Against the backdrop of the increasing politicization of football, the sports journos and announcers have failed to note some important issues during the national championship series.

The game between Alabama and Washington was played in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the conservative company liberals love to hate.

The company’s leadership donated money to oppose same-sex marriage and is influenced by Southern Baptist beliefs, including closing its restaurants on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The announcers dodged any discussion of these important issues.

Then there was the other semifinal game between Clemson and Ohio State, which was played at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

According to the New York Times, the university and its holding company have been the target of “state and federal investigations into allegations of shady recruiting, deceptive advertising and questionable financial aid practices.” The University of Phoenix has received millions of federal dollars from programs intended to help veterans and low-income students. But the students end up with heavy debt and few marketable skills. A Defense Department ban that prohibited Phoenix from recruiting on military bases was recently revoked, but the company remains under heightened scrutiny. The Times also reports that enrollment at the school “has been falling and profits shrinking, casting doubt on the future health of the industry.”

Hmm… I didn’t hear anything about the problems during the game, only the glowing ads promoting the U.

Then there’s the final matchup, which will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Raymond James Financial has had a number of run-ins over questionable securities practices.

In 2011, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ordered the company to pay restitution of $1.69 million to 15,500 clients for charging excessive commissions on more than 27,000 securities transactions. The trades were made in client accounts between 2006 and 2010. FINRA also fined the company nearly half a million dollars.

Earlier this year, the company was involved in a $350 million real estate scandal in Vermont, agreeing to pay the state nearly $6 million for violating securities laws. Here is some background on the case: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2016/06/30/vt-reaches-595-million-settlement-raymond-james/86550308/

In a separate case, the company agreed to pay $17 million in fines for violating money laundering standards. It was the highest fine in the history of such investigations. Here is some background on this case: http://www.wsj.com/articles/raymond-james-to-pay-17-million-fine-for-anti-money-laundering-lapses-1463590634

The financial company will get a lot of good publicity during the game because it’s unlikely viewers will hear the rest of the story.


Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist who teaches media law.

On Friday I attended the Carenet Dinner in Hollis NH.

For those not familiar with it, Carenet is a protestant ministry for pregnant woman, women removing from abortion and men and women learning how to be parents.

I spoke to Linda Barrie one of the officials about their work

And to their keynote speaker Pastor Keith Ferrin from Seattle

I shared a table with Mike Rogers and Steve MacDonald of Granite Grok who spoke to me after the event about both Carenet and the Election:

As Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for life said there is plenty of room for all of us in the pro-life movement, I’m pleased to see Carenet do their part.

Moira Noonan & Fr Denis interviewed by WQPH
Moira Noonan & Fr Denis interviewed by WQPH
On Sunday at the former Madonna of the Holy Rosary Church in Fitchburg WQPH sponsored Holy Mass and healing service with Catholic Evangelist, Author and international speaker Moira Newman and Fr. Denis Phaneuf of the Diocese of saskatoon Saskatchewan and an advisor on the Vatican consultation on Exorcism and Deliverance Ministry.

A fair sized crowd came and heard this gospel and sermon at the mass

And stayed for the healing service, heard them speak and bought the various books available.

When all was said and done I interviewed both Moira:

and Fr. Denis

Last night before hitting work I stopped at Happy Jack’s restaurant to see Howie Carr address a group of about 30-40 folk in support of Frank Ardinger’s run for state rep in the 4th Worcester district that you might have heard mention of if you saw my post and interview with the head of the Leominster republican committee at the Johnny Appleseed festival or the group of Fitchburg & Leominster residents at the Trump event in Bedford NH

Here is an excerpt of his speech

Frank spoke briefly afterwards

Before things began Howie consented to a brief interview as well

The process of changing the culture of Massachusetts begins one seat and election at a time, let’s see if Leominster is willing to do its part.


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Of the swing states in the Nation, NH is one of the smallest. It’s a state where if you draw 500 people to an event you are getting a real crowd and The NH sports plex in Bedford NH as befitting a venue in this state is small compared to many of the locations around the nation that Donald Trump has filled with Tens of thousands of supporters.

But while the venue was small at least by Donald Trump standards the crowd that I counted at over a thousand people packed themselves into the complex and continued to pour in from the moment I got to the press table and entered the media area and even after Mr. Trump started speaking (in fact he commented on this during his opening).

Normally for such an event I would arrive several hours early and camp out for the best spot but the necessity to sleep after a shift ending at 7 AM (I managed to get out at 6:15 to catch an early mass) meant that I arrived at the venue less than an hour before things began. The layout of the venue meant access was by effective a long winding driveway which added up to frustration for the lefty protesters who our democrat friends always deploy for such events.

As soon as I parked my car I started asking attendees for interviews, the first person I talked to was Elaine.

followed by Joseph

I spoke to Joseph near the swag tables, there were several vendors selling assorted hats and shirts

From there I came to the press entrance. Unlike the primary days Mr. Trump now had secret service protection and I and my bag needed screening to proceed. I spotted Rick Santorum’s old campaign manager working the event. He said hello and we chatted agreeing with regret that the GOP had backed Rick had been the 2012 he’s be running for re-election this year. At the press table I was delayed because no matter when I send in the request I never seem to be on the list, but was eventually recognized and approved and went through (and some people still wonder why I wear a 12 ft Dr. Who scarf to all these events)

As per usual several local pols came up to lionize the candidate and warm up the crowd before the stat, the most effective of these was former Senator Bob Smith who spoke of Nixon being forced from office (and rightly so in his words) for his actions and compared Hillary Clinton group of 5th amendment aides to this. He also directly spoke to some of the conservatives, some of them his friends, who have said they can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump warning them “Don’t come complaining to me when Hillary’s Supreme Court comes for your Gun rights.”.

It was at this moment that my computer choose to run out of power and I found myself needing to find an alternative location to plug in. I did a quick walk around of the area and after finding a plug in the snack bar was about to grab my laptop to go there when I was informed that the press could not leave their area at the moment (indicated that Mr. Trump had just arrived) That’s when I interviewed Scott

General Mike Flynn came on to introduce Donald Trump and drew a round of applause for police, something that Hillary Clinton doesn’t dare to.

Donald Trump then entered the stage and the crowd that was still coming in went wild.

Trump talked all about Jobs Jobs Jobs From now on it’s going to be ‘America First'” He talked about Hillary Rally in NH drawing only about 100 people as the people kept coming in. He talked about how Hillary is outspending him 50-1 yet he’s tied or leading. He talked of both African Americans and Latinos being given lip service by Democrats in election years and concluded by talking American Cars, Planes, Ships and steel.

Once outside I approached people for interview but my press badge didn’t help as I was held in suspicion by most. The first person who talked to me was William

He wasn’t all that impressed but he was a distinct minority,

I then saw a long line of people waiting, I presumed that it was held up due to the motorcade but apparently due to limited parking they had a bus shuttle running. I talked to Miko:

and Melony

a Lady from Manchester

and a group from the Fitchburg/Leominster/Townsend area

And Bob

and Claire

and Rebecca with her sons (only one that came on camera)

Thomas who got a day off from classes to go

and Stanley a vet

and finally Dr. Truth who had a new book out for us.

The general consensus was that they like what they heard but wanted Trump to be more aggressive in the next debate. The real question is will he be and is it smart for him to be?


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Deplorable me
Deplorable me
This afternoon I was in Bedford NH to cover the first Donald Trump event in NH since the Debates.

Because I got back to Fitchburg fairly late and have to work tonight for 10:30 the full story and the video will have to wait for tomorrow but here are some quick impressions.

Trump’s stump speech has dramatically improved from his primary speeches, he still hits the various red meat lines but he’s added several that address specific policies.

Having been at the Amplify Choice conference concerning school choice Trump’s words concerning parental choice on schools really stood out.

There was a distinct difference between the way people reacted to interview requests before I got my press credentials vs after. Before I had my credentials I was a guy in the crowd, once I had a badge that said “Press” I became the enemy to anyone who didn’t know me.

There was a real difference in terms of candidate access for the press, during the primary season Trump regularly took questions before events, now we didn’t get close to him, but of course at this point int he campaign most of the media is actively trying to defeat him so it makes sense.

There were a few protestor types who had large signs who wanted to get access to the event, they failed miserably, actually that’s not true, they failed extremely well as they didn’t get anywhere near the actual venue, the layout precluded easy access for them.

The venders had a whole line of deplorable tees available which seemed quite popular.

The general gist I got from the various people I interviewed is they want Trump more on the attack during the next two debates. That question really comes down to a serious question: Is it more important to keep the base energized or to keep playing the “Trump isn’t crazy” card during the debates that remain. I’m not sure which is the right move.

I’ll leave you with Trump’s entrance filmed from the Press area.


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While I was volunteering for WQPH at the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Leominster MA I did several interviews for the station but there were also some political people worth getting on camera which of course could not be associated with the station.

So I left the WQPH booth and went out into the festival where I saw a tea party friend working a pair of booths, one for national GOP candidate Donald Trump and one for Frank Ardinger running for state rep in the 4th Worcester District His web site is here.(Leominster) who I interviewed here. (Full disclosure he is a subscriber to the website and has been for years.)

It turns out Gwen is now the chair of the Leominster GOP committee.

Three things really jumped out at me, the first was the giant Lost in Space Robot which really got some attention, The second was the list of events which indicate quite an outreach for the GOP, but the big thing that jumped out was the fact that in the blue state of Massachusetts the Ardinger booth was right next the Donald Trump one & sharing some staff while there was no booth for Hillary Clinton that I saw and if there was one I missed it certainly wasn’t near the booth for Frank’s opponent Natalie Higgins. That it had no Hillary signs anywhere near it speaks volumes and all of it in Trump’s favor.

One more thing

You might wonder why I didn’t interview Natalie Higgins the upset winner of the Democrat primary in the 4th Worcester district particularly as her booth was right across of the WQPH booth.

Normally I would not have hesitated to do so, but as Tom is both a friend and a longtime subscriber to the blog I didn’t want to put myself in a spot where I might find myself doing an unfair interview. That wouldn’t be fair to the readers nor to candidate Higgins, although I would have really liked to ask her why I didn’t see any Hillary buttons in her group.


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Yesterday I spent the day in Leominster Massachusetts birthplace of Johnny Appleseed for their annual Johnny Appleseed fair manning the WQPH 89.3 FM Queen of Perpetual Help Shirley Fitchburg booth promoting Catholic radio for people and praying decades of the rosary on the spot for people’s intentions both online and in person.

At the festival I did a few interviews for WQPH. We talked to Adam Webber of the Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network which provides help for homeless families.

If you want to donate to MIHN their website is here.

I also spoke to Brother Alexis who while from Fitchburg has spent the last 2 1/2 decades in Italy.

I’d also like to thank him for joining me in many of the rosary decades that I prayed for others.

ewtn-interviews-025Our next day started with breakfast at St Bernard’s monastery where Brother Christopher made our crew acquainted with the Benedictine Brew the Monastery’s coffee blend and then we were off to pick up our other pilgrims and run a few errands with our new Bus driver and headed for the EWTN studios in Irondale for our day there.

Benedictine Brew
Benedictine Brew
Benedictine Brew[/caption]

The Site of EWTN was the original location of Mother Angelica’s monastery before she built and moved to the Shrine of the most blessed sacrament in Hanceville. When we arrived Our day began with the Noon mass at the chapel (which is not televised) That is where I met Lucy who you might recognize if you watch the daily mass the short oriental lady who goes every day. It turned out her daughter lives in Fitchburg which was quite a coincidence. Several pilgrims from other groups were just as excited to meet her as the various EWTN celebs and priests and posed for a picture with her that I took for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had a late lunch in the small cafeteria area for pilgrims where we met Brother Leo of the “Hey Brother Leo” book series who sat for a brief interview

also on site was Jack Williams from EWTN Radio’s morning glory and open line who would be joining us on Fr. Pacwa’s show later that evening.

this was immediately followed by an hour long talk from Fr. Miguel on God’s calling. Here is a brief excerpt:

After our talk our group was divided into two groups, one went with Fr. Leo and the other with a woman named porta who sat for an interview later on Friday:

sets on wheels
sets on wheels
I was in Porta’s group and she led us thorough the EWTN studio’s where we would be going later in the evening for Fr. Pacwa’s show. A few of us took pictures on the set while it was empty.

She also showed up Mother Angelica’s office which had become a green room for guests.

Most of the various set backgrounds were on wheels so they could be quickly switched for one show to the other. Various other set backgrounds from shows no longer on the air were stored on site.

After that section we were taken to the technical area where the various technicians were located. I asked about hackers and they said while there were occasional attacks they had no luck getting in, of course being EWTN being a religious network the wasn’t a lot of incentive for the various financial hackers to target them.

the Caption Lady
the Caption Lady

As the tour continued I fell behind to talk to various workers who had been there or decades. Many had been surprised to find themselves at EWTN but it had really been a home to them.

When the tour was over we had dinner at EWTN again in the cafeteria area. While there I spoke to the oldest pilgrim in our group.

As well as Fr. Leonard Mary who had been in Fitchburg for a pilgrimage last year who remembered me (I told you the scarf comes in handy)

after dinner we had some free time to pray the liturgy of the hours, visit the blessed sacrament or get confession before the evening’s show.

Our group was the largest of those at EWTN but there were others from Texas and a few individuals who had also come to join us in the audience live.

Two Camera men were on opposite sides to take shots one focused on Fr. Pacwa and one to focus on his guest. Additionally there was one stationary camera set to catch the pair of them. A monitor on the side wall showed us which camera was feeding live at any given time.

The audience for the show
The audience for the show
Before the Show Fr. Pacwa came out in a cowboy hat and gave us some brief instructions or the live show remind us that if we were looking at the monitor rather than the show when the engineer turned to the audience we would be looking away. He joked once the video was available on DVD or online could watch the broadcast freeze the broadcast and look at ourselves on TV to our hearts content.

The show ran an hour, the first guest was Jack Williams who I had interviewed earlier who briefly talked about EWTN radio and plugged our station.

The Primary guest was Peter Williamson who has written a series of biblical commentaries

During the first break they asked who wanted to ask questions. We raised our hands they asked us what the questions were and then had us line up to the side. When our turn would come they signaled go to the mike and Fr would call on us when he was ready.

When he called on me they he asked jokingly if I had been told the EWTN studios were in Alaska rather than alabama because of the scarf.

When the show was over it turned out there was an issue with the initial into of Jack Williams so we watched as they re-recorded Fr. Mitch’s brief into of Jack for the broadcast, made slightly more complicated by him not being there so Fr. had to make sure that he faced toward where Jack was supposed to be.

When that was done Fr. Pacwa started taking pictures with people. that went on for long while. I took advantage of that time to interview his guest Peter Williamson

When I was done the pictures continued unabated. It was as if every single person there wanted a shot but despite the long day Fr. Pacwa did have a few minutes for me.

By this time it was really late so we piled on the bus and said our goodbyes and we headed back for the night, where we at the monastery packed as Wednesday would be our last night there and the next day would start early.

Castle San Miguel
Castle San Miguel
We left the abbey heading for Shirine of the most blessed sacrament, picking up our guest house people on the way.

There is a single entrance to the site down a country road filled with farmland horses and cattle grazing calmly nearby giving no clue as to what is to be found at the end of the road.

There were very few members of the group who had been to the shrine and the Castle that sits upon it but even so it remained an imposing sight as you approach it.

When you walk into the medieval style keep this is what you see

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Conference Room
this is the area used for conferences dining (items are catered and brought in). It also contains the rather large and very catholic gift shop full of coins, prayer cards and medals. As our catholic supply store in the Fitchburg area closed I loaded up on small bottles for holy water to be given out a few of which I filled from the taps connected to huge tanks of holy water kept in the nativity area next to the castle

For those who are not catholic be aware that all such items are just that items that can be bought and sold until blessed by a priest or deacon, once blessed they can NOT be sold either by a gift shop or by the person who had them blessed. No legit catholic gift shop will sell a blessed item.

The Courtyard
The Courtyard

We then filled into the conference room for a talk on the origins of Mother Angelica, her vocation and the Shrine of the most blessed sacrament. I set up a mic for the talk next to her podium so I caught all of her speech but in the Q & A you’ll only hear the “A” not the “Q”

When the talk was over we headed for mass at the lower chapel where Mother Angelica is buried. No photography is allowed there so naturally I have no images to show you. I was struck that not only was the Liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated Ad Orientem but communion was received kneeling at the altar rail with an altar boy holding a salver under a chin, both of which I found very appealing.

Touring the Eucharistic Center
Touring the Eucharistic Center
After mass we had some time before our tour of the John Paul II Eucharistic Center we spent some time at the grave of Mother Angelica. We pressed rosaries against her grave that the station planned to give away and prayed a rosary for the person who would be receiving it.

A bit later we visited the Eucharistic Center. The last time I was there the young knights of the Holy Eucharist were the tour guides, but they had been transferred to Nebraska so a gentleman name Micah gave the tour.

When the Tour was over he took a few minutes to speak to me about his job.

The Vast Collection of Relics of Saints
The Vast Collection of Relics of Saints

When the tour was over and after a quick sandwich we had free time. I spent mine at Mother’s grave with several hundred rosaries saying a Hail Mary over each as I touched them to her grave.

Soon it was time to head back to St. Benedict Abbey where I visited and filmed the famous Grotto.

And interviewed Brother Christopher who gave us the history of brother Joseph

From there we were back to the cafeteria at St. Bernard Abbey where I interviewed one of the students who attended the school.

At St. Bernard Abbey
At St. Bernard Abbey
However at this point things took a turn for the worse. Our bus driver had been a tad under the weather on day one, by that evening he was in horrible pain. we had a pair of nurses on the trip who took a look at him and it was decided he needed to get to the local hospital. We had no way of getting him there. The Taxi services stopped running early, there was no Uber or Lyft and we failed to get ahold of the local parish or Knight of Columbus that we hoped to get a hand from. Eventually our driver drove to the hospital in his bus with our nurses with him while the rest of us took up a Rosary Circle. One of the Nurses takes up the story.

In the end our driver got the treatment he needed while a substitute driver arrived from Atlanta while he waited to be treated. Ironically our substitute had driven for our tour leader Maryann before and while our primary driver would have a day of rest we would be getting ready for our trip to the EWTN studio the next day.


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