الأربعاء، 29 أغسطس، 2012

Prix de l'essence: pourquoi, avec sa baisse de 6 centimes d'euro par litre, l'État n'a pas résolu le problème

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Prix Essence Etat 
PRIX DU CARBURANT – Six centimes de moins par litre... C'est la baisse que pourront constater les automobilistes en se rendant dans leur station-service, à partir du 29 août, pendant 3 mois, avant de "mettre en place un mécanisme plus pérenne", s'est empressé d'ajouter le ministère des Finances. Ils ont raison de s'en préoccuper, car ce coup de pouce reste très ponctuel.
Trois centimes seront à la charge de l'État, au moyen d'une réduction des taxes, tandis que les pétroliers s’acquitteront des trois centimes restant. Mais cela reste bien une mesure d'urgence, car si le cours du carburant augmentait de 6 centimes, l'effort serait vain.
Le gazole a atteint la semaine dernière un record historique, à 1,4592 euro le litre en moyenne, et le sans-plomb est proche de ses plafonds. Le sans-plomb 95 a même étéenregistré à 2,05 euros par litre dans une station-service parisienne, la semaine passée...
"Nous avons peur que cette légère baisse suscite beaucoup de désillusions", avait lancé la veille Michel Fréchet, président de la Confédération générale du logement (CGL), au sortir d'une réunion à Bercy, tandis que l'association Familles rurales soulignait qu'en-dessous de 10 centimes par litre, il n'y aurait "aucun impact" sur le pouvoir d'achat des ménages.
Pourquoi l'État ne dispose-t-il pas de leviers efficaces pour faire chuter de façon satisfaisante le cours du carburant ? Manque de moyens financiers ? De courage politique ? Main-mise des groupes pétroliers ? Le HuffPost a fait le tour de la question, en présentant chacune des principales solutions évoquées.
Solution n°1 - La baisse de la TICPE. Un simple déplacement du problème
C'est l'option choisie par le gouvernement. Avec la taxe intérieure de consommation sur les produits énergétiques (ex-TIPP), l'État récupérait auparavant 0,6069 euros sur chaque litre de sans-plomb et 0,4284 euros sur le litre de gazole, ramenant des recettes substantielles. La TICPE a rapporté 23,9 milliards d'euros en 2010, dont 14,2 milliards pour l'État, le reste étant réparti entre les départements et les régions.
Pour chaque centime en moins sur la TICPE, l'État se prive ainsi de 1,4 million d'euros de rentrées fiscales par jour. En prenant en compte les annonces de Pierre Moscovici, c'est 300 millions d'euros qui manqueront dans les caisses. Pour équilibrer son budget, le gouvernement devra donc trouver d'autres sources de revenus.
L'association 40 millions d'automobilistes s'est déjà inquiétée lundi "de la compensation qui pourrait être envisagée par le gouvernement pour amortir cette perte".
Solution n°2 - Le blocage des prix. Pourquoi ça ne sert à rien
Le blocage des prix à la pompe aurait eu pour conséquence d'impacter les professionnels du secteur, comme les chaînes de supermarchés. En fonction de la hausse du baril, certaines stations auraient été contraintes de vendre à perte, ce qui aurait mis en péril plusieurs maillons de la filière française du raffinage et de la distribution et, de surcroît, est tout simplement illégal. Le secteur, qui se dit mal en point, a déjà subi une surtaxe d'un demi-milliard d'euros par le nouveau gouvernement cet été.

Bien que très satisfaisante pour les automobilistes, cette mesure ne peut être mise en place que sur une période maximum de six mois, comme le prévoit le Code du commerce, se basant sur le principe de libre concurrence. La conséquence, c'est le risque d'ajustement, qui peut être extrêmement violent au sortir de cette période.
Leclerc et Super U ont d'ailleurs annoncé dans les médias » Leclerc: un coup de pouce pour un coup de pub" target="_hplink">lundi 27 août qu'ils comptaient vendre leur essence à prix coûtant.
Solution n°3 - Surtaxer les pétroliers. La DGCCRF est contre
D'après la direction de la concurrence (DGCCRF), les pétroliers ne sont pas les grands "méchants capitalistes" sur lesquels il faut cogner dur. Selon un rapport rédigé en avril 2011 que La Tribune s'est procurée, les distributeurs sont blanchis sur la plupart des soupçons qu'on leur portait.
En effet, la marge brute des distributeurs a explosé en raison "de l'augmentation des charges d'exploitation et des obligations réglementaires". Parmi elles: de nouvelles normes environnementales des stations, certificats d'économie d'énergie, taxes sur les activités polluantes, interdiction de la vente d'alcool dans les stations, hausse des redevances sur les concessions d'autoroutes... Au final, la direction de la concurrence valide une marge nette de 1 centime d'euros par litre, que revendiquent les pétroliers.
Elle balaie aussi les soupçons de non-répercution à la pompe des baisses des produits raffinés. En effet, lors d'une hausse du prix du pétrole, les distributeurs ne la répercutent pas entièrement, tout comme ils ne répercutent pas toute la baisse lorsque les prix baissent. "Pris sur une période assez longue, le différentiel hausse-baisse est bien répercuté sur les prix mais avec une moindre amplitud", poursuit la DGCCRF.
Concernant les groupes comme Total, il peut être tentant de hurler avec les loups, mais la vérité se trouve tronquée. En effet, sur 12,3 milliards d'euros de profits en 2011, le groupe tire 10 milliards de l’amont, c'est-à-dire de l’exploration et de la production. Sur son activité d'aval (raffinage, distribution et trading), Total n'enregistre "que" 2 milliards.
Au final, la France représente moins de 15% de ces profits, qui sont principalement réalisés sur les bitumes, les lubrifiants et le fuel pour les entreprises, note Le Monde.Pour les seules stations, Total ne peut qu'imiter les autres, en tentant de se rattraper sur les produits annexes: alimentation, lubrifiants, gadgets etc.
Solution n°4 - Piocher dans les réserves stratégiques. En cas de "grave crise"
Cette réserve représente trois mois d'importations nettes, mais la France ne peut l'utiliser qu'à moins d'une grave crise internationale. La décision doit également être prise en coopération avec l'Union européenne et l'Agence internationale de l'énergie (AIE), dont Paris est membre.
Au final, seule une crise pétrolière ou le boycott d'un pays producteur peut en théorie aboutir à une telle décision, à laquelle Barack Obama n'était pas opposé il y a quelques mois.
Les autres solutions...
Ressusciter la TIPP flottante: Cela consiste à adapter le niveau de taxe des carburants aux fluctuations du prix du brut, pour pouvoir obtenir un prix relativement stable dans le temps à la pompe. Instituée à entre 2000 et 2002 par le gouvernement Jospin, elle avait été abandonnée suite à la hausse continue des prix qui creusait les comptes de l'État.
Ressusciter la vignette automobile: La vignette, créée en 1956 et supprimée en 2000 par Laurent Fabius, a de nouveau été envisagée. En prenant en compte la puissance fiscale du véhicule, elle incite à acheter des voitures moins puissantes donc moins gourmandes en carburant. Une nouvelle version de la vignette pourrait également prendre en compte la zone géographique, et donc l’offre de transports disponible. Mais c'est encore l'automobiliste qui passe à la caisse.
Chèque carburant: Sur le modèle des tickets restaurant, ce dispositif permettrait à l'employeur d'assumer une partie du coût du déplacement domicile-travail du salarié. Déjà répandus à l’échelle locale, ces coupons ont aussi un prix que les entreprises ne peuvent pas toutes supporter. Qui alors pour payer ?
Favoriser l'achat de véhicules hybrides ou électriques: C'est la solution à long terme choisi par la France pour se mettre à l'abri de la raréfaction et la flambée des prix. Le gouvernement prévoit un super bonus de 7000 euros pour les véhicules électriques et de 4000 euros pour les véhicules hybrides.
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George W. Bush: The President Who Must Not Be Named At Republican Convention

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George W Bush Republican Convention
In this Jan. 5, 2008 file photo, President George W. Bush is seen in the Oval Office. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
TAMPA, Fla. -- Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright turned heads last week by saying that Democrats could very well blame George W. Bush's presidency forever for the nation's problems.
Republicans cried foul, arguing that it was well past time to move on from the former president. After all, they've basically expunged him from their memories.
The Bush name and legacy are noticeably absent from the 2012 Republican convention. The former president unceremoniously announced he was skipping the affair months ago. Dick Cheney, the former vice president who remains more revered among the core national-security minded conservative set, isn't speaking, either. Bush's brother, Jeb, the former Republican governor of Florida, will address the crowd. As will Bush's former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. But they're expected to address specific policy issues, mainly education, rather than defend their brethren and their former boss.
There is a "special guest" appearance at the convention on Thursday night. But virtually no one in the convention hall was bold enough to predict that Bush (or Cheney) would be the one to fill it. Should they not show, it would mark eight years since a live Bush convention speech. (He gave a video address in 2008, skipping the event in Minnesota due to fear of a hurricane in the Gulf.)
"The modern Republican Party changed dramatically at the shock of Obama's overspending, which also brought into focus the fact that we had been creeping up on this with Bush," anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist offered as explanation for why the party had washed itself of its last White House occupant. "Instead of being the party that won't raise taxes and everything else is open season, we are now the party that won't raise taxes and wants to restrain spending and everything else is up for negotiation. Bush was a pre-Tea Party president."
With respect to Bush, it seems, there is simply nothing to talk about. Or, rather, nothing that the Romney campaign wants to talk about.
Immigration reform, which Bush pursued, has hardly been touched (though as TheHuffington Post's Howard Fineman reports, several Bush family members are privately advising the party on how to turn out the Hispanic vote.)
Foreign policy has been an afterthought during the convention's first two days. On occasion, an attendee will gripe about President Barack Obama taking credit for policies that his predecessor put in place (in conversations, several attendees echoed complaints by a group of conservative-leaning former Navy SEALS that Obama is taking too much credit for Osama bin Laden's death). But as of Wednesday morning, there had been only one mention of Bush's policies towards Afghanistan, Iraq or terrorism in general during the convention.
"I think it is best for the whole party for him to step aside," said Christine Sutton, 62, of Honolulu. "The candidate we have now doesn't need support from anybody else and why should a former president or a vice president appear. ... Bush did his thing and he was a wonderful president, a wonderful president. We will talk about him, but he's not the issue now. The issue is to get our candidate elected."
"I think George W. Bush is taking the opportunity to have some time with his family and friends," said A.J. Matthews, the lone RNC delegate from the city of Tampa. "His time in the forefront of the spotlight is over. I think he is allowing Mitt Romney the opportunity to carve his own path. And I respect him for it."
Presidential legacies are cast over decades, not conventions. And while top Republicans conceded that Bush's presence in Tampa would have caused collective angina -- offering the perfect photo op to frame Romney as a continuation of his governing philosophy -- they argued that it won't always be this way. 

"Give it time," longtime strategist Mike Murphy told The Huffington Post. "It will get better."
Still, the contrast between Bush's reception among Republicans and former President Bill Clinton's reception among Democrats will be hard to ignore. Clinton has a prime-time speaking role at the upcoming Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., his fourth-straight cycle making an appearance.
At first, Democrats' arrangement with Clinton was complex. In 2000, top aides to former Vice President Al Gore were concerned about the shadow Clinton would cast -- not just because of his ethical issues, but because Gore needed to prove he was his own pol.
"Clinton was not the same person in 2000 as he is now," said Bob Shrum, who helped manage Gore's campaign and the 2000 convention. "People had a cognitive dissonance about him. They thought he'd been a good president, but they thought he'd embarrassed them as well.
"Obviously as the incumbent Democratic president, he was going to speak. He gave an extraordinary speech and then he left the convention and went to Michigan. He did an introductory speech [there, for Gore] and that was the handoff."
It ended up being the second-most memorable address of that convention, Shrum added. Gore's speech was the first. "But what would have hurt us is if Gore looked like he was completely derivative and not his own person."
Clinton's advisers spent that night and much of the rest of the election convinced that Gore's effort to create distance was harming his chances. After the election, those concerns grew louder. But even at the height of intra-Democratic-Party psychodrama, Clinton had a role to play. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry gave him a primetime-speaking slot. In 2008, Obama would do the same, with an eye on repairing bruised feelings that had resulted from the biter primary fight he'd waged with Hilary Clinton. In 2012, Obama is leaning on Clinton once more, this time with more weight.
The setup has invited mockery in the halls of the Republican convention in Tampa.
"It's odd to think Obama has to look backwards to Clinton in order to find a forward message, especially after spending so much time blaming the previous president for his lack of progress," said Rich Grenell, a conservative foreign policy spokesman who briefly served on the Romney campaign. "Romney has done a good job of breaking with McCain and Bush and forging his own brand of conservatism."
But it also offers an illustration of how presidential reputations can be shaped, molded and made politically potent or toxic over time. As longtime Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf noted, Clinton worked hard to make sure that his standing improved once he left office, launching a philanthropic foundation and diving into complex socioeconomic and global health problems.
"I don’t think Bush has made any effort to make his numbers great," Elmendorf said. "He's decided he is who he is and doesn't want to be out in the public trying to rehabilitate his image. Clinton has."
Where that leaves Bush come the next Republican convention, and those after that, is anyone's guess. But for now, offered Shrum, the best modern parallel to Bush's standing within the GOP would be an uncomfortable one for conservatives to consider.
"The right analogy is probably [Jimmy] Carter in the '80s. He didn't have a speaking role at Democratic conventions in the '80s," said Shrum. "I think he is the better analogy or metaphor or analog because, fairly or unfairly, his presidency was perceived to be a failure." 
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Rand Paul Speech Declares Obamacare Unconstitutional

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Rand Paul Speech
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave a speech Wednesday night at the Republican convention.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sen. Rand Paul said in his prime time convention speech Wednesday night that despite the criticism he took for saying so, he still thinks President Barack Obama's health care reform is unconstitutional.
"Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so," the Kentucky politician said after the court's June ruling. "The whole thing remains unconstitutional." He quickly took fire for undermining the legitimacy of the court.
On Wednesday, Paul said he stood by his statement. "When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, the first words out of my mouth were: I still think it is unconstitutional! The leftwing blogs were merciless. Even my wife said -- can't you please count to 10 before you speak? So, I've had time now to count to 10 and, you know what -- I still think it's unconstitutional!"
Paul argued that Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas hold the same opinion he does. "Do you think Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have changed their minds? I think if James Madison, himself -- the father of the Constitution -- were here today he would agree with me: the whole damn thing is still unconstitutional!"
Paul's insistence on the law's unconstitutionality calls to mind former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson's aphorism: "We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final."
The only way to repeal it now, said Paul, is to elect Mitt Romney. "This debate is not new and it's not over. Hamilton and Madison fought from the beginning about how government would be limited by the enumerated powers. Madison was unequivocal. The powers of the federal government are few and defined. The power to tax and spend is restricted by the enumerated powers. So, how do we fix this travesty of justice? There’s only one option left," he said. "We have to have a new president!"
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DNC Attacks Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan On Todd Akin, Women's Issues In Tampa Tribune Ad

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Dnc Romney Ryan
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaign. The DNC bought a Tampa, Fla., newspaper ad Tuesday that ties the Republican ticket to Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who says women's bodies prevent pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape."
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Democratic National Committee refuses to allow Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to put Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments behind them, running a full page ad in the Tampa Tribune on Tuesday devoted to the GOP presidential ticket's record on abortion and women's health issues to coincide with the first official day of the Republican National Convention.
The ad knocks Ryan for co-sponsoring anti-abortion legislation with Akin that made no exceptions for rape, incest "or anything else," and the Republican Party's platform on abortion that similarly grants no exception for rape. The ad also cites Romney's exchange with Fox News host Mike Huckabee, in which the Republican presidential candidate said he would "absolutely" support a constitutional amendment to establish life as beginning at conception.
"Taking away a woman’s decision— any way they ‘kin," is the slogan the DNC attaches to a Romney-Ryan ticket.
Romney's campaign immediately sought to distance both Romney and his running mate from Akin, who sparked outrage for saying in an interview that if a woman isa victim of "legitimate rape," her body can prevent pregnancy. On the same day that Akin's comments attracted global attention, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul released a statement clarifying that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."
While that position is mostly consistent with Romney's stance on abortion, it opened complications for Ryan, who had collaborated with Akin on abortion legislation that limited federal funding for victims of "forcible rape." Democrats seized on the issue as an opportunity to pound Republicans on women's health issues, while the GOP spent the entire week leading into the Tampa convention trying to squelch the controversy.
Romney, Ryan and almost every member of the Republican Party first condemned Akin's remarks, then unsuccessfully called on the Missouri congressman to drop his Senate challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Ryan continued to defend his prior collaboration with Akin on Monday, when he told Fox News' Bret Baier that "forcible rape" was "stock language" used for a variety of bills he didn't author. "That language was removed to be very clear, and I agree with that," Ryan said. "Removing that language so we are very clear. Rape is rape, period, end of story."
UPDATE: 11: 24 a.m. -- Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg emailed the following comment in response to the ad:
In the Obama economy, nearly six million women are unemployed and the poverty rate for women has reached a near two decade high. Women deserve better than four more years of President Obama’s failed policies. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a Plan for a Stronger Middle Class that will help women start businesses, receive more take home pay, and ensure that their children have bright futures.

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Murray Energy Miners Allege They Had To Give Up Pay To Attend 'Mandatory' Romney Rally (AUDIO)

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Earlier this month, Mitt Romney was welcomed for a campaign event at the Century Mine in Beallsville, Ohio, by hundreds of coal workers and their families. Now many of the mine's workers are saying they were forced to give up a day-worth of pay to attend the event, and they feared they might be fired if they didn’t, according to local news radio WWVA.
The claims have been mostly denied by Rob Moore, Chief Financial Officer of Murray Energy Company, which owns the mine. He acknowledges that workers weren’t paid that day but says no one was made to attend the event. Well, kind of.
"Our managers communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend," he told local news radio WWVA, which has received several emails from workers claiming that the company records names of workers that don't attend those types of events.
The company's interest in having its employees show support for Romney may be a result of its CEO's close ties with the presumptive Republican nominee. In May, Romney teamed up with Murray's CEO Bob Murray for a fundraising event in West Virginia. And Murray's made no secret of his support for the Republican party,previously backing Rick Perry.
In addition, his company has donated more than $900,000 to Republican candidates in the last two years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Murray, who is also a climate-change denier, has been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s stance on coal. That view may be why Moore told WWVA that having employees attend the Romney event “was in the best interest of anyone that's related to the coal industry in this area or the entire country."
This isn’t the first time workers have been frustrated by a Mitt Romney campaign event either. Employees of Sensata Technologies, a company owned by Romney’s previous employer Bain Capital, protested a campaign event earlier this month in Bettendorf, Iowa. In that case, Romney didn't respond to questions about what he would do to prevent their jobs being outsourcedThe Rock River Times reports.
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Ron Paul Republican Convention
TAMPA, Fla. -- A divided Republican Party was on full display Tuesday when Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) supporters and other grassroots activists loudly booed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on the first full day of the Republican National Convention.
The fight was over the unglamorous rules process that dictates how delegates are apportioned in each state. Paul didn't sweep the ballot boxes in state caucuses and primaries, but his supporters quietly worked behind the scenes in an effort to take control of state parties and delegate assignments.
The RNC's rules committee adopted provisions that would bar this sort of insurgent takeover from happening in the future: Convention delegates would bebound to vote for the candidate who won statewide at the ballot box.
In other words, when there is a statewide popular vote, if the result is not winner-take-all, each candidate must get delegates in proportion to their percentage of the popular vote. The rule was proposed and pushed through the committee by lieutenants loyal to Romney. Some Republicans, including ones loyal to Romney,opposed the rule change, arguing it hurt grassroots activism.
Twenty Paul backers from Maine were also stripped of their spots as official delegates after the RNC concluded that their election was invalid.
On Tuesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called for a full delegation vote on the rules, including the ones the Paul backers opposed. The voice vote of ayes and nays were equal in volume, but Boehner immediately gave it to the ayes, leading to loud boos and shouts from Paul supporters.
The dismissed Maine delegation was easy to spot on Tuesday. They were all wearing white baseball caps that read "Maine 2012" and had a picture of Paul. Before the vote on the rules, Paul supporters would frequently interrupt the proceedings with shouts of "Seat them now" (referring to the Maine delegation), "We were robbed," "President Paul" and "Point of order."

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Tampa, Florida has more homeless people per capita than any city in America. Yet you won't hear much -- if any -- talk from the podium on the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired convention set about America's poverty crisis.

And this lack of attention won't be exclusive to the GOP. You can expect more of the same (or is that actually less of the same?) when the Democrats descend on Charlotte next week -- after all, President Obama hasn't devoted even one speech to the subject of poverty since he moved into the White House.

This bipartisan back-turning is why we are reviving the Shadow Conventions -- gatherings I helped organize in 2000 with the goal of sparking a national conversation on three issues that neither party was seriously addressing: the corrupting influence of money on our politics, the persistence of poverty in America, and the disastrous war on drugs.

Twelve years later, both parties are still largely ignoring these issues. As a result, each of these problems has gotten worse:

In 2000, 31 million Americans lived below the poverty line. In 2010, it was over 46 million -- including 16.4 million children -- a figure that is expected to rise when the new census figures are released this fall. This is the largest number of people living in poverty in over half a century.
The drug war numbers are similarly troubling: There are over 100,000 more arrests per year for possession of marijuana than there were in 2000 -- yet over 6 million more Americans are using illicit drugs today. A quarter of all prisoners in U.S. jails are there because of a nonviolent drug offense. And while African Americans represent just 12 percent of all drug users, they make up 59 percent of those in state prison for a drug offense.

As for the increasing role money plays in our political campaigns, the founding democratic principle of "one man, one vote" has been replaced by the arithmetic of special interest politics: Thousands of lobbyists plus billions of dollars equal access and influence out of the reach of ordinary Americans. While $54 million was spent by outside groups on the 2000 presidential race, that number has already reached $318 million in 2012. And, thanks to Citizens United, that includes large piles of money funneled through super PACS and "dark money" groups.

To battle the two parties' neglect of these issues, HuffPost Live and The Huffington Post are hosting Shadow Conventions 2012 -- devoting a day during each of the national conventions to focusing on one of the three issues. Today and next Tuesday, a wide array of HuffPost sections -- from Politics to Green toEntertainment to Science -- are featuring stories and blog posts highlighting the effects the war on drugs is having on so many aspects of our lives. On those same days, between 12-4 pm ET (and again between 6-10 pm ET), HuffPost Live's team of host/producers will be joined by a broad range of politicians, thought leaders, activists, and celebrities for in-depth interviews and panel discussions on various aspects of the drug war. Tomorrow and next Wednesday the focus will be on poverty and jobs, while the many ways money is influencing our politics will be front and center on the next two Thursdays.

And we want you to be a central part of these discussions. That's what HuffPost Live is all about -- sparking real conversations about issues that impact our lives.

Among the drug war-related topics being discussed today on HuffPost Live are over-incarceration; howracial disparity in the drug war has led to the disenfranchisement of millions of Americans (especially people of color); the drug war's impact on families; and the reasons why the drug war is such an electrified third railof American politics. Click on any of the above to go to a HuffPost Live "green room" page where you can learn more about the specific topic, leave a comment, and sign up to join an on-air Shadow Convention conversation.

The Shadow Conventions are for the 96 percent of Americans who have not contributed to a political campaign; the nearly 90 percent of Americans who favor treatment over incarceration for first-time drug offenders; the 80 percent who believe that Congress today is being run not for the benefit of the people but for the benefit of special interests; the more than 40 percent of Americans who are not planning to vote in November; the more than 22 percent of our country's children living below the poverty line.

The Shadow Conventions are your conventions. Join us and be part of a convention that's unscripted, surprising, and a lot more interesting than the over-produced political commercials in Tampa and Charlotte.
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Shadow Conventions 2012: What They Will Not Be Talking About in Tampa and Charlott

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Shadow Conventions Drug War

Tampa, Florida has more homeless people per capita than any city in America. Yet you won't hear much -- if any -- talk from the podium on the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired convention set about America's poverty crisis.

And this lack of attention won't be exclusive to the GOP. You can expect more of the same (or is that actually less of the same?) when the Democrats descend on Charlotte next week -- after all, President Obama hasn't devoted even one speech to the subject of poverty since he moved into the White House.

This bipartisan back-turning is why we are reviving the Shadow Conventions -- gatherings I helped organize in 2000 with the goal of sparking a national conversation on three issues that neither party was seriously addressing: the corrupting influence of money on our politics, the persistence of poverty in America, and the disastrous war on drugs.

Twelve years later, both parties are still largely ignoring these issues. As a result, each of these problems has gotten worse:

In 2000, 31 million Americans lived below the poverty line. In 2010, it was over 46 million -- including 16.4 million children -- a figure that is expected to rise when the new census figures are released this fall. This is the largest number of people living in poverty in over half a century.
The drug war numbers are similarly troubling: There are over 100,000 more arrests per year for possession of marijuana than there were in 2000 -- yet over 6 million more Americans are using illicit drugs today. A quarter of all prisoners in U.S. jails are there because of a nonviolent drug offense. And while African Americans represent just 12 percent of all drug users, they make up 59 percent of those in state prison for a drug offense.

As for the increasing role money plays in our political campaigns, the founding democratic principle of "one man, one vote" has been replaced by the arithmetic of special interest politics: Thousands of lobbyists plus billions of dollars equal access and influence out of the reach of ordinary Americans. While $54 million was spent by outside groups on the 2000 presidential race, that number has already reached $318 million in 2012. And, thanks to Citizens United, that includes large piles of money funneled through super PACS and "dark money" groups.

To battle the two parties' neglect of these issues, HuffPost Live and The Huffington Post are hosting Shadow Conventions 2012 -- devoting a day during each of the national conventions to focusing on one of the three issues. Today and next Tuesday, a wide array of HuffPost sections -- from Politics to Green toEntertainment to Science -- are featuring stories and blog posts highlighting the effects the war on drugs is having on so many aspects of our lives. On those same days, between 12-4 pm ET (and again between 6-10 pm ET), HuffPost Live's team of host/producers will be joined by a broad range of politicians, thought leaders, activists, and celebrities for in-depth interviews and panel discussions on various aspects of the drug war. Tomorrow and next Wednesday the focus will be on poverty and jobs, while the many ways money is influencing our politics will be front and center on the next two Thursdays.

And we want you to be a central part of these discussions. That's what HuffPost Live is all about -- sparking real conversations about issues that impact our lives.

Among the drug war-related topics being discussed today on HuffPost Live are over-incarceration; howracial disparity in the drug war has led to the disenfranchisement of millions of Americans (especially people of color); the drug war's impact on families; and the reasons why the drug war is such an electrified third railof American politics. Click on any of the above to go to a HuffPost Live "green room" page where you can learn more about the specific topic, leave a comment, and sign up to join an on-air Shadow Convention conversation. 

The Shadow Conventions are for the 96 percent of Americans who have not contributed to a political campaign; the nearly 90 percent of Americans who favor treatment over incarceration for first-time drug offenders; the 80 percent who believe that Congress today is being run not for the benefit of the people but for the benefit of special interests; the more than 40 percent of Americans who are not planning to vote in November; the more than 22 percent of our country's children living below the poverty line.

The Shadow Conventions are your conventions. Join us and be part of a convention that's unscripted, surprising, and a lot more interesting than the over-produced political commercials in Tampa and Charlotte.
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Ron Paul Delegates Cause Mayhem At Republican Convention

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Ron Paul Republican Convention
TAMPA, Fla. -- A divided Republican Party was on full display Tuesday when Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) supporters and other grassroots activists loudly booed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on the first full day of the Republican National Convention.
The fight was over the unglamorous rules process that dictates how delegates are apportioned in each state. Paul didn't sweep the ballot boxes in state caucuses and primaries, but his supporters quietly worked behind the scenes in an effort to take control of state parties and delegate assignments.
The RNC's rules committee adopted provisions that would bar this sort of insurgent takeover from happening in the future: Convention delegates would bebound to vote for the candidate who won statewide at the ballot box.
In other words, when there is a statewide popular vote, if the result is not winner-take-all, each candidate must get delegates in proportion to their percentage of the popular vote. The rule was proposed and pushed through the committee by lieutenants loyal to Romney. Some Republicans, including ones loyal to Romney,opposed the rule change, arguing it hurt grassroots activism.
Twenty Paul backers from Maine were also stripped of their spots as official delegates after the RNC concluded that their election was invalid.
On Tuesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called for a full delegation vote on the rules, including the ones the Paul backers opposed. The voice vote of ayes and nays were equal in volume, but Boehner immediately gave it to the ayes, leading to loud boos and shouts from Paul supporters.
The dismissed Maine delegation was easy to spot on Tuesday. They were all wearing white baseball caps that read "Maine 2012" and had a picture of Paul. Before the vote on the rules, Paul supporters would frequently interrupt the proceedings with shouts of "Seat them now" (referring to the Maine delegation), "We were robbed," "President Paul" and "Point of order."
After the vote, Paul supporters took to the hallways outside the main convention area and continued shouting and talking to reporters about how they believed they were robbed. Several of them said they may not support Romney -- and it could cause problems for Republicans in the fall.
"After the way they treated us, treated the state of Maine, treated us Republicans, they should be worried about how this is going to affect the election," said Erin Gail, a stripped Maine delegate.
"This is a sign this man [Romney] will take our country down a much worse path than the guy who is currently in office. And I can't stand the guy who is currently in office," said John Jones, another rejected Maine delegate.
Paul is with his backers, all the way. He is not speaking at the convention this year, because he denied the RNC's two conditions: that he allow his remarks to be vetted by RNC officials and that he fully endorse Romney.
It wouldn't be my speech,” Paul told The New York Times. "That would undo everything I've done in the last 30 years. I don't fully endorse him for president."
On Tuesday, Paul told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that he was "undecided" on whether he would vote for Romney.
Gladys Lemley, an alternate delegate from West Virginia who is backing Romney -- although she originally supported Newt Gingrich -- agreed with the Paul delegates that the divide in the GOP could hurt the party in November. She said she wished the Paul backers would join with other Republicans and focus on defeating Obama.
"By now, we need to unify the Republican Party and go after Obama. He is our enemy, not members of the Republican Party," she said.
When asked whether it could help Democrats win in November, she added, "It could. I remember back when Ross Perot ran. It hurt the Republican Party."
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Republican Attendee Allegedly Threw Nuts At Black CNN Camerawoman, Called Her An 'Animal'

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An attendee at the Republican National Convention was allegedly thrown out of the convention center in Tampa on Tuesday after throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman and saying, "this is how we feed the animals."
Former MSNBC and Current host David Shuster, who is attending the convention, tweeted about the incident earlier on Tuesday:
 
David Shuster
GOP attendee ejected for throwing nuts at African American CNN camera woman + saying "This is how we feed animals." 
Talking Points Memo then reached out to CNN, which confirmed that an incident had taken place in a statement it later sent to The Huffington Post.
"CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon," the statement read. "CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment."
There was no immediate mention of the attack on CNN's air.
The incident would be ugly anywhere, but it is especially troubling for a party whose nominee attracted 0 percent of the black vote in a recent NBC poll.
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