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We can all feel it. Something’s not right with our country. But when did things start going wrong, and more importantly, where are we headed?

Spend some time with “The Decline of America” by Dr. David Schein, and like me, you’ll say, “Finally, someone who gets it!” Schein is an attorney and Associate Professor at the Cameron School of Business of the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He takes us through the past 100 years of leadership from those men who occupied the White House, or as the book’s subtitle announces, “100 years of leadership failures.”

“The Decline of America” presents an objective, non-partisan evaluation of US presidents during the past century, distills their successes, many glaring failures, and, as Schein is a university professor, a grade is assigned.

Two American Presidents stood out in my mind, the first George Bush and Clinton.

After the United States kicked Sadam Hussein out of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm, in 1991 there was every opportunity to remove him from power, but Bush refused. Many credit that for the second Iraq invasion, and the nightmare we have faced ever since from the region. Schein’s grade for Bush? C-.

And who can forget Monica Lewinsky and scandal-prone Bill Clinton, earning a D-.

College campuses must safeguard free speech rights

As Schein is both an attorney and college professor, we asked if he has personally experienced threats or fears and interference with his own free speech rights when lecturing on college campuses, and unless remedied, what this means for our democracy.

“I am welcomed around the country to speak to Libertarian clubs and to conservative organizations, even though I do not give an especially high grade to Ronald Reagan. On the other hand, I have been warned that I may not get a warm reception on college campuses because many faculty and students do not like to see any criticism of people like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.

“Free Speech Zones, which have cropped up on many college campuses across America, are a perversion of the term free speech. This is the kind of stuff the Nazis and the USSR did to suppress opponents. They said, ‘Sure you can say anything you like so long as we approve of it.’

“This deprives students of the opportunity to hear multiple views so that they can exercise their own judgement. By definition, college students do not know it all and unless they allow themselves to be exposed to different viewpoints, will never develop critical thinking skills,” he strongly maintains.

“It is a sad situation that threatens our democratic principles. When highly paid attorneys do the bidding of a college administration and fight to justify these clearly unconstitutional free speech zones, it is waste of money and an embarrassment to the legal profession.”

Merger mania threatens competition

Almost 20 years ago, two giant oil companies - Exxon and Mobil - were allowed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to merge. This, as Schein documents, began what has been referred to as “merger mania.”

“By allowing that merger, other large companies began to merge, and the result is a real threat to what makes American business so great, and that is competition. As an example of mergers which the DOJ has prevented, just look at the number of cell phone companies we have, which has helped the consumer,” he underscores.

Schein asks this question: “We know that consumers benefit from competition among the cell phone companies. How much better would it have been if Exxon and Mobil were not allowed to merge? Fewer competitors make it harder to have competition for goods and services. And, we should not forget that within one year of that merger, the combined oil company shed 14,000 jobs.”

At the present time, CVS is trying to buy Aetna Health Insurance.

“I am very concerned about this merger. American health care needs more, not less, competition. We should not forget that Aetna tried to buy rival health insurer Humana not that long ago. The DOJ sued to block the deal, saying it was anti-competitive and would lead to unfair price increases.”

Department of justice and FBI have become political

Schein echoes the feelings of many people who are “thoroughly disgusted with how politics entered the DOJ in the Obama era with Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. Both were extremely political. Just as the FBI is under assault now for being political, the DOJ has hurt its reputation for the same reason.”

Dr. Schein concluded our interview with food for thought:

“If we as Americans cannot count on anything coming out of Washington to be non-partisan and to be done in our singular best interest, we have some real problems.”

Dennis Beaver Practices law in Bakersfield and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which may be faxed to 661-323-7993, or emailed to Lagombeaver1@Gmail.com. And be sure to visit www.dennisbeaver.com.

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