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The pivot

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Daily Point

Will she go gaga?

What you will see during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast: A commercial from Budweiser about co-founder Adolphus Busch’s journey to St. Louis from his native Germany and hostility he encountered in America for being an immigrant.

What you won’t see during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast: A commercial from the 84 Lumber building supply company that depicted its desire to hire hardworking employees by showing a crowd of people trapped behind a border wall. Fox, which is carrying the game, rejected the spot as too controversial and 84 Lumber reworked it.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that politics would intrude on the most-watched sports event of the year, even though the NFL is the most sanitized of professional sports leagues. Earlier this week, the league posted transcripts of interviews that hundreds of reporters conducted with members of the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, and the word “Trump” reportedly was absent despite the fact that players and coaches were asked repeatedly what they thought of President Donald Trump and his divisive immigration policies.

The questions were inevitable. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are friends of Trump. Falcons owner and Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank is a Trump critic.

And the league, despite its best efforts, has been unable to keep politics at bay. This season began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the pregame national anthem as a way to protest police brutality, an act replicated by several other players. Last year’s Super Bowl halftime show featured singer Beyonce’s own stealth protest via her song “Formation,” which referenced police brutality, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

Now the focus is on this year’s halftime performer, Lady Gaga, no stranger to controversy or political statements. An outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter, Gaga sang at Clinton’s final rally in North Carolina and stood on a sanitation truck in New York City on election night holding a “Love Trumps Hate” sign after the results were announced.

Her fans want her to continue the protest. The NFL and Gaga have denied published reports that the league told her to stay away from political commentary and avoid mentioning Trump. After Gaga talked earlier this week about her fond memories of other halftime shows she’s watched and her passion for “inclusion,” oddsmakers dropped their odds on her making a scene. But it’s hard to imagine she won’t do something, even if it’s subtle, though subtle hasn’t exactly been her thing.

Michael Dobie

Trump Takes

Tweets heard ’round the world

President Donald Trump’s Twitter power has grown since his inauguration.

His personal account, at 23.5 million followers on Friday, picked up some 3 million in the two weeks since he moved into the White House.

He also took over the official @POTUS handle, which on Friday had nearly 15 million followers.

But beyond the new reach, he also has slightly changed his online behavior since Jan. 20 — by no longer manually retweeting praise from supporters.

A manual retweet means Trump, or whoever was operating his account, would copy-paste another Twitter user’s post into @realDonaldTrump’s own tweet. He has been notorious for this, boosting posts by a teenager or, just days before the inauguration, praise about Ivanka Trump from one @drgoodspine, who mistakenly included the wrong @Ivanka and whose account follows no one, shows no picture, zero tweets and fewer than 200 followers.

Since Jan. 20, the closest Trump got to this practice was to copy an ABC producer’s uninflected tweet announcing Trump’s interview with David Muir.

Perhaps refraining from a crass display of how much people like him is Trump’s Twitter concession to the solemnity of life in office. Two weeks in, anyway.

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Strangled

More from cartoonists around the world

Pointing Out

Taking sanctuary

State Sen. Terrence Murphy, a Republican Hudson Valley chiropractor who just won election to a second term, has submitted a bill that would require cities that issue IDs to prevent the destruction of application information.

This is a controversial issue in New York City, where City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito wants to purge information about 900,000 IDNYC applicants from a database. The purging, she has said, would prevent the information from being shared with federal authorities and help protect immigrants illegally in New York, a sanctuary city, from possible deportation.

Murphy told The Point that opponents of his measure are mischaracterizing the bill as support for President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

If people are applying for municipal IDs instead of a driver’s license, Murphy reasons, they’re either concerned about citizenship status or can’t afford the DMV fee.

Either way, he said he wants to help.

“Why don’t we get them to be legal citizens? Put them on a fast track,” Murphy said, pointing to the state’s Office of New Americans, which offers a Pathway to Citizenship program. He wants Social Security numbers for everyone, he said, adding that better documentation also could help law enforcement investigate crimes.

The frustrated Murphy said his bill is being looked at “the wrong way” by many other politicos. “It’s the dynamics of the time,” he added. “Everybody’s on high alert.”

Anne Michaud

Columns