Talk show host Joe Scarborough set the tone for the Republicans this week — he is no longer one of them. Mika Brzezinski’s significant other, proving the old adage that love is blind, has declared himself out of the GOP. What a joke.

Scarborough, once a Republican congressman, long ago sold out for a lucrative spot on way-left MSNBC. He is just one of many who have become TV commentators willing to jettison much of what they believe in return for money. Rick Snyder, a former Maine GOP luminary and Ted Cruz communications director, is another example of several who have submerged their beliefs in return for positions on cable TV networks like MSNBC and CNN.

Conclusion: A commentator with no principles has no opinions worth listening to.

At this writing, Republicans own the chaos in our political system. Donald Trump Jr., emulating the political naiveté of his father the president, has admitted to a campaign meeting with a well-connected Russian lawyer claiming to have potentially damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent for president.

Even though Trump Jr. maintains that the meeting devolved into a different subject, the optics are bad. Charges are back on the table that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary.

Conclusion: Our new president is vulnerable, with exposure on several fronts, including political collusion with a dangerous foreign power, obstruction of justice in the firing of the FBI director, and numerous potential conflicts of business interests in his role as president.

Meanwhile, unless something changes quickly, the Republicans are not close to finalizing and adopting an acceptable alternative health-care plan to replace Obamacare. Voters will not accept, as Maine Sen. Susan Collins points out, millions losing their health insurance and further increases occurring in premiums.

Conclusion: The failure to replace Obamacare could lead to destruction of Republican tax reform plans and scuttle infusion of infrastructure investment to fuel the economy. The path to health insurance reform is through the free market with regulative pressure from the government. Escalating drug costs fuel the disaster in the health insurance market. The federal government must throw off the shackles of political lobbyists and go after a major reason for increasing costs.

I don’t know why it isn’t obvious that the incredible amount of TV commercials promoting drugs is responsible for the outrageous cost of those drugs to the consumer. Pharmaceutical companies pass billions (maybe trillions) of dollars on to the consumer to pay for those commercials. Government needs to place restrictions on this practice in order to divert more money to research and development of new life-saving drugs.

In Maine, it was more chaos, but Republicans fared better. Our unpleasant governor used the threat of government shutdown to succeed in backing the Democrats down. To those who believe that nothing is more important than taxes, LePage was victorious. Those who believe certain investments are worthwhile feel the governor held the Legislature hostage in order to overturn the 3 percent surcharge approved by the voters on earnings exceeding $200,000 a year, with the tax proceeds going to education.

LePage and the Republicans also killed Democrat attempts to increase to 10.5 percent the sales tax on lodging. The governor may also succeed in rejecting another voter-approved measure, ranked-choice voting, whose constitutionality is in question.

Conclusion: Since the governor and Republican officeholders generally have no support from state government employees, they probably sacrificed little politically by using the shutdown threat to avoid any tax increases. Taxes are usually the No. 1 issue listed by voters. An overhanging problem for the Republicans may be their refusal to recognize the will of the voters on referendum issues. Looking ahead to a tumultuous 2018 political year, there will be no shortage of high-octane expensive contests. Attorney General Janet Mills, a veteran Democrat politician, has now declared her candidacy for governor. A prediction: If she wins the Democrat primary she will face Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, an odds-on favorite for the job, if she wants it.

Second District Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin has a target on his back and will not have Gov. Paul LePage to run with this time. But the 2nd District is probably conservative enough for Poliquin to survive.

On the local scene, the big questions are who will replace term-limited Sen. Roger Katz, and if it is Augusta Mayor David Rollins, who will be elected mayor? Prediction: It will be Councilor at-large Mark O’Brien who has waited a long time for that honor.

Don Roberts is a veteran broadcaster, writer and political consultant. He has served Augusta as a city councilor at-large, charter commission vice chairman and utilities district treasurer.

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