Getting a horse laugh

David Goldstein has accomplished something. The Seattle computer programmer has successfully placed the phrase "horse's ass" into dozens of family newspapers. His Initiative 831, which would officially affix the barnyard label to Tim Eyman, has given us a ribald moment. But Goldstein oversells his wit by attempting to attach to it a grand purpose.

He also defies logic by accusing Eyman of intentionally writing initiatives that break the law. Others say this, and on the thinnest of evidence. Eyman began as an amateur; he is not welcomed by those in the government, and judges are not giving him an inch. Goldstein calls I-831 an attempt to reform the initiative process by highlighting Eyman's abuse of it. Goldstein abuses it himself. The sort of law that names a citizen and condemns him by proclamation is called a bill of attainder. It has been forbidden for 200 years. Calling someone an animal part may not strictly be called a bill of attainder, but it leans that way. Taken seriously, a court would have to throw out I-831.