Signage is displayed outside of the Disney-ABC Television Group in Burbank, California, U.S. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

Roseannes Come and Go, But Racism Is Forever

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Welcome to Bloomberg Opinion Today, an afternoon roundup of our opinions on business, politics, markets, technology and more. New subscribers can sign up here

Today’s Agenda

ICYMI

Stocks rallied. Team Trade War staged a comeback. Trump kicked Jeff Sessions again.

Roseannes Come and Go, But Racism Is Forever

The Malady Lingers On

Roseanne Barr’s show may be gone, but we are apparently never going to stop talking about her.

Today, Barr apologized again for the racist tweet that got her fired and momentarily chalked it up to Ambien, inspiring a tangy rebuttal from Ambien maker Sanofi. Then President Donald J. Trump wondered when he was going to get his apology for unspecified mean things said about him on ABC. What a time to be alive!

Seriously, we may forget about Roseanne in a day or two. But we will never stop stewing in the racism and paranoia-fueled confusion she helped sow, writes Tara Lachapelle. The Walt Disney Co. subsidiary ABC did the right thing in shutting down her show, just as Starbucks Corp. did the right thing in shutting down stores for sensitivity training after a manager had two men arrested for being black in a store. But, as with Barr’s apology, these atonements merely shut barn doors after the racism had already escaped. 

And it is running wild these days. “Racism and conspiracy theories have been made socially acceptable, and social media makes it harder to separate truth from lies,” Tara writes. The result is an ever-widening gyre of anger and fear. And Corporate America is trapped in it along with the rest of us.

Brittle Italy

Italy, which yesterday teetered on the verge of a market meltdown, calmed down today after the government managed to sell some new bonds. Of course, market panics do take occasional breaks; somebody once compared them to waves of nausea – today we feel relief, tomorrow we might feel sicker than ever. And Marcus Ashworth was not impressed by that bond sale, anyway, noting signs of weak investor demand. 

Meanwhile, European policy makers could do much to help Italy besides finger-wagging from the sidelines, write Bloomberg’s editors. And Italy’s populist politicians are only prolonging the chaos in a cynical grab for political advantage, warns Ferdinando Giugliano. As Ashworth wrote, “This one ain’t over yet.”

Trump’s Puerto Rican Failure

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Trump bragged that just 16 people had died. A couple of weeks after that, Trump scored his handling of the aftermath a 10 out of 10. About a month after that, Tim O’Brien visited Puerto Rico and saw a very different story. And yesterday,  a New England Journal of Medicine study estimated the aftermath’s death toll was at least 4,645. 

Today, Tim points out Trump still has time to help Puerto Rico at least prepare for the next hurricane season. But his track record after Maria does not inspire confidence: “Puerto Rico’s challenges were perfectly suited to a veteran builder and a self-described man of action like Trump, yet he seemed uninspired by – and unengaged with – the task at hand.”

Die Another Day

Leonid Bershidsky had to write two versions of a column today about Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko. In the first, Babchenko had been murdered for his anti-Kremlin opinions. In the second, Babchenko was still very much alive (though his wife might still want to kill him), having faked his death to help expose a Kremlin hit job. Leonid’s original point still stands, though: The Putin regime will kill opponents not for the facts they know, but for the opinions they espouse.

Congress Also Not Dead Yet

Believe it or not, Congress is actually getting some things done, writes Jonathan Bernstein (in his newsletter). They may be bad things! But they are things. 

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s recent jerk back toward the “War” end of the Trade War-Peace spectrum has been driven at least partly by Congress, writes Eli Lake. Lawmakers want to clamp down on China’s ability to vacuum up U.S. technology. “Trump campaigned in part against Congress for its failure to get tough on China,” he writes. “Now it's Congress that is holding Trump to his campaign promise.”

Chart Attack

Demand for Treasury bonds has lately been a function of other markets freaking out, notes new Opinion columnist Brian Chappatta. That’s not such a healthy sign for bonds:

Roseannes Come and Go, But Racism Is Forever

Max Nisen suggests Botox maker Allergan PLC’s “bold” plan to streamline itself is not exactly, how do you say, bold:

Roseannes Come and Go, But Racism Is Forever

Speed Round

Women should lead the gun-control movement. – Kara Alaimo

Before we knew Theranos was a gigantic fraud, there were many, many warning signs. – Barry Ritholtz

The stock market seems afraid of its own shadow; its fears could become self-fulfilling. – Stephen Gandel

China could be the place where self-driving cars finally break through. – Anjani Trivedi

Do we really need so many troops in South Korea? – Hal Brands

Big tech companies are already flaunting Europe’s week-old privacy rules. – Leonid Bershidsky

The Kicker

As tempting as it may seem, please do not try to roast marshmallows over an erupting volcano.

Note: Please send s’mores, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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