Berks Co. GOP boss takes heat for comparing Dems to Hitler, Tojo | Friday Morning Coffee

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Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If you were looking for even further confirmation of the Trumpification of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, then activists in Berks County stand ready to provide it to you.

As our friends at the Reading Eagle report, during a spring dinner on Monday night, activists booed U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.who voted to convict former President Donald Turmp during his second impeachment trial; took a jab at a dead guy in the person of the late GOP U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, of Tennesse; called for Gov. Tom Wolf’s impeachment, and, just for good measure, compared Democrats to Adolf Hitler and the Japanese dictator Hidkeki Tojo.

The latter came from county Republican Chairman Clay Breece, who jabbed at Baker, the former U.S. Senate majority leader, who died in 2014 at the age of 88.

From The Reading Eagle:

Speaker after speaker excoriated President Joe BidenSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who were characterized as left-leaning socialists bent on destroying the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees.

Breece, whose speech elicited a round of applause, said the Democrats’ vision was clouded by the same evil that infected Germany’s Adolf Hitler and Japan’s Prime Minister Hideki Tojo during World War II.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County, who said he has not yet decided whether to seek the Republican nomination for governor, mocked the COVID-19 mitigation policies of Wolf and former Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine in his keynote address.

Calling Wolf  “King of the Susquehanna,” Mastriano gave a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the governor saying “COVID is looking to jump you. COVID is going to get you.”

Someone in the audience shouted “We exported Levine,” a transgender woman whom Biden named assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a press conference outside the Berks County Intermediate Unit on Monday 3/15/21. The facility is being used as a clinic to vaccinate school district employees (Commonwealth Media Services screen capture)

In a statement, Pennsylvania Democrats harshly criticized the county party, calling the Hitler and Tojo comparisons “outrageous,” and called it the “same kind of dangerous rhetoric and misinformation that led to the January 6 insurrection.”

“Pennsylvania Republicans continue to focus all of their energy on ridiculous MAGA litmus tests and conspiracy theories instead of the issues that impact Pennsylvania families,” spokesman Brendan Welch said in a statement. “Every single aspiring Republican candidate who attended this event must publicly and unequivocally disavow these comments.”

According to the Eagle, nine speakers, who paid $1,500 each to address the activists, made their pitch for the GOP nomination for the Governor’s Office and U.S. Senate in 2022. Both seats will be vacant.

Wolf, of York County, who was elected in 2014, will be term-limited out of office. Toomey, of Lehigh County, announced his retirement from politics last year. They appeared before a maskless crowd of 260 people who “jammed the ballroom and rubbed elbows during a cocktail hour in the Knight’s Pub,” the newspaper reported.

In March, Berks County Republicans voted unanimously to censure Toomey for his impeachment vote.

Speaking to the Eagle at the time of the vote, Breece called the proceeding against Trump, who spent months undermining confidence in the election, baselessly claiming it had been stolen and fomenting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead, “a sad commentary on our times … The constitutional process of impeachment has been politicized and used as a weapon against political opponents.”

And in 2020, the county party “stood behind Facebook posts some criticized as anti-Semitic,” the Eagle reported. Wolf was targeted in one of them, according to the newspaper.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
third-party contact tracer left Pennsylvanians’ personal health data unsecured, the Wolf administration has said. That story comes via Staff Reporter Stephen Caruso and me.

Opioid overdose deaths increased in the commonwealth in 2020, state health officials said Thursday. Cassie Miller has the details.

With ‘Amtrak Joe’ in the White House, states are hoping for a passenger rail renaissanceNational Correspondent Dan Vock reports.

Some good news to share: The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has earned four awards for news reporting and commentary in the 2021 Keystone Media Awards, sponsored by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA).

On our Commentary Page this morning, Marci Hamilton of the advocacy group, CHILD USA, says this is what lawmakers have to do if they want a gold standard for protecting kids from abuse. And opinion regular Fletcher McClellan takes stock of the Biden administration’s first 100 days.

En la Estrella-Capital: Pa. está lista para perder un asiento en el Congreso a medida de que los datos del Censo del 2020 comienzan a filtrarse. Y la orden de salud enmendada tiene como objetivo obtener vacunas para residentes de Pa. confinados en sus hogares.

Elsewhere.
The state’s largest public pension funds is facing twin investigations over land purchases and financial results, the Inquirer reports.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has rolled out his plan to to raise $115 million from four of the city’s largest tax-exempt nonprofits, the Post-Gazette reports.
Harrisburg’s mayoral candidates met in a forum co-hosted by CBS-21 NewsPennLive reports.
The NAACP has condemned a Snapchat video in which Lehigh Valley students complete a viral — and vile — ‘George Floyd Challenge,’ the Morning Call reports.
A Lancaster County man charged in the Capitol riot has been freed pending trialLancasterOnline reports.
The Mohegan Sun Casino in Luzerne County will host vaccine clinics, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

 

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A Philadelphia court has halted a sheriff’s sale over an ‘abrupt’ shift to an online platform, WHYY-FM reports.
More than half the personal care home employees in Pa. have declined the vaccine, WESA-FM reports.
GoErie introduces you to this year’s crop 
of Erie City Council candidates.
The Washington County Housing Authority has inspected all its apartment units after maintenance complaints, the Observer-Reporter reports.
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, raised $401K during the first quarter of 2021, PoliticsPA reports.
Federal health officials intend to do major research on COVID-19 ‘long-haulers,’ Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
10 a.m, 140MC: 
The House Liquor Control Committee and Senate Law & Justice Committee hold a joint hearing.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
5 p.m.: 
Reception for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland. Admission runs $500 to $2,500 for the Kentucky Derby-themed event.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to reader Jim Hertzler, of Cumberland County, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an absolute groove from Saint Etienne to roll into the weekend. Put your headphones on for the next 6:19. Here’s ‘VaVoom.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
So it turns out last night was the night that Baltimore was finally able to get one past New York. The Birds squeaked past the Yanks 4-3 in 10 innings at Camden Yards on Thursday.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press