Kendrick said his son's death made him question his catholic faith "I am now no longer believer, and believe that all religion should be taken out of schools" adding "we can teach how to be a good citizen, the difference between right and wrong in our schools, we don't need religion to do that". Lamont struck out "it's a shame you are using the death of your son as a political prop". Kendrick seemed shocked and close to tears "I am came here for a debate about the future of the Labour party and the country, not for this rubbish" and walked off. Jack Coll looked at Lilburn and Butler who nodded and they all followed Kendrick off the stage leaving Lamont on his own.

SKY News cut to a commercial break with host Adam Bolton declaring that "the debate is over, the four candidates you saw walk off have refused to come back on the stage with Daniel Lamont". Lamont left the venue in Manchester, without speaking to the media, all so far his campaign team have refused to speak to the BBC.
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Friday August 9th 2019

Andrea Benn "Lamont must apologise" for Kendrick debate remarks

A visibly angry Labour Leader Andrea Benn has said today that Leadership contender Daniel Lamont "must apologise" for remarks he made during the TV debate last night in which he said rival Oliver Kendrick was using the death of his infant son in 2012 as a "political prop". Kendrick was so upset he walked off the stage in Manchester along with Jack Coll, Rachel Lilburn and Ruth Butler in support.

Benn spoke outside Labour Party headquarters in Victoria alongside Deputy Leader Bryan Atkinson "I was disgusted by Daniel Lamont's remarks and he must apologise today". Asked if she thought that Lamont should also withdraw from the race she replied "That is up to him and his conscience, if he has one". Most pundits and the polls say that race is between long time front-runner Party Chairman Jack Coll and Kendrick, the Shadow Chancellor.

Professor John Curtice told the BBC "All the polling data points to this race now being between Coll and Kendrick. Coll has lost much ground since May when he entered as the clear favourite, but Kendrick has ran a great campaign. Also with the change in the electoral voting system we don't know how that will effect the final outcome of the race".

The last day to someone to register as a Labour supporter is this coming Wednesday August 14th, with ballot papers sent-out a week today. Voting closes on Thursday September 12th with the result announced two days later.
Got it.

SCENE: Inauguration Day 2027. PRESIDENT SAM SEABORN is helping his son, JOSIAH, get ready to leave the White House for the final time. As JOSIAH leads MARTY, now showing the first signs of white on his muzzle, out of the White House, he stops, as if just realizing something.


SAM: Yes?

JOSIAH: You named me after President Bartlet, right?

SAM: That's right. Both your first and middle names were taken from the names of two great men who helped and inspired me when I was a younger man.

JOSIAH: But who did you know named "Gerald"?
No matter how great it would be for Sam to name his son after President Bartlet, the kid would probably hate him for naming 'Josiah' in 2020 XD.
I can just hear Lord John Marbury calling out to Leo... "GERALD"...
Very appropriate naming of a future son.. for Sam's two mentors.
I need to find an online clip of Lord John right now and become nostalgic.
Thanks for your post.

Atlantis Cable News

McColl brings in record hall for July fundraising

Portland, Oregon- Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Candice McColl set a record in the month of July, with his State BOE filings showing that she raised over $3,000,000 in the month of July, more than any other Gubernatorial Candidate in Oregonian History. The McColl Campaign has sent the past 48 hours touting these numbers as proof positive that Governor Collins is not invincible, and that "the people of Oregon have gotten wise to his games". McColl, the incumbent Secretary of State, upset Portland Mayor Mitch DiSarro in the June Primary.

The Collins Campaign responded that a majority of the money was from out-of-state mega donors, most notably from New York and California and that the McColl campaign is being funded by the "coastal elites". While Governor Collins still holds the lead in the polls, his lead has narrowed considerably over the past two months.

ACN Tracking Poll

Governor Walter Collins (R)- 51%
Secretary of State Candice McColl (D)- 45%
Other/Undecided- 4%

Saturday, August 10th 2019

Ahmed becomes PM, announces plans for constitutional convention

Zuben Ahmed, former head of the Ruling Council, has won a vote of confidence in the newly-elected Parliament of Qumar, returning to the position of prime minister. Ahmed, whose Reform Party won a near-majority of seats in the July election, has included members of the pro-democracy Democratic Reform Party and pro-business Talahuf in his new cabinet and announced a timetable for a new constitutional convention that his government would submit to Parliament.

The government's plan will allow for the start of a constitutional convention to begin on September 2nd, with working groups facilitated by former United States Secretary of Education and constitutional expert Lawrence Lessig. The plan would allocate all 78 members of parliament to two different working groups by random lot, with each group scheduled to make recommendations to the convention as a whole within 3 to 5 months (depending on committee). The deadline for a constitutional draft to be submitted would be April 22, 2020, the day before Ramadan.

Shortly after voting in Ahmed as prime minister, Qumar's parliament voted to reconstitute the Ruling Council that formally administered the Qumari government since the summer of 2016. Replacing Ahmed as chair of the council (and de facto head of state) is retired jurist Farouk al-Jabali, former head of the nation's constitutional court. Al-Jabali, age 75, is Qumar's oldest ever head of state, and has stated that he will not serve on the Ruling Council for more than one year.
Sunday August 11th 2019

Lamont "I have nothing to say sorry for" as he hits back over debate remarks

Labour leadership contender Daniel Lamont has told the BBC that he has "nothing to say sorry for" after his remarks during the live debate on Thursday calling the death of rival Oliver Kendrick's baby son as a "political prop".

Lamont has come increasing pressure to drop out of the race or to at least say sorry for the remarks. "We need a leader and then a Prime-Minister who will ask the hard questions, that's what I did on Thursday night, we don't need a leader that gets caught out, then starts to cry, sorry I am not falling for it".

Lamont who as in his failed 2014 bid, started strongly has once again lost ground to the two front-runners Jack Coll and Oliver Kendrick, and many believe his performance by attacking personally Oliver Kendrick was an attempt to try win back support especially from younger Labour voters and supporters.
OOC: Who wants more infoboxes? No one? How about if I told you that involved the incomparable Liam Neesons?

Cast (all previously established)
Shaun Toub as Jamil al-Hassan
Rupert Vansittart as John Green
Liam Neeson as Patrick Reynolds
Art Malik as Zuben Ahmed

  • The Syrian prime ministers, the acting president before al-Hassan's accession to the presidency and his successor as head of the Syrian Ba'ath party are new creations. A lot of the blanks in his biography were inspire by Bashar al-Assad, his clear IRL inspiration.

    The Syrian bombing was a show event, done in the third episode in retaliation for the Syrians shooting down an American aircraft on a diplomatic that had 58 civilians (including the person who would have been Bartlet's personal physician) aboard.

  • All of Green's biography was done beforehand, so the only bit of new information is who succeeded him in Easington.

    Also, with this done, all of the ATL UK prime ministers have had their personal infoboxes done.

  • Reynolds' background wasn't ever established, so I drew inspiration from Neeson's action hero role to make him a decorated military officer who earned Ireland's highest military honors while on peacekeeping missions. His predecessor was Mary Robinson, the OTL president who resigned ahead of the 1997 to accept a position as the UN commissioner for human rights. I had her stay on and win a second term instead.

  • Ahmed had his infobox done in the old thread, but several parts have been revamped and updated. Notable changes include: moving his date of birth back to closer match Art Malik's (old one had him being born in 1965, which started to look iffy as Malik clearly looks older than 54 now), including his daughter (mentioned/shown in a picture when he briefly declared himself head of state when Qumar was falling apart in 2016), and listing the district he represented before Qumar's parliament was suspended and then went proportional in the most recent election.

    The old infobox established that the position of prime minister was essentially tied to that of sultan until Hessani and Ahmed overthrew Ali Usef bin Shareef, hence why there's only been 10 different PMs since Qumar became independent in the 1930s (Ahmed, the seven sultans before Hessani, Mikkuri and Kassem). Al-Jabali is listed as "president" in Ahmed's prime minister section since that's what he essentially is and "Chair of the Ruling Council" is a bit too wordy to put as a subsection head.

Monday, August 11th 2019

Department of Justice ban on "bump stocks" finalized, effective December 1st

The Department of Justice has finalized the ban on so-called "bump stocks", after a months-long process initiated soon after President Seaborn's inauguration. The ban, which takes effect on December 1, classifies the stock, as a device which turns a semi-automatic firearm into an illegal machine gun, forbidden under the Gun Control Act of 1968. Bump stocks use the recoil of a semi-automatic firearm to rapidly reload and fire ammunition, mimicking the action of a fully automatic weapon, but with diminished accuracy. Owners of bump stocks will have until then to destroy them or turn the accessories over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Failure to do so will result in a fine of $250,000 and/or up to ten years in prison.

Attorney General George Montgomery said that the ban was "overdue", adding that the accessory had "almost no legitimate use" other than making an illegal automatic-fire weapon.

The regulatory change was, unusually for gun control proposals, met with muted reception. The relative newness of bump stocks, which were invented in 2010, and their limited use among firearm owners and enthusiasts, has led even staunch opponents of gun control like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and many congressional Republicans, to support outlawing the devices.

Emblematic of the attitude most Republicans seem to have towards the new regulation is Congresswoman Veronica Benjamin (R-ND), who was quoted by the Bismarck Tribune as saying "President Seaborn's promise to 'get the guns' sent a chill down my spine." In a tweet, Benjamin said that she was glad "the president mistook bump stocks for whole guns", adding "maybe this means he'll let law-abiding North Dakotans have their firearms in peace."


Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Advani defiant as concern over Kashmir situation rises

Prime Minister Bijan Advani of India remained defiant yesterday as critics both in India and in the international community reacted with alarm to the situation in the Indian-controlled parts of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. After his government completed the longtime Hindu nationalist goal of revoking of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted special status to the disputed, sole Muslim-majority state of India, Advani proclaimed that India had "completed the decades-long effort to bring all of India under the control of the central government [in New Delhi]."

But the heavy-handed tactics used by the government after the revocation—to sever communications and halt travel from Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India—led to immediate protests across large sectors of Kashmir society and concerns that it would re-inflame tensions in the disputed region. Pakistan, a fellow nuclear power, claims Kashmir as well, and has protested strongly to both the revocation of Article 370 and the lock-down, which its Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls "unconscionable." Similarly, it was reported that world leaders from Russia to the United States had expressed their concern over the situation to New Delhi.

For his part, the prime minister defended his decision and handling of the situation. "There is no crisis in Kashmir," he said in a statement to reporters in Mumbai. "The usual rabble-rousers are upset and are making trouble....Will we see the alarmist headlines from the foreign press when, in two weeks' time, the people of Kashmir have calmed down and accepted the wisdom of this decision? I think not."

As of the time of this report, the communications blackout, lock-down and protests in Kashmir remain ongoing.

Monday, August 11th 2019

Jennifer Vinick declares run for Congress

Jennifer Vinick, daughter of the late Secretary of State Arnold Vinick, announced that she had filed to run for Congress next year. Vinick, a 46 year-old Santa Paula businesswoman, has filed to run for the Republican nomination in California's 26th congressional district, to challenge freshman incumbent Corrie Hightower (D). "My message to voters is this: I am not my father, but I did learn quite a bit from him," Vinick said. "I'm a proud mother, businesswoman and Republican who has balanced both household and business budgets, and who knows that the values of tolerance and individual rights do not belong to just one party."

Vinick, whose shipping company has worked predominantly with Santa Paula's fruit and agricultural distributors, also made clear her opposition to the anti-immigrant mood growing in parts of the Republican field. "I know plenty of wonderful men and women who do the hard, back-breaking labor that allows our nation to enjoy the fruits of the fertile soil of southern California. My feeling is, if you're willing to cross a desert to do the kind of jobs that native-born Americans don't want to do, you should be allowed to stay and work here like every other law-abiding, peaceful people."

The 26th district represents south-central California and most of Ventura County. Hightower defeated seven-term incumbent Darryl Hamilton last year in a close election, one of the few House seats to flip to the Democrats.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Strong Coll performance ends third Labour debate

The third Labour leadership debate, this time hosted on ITV, ended earlier tonight with Labour Chairman Jack Coll going on the offensive after a muted performance for most of the debate after joining three other candidates in condemning former Chancellor of the Exchequer Daniel Lamont for his remarks about Shadow Chancellor Oliver Kendrick's son, who died in 2012 from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Lamont has refused to retract or apologize for his remarks at the previous debate, where he claimed that Kendrick was using his son's death as a "political prop" despite condemnation from commentators and Labour leaders and was shunned by most of the other candidates, with Rachel Lilburn being the only one to engage with him on policy issues.

Lamont seemed frustrated by both Coll and Kendrick, the two front-runners, largely refusing to engage with him. He was largely sidelined after disagreeing with Coll's assessment that all of Labour's leadership candidates would "work hand-in-glove" with whomever the party members elect to replace outgoing leader Andrea Benn led to Coll snapping at him.

"Daniel, if that's the attitude you're going to have, why don't you run for leader of [the] Socialist Alliance instead?" Coll said.

"I'm not pledging to be a puppet of someone who leads Labour to ruin by embracing 'Tory-lite' policies—" Lamont began, before being interrupted.

"No, instead you're being the puppet of whatever impulses in your brain think it's acceptable to say the disgusting thing you said about Oliver." Coll said, before talking over Lamont to finish his previous point about Labour unity.

Both Coll and Lilburn stressed their experience in the previous Labour government as selling points, with Coll promising to work with party leaders and members to create a "strong, unifying vision" to topple the Conservatives in the next general election. Butler, for her part, sounded critical of the two veterans' appeals, but largely allowed Kendrick to engage with them.

Kendrick, the youngest nominee at age 35, stumbled after two solid performances in the previous debates. His repeated pitch of changing the party and "moving on" from the Green government was picked apart by Coll, who asked what "change and moving on" meant in real terms.

"I'm not going to 'move on' and 'change' when it comes to righting the ship after the last recession, or keeping British soldiers out of pointless wars," Coll said. "You can say 'well the Tories have done some good' all you want, but I don't see embracing a party and government that cuts education, that has cut NHS funds, and then funnels more and more tax revenue to the rich, as a winning strategy for Labour."

Kendrick pointed to the three consecutive general election losses as proof that a change was needed in Labour. "Clearly, we need a clean sweep in the frontbenches," he said. "It's time for a new generation of leadership in Labour to take hold, as the older generation hasn't got the job done."

Coll laughed, pointing out that Benn herself is 45, only ten years older than Kendrick, and "somehow the fact that she's far younger than Richard Samuels" didn't lead to Labour returning to power. He ended the debate with a strong pitch to Labour voters:

"This leadership election is a fight not only for the Labour party, but of our nation's future, your future. If it's all about style and good looks, count me out. If it's about making the big decisions, if it's about clear judgement, if it's about delivering a strong, united, progressive Labour party—a party that can win the next general election—I know that I am your man. I am the only candidate with a real plan for our party and for our country and I'd love to have your vote."

Registration for voting in the election has closed, and ballots will begin to be mailed out to registered members, affiliated supporters or registered supporters on Friday. Ballots must be returned by midday on Thursday, 12 September, and the party's new leader will be announced in a special convention two days later on Saturday, 14 September.
"Sweaty Sam" Inspires New Wave Of Memes
GNN Entertainment

Washington-A selfie that President Seaborn apparently took after a workout at the White House gym has gone viral, launching a new wave of Seaborn memes focusing on the President's perspiring visage and physique.

"The healthiest man in Washington!" one user wrote on Twitter.

"Sam Seaborn-keeping in shape for America!" another wrote.

For its own part, the White House had this to say:

"President Seaborn is a very active man, and likes to stay in shape. At a time when we have record levels of obesity in this country, he is setting an example for other Americans to follow. The President's heath-along with that of the country's-is naturally important to him," the White House press office said.
Seaborn Workout.jpg

Original source:

NFL.com News
August 18, 2019

Former NFL star Orlando Kettles named to President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Former star NFL offensive tackle Orlando Kettles has been named to the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition (PCSFN). The agency, whose stated mission is to "promote, encourage and motivate Americans of all ages to become physically active and participate in sports", announced that Kettles had been appointed its newest member earlier today.

Kettles spent 12 seasons with the New York Jets from 2006 to 2017, being named to six Pro Bowls, four All-Pro teams and was twice selected as an All-American during his collegiate career at Ohio State University. The cornerstone of the Jets offensive line throughout his career, his retirement ahead of last season played a small part in the Jets' continued struggles as his former team went 4-12. Kettles himself embarked on an incredible weight-loss regimen after his retirement, dropping from his playing weight of 300 pounds to 250 pounds, in part because of worries over his own health.

"I realized that being so heavy is not good when you're not on the line [of scrimmage]," Kettles said. "I didn't want to have trouble keeping up with my kids when I'm still in my thirties, and I'm lucky enough that I had time and people who were willing to help me." His year-long transformation involved plenty of exercise, and "learning to eat like an adult"--no more McDonald's for lunch and takeout for dinner. "Broccoli became my new best friend," he joked.

Now, he wants his story to help others, especially children. "You can be heavy for your whole life and lose weight if you do what your doctor says: eat healthy and exercise," Kettles says. "I'm proof of that."

Orlando Kettles (Photo credit: PFSCN/Omar Benson Miller)
I can just hear Lord John Marbury calling out to Leo... "GERALD"...
Very appropriate naming of a future son.. for Sam's two mentors.
I need to find an online clip of Lord John right now and become nostalgic.
Thanks for your post.
I can just hear Lord John Marbury calling out to Leo... "GERALD"...
Very appropriate naming of a future son.. for Sam's two mentors.
I need to find an online clip of Lord John right now and become nostalgic.
Thanks for your post.

August 26, 2019 Issue

Playing For Keeps

Lauren Parker-Seaborn has won over most of America, but is still fighting her toughest battle

By Sondra Torres

Lauren Parker-Seaborn smiles broadly as she watches her nieces and nephew splash in the Pacific Ocean on the secluded California beach. Except for the pair of plain-clothes Secret Service agents nearby (and the several that are less than a mile away, guarding all approaches to and from the beach), she looks just like what she is—an aunt babysitting her brother's children.

Her dog, Marty, is at the center of the three Parker children's romping. The Jack Russell terrier dashes around them, and tears through the beach after the sticks that her nephew Brandon throws for him to retrieve. Returning them also turns into an adventure for the "First Dog", as he sometimes nearly gets toppled by an errant wave, but he always returns the stick, ready for another toss.

Pointing to the dog, the First Lady jokes that he's the one the president really misses back in Washington. "I haven't seen Marty antagonize a member of Congress yet." She says, as if that alone is an explanation.

It's this off-hand comment that signals how different of a First Lady Lauren Parker-Seaborn is. Constantly compared to Jackie Kennedy for her youth and good looks, Parker-Seaborn is way more of a political animal than Kennedy could ever be, given the gender and social dynamics of the early 1960s. It's not an accident that her chief of staff, Dion Copley, was previously her husband's Senate chief of staff, and someone who has practical experience crafting legislation and dealing with other senators. And experience working with a driven, idealistic boss.

The role of First Lady, traditionally, was simply being the head of Washington D.C. polite society, and chief hostess for foreign dignitaries. Prior to the New Deal era, there was little political involvement on the part of the president's spouse, with a few notable exceptions such as Lucy Hayes forbidding alcohol to be served at the White House during her husband Rutherford's presidency, and Edith Wilson acting as the gatekeeper for information to her husband Woodrow, in the last two years of his presidency after he was laid low by a stroke (Wilson's disability and the First Lady's "stewardship" over him afterwards was not revealed to the public until Wilson was out of office).

As the country began its slow progress towards modern political and social equality for women, the role gradually expanded outwards: First Ladies, starting with Eleanor Roosevelt, became more vocal on certain political issues near and dear to them; Lady Bird Johnson with highway beautification and Nancy Reagan with the "War on Drugs" were the most notable examples. Betty Ford's candidness was perhaps the first crack in the traditional model of "First Ladyhood", and it was ironically Libby Lassiter, with her outspoken ultraconservative politics, who paved the way for the "modern" First Ladies that have succeeded her. Abigail Bartlet was an unapologetic career-oriented woman who made it a point (before the Bartlet multiple sclerosis scandal when she voluntarily suspended her medical license) to be referred to as "Dr. Bartlet" instead of "Mrs. Barlet"; Helen Santos went, by her own admission, from supportive political wife to an active politician who won the Democratic nomination for a Senate seat in Texas last year. While Mary Walken was a "traditional" First Lady, had Republican voters had their way, the current First Lady would have be Laura Shallick, the senior senator from Missouri, who made it a point to say that if her husband Henry became president, she would not resign her Senate seat to take up the mostly-ceremonial duties of the First Lady.

Bartlet, whose failed nomination for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year led to her spending time with Parker-Seaborn and mentoring the younger woman in the ways the First Lady is scrutinized by the press, took heart that the modern First Lady was not to be relegated to a social hostess unless "it's by her choice." "Part of the wonderful thing with the younger generation of women and girls is that the voice in their head doesn't say 'it's not my place to speak out on issues I care about', it says 'why shouldn't I be allowed to speak out on issues that I care about?'' Bartlet said. "That's something that I believe that is good for our society, and good for women across the world to see."

Parker-Seaborn juggles so many roles that it's almost dizzying: First Lady, wife, ex-wife (from her brief first marriage), dog owner, aunt, sister, lawyer, socialite, businesswoman, philanthropist, retired child actor, and now, expectant mother. But its one role that she has that drives most of her political involvement during her husband's presidency: victim of gun violence. More specifically, the child of someone murdered with a gun.

"My father was a busy man," she recalls. "But when he did make time for us [her and her younger brother], he was so wonderful. He always had a way to make us laugh, even if we had just been fighting with each other, or with our mother."

Her father was Salvatore Parker, a Los Angeles lawyer and staunch Republican who was appointed Lieutenant Governor of California in 1986, when Parker-Seaborn was only 7, under new Governor Teddy Bridges. Parker's appointment resulted in his daughter's acting career ending and the family's move to Sacramento, a fact that she laughingly recalls she disliked mostly because she no longer got to dress up for various acting roles.

Bridges and Parker won terms of their own later that year, and developed a strong personal relationship, somewhat unusual when both men were elected separately to their respective positions. The pair planned to run an essentially joint campaign in 1990, according to recollections from both Bridges and Parker's staff.

But on August 26, 1989, as Parker jogged down a Sacramento alley, he was accosted. What occurred next hasn't been definitively proven without a suspect, but detectives studying the incident believe it was a mugging that went horribly wrong. "The lieutenant governor's wallet being in his hand with no money missing and the position of his arm near where he was known to keep his wallet, indicates that he was probably held up at gunpoint and went to remove his wallet," retired detective John Bartone, who was one of the first homicide detectives on the scene, said in a 2018 interview. "It's likely that the perpetrator was startled in some way and shot [Parker] twice in the chest, then fled in a panic."

It was only three days after Parker-Seaborn's eleventh birthday and marked an irrevocable end to her childhood. The Bridges took the Parkers in, and Parker-Seaborn's mother Helen was sent into a deep depression that lasted for months. "If it hadn't been for the Bridges, I don't want to think what would have happened to us," Parker-Seaborn said. "There was no way my mother could take care of herself, much less two children, in that condition." Both Governor Bridges and his wife, Grace, remain close family friends of Parker-Seaborn and her brother Salvatore Jr. (or "S.J."); Bridges walked Parker-Seaborn down the aisle during both of her weddings.

Coming to terms with her father's death, Parker-Seaborn joined Bridges in defying the Republican Party and proposing a strict handgun ban in California. She made a few public appearances alongside Bridges, and stoically stood, at age 17, with Bridges when he signed the Parker Handgun Ban into law in 1996. The ban was overturned by the Supreme Court two years later, and Parker-Seaborn, by then a prominent member of the College Republicans at Stanford, broke with Bridges, her family, and the rest of the party and spoke out for its re-institution. The hostile reaction she received afterwards led her to resign from the College Republicans and leave the party less than a year after effectively leading Lewis Eisenhower's campaign on the Stanford campus.

After that, she exited the political arena to focus on her professional career and personal life: graduating from Stanford with a bachelor's degree in pre-law in 2000, she went straight to the university's law school and became a member of the California bar in 2003. During her time at law school, her mother passed away from uterine cancer, and Parker-Seaborn tasked herself with establishing a foundation in her mother's honor. To that end, while still a law student, she started her own clothing line to supplement the trust fund she would inherit upon her 25th birthday, which eventually became the Smithee-Parker Foundation upon incorporation in 2004.

After graduation, she gained a position in her father's old Los Angeles firm of Summers, Calloway, and Hamilton in 2004 just as her first marriage ended. She met Sam Seaborn, another member of the firm, and became engaged to him in October 2005. When incoming White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman asked her fiancé to join him in running the Santos White House, Parker-Seaborn agreed to follow her husband to the nation's capital. The marriage date was continually postponed, as the tension in the relationship led to a "half-dozen" breakups and reconciliations before Seaborn left in June 2009 to begin sounding out a run for the Senate.

The couple would finally marry in June 2010, even after being injured in a car accident alongside a campaign staffer and driver. While appearing as a dutiful political spouse and making the necessary public appearances with her husband, Parker-Seaborn largely spent her energies towards her legal, business and philanthropic efforts. Before the 2018 campaign, she was "removed" in her own words, from most of the political aspects of being married to a United States senator.

That changed when, after long and frank discussions with her and close friends, Seaborn announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to replace Glen Allen Walken as president. Now, Lauren Parker-Seaborn took a leave of absence from her firm and handed off day-to-day control over her business and foundation and joined her husband on the campaign trail. She sat in on strategy meetings, argued with consultants and advisers, and pushed her husband on issues like LGBT rights and, perhaps most contentiously of all, guns.

It has been political folk wisdom in Washington that federal gun control legislation is doomed to fail. The deep coffers of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their willingness to drown gun control proponents in negative advertising and throw funds to any opponents that stand for a looser interpretation of the Second Amendment's "well-regulated militia" clause, in this telling, mean that any serious attempt at significant gun control is foolhardy at best, political suicide at worst. The "lonely landslide" that was Josiah Bartlet's re-election victory, in this school of thought, was due in part to the president's efforts to extend the federal assault weapons ban that was due to expire in 2003.

Throw in the realignment of the Republican Party in the quarter-century since the ban was passed in 1993, with several moderate Republicans helping to overcome Owen Lassiter's veto, and the conventional wisdom looks compelling to the handicappers in Washington. Especially with the failure of the last three presidents to find an effective legislative solution to gun violence in the country, as the number of mass shootings shows no sign in stopping.

That's not what Lauren Parker-Seaborn sees when she looks at the situation. "Over 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks, including 80 percent of all gun owners," she says, "Three-quarters of Americans, including most Republicans, want stricter gun control. An assault weapons ban that would make the AR-15 that we see used again and again in mass shootings has 70 percent support, including, again, majority support among Republican voters…If there wasn't an entire industry that has decided profits are worth more than people's lives, or their votes, then this wouldn't even be worth discussing."

Those are strident words. But they are buttressed by news about the NRA—the most powerful and prominent special interest group that is opposed to new gun control legislation— and its shambolic finances. Reporting a net loss of $46 million last year in part due to what appears to be shoddy investments, the venerable organization, started by Union Civil War veterans nearly 150 years ago to teach marksmanship and firearm safety, has also been the target of investigations by state regulators in New York (where the organization is chartered) and others over its status as a tax-free non-profit. Additionally, several members of the association's board of directors have been implicated in double-dealing at the organization's expense, misusing the donations and dues from the organization's 5 million members. It's conceivable that even with a president who supports "get[ting] the guns", the NRA might not be able to cow legislators into opposing new gun control legislation.

With a Republican-controlled Senate, Parker-Seaborn is under no illusions about the possibility of universal background checks in this Congress. "It's not about this cycle," she says, stretching on the foldable beach chair she's sitting on. "It's about the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that." She's read the polling data, just like others in Washington. Younger voters (aged 18 to 29) support almost all forms of gun control at a higher rate than their elders, and as firearm ownership continues to decline from its high point in the mid-1970s (when nearly 55% of Americans lived in a home with at least one firearm compared to 32% in 2016), it is likely that at some point, gun control opponents will find themselves politically, if not actually, out-gunned.

The Supreme Court's Brewer v. New York City decision affirming the individual right to own a handgun for "traditionally lawful purposes" such as home self-defense, puts a backstop on quite a few gun control proposals, but Parker-Seaborn doesn't bat an eye when presented with the Court's ruling.

"The majority decision still gives Congress the ability to put certain limits on firearm ownership and the types of weapons civilians are allowed to own," she says, "so while it throws up legal hurdles to quite a few options, there's still things Congress and state legislatures can do to make communities safer." She lists a few things states can do, such as introducing red-flag laws, which allow police to temporarily seize the firearms of someone a judge deems a potential danger to themselves or others, and passing state laws that require a background check to be run on any gun sale or transfer in that state.

But she admits that the only solution will have to be federal. "We've seen what happens without any kind of federal legislation: one state passes gun control legislation to stop gun violence in its communities, and guns acquired in neighboring states with looser gun laws get brought in and used in crimes," she says. "The only way we're going to get gun violence, including suicides using handguns— something that rarely gets talked about whenever this is brought up—down is through Congress doing what the American people want and passing common sense gun legislation."

It's words like that that have enraged hardcore conservatives, who have castigated Parker-Seaborn as an "coastal elitist" who unfairly demonizes gun owners. The First Lady laughs at the first charge. "I mean, I can't help that I grew up near an ocean, can I?" she says. "But I don't have anything against people who own guns legally and use them responsibly—it’s the small portion who get guns and misuse them, that I'm worried about. Especially with all the high-capacity assault rifles or easily-concealable handguns that are floating around."

So, she's going to keep pressing for a solution, hopeful that demographic and political change will led to Americans electing a Congress that will take strong action on the country's problem with gun violence and mass shootings. It might make her unpopular with some sections of the country, but Lauren Parker-Seaborn has a higher calling than national popularity.

"I don't want there to be a need for active shooter drills, or a market for bulletproof backpacks. I don't want thirty more years to go by without feeling like I've done something so that other children don't have to go through what I went through because of a gun." She says, as her nieces splash about in the surf. She checks her watch and calls out that it's time to leave. Her nephew trudges over, left behind in Marty's wake as the Jack Russell Terrier speeds towards his owner. Her nieces walk over, telling her excitedly about the seashells they found. Policy discussions, constitutional debates, and questions about whether she should be opining on such a topic are gone, for now. Now, as she patiently listens to six year-old Lea Parker talk about the pretty shell she found while eight-year old Ava dries off, she's not the First Lady, or the style icon for professional women—she's Aunt Lauren, who would really like to hear more about the pretty shell her niece found on a secluded California beach.