VOTE FOR US OR DIE….Mark Kleiman complains today that while there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the debate about drug importation from Canada, there’s a distinct difference between the debaters themselves: supporters of drug reimportation are at least making legitimate arguments and being truthful about their goals, while opponents are just making stuff up in order to scare people.

Color me something less than shocked. After all, using scare tactics about terrorism in every imaginable situation has become practically a fetish among Republicans since 9/11. Consider:

  • Canadian drugs: In an interview in August, FDA commissioner Lester Crawford tells an AP reporter that re-importing Canadian drugs is a bad idea because “cues from chatter” indicate that terrorists might target imported drugs.

  • Civil service protection: During the debate on the creation of the Homeland Security Department, George Bush insisted that he would veto any bill that included normal civil service protections for workers in the department. Spokesman Ari Fleischer explained: “The president will be effectively prevented from making decisions based on national security no matter how urgent a crisis we find ourselves in.”

  • Refugees from Haiti: A Haitian refugee named David Joseph has been imprisoned for two years. He has an uncle in Brooklyn and nobody suggests he is anything but harmless. John Ashcroft refuses to release him, claiming that it might encourage terrorists to use Haiti as a staging area.

  • Taxes: On the eve of the Iraq war, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay explains that “Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes.”

I wonder how they expect the rest of us to take terrorism seriously when they themselves so transparently think it’s nothing more than a trivial debating point?