JENKINS: Updating The Devil's Dictionary, political convention edition

Presidential campaign season is upon us once again, one party's convention having just ended while the other's has yet to begin. That's a little like having a colonoscopy behind you (no pun intended) and a root canal still looming ahead.

In this giant spectator sport that is American politics, call it halftime. And since every good halftime needs entertainment, I offer another in my periodic updates of The Devil's Dictionary, originally penned by early 19th-century newspaper man and satirist extraordinaire Ambrose Bierce.

For example, Bierce defined "politics" as "the conduct of public affairs for private advantage." A politician, he said, is "an eel in the fundamental mud upon which the super-structure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive."

As you watch the conventions -- OK, as you read about them on Yahoo! -- you may hear terms that are unfamiliar or that you don't recognize in context. In the spirit of Ambrose Bierce, allow me to offer a few timely definitions:

-- Convention, n. A gathering, every four years, of all current practitioners of the world's two oldest professions.

-- Democracy, n. Also known as "majority rule." A system of government by which those who do not understand the issues seek to impose their will on those who do.

-- Democrat, n. A member of a political party whose ideology is nearly as impoverished as its constituents.

-- Development, n. The process by which tree-lined streets in shaded suburbs are converted into well-lined pockets for shady politicians.

-- Election, n. In a democracy, the process by which leaders are chosen. In Georgia, a periodic affirmation of the status quo.

-- Free, adj. Paid for by someone else.

-- Media cycle, n. Coverage of an event ad nauseam, via television, radio, newspaper and Internet. Events that actually impact world affairs are generally exempt.

-- News, n. A form of entertainment occasionally based on the truth.

-- Platform, n. In politics, a metaphysical structure erected to support hot air. During a political convention, a physical structure built for the same purpose.

-- Republic, n. A form of government in which representatives are elected to fleece the public on behalf of those not in a position to do so for themselves.

-- Republican, n. A member of a political party dedicated to decreasing the size of government, preferably by eliminating elected officials from other parties. In Georgia, Republicans were up until recently known as "Democrats."

-- Reform, n. The process of changing a system in order to make it more efficiently corrupt or to remove it further from the realm of logic. (See tax reform, education reform, etc.) Vi. To adopt more effective measures for concealing one's bad habits.

-- Victim, n. An individual who, despite decades of social engineering, has been unsuccessful in avoiding the consequences of his or her choices.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter@rjenkinsgdp.