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Cracker Squire


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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sometimes I just don't get it: Ban lifted on Medicare coverage for sex change surgery

From The Washington Post:

The Obama administration on Friday ended a 33-year ban on Medicare coverage for gender reassignment surgery — a major victory for transgender rights and a decision that is likely to put pressure on more insurers to provide coverage for such services.

The ruling by a Department of Health and Human Services board was in response to a lawsuit filed last year on behalf of Denee Mallon, 74, a transgender woman and army veteran from Albuquerque.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Eston Wycliffe "Wyc" Orr, Sr., October 28, 1946 - May 28, 2014

From Little & Davenport Funeral Home in Gainesville Website:

Eston Wycliffe (“Wyc”) Orr, Sr., 67, died Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia. Wyc was born in Tifton, Georgia the son of Emogene Gaskins Orr and John Hughes Orr, Sr. He is survived by his wife of 46 years Lyn Harden Orr, his daughter and son-in-law Kristine Orr Brown and David Kyle Brown of Atlanta, his son and daughter-in-law Eston Wycliffe Orr, Jr. and Amanda Bauer Orr of Atlanta, three granddaughters Jacqueline Elizabeth Brown, Caroline Lilly Brown and Anne Marie Orr, one grandson William Eston Wycliffe Orr, his brothers Robert Daniel Orr and John Hughes Orr, Sr., his sister-in-law Mary Booker Wall, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Oren H. (Buddy) Harden, Jr. and Linda Harden, and many loved nieces, nephews and their families. Wyc cherished his family, was a bedrock on whom his loved ones could always count, and enjoyed being a grandfather as much anything on earth
Wyc was raised in Tifton, Georgia where he graduated from Tift County High School, 1964, was an outstanding baseball and basketball player and delivered the high school valedictory address. Wyc went on to earn a B.S., with high honors, from Auburn University, graduating first in his business school class, Phi Kappa Phi and as Distinguished Military Graduate. In addition, Wyc earned a J.D. from the University Of Tennessee College Of Law where he graduated first in class, Order of the Coif and was a law review editor.

Wyc had a long and distinguished legal career. Wyc practiced law for 43 years, including service as a captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, West Germany, followed by 40 years of private practice, nineteen of which were with his daughter, Kristine Orr Brown. As a legal advocate, Wyc focused intensely on providing and ensuring representation for the poor, injured, those treated unjustly, and individuals less fortunate than himself, with an unwavering belief that one must “fight injustice wherever you find it.” Wyc’s work on behalf of indigent defense manifested itself most acutely in his spearheading the creation of the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council for which Wyc served as a charter board member from 2003 to 2011. Wyc’s work on behalf of indigent defense culminated with his 2014 receipt of the Southern Center for Human Rights’ lifetime achievement award. Among Wyc’s numerous legal accomplishments and accolades are his service on the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors, founding and presiding over the Chattahoochee American Inn of Court (subsequently renamed the E. Wycliffe Orr, Sr. Inn of Court), and receipt of multiple awards for distinguished legal professionalism and ethics. In addition to his legal career, Wyc served as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1989 to 1993, was vice chair of Common Cause Georgia, served on the University Of Tennessee College Of Law Alumni Advisory Council, and was a past member of the Auburn Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Wyc was a 40-year member of Gainesville First United Methodist Church where he previously chaired the administrative board and taught youth Sunday school. Wyc’s family is forever grateful for the exceptional medical care he received at Emory University Hospital under the care of Dr. David Kooby and the Rollins Pavilion staff.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, David Kooby Research Fund, 1762 Clifton Road NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, Georgia 30322; Meals on Wheels, Community Council on Aging, 430 Prior Street SE, Gainesville, Georgia 30501; or First United Methodist Church Children & Youth First Fund, 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville, Georgia 30506

A celebration of Wyc’s life will be held Monday, June 2, 4:00 PM, at Gainesville First United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends at a reception following the service. A private burial will follow at Fletcher Cemetery, Alapaha, Georgia.

Those wishing to send online condolences to the family may do so at littledavenport.com

Little & Davenport Funeral Home, 355 Dawsonville Highway, SW, Gainesville, Georgia 30501 is in charge of the arrangements.

David Brooks on Pres.Obama and the Autocracy Challenge

David Brooks writes in The New York Times:
It’s hard to remember, but back in the early 1990s there was a debate about how nations should emerge from Communism — the Russian way or the Chinese way. The Russians did political and economic reform together. The Chinese just did economic reform.
Reality doesn’t allow clean experiments, but the Chinese model has won in the court of public opinion. China’s success has given autocracy a legitimacy it lacked. In each of the past eight years, according to Freedom House, the number of countries that moved in an autocratic direction has outnumbered those that moved in a democratic one.

When you look at autocracies, you notice that many have undergone a similar life cycle. Autocrats may start out thinking they will be benevolent dictators. They may start out flirting with the West and talking about liberalizing reforms. But their regimes are almost always corrupt and inefficient. To stay on top, autocrats have to whip up nationalistic furies. They have to be aggressive in their regions to keep the country united on a permanent war footing. Unstable within, autocracies have to be radioactive abroad. Autocrats may start out claiming to be their country’s Deng Xiaoping, but they often end up more like Robert Mugabe.
Dealing with thuggish radioactive autocracies will probably be the great foreign policy challenge of the next decade. Aggressive autocratic rulers will challenge national borders and inflame regional rivalries. They will exacerbate ethnic tensions and gnaw at the world order. They have already made the world a more ornery place.

How will the United States respond? President Obama laid out his approach in a speech at West Point this week. He argued persuasively that the U.S. will have to do a lot more to mobilize democracies to take effective collective action against autocratic aggression. Moreover, his administration does champion democracy. On the same day Obama spoke, his ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, gave a great commencement speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government explaining why democracy promotion has to be at the core of American foreign policy.

But the president’s attitude seems to me in some ways ill-suited for the autocratic challenge. First, he might have the balance wrong between overreach and underreach. Perhaps drawing on the Iraq example, President Obama believes America’s problems have not been caused by too much restraint, but by overreach and hubris.

In the larger frame of history, this is a half-truth. In the 1920s and ’30s, for example, Americans were in a retrenching mood, like today. The result was a leaderless world, the gradual decay of the world order and eventually World War II.
As Robert Kagan shows in a brilliant essay in The New Republic, for the past 70 years, American policy makers have understood that underreach can lead to catastrophe, too. Presidents assertively tended the international garden so that small problems didn’t turn into big ones, even when core national interests were not at stake. In the 1990s, for example, President George H.W. Bush and President Clinton took military action roughly every 17 months to restrain dictators, spread democracy and preserve international norms.
This sort of forward-leaning interventionist garden-tending will be even more necessary in an age of assertive autocracies. If the U.S. restricts intervention to “core interests,” as Obama suggests, if it neglects constant garden-tending, the thugs will grab and grab and eventually there will be horrendous conflagrations. America’s assertive responses will not need to be military; they rarely will be. But they’ll need to be simple, strong acts of deterrence to preserve order. As Leon Wieseltier notes, if President Obama spoke in Kiev on his coming European trip, that alone would be an assertive gesture, like J.F.K. going to Berlin. 
Second, President Obama underestimates how much the logic of force will remain central in the years ahead. It would be nice if autocrats thought in terms of international norms or according to the rational calculus of cost benefit analysis. But autocrats got where they are because they are primitives who perceive the world through the ancient calculus of power and force. What we perceive as prudence, they perceive as weakness. Absent clear and forceful counterpressure, they will cross red lines that the current or future president will have to enforce.
For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. had a two-level foreign policy. On top, American diplomats built multilateral coalitions to extend democracy. But at the bottom level, American presidents understood their responsibility as the world’s enforcer, occasionally operating according to the logic of menace and force.

If President Obama departs from that tradition and takes away that bottom level — for fear of overreach, or in a quest for normalcy, or out of an excessive belief in the limits of his own power — then he will undermine the top level that he admires. The autocrats will drag the world into an ungodly mess.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lower the flag to half-mast - A Great American and a Great Georgian has left this life - Wyc Orr will indeed be missed. A couple of past posts about Wyc will follow.

Local article.

In one of the posts I recall:

Wyc and I became friends when we were in summer camp together in the Army at Fort Bragg one long, hot summer in 1969, the summer the Eagle landed on the moon. And we continued our friendship afterwards.

Wyc is as solid as the U.S. dollar and the Rock of Gibraltar. His word is his bond. His integrity beyond question and never in doubt. And he is smart, very smart. He was the first in his class at the University of Tennessee Law School, which puts him in the elite among the elite.

From the Cracker Squire Archives: Let the battle begin: Even on Aug. 2 when Obama comes to Atlanta, Barnes will be in Middle and South Georgia (the Other Georgia). We love him here!!

From a 7-25-2010 post:

Curtis Farrar, John Ellington, Sid Cottingham, Wyc Orr and Chuck Byrd in Enigma on Saturday where a good time was had by each (and there were many eaches) and everyone. Photo by Amy Morton

Jim Galloway of ajc's the Political Insider had a Saturday post entitled "Roy Barnes bets his campaign on rural Georgia."

Based on the size and enthusiasm of the turnout in Enigma -- the home of Bobby Rowan, a former state senator and former member of the Public Service Commission -- at a 12-county rally yesterday, you would have thought the bet was won and it was time to call the dogs in, put out the fire and go home.

What a great day in South Georgia!

And Darryl Hicks, it was great getting to meet you in person. Good luck on your race for State Labor Commissioner.

When our Yankee friends used to come into Atlanta they were welcomed (some might take issue with the word welcomed when speaking of Yankees) or at least greeted with the initials and call sign of WSB radio station on a towering radio mast atop the Biltmore, the call sign for WSB standing for "Welcome South, Brother."

No towering signs were needed in Enigma for Roy on Saturday. There was an undeniable feeling shared by all of welcome to South Georgia Brother Roy, we love you and Godspeed.

Now back to Jim Galloway's article:

Last Tuesday night, for the third time, Roy Barnes won the Democratic nomination for governor.

Barnes thanked his supporters, complimented his defeated opponents, and condemned Republicans who “gave tax breaks to special interests and then had to lay off teachers and shorten the school year to cover up their mistakes.”

And then he dropped off the face of metro Atlanta.

Not even an Aug. 2 visit to Atlanta by President Barack Obama will bring Barnes back. “He’s going to be in Middle and South Georgia,” campaign manager Chris Carpenter said Saturday.

Barnes has bet his campaign on rural Georgia — the one that turned its back on him in 2002 for his removal of the Confederate battle emblem from its place on the state flag.

“Roy Barnes told me about six months ago that if he wins this election he’ll have to win it south of Macon,” said Bobby Rowan, a former state senator and former member of the Public Service Commission.

On Saturday, Rowan was one of the organizers of a 12-county rally featuring Barnes, held in the little town of Enigma, just east of Tifton.

“We’ve got some little girls that’s wearing T-shirts that say ‘Barnes chicks.’ They’re going to pass out 1,500 of these ol’ church fans,” Rowan said. “The last time something like this was had down in South Georgia was when Carl Sanders took on Marvin Griffin. That was 1962.”

[That race is summarized in a 9-16-04 Cracker Squire post that noted: "In 1962 Carl Sanders defeated Marvin Griffin for governor in the last of the great campaigns in which candidates held large rallies and barbecues. After the election Griffin said, "Everybody that ate my barbecue I don't believe voted for me."]

But Rowan, known for his poetic drawl and populist style, was exaggerating. The last time we saw a gubernatorial campaign like this was in 2002.

A Democrat-turned-Republican state senator named Sonny Perdue picked out 70 counties in rural Georgia that, four years earlier, had voted for both Barnes and U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell, a Republican.

While the Roy Barnes of 2002 worked from Atlanta and hardly ever shed his business suit, each Friday night would see Perdue on the sidelines of several South Georgia high school football games, shaking hands and slapping backs.

Those rural swing counties and a promise to put the 1956 state flag and its Confederate battle emblem up for a statewide vote formed the core of the effort that made Perdue the first Republican governor in 130 years.

Carpenter, the Barnes campaign manager, acknowledged strategic similarities between the Perdue campaign of 2002 and the Barnes campaign of 2010. “We’ve taken our campaign all across the state. Roy’s been to over 90 counties,” he said.

In last week’s balloting, Republican voters cast twice as many ballots as Democrats. But the Barnes campaign doesn’t believe the GOP grasp on rural Georgia is as strong as many think.

Carpenter is a great believer in maps. One of those on the wall of the campaign manager’s Marietta office shows the Georgia counties with Democratic sheriffs — 108 of 159.

The majority of these Democratic sheriffs work below the gnat line.

While it has a Republican sheriff, Berrien County — home to Enigma — is one of those counties that voted for Barnes in 1998, then swung to Perdue in 2002.

Rowan thinks his county is ready to swing again.

Neither Nathan Deal nor Karen Handel, the two Republicans left in the race for governor, has paid Berrien County a visit. Eric Johnson of Savannah won the Republican side of the primary in Berrien, followed by John Oxendine.

Rowan doesn’t think party labels will matter in November.

“We frankly don’t care anymore,” he said. “Partisan politics has passed us. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Roy Barnes could roll up a 60 to 70 percent win in our county.”

Margins of that size, reached in multiple rural counties, could offset balloting from the Republican-dominated counties of metro Atlanta. A heavy turnout for Barnes in rural Georgia would essentially crack the super-majority of white voters required for statewide GOP victories.

Rowan said the Confederate enthusiasts who dogged Barnes throughout the 2002 campaign are no longer a concern. “Sonny promised them a vote. They know they ain’t never getting a vote,” Rowan said.

But it is the economy of South Georgia that has leveled the playing field, the former legislator said.

“This whole election, it ain’t about a $3 tag, it ain’t about a chicken in every pot. It’s about a job for every man that’ll work. That’s the issue,” Rowan said.

He told of an unemployed friend who’d recently confessed that, while his neighbors thought him prosperous, he was about to lose his house.

“That man is not Republican or Democrat. He’s a human being,” Rowan said. “But if you make him a promise, and he believes you might can help him, that’s where his vote’s going.

“He won’t even slow down to think about Republicans or Democrats. It’s too late for that,” Rowan said.

From the Cracker Squire Archives: Wyc Orr, an impassioned Democrat and a great party spokesman, passes on the 2008 U.S. Senate race.

From a 7-24-2007 post:

I appreciated Wyc Orr calling me yesterday to let me know that he had decided against making a run for the U.S. Senate next year.

His decision not to run is the subject of a post today in the AJC's Political Insider.

Wyc and I became friends when we were in summer camp together in the Army at Fort Bragg one long, hot summer in 1969, the summer the Eagle landed on the moon. And we continued our friendship afterwards.

Wyc is as solid as the U.S. dollar and the Rock of Gibraltar. His word is his bond. His integrity beyond question and never in doubt. And he is smart, very smart. He was the first in his class at the University of Tennessee Law School, which puts him in the elite among the elite.

Just two weeks ago Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact wrote:

Wyc Orr, who’s spent more than three decades practicing law in Gainesville and doing some politics on the side, . . . has become a popular figure in Democratic circles because of stirring speeches he’s made to groups of party activists in recent months. He shuns the defeatist attitude that comes from losing control of the governor’s office and the state legislature, and contends that Democrats should take credit for a lot of the progress Georgia has made in recent decades.

“When Democrats are reminded of their great heritage and what it has done to build modern Georgia and modern America, they take great pride in it,” he says. “They’re thrilled by it . . . . Modern Georgia is a testament, in many ways, to wise, progressive Democratic leadership.”

Orr’s positive take on Democratic politics has energized young party activists who are pressing him to get into the 2008 Senate race against Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. A website has been created to draft Orr for a Senate campaign and petitions are being circulated across the state to drum up support.

Like the late Hubert Humphrey, Orr is a happy warrior who loves the game of politics and inspires that same zest in the people with whom he comes in contact. While he hasn’t said yes to those who want him to run for the U.S. Senate, he is not counting out the possibility either. “I intend to watch this with interest over the next year and see how things develop,” he said. “Who knows what the political landscape will look like in six months, let alone a year?”

Wyc is passing on the upcoming Senate race, but I know he will remain the same impassioned Democrat and great party spokeman he has always been. Wyc, we appreciate you and what you have done and will continue to do for the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Costs From Health Law Snarl Union Contract Talks - Workers and Employers Tussle Over Who Should Pay for New Costs Tied to Affordable Care Act

From The Wall Street Journal:

Disputes between unions and employers over paying for new costs associated with the Affordable Care Act are roiling labor talks nationwide.

Unions and employers are tussling over who will pick up the tab for new mandates, such as coverage for dependent children to age 26, as well as future costs, such as a tax on premium health plans starting in 2018. The question is poised to become a significant point of tension as tens of thousands of labor contracts covering millions of workers expire in the next several years, with ACA-related cost increases ranging from 5% to 12.5% in current talks.

Labor experts on both sides say the law doesn't take into account that health benefits have been negotiated by employers and unions over decades, and that rewriting plans to meet new requirements can affect wages and other labor terms.

Disputes between unions and employers over paying for new costs associated with the Affordable Care Act are roiling labor talks nationwide.

Unions and employers are tussling over who will pick up the tab for new mandates, such as coverage for dependent children to age 26, as well as future costs, such as a tax on premium health plans starting in 2018. The question is poised to become a significant point of tension as tens of thousands of labor contracts covering millions of workers expire in the next several years, with ACA-related cost increases ranging from 5% to 12.5% in current talks.

Another provision of the law that eliminates caps on annual and lifetime health-care costs has forced multi-employer plans to purchase their own insurance to prevent potential runaway costs from bankrupting plans.

Jim Ray, a lawyer who represents the Laborers International Union of North America in benefits negotiations, said these provisions have increased construction-industry health plans' costs by 5% to 10%, and already resulted in lower wages for some laborers. He said employers are frequently seeking contract language to cap their own liability for future cost increases from the law.

"When we first supported the calls for health-care reform, we thought it was going to bring costs down," he said.

In other cases, the law has resulted in some workers losing coverage from multi-employer plans. Last year, the United Food and Commercial Workers agreed to eliminate existing coverage for thousands of newer part-time workers at New England supermarkets, in order to preserve benefits for full-time workers.

The union says it replaced the coverage with a combination of benefits, including health savings accounts. Elsewhere, the union has agreed to several supermarket contracts that eliminate health coverage for certain members' spouses who have coverage available elsewhere.

"On a broad level, the biggest challenge facing all our negotiations is certain provisions the Affordable Care Act is demanding on plans," said Jill Cashen, a UFCW spokeswoman.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hospitals Look to Health Law, Cutting Charity

From The New York Times:

Hospital systems around the country have started scaling back financial assistance for lower- and middle-income people without health insurance, hoping to push them into signing up for coverage through the new online marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.

The trend is troubling to advocates for the uninsured, who say raising fees will inevitably cause some to skip care rather than buy insurance that they consider unaffordable. Though the number of hospitals tightening access to free or discounted care appears limited so far, many say they are considering doing so, and experts predict that stricter policies will become increasingly common.

Driving the new policies is the cost of charity care, which is partly covered by government but remains a burden for many hospitals. The new law also reduces federal aid to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor and uninsured people, creating an additional pressure on some to restrict charity care.

In St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has started charging co-payments to uninsured patients, no matter how poor they are. The Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua no longer provides free care for most uninsured patients who are above the federal poverty line — $11,670 for an individual. And in Burlington, Vt., Fletcher Allen Health Care has reduced financial aid for uninsured patients who earn between twice and four times the poverty level.

By tightening requirements for charity care, hospital executives say, they hope to encourage eligible people to obtain low-cost insurance through the subsidized private plans now available under the law.

“Do we allow our charity care programs to kick in if people are unwilling to sign up?” said Nancy M. Schlichting, chief executive of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “Our inclination is to say we will not, because it just seems that that defeats the purpose of what the Affordable Care Act has put in place.”
In the past, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center generally provided free or discounted care for patients who were at or below 225 percent of the poverty level, or about $26,260 for an individual. But starting this year, only patients below the poverty level will receive such charity care, said Paul Trainor, the system’s vice president of finance.
Patients “who refuse to purchase federally mandated health insurance when they are eligible to do so will not be awarded charitable care,” the hospital’s revised policy states.
The financial challenges are particularly daunting in the more than 24 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, including Missouri. The Affordable Care Act reduces federal aid for uncompensated care on the assumption that hospitals would replace much of the lost income with payments for patients newly covered by Medicaid.
But the Supreme Court in 2012 gave states the right to opt out of the expansion. Now hospitals that treat the poor and uninsured in states like Missouri are losing federal aid without getting new Medicaid payments, a problem they say is threatening their bottom lines. Robert Hughes, the president and chief executive of the Missouri Foundation for Health, an independent philanthropic group, said BJC HealthCare was “in a tough spot” because of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training - Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, gave a commencement address last week that graduates, and their parents, won't soon forget.

A Navy SEAL instructor and his class during 'Hell Week' in Coronado, Calif.

My wife Sally's father was stationed in Coronado while in the Navy.  During our visits she always comments how amazing it is that so little has changed since she lived there years ago.  Seeing SEALS training makes one want to come to attention and salute.  God Bless America!

From The Wall Street Journal:

The following is adapted from the commencement address by Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University of Texas at Austin on May 17.  

The University of Texas slogan is "What starts here changes the world."
I have to admit—I kinda like it.

"What starts here changes the world."

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com, says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.

That's a lot of folks. But if every one of you changed the lives of just 10 people, and each one of those folks changed the lives of another 10 people—just 10—then in five generations, 125 years, the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

Eight-hundred million people—think of it: over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—eight billion people.

If you think it's hard to change the lives of 10 people, change their lives forever, you're wrong.

I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the 10 soldiers with him are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a noncommissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn't right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500-pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.
But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn were also saved. And their children's children were saved.
Generations were saved by one decision, by one person.
But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.
So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is: What will the world look like after you change it?
Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.
And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.
I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, Calif.
Basic SEAL training is six months of long, torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacle courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.
It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.
But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships. To me basic SEAL training was a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months.
So, here are lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.
1. Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—that's Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
2. During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy. Every day, your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.
In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.
For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.
You can't change the world alone—you will need some help—and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.
If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
3. Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class, which started with 150 men, was down to just 42. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.
I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them. No one was over about 5-foot-5.
The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African-American, one Polish-American, one Greek-American, one Italian-American and two tough kids from the Midwest.
They out-paddled, out-ran and out-swam all the other boat crews.
The big men in the other boat crews would always make good-natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim. But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the nation and the world, always had the last laugh—swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.
SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.
If you want to change the world, measure people by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
4. Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough. Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.
But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle, it just wasn't good enough. The instructors would find "something" wrong.
For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed, into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a "sugar cookie." You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.
There were many students who just couldn't accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right, it was unappreciated.
Those students didn't make it through training. Those students didn't understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.
Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It's just the way life is sometimes.
If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
5. Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events. Long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.
Every event had standards, times that you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards, your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a "circus."
A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. No one wanted a circus. A circus meant that for that day you didn't measure up. A circus meant more fatigue, and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.
But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list. Yet an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students, who did two hours of extra calisthenics, got stronger and stronger. The pain of the circuses built inner strength—built physical resiliency.
Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.
But if you want to change the world, don't be afraid of the circuses.
6. At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot-high wall, a 30-foot cargo net and a barbed-wire crawl, to name a few.
But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level, 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot-long rope.
You had to climb the three-tiered tower and, once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.
The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable until one day a student decided to go down the slide for life—head-first. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the top of the rope and thrust himself forward.
It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training. Without hesitation, the student slid down the rope, perilously fast. Instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.
If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head-first.
7. During the land-warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island near San Diego. The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for great white sharks. To pass SEAL training, there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One is the night swim.
Before the swim, the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente. The instructors assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.
But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position, stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid. And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you, then summon up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.
There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.
So, if you want to change the world, don't back down from the sharks.
8. As Navy SEALs, one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training. The ship-attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over 2 miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.
During the entire swim, even well below the surface, there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you. But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight, it blocks the surrounding street lamps, it blocks all ambient light.
To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the centerline and the deepest part of the ship. This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship, where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship's machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.
Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission, is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.
If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
9. The ninth week of SEAL training is referred to as Hell Week. It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slues—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.
It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing-cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure from the instructors to quit.
As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some "egregious infraction of the rules" was ordered into the mud. The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.
Looking around the mud flat, it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone-chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything. And then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.
The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm. One voice became two, and two became three, and before long everyone in the class was singing.
We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted. And somehow, the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.
If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan named Malala—can change the world by giving people hope.
So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you're up to your neck in mud.
10. Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.
All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o'clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell.
If you want to change the world don't ever, ever ring the bell.
To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away from starting to change the world—for the better.
It will not be easy.
But start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world, for the better.
Thank you very much. Hook 'em horns.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Patton Boggs, the Washington legal powerhouse that helped pioneer modern-day lobbying, won't be Patton Boggs any more.

From The Washington Post:

Patton Boggs, the Washington legal powerhouse that helped pioneer modern-day lobbying, is merging with Squire Sanders, a large international law firm with roots in Cleveland, in a deal that marks the end of an era in the changing influence industry.

The merger, approved by partners at both firms this week and announced Friday, concludes Patton Boggs’s 52-year run as an independent law and lobby firm. It comes after a year-and-a-half of uncertainty and financial troubles at the firm, which were heightened by its involvement in an unusual and expensive legal battle with Chevron.

The new firm, which will combine Squire Sanders’s 1,300 lawyers with 330 from Patton Boggs, is expected to take effect by June 1 and will be called Squire Patton Boggs. The firms had been in merger talks since February.

The deal represents a defining moment in Washington, where many credit Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., the firm’s chairman and scion of a Louisiana politics family, with creating the lobbying trade as it is now practiced.

Patton Boggs “evolved into an industry game-changer,” the firm said in a statement. “Through our combination with Squire Sanders we are doing it again.”

The end of Patton Boggs as a standalone firm is also a tale of an industry in transition. The firm could once secure its clients’ interests by relying on its ability to influence a few key powerbrokers, but it has been forced by changes in American politics to look for ways to sway larger groups of lawmakers and the public as a whole.

Although Patton Boggs remains atop the list of Washington lobby shops by reported revenue, its advocacy business has struggled along with others in the face of a dysfunctional Congress that has been unable to make progress on most legislation. At the same time, many companies that used to be clients have increased their Washington lobbying staffs, while the ranks of the city’s trade associations, small specialty firms and other advocacy groups have also swelled, leaving less room for big firms such as Patton Boggs.

Patton Boggs also has been hit by difficulties that have afflicted the legal industry. Law firms are facing mounting pressure to increase profits, while their clients trimmed their legal budgets after the recession in 2008. Those problems were made worse by several elements of the firm’s culture, including a compensation scheme that discouraged collaboration and made it difficult to attract new talent.

In recent months, Patton Boggs’s erosion has been on full display. The firm had to lay off 40 lawyers and 70 staffers to deal with declining finances, high-profile partners defected to other firms, and at least one previous merger attempt was called off. The clash with Chevron, which involved allegations that Patton Boggs had committed fraud in connection with an environmental case in Ecuador, was resolved after the firm agreed this month to pay a $15 million settlement to the oil giant. Patton Boggs did not acknowledge wrongdoing. This step, though embarassing, was seen as necessary before the firm could go forward with a merger.

Jim Maiwurm, chairman and global chief executive of Squire Sanders, said the merger would give the combined firm a leading position in the Middle East and several new locations in the United States. “Together we will be uniquely positioned to respond to the needs of business clients around the world,” he said.

Patton Boggs is not the only law firm to struggle in recent years. Howrey dissolved in 2010, Dewey & LeBoeuf famously imploded in 2012, and almost every major U.S. law firm is facing pressure to maintain revenue and profitability.

But Patton Boggs, and its marquee name in Washington, has drawn particular scrutiny.
Boggs is the son of former Louisiana congressman and House majority leader Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. and Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband after he died. After working in the Johnson administration, Boggs went to law school and joined James Patton Jr. as the sixth lawyer of the firm that became Patton Boggs.

At that time, in 1966, there were — by Boggs’s estimate — fewer than 100 people in Washington who called themselves lobbyists. In the early days, K Street firms were mostly small shops led by former heads of federal agencies. Boggs and Patton envisioned a different kind of lobbying operation, one that was integrated into a major law firm, staffed with attorneys well-versed in the areas of law that lobbyists were looking to change.

The formula served them well. Boggs helped to orchestrate the first Chrysler bailout in 1979, a success that cemented Patton Boggs’s reputation as one of the most influential lobby shops in Washington.

“Tommy Boggs was a trailblazer in the city of the law firm lobbying model,” said Mike House, director of Hogen Lovell’s legislative group. “He is a great strategist, and nobody in the city is cooler under fire than he is.”

Tony Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, called Boggs a giant in the field. “He’s a brilliant guy who invented what a lot of us do.”

Patton Boggs enjoyed unprecedented success during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, when Washington’s lobbying industry was led by a cult of well-known personalities. Boggs — along with Gerald Cassidy of Cassidy & Associates, Stu Van Scoyoc of Van Scoyoc Associates, Bob Strauss of Akin Gump, J.D. Williams of Williams & Jensen and House of Hogan Lovells — put K Street on the map as the nation’s epicenter of advocacy.

“When I started this gig, there were about 15 people who ran the government,” Boggs said in a 2012 interview with the Post. “You didn’t need a lot of lobbyists, you only had to influence about 15 people.”

That is no longer the case.

“Now you’ve got at least 5,000 people who make government decisions that affect lots and lots of folks,” Boggs said in 2012. “As government has gotten more dispersed, you need more people to communicate with the people who now have policymaking power; that’s why the profession has grown so fast.”

As of 2013, there were about 12,341 federally registered lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And that figure doesn’t include the thousands of people in public affairs firms, advertising agencies, and grass-roots and Internet campaigns that contribute to the influence machine.
In the mid-1990s, Patton Boggs made a concerted effort to diversify, bulk up on staff and add new layers of management, going from a 150-lawyer firm to the 550-lawyer, 1,100-employee firm it was as of 2012.

But the firm has been grappling with structural problems for years. It relied for too long on Boggs himself and didn’t have a succession plan implemented soon enough, according to some former Patton Boggs attorneys.

The firm was also plagued by what’s known in the industry as an “eat what you kill” compensation system, under which lawyers’ pay is closely tied to the clients they bring into the firm. That approach reduced incentive to share work and contributed to a feeling among partners that those at the top of the firm were reaping most of the reward, leaving those lower in the ranks without their fare share.

Moreover, Patton Boggs for years allowed many partners to stay even though they did not generate significant revenue for the firm, according to some current and former Patton Boggs lawyers.

Patton Boggs remained strong until 2012, when it completed its representation of New York City against health-related claims over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — work that had been a major source of revenue for the firm. Overall, the firm’s annual revenue declined from $340 million in 2011 to $279 million last year.

On the advocacy front, Patton Boggs remains relatively strong. In 2013, the firm took in $40 million in publicly reported lobbying fees — $6 million more than the next firm, Akin Gump.

The firm’s involvement in the Chevron case dates to 2010, when Patton Boggs attorneys began representing a group of indigenous people from Ecuador who had sued Chevron over alleged health and environmental damage caused by toxins from oil drilling. The attorney representing the plaintiffs, New York lawyer Steven Donziger, won a $9.5 billion judgment from an Ecuadorian court, and Patton Boggs joined in the effort to help the plaintiffs collect the damages.

The case quickly became problematic. Chevron went after Donziger, alleging that the verdict was the result of improper evidence, including a key expert report. In March, a federal judge in New York sided with Chevron, ruling that the verdict in Ecuador was the product of fraud and racketeering and that the judgment should not be enforced. But the judge did not rule on whether Patton Boggs had also engaged in wrongdoing.

Shortly afterward, however, the judge allowed Chevron to pursue claims against Patton Boggs for allegedly committing fraud while trying to enforce the judgment. The matter was settled this month, when Patton Boggs agreed to pay Chevron $15 million in exchange for Chevron agreeing to release all claims against the law firm and its partners.

Friday, May 23, 2014

PTL: Chambliss, Isakson Statement on the Passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act

From an press release sent as an email from U.S. Senators Chambliss and Isakson:

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., released the following statement after the Senate passed the Conference Report on H.R.3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. The measure was approved by a vote of 91-7, and will now go to the president for his signature.

"With the passage of WRRDA, Congress has confirmed what we in Georgia already knew - the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is crucial for our region and the nation as a whole. This economic engine will support hundreds of thousands of jobs each year while generating billions in revenue for the entire Southeast. It is because of this fact the project has had overwhelming, bipartisan support from local, state and federal officials. For a decade and a half, we have completed every task set before us to get this project done. We have now cleared the last congressional hurdle, paving the way for the administration to give a green light to the state of Georgia to begin construction on what will be the largest port on the east coast for the Post-Panamax ships.”

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project was authorized in the Water Resources and Development Act of 1999 to deepen the Savannah River from its current 42-foot depth to as much as 47 feet. The project is being undertaken in anticipation of an expansion of the Panama Canal that will increase the maximum draft of vessels travelling to and from the East Coast from 39.5 feet to as much as 50 feet. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, it will bring more than $115 million in annual economic benefit to the United States, primarily through reducing costs associated with transportation.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Shifting Demographics Tilt Presidential Races in American Suburbs - Younger, More Affluent New Residents Are Reshaping the Vote in Metropolitan Regions of Denver, Atlanta, Washington, D.C.

The Citifying Suburbs
In the past decade metropolitan areas in states that are crucial to the electoral map have taken on more of the traits of their core cities—growing more urban, more diverse and better educated.
From The Wall Street Journal:

LEESBURG, Va.—This was a pastoral, conservative Washington suburb until a decade ago, when new jobs sprouting in and around the U.S. capital began drawing younger, more affluent people like Bill and Heather King.

Mr. King, a traffic engineer, and Dr. King, a hospital pediatrician, sought to live among other young professionals in a place with the vibrancy of their urban hometowns—qualities they say they found in this former colonial hamlet.
Not long ago, the couple, both 33 years old, might have skipped over Leesburg, the seat of Loudoun County. But the self-described "Democratic-leaning" Kings are among a new crop of residents sinking roots in formerly reliable Republican Party strongholds, reshaping older suburbs in the metropolitan regions of Denver; Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta; Washington and elsewhere.
These neighborhoods—so-called mature suburbs that sprouted in the decades after World War II—have become so densely populated over the past decade that they more closely resemble the big cities nearby. The U.S. census now classifies the counties that contain them as "urban."
The population of mature suburbs in the U.S. grew to about 60 million in 2010 from about 51 million a decade earlier, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of census data.
The newer residents look, shop and vote more like urban dwellers than suburbanites of the past. They bring money and diversity to their neighborhoods, supported by jobs in government, academics and technology.
Politically, Democrats see opportunity; Republicans see a challenge. Growth in mature suburbs has helped the Democrats in presidential contests.
George W. Bush, the most recent GOP president, built his two election victories, in part, on broad suburban support. To win the White House in 2016, Republicans must retain their exurban and rural strongholds, while beating back the growing Democratic tide in the suburbs.
From 2000 to 2012, the three mature-suburb counties around Atlanta all grew by double-digits, all saw their incomes rise and all cast a higher percentage of votes for Barack Obama in 2012 than for Al Gore in 2000.
In Franklin County, a mature-suburb county that holds Columbus, Ohio, the population grew by 12% and median household income climbed by about $8,000 over the same period. Democratic voting also surged: Mr. Obama took 60% of the county vote in 2012, compared with 49% for Mr. Gore in 2000.
The population of the two mature-suburb counties around Denver also grew over the same time, along with median household income. In the 2000 contest, Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush split the counties; in 2012, Mr. Obama won both.
Vote totals from the 2012 presidential election show Mr. Obama won the most populous chunk of the suburbs, ceding only the more sparsely-populated exurban reaches to Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

In 2000, the mature-suburb counties split 48% for Messrs. Gore and Bush. In 2012, 52% voted for Mr. Obama and 46% for Mr. Romney.
A Journal analysis of voting patterns in metropolitan regions of Columbus, Denver and Atlanta—which include their mature suburbs—shows that voters went from favoring Mr. Bush or splitting the vote with Mr. Gore in 2000, to favoring Mr. Obama in 2012, by large margins in some cases.

The surge in suburban population isn't all flight from adjacent cities, which was typical a generation ago. Instead, brains and money from across the U.S. are being lured to more concentrated geographic regions.
Loudoun County is in northern Virginia, a battleground state. It is the wealthiest county in the U.S. and one of the fastest-growing. Between 2000 and 2013, the county's population doubled to 350,000. Its once sleepy county seat, Leesburg, is a boomtown, too: Its population was 42,936 in 2012, a surge of 62% since 2000.
Minority residents account for 58% of Loudoun County's growth from 2000 to 2012, with Asians and Latinos making up the bulk of the increase, census data shows. Over the same period, the proportion of county residents born abroad grew from 11% to nearly a quarter.
Change has come with the expansion of Dulles International Airport, a planned extension of the Washington subway, and, earlier, the arrival of nearby technology businesses such as AOL Inc., and Amazon.com Inc.
"A city is a fun place to be when you're young," said Mr. King, formerly of Baltimore, who moved to Leesburg last year with his wife and a baby. The couple is expecting again.
Mr. King works for Loudoun County's transportation department, where he designs ways to manage traffic and accommodate the Washington subway, which is slated to open a stop here in 2018. His spouse, Dr. King, works at Frederick Memorial Hospital, about 25 minutes away. Together, they earn between $150,000 and $200,000 a year.
"People tend to gravitate toward people with whom they feel comfortable," Mr. King said, with Loudoun County becoming "definitely more diverse."
Mr. King voted for Mr. Obama in 2012, and Dr. King voted for Ron Paul. They consider themselves political independents.
The Kings bought a house with a small yard in a neighborhood walking distance to shopping and a park, as well as biking distance to Mr. King's office. Their block reflects the town's changing landscape: A retired couple lives next door, and down the street is a young professional family from Philadelphia.
Today, 23% of Loudoun County residents older than 25 hold a postgraduate degree, compared with about 11% nationally. The median age is 34.6 years old, compared with 37.2 years nationwide. The median household income is $122,000, nearly double the state median. Voters with similar demographic profiles have tended to vote Democratic in recent years, exit poll data shows.
The changes have reworked the political and physical landscape of Leesburg—founded in 1758—turning the onetime rural exurb nearly as blue as Fairfax County next door.
Retailers and restaurants reflect big-city consumer preferences. The colonial downtown is dotted with gourmet food shops, galleries and antique stores. The former Peoples National Bank is a wine bar and restaurant.
The town boasts three Starbucks coffee shops, which scores 136 on the liberal index, with 100 the average, according to data from Experian Consumer Insights, a research firm that studies U.S. shopping behavior and assigns a score to retailers that measures how politically liberal its shoppers are. Down the road in the Dulles Town Center, there is a P.F. Chang's Bistro, 133; and nearby, a Chipotle, 160 on the liberal index. The "Village at Leesburg" blends housing and retail, anchored by a Wegman's gourmet grocery: 125.
The chain stores in Leesburg are, with few exceptions, the furthest company outposts from the Washington metro center, essentially marking the capital's new lifestyle frontier, a line that moves farther west each passing year.
The town council races are nonpartisan, but candidates' political leanings are generally known. In 1992, former CIA analyst Kristen Umstattd, a Democrat, was elected to the town council and Republican council members held a majority. She became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2012. The population of Leesburg has tripled while Ms. Umstattd has been mayor, and Democrats now dominate the council.
Thomas M. Davis III, a former Republican congressman from Fairfax County, a Virginia county closer to Washington where urbanization began in 1980, said GOP candidates must address the local concerns of newer residents if they hope to keep a foothold in changing U.S. suburbs.
These voters "are not in love with Democrats," Mr. Davis said. "They're voting for their own interests, and who's going to treat them well."
Republicans are losing the suburbs, Mr. Davis said, because fewer Republican moderates—many from centrist suburban neighborhoods—are running for office. Suburban newcomers, he said, "are economically more aligned with the Republican party, but they are just turned off by the social policy."
Before retiring from politics in 2008, Mr. Davis won seven terms in Virginia's 11th Congressional District. He championed issues for Latino and Korean constituents, such as immigration reform and a South Korea free trade agreement. He delivered business and transportation development dollars.
"There's not a Republican or Democratic way to fix a pothole," Mr. Davis said, paraphrasing Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat.
The suburban shift is most pronounced in presidential elections. In House midterm elections, candidates can tailor their messages for local constituents—exactly what Mr. Davis is advocating. This year, changing suburbs won't help Democrats hold Senate seats in states where suburban voters are in short supply, including Louisiana, Arkansas and Montana.
In the 1980s and 90s, developer Robert Buchanan helped transform Loudoun County from farmland to exurb. But after years of selling sprawl, Mr. Buchanan now preaches more dense, urban-style development. He said a local Republican official spelled out his misgivings: "'You are asking us to bring in more people who will vote us out of office.'"
Those who moved to Loudoun County over the past decade triggered a substantial racial and ethnic shift. The non-Hispanic white population dropped from roughly 80% in 2000 to 61% in 2013. The Hispanic population has doubled, to close to 13%. The proportion of Asian residents has grown to 16%, from 5%.
The changes present both parties with "a demographic imperative," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, the Democrat who won Mr. Davis's seat in 2008.

His northern Virginia district, he said, "is now almost 50% minority. We're 1.1 million people and 27% foreign born. Which of the two parties will embrace that diversity?"
The GOP, he said, "has almost doubled down in doing the opposite. The message is of exclusivity, judgment and disapproval of the fact that [minorities are] here, and their electoral returns in northern Virginia show them the peril of that."
In the Virginia governor's race earlier this year, Democrat Terry McAuliffe won with a decisive advantage in these northern Virginia suburbs. He defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli by about 2.5 percentage points statewide, but 22 points in Fairfax County and eight points in Prince William County. Leesburg went for Mr. McAuliffe 51% to Mr. Cuccinelli's 42%. Mr. Cuccinelli—who carried a well-known record as a social conservative—prevailed only in the more rural west.
Voting data shows similar movement in key swing states across the U.S. where growing density and a shifting culture have changed the status quo, including Denver; Columbus, Ohio; and the Research Triangle in North Carolina near Raleigh.
In Denver's metropolitan region, Mr. Obama's 2012 vote count was eight percentage points better than Mr. Gore's in 2000: 55% to 47%. He did better than Mr. Gore in metropolitan Columbus, 52.5% to 43.6%. Mr. Obama received 56.6% of the vote compared with 49.2% for Mr. Gore. Most of those gains came from votes in urbanizing suburbs, according to a Journal analysis of the totals.
The blue tide of Loudoun County now nudges Purcellville—population 8,300—a GOP-led town west of Leesburg. Here, marketers cater to a more conservative clientele, while preparing for more liberal newcomers.
Purcellville's "Gateway Center," built on a former farm, is anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store—a "conservative" establishment, according to Experian—with a Starbucks. The former post office is a health-food store; the Tastee-Freez is a Mediterranean restaurant. More than 40 wineries and two microbreweries have opened.
Purcellville Mayor Robert Lazaro, Jr., a lifelong Republican, backs his town's development, voicing more concern over building the commercial tax base than GOP voting rolls. He supports more dense housing downtown.
Mr. Lazaro is from Long Island, which saw the same demographic and political changes during the 1970s and 80s that Loudoun County is now experiencing. The mayor doesn't care if the city-dwellers discovering Purcellville are Democrats or Republicans, he said, "as long as they bring their money."