Rosario: on Traffickers, Pledges and an All-star Snub

By Ruben Rosario
Pioneer Press
July 11, 2019

Things that made me nod, scratch or shake my head this week:

The Jeffrey Epstein caper: He’s Exhibit A why, in America, you can truly get the best justice money can buy. The accused billionaire human trafficker of underaged girls got the sweetheart deal of a lifetime more than a decade ago, courtesy of Alex Acosta, a former south Florida chief prosecutor now serving as the nation’s secretary of labor.

Instead of charging Epstein in a 53-page indictment that was drafted and later sealed from the public, Acosta entered into an agreement with Epstein’s well-heeled lawyers to have him plead guilty instead to a state charge. But wait, folks, that’s not all. Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in prison, yet was allowed to leave jail for 12 hours daily, six days a week. Acosta also reportedly broke federal law by not informing Epstein’s alleged victims of the plea agreement. Alleged co-conspirators received immunity from prosecution.

Federal prosecutors in New York this week did what Acosta’s office should have done. They arrested him and charged him with alleged crimes that took place in that city around the same time. Acosta defended his actions in a news conference this week and essentially blamed a former state prosecutor involved in the case.

“Times have changed,” Acosta said at one point, referring to the public’s reaction to the Epstein case. Sorry, bud. I did a series of columns in 1999 on the Evans family, a Minneapolis-based juvenile prostitution ring that trafficked girls as young as 13 across dozens of states and parts of Canada. The ring leaders were prosecuted by the feds in St. Louis and sentenced to 45 years or more in federal prison.

It made national news and preceded the Boston clergy sex abuse scandal, which also outraged the public.

No, times have not changed. Acosta gave a wealthy man a walk-in-the-park deal and, in my opinion, revictimized the girls and young women Epstein allegedly abused and peddled. A counterfeit coin dealer in Minnesota this week got a federal prison sentence of more than three times what Epstein got. There are calls now for Acosta to step down from his post. I say do let the door hit you on the way out.

I pledge allegiance to… How I remembered standing at attention by my desk, a flag next to a picture of John F. Kennedy, at my elementary school decades ago. I memorized the lines: “…to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

How proud I felt. I belonged. Reciting it at school was as much a daily ritual as brushing one’s teeth in the morning. Then that all-for-one, justice-for-all kumbaya feeling went poof when some bully and his cronies called me and others an ethnic slur during recess.

Now I am reading about a dustup taking place over the pledge in St. Louis Park. City council members voted last week to stop reciting it before meetings, citing concerns over the diverse makeup of, I guess, some of the people who came to the meetings.

Some folks, I surmise many who don’t live in the city or even attend council meetings, went apoplectic over the decision. Waving flags and shouting “USA,” they jammed a meeting where the council, apparently browbeaten by the protests, decided to reconsider the move at a later date. Even the golfer-in-chief chimed in between tee times:

“Outrage is growing in the Great State of Minnesota where our Patriots are now having to fight for the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance,” President Donald Trump tweeted. “I’m fighting with you.”

I get a kick out of a guy who got five military deferments talking tough and using words like “fight.”

Anyway, I did a little research on the pledge. I found out that very few nations — North Korea and Singapore among them — require their citizens to pledge allegiance in such a manner. Requiring schoolchildren to recite the pledge was ruled unconstitutional in 1943 — during the height of World War II. I also learned the initial pledge was penned by a socialist Baptist minister. The “under God” phrase was inserted by an act of Congress during the 1950s as a rebuke to “godless communism.”

I don’t have a problem with the pledge. I don’t have a problem with folks protesting in support of it, as well as folks who choose not to recite it for sincere reasons. That’s what America is about. I prefer, though, this other patriotic pledge:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

EDDIE! EDDIE! — OK. An admittedly biased but not so biased rant: My “adopted” son, Minnesota Twins’ left fielder Eddie Manuel Rosario, was snubbed for the second straight year to be selected as an All-Star. Last I looked he was leading his team in home runs (20) and RBIs (60) and was third in runs scored, (51) while hitting mostly cleanup, hitting at a .280 clip, and tops in slugging percentage based on 300 or more at-bats, with an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .841 despite missing nearly the past two weeks with an ankle injury.

I’m not saying he should have started in the game, which the American League won for the seventh year in a row, 4-3. But he’s been doing as well or better than the players who started as well as the three reserves who were named. He should have been there.








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