Here's a Washington Post story that's relevant to the mortgage meltdown. As you know, Wall Street poured hundreds of billions of dollars into ludicrously inflated and implausible mortgages in the four "sand states" of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. In essence, this was a bet that Hispanicization and high home values are compatible. We now know the answer.
But ... was the question even asked? Did anybody at a financial firm send around an email to fellow executives asking, "Isn't California full of Latinos? Can Latinos really pay back these giant mortgages were handing them? If Latinos can't, then who is going to pay even more to move to a neighborhood that we just helped tip Latino? What exactly are we doing in California?"
Of course not. Such an email would come up in "discovery" of an anti-discrimination case, as the federal government itself is finding out:
A federal magistrate judge has ruled that the U.S. Secret Service "made a mockery" of long-standing rules by failing to preserve, concealing and even destroying evidence sought by 10 African American current and former employees in a racial discrimination case.
In an opinion filed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, Judge Deborah A. Robinson effectively barred the agency from presenting a defense in the class-action lawsuit filed in 2000.
Robinson called the penalty an appropriate sanction for years of delay because the Secret Service's conduct "prejudiced Plaintiffs' ability to conduct meaningful discovery and prepare to address the merits of their claims."
The judge's ruling effectively lowers the burden of proof for plaintiffs and limits the amount of evidence government lawyers can use to defend the agency against allegations that supervisors routinely harassed black agents and refused to promote them to management positions.
Robinson earlier sanctioned the agency three times for being slow to search for documents as directed by the court and to turn over racially charged e-mails shared by white Secret Service supervisors. Jennifer I. Klar, a lawyer with Relman & Dane, which is representing the plaintiffs pro bono, said the ruling "sends the clear message that no entity, not even the United States government or the elite Secret Service, is above the law."
A spokesman for the Secret Service called the decision "expected" given Robinson's prior rulings. But he said the agency "wholly disagrees" with Robinson's findings and would appeal.
Secret Service spokesman Edwin M. Donovan said the agency has "made every attempt to respond fully and completely to all discovery requests," turning over 22 million documents, asking nearly 300 former employees if they kept relevant records and paying a contractor $2 million to search 350 employee computers and the agency server.
And what's been found in these emails? Such incriminating speech as this example highlighted by ABC News as part of a major story on discrimination in the Secret Service:
Another white senior supervisor, apparently bitter towards the Rev. Al Sharpton and angry at Ruben Studdard for winning "American Idol" in 2003 over Clay Aiken, allegedly wrote, "Reverse discrimination and political correctness are destroying virtually every aspect of American life."
I'm glad ABC put "allegedly" in that sentence, since obviously if he did actually say, "Reverse discrimination and political correctness are destroying virtually every aspect of American life," he should be taken out back and shot immediately. (You didn't know that? You should. It's in the Constitution -- the Zeroth Amendment.) So, we wouldn't want to be hasty in determining whether or not somebody said that.
But the black agent who is the lead plaintiff was discovered to have personally forwarded:
Messages sent from his Secret Service e-mail account include a comparison of black, white and Hispanic wives and how they handle household chores, parenting differences between black and white mothers and a list entitled "No U D'ient," emulating vernacular sometimes associated with low-income African-Americans and including lines that mock those who live in government housing and use food stamps.
The horror, the horror!