CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 15, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
MAD AS HELL… Veterans Secretary responds to sharp criticism on Capitol Hill: Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki told a Senate committee on Thursday he was "mad as hell" about allegations of deadly waiting times and cover-up at VA hospitals. "Any allegation, any adverse incident like this makes me mad as hell," Shinseki said at the first congressional hearing since reports of 40 deaths in Phoenix due to a lack of timely care for American veterans.
… BUT NOT RESIGNING: Despite calls for his ouster, Shinseki told lawmakers that he has no plans to resign. "This is not a job," he said. "I am here to accomplish a mission that I think they critically deserve and need and I can tell you over the past five years we have done a lot to make things better. We are not done yet. I intend to continue this mission until I have satisfied either that goal or I am told by my commander-in-chief that my time has been served."
DO LIKE BEYONCE: House Dems: Focus on 'all the single ladies'… Party officials recognize that Democrats' chances of retaking control of the House are remote at best, but by zeroing-in on unmarried women, who helped propel President Barack Obama to his second term, they believe they can shrink the GOP majority. More than 60% of the candidates included in the House Democrats' "red to blue" program – which funnels resources to top tier races – are women. – Deirdre Walsh
RESPONDER-IN-CHIEF: A familiar role for the former president … Bill Clinton has never had a problem getting into the muck of politics. Since leaving the White House in 2001 and stepping into the role of the Democrats' elder statesman, the former President has continually shown why he rose from humble roots in rural Arkansas to president of the United States in the first place: his political chops and willingness to use them. – Dan Merica
EXPECT GOP TO POUNCE: U.S. could have acted sooner on Boko Haram, official says… Robert Jackson, the principal deputy secretary for African affairs, told a Senate subcommittee that the initial debate within the State Department over a terror label "was really about the Nigerian attitude towards designation" for the Islamic extremist group that advocates Sharia law. Pressed by Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, Jackson acknowledged that "in retrospect, we might have done it earlier. I think the important thing is that we have done it and that we've offered a reward for the top leadership of Boko Haram's location." – Laura Koran
REMEMBERING 9/11: President Barack Obama memorializes 9/11 victims at the September 11 Memorial Museum: "We come together, we stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters who look in the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls, men and women and children of every race, every creed from every corner of the world and we can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives. A wedding ring, a dusty helmet, a shining badge. Here we tell their story so that generations yet unborn will never forget."
THE BUZZ: The 8 worst places in the world to be religious … Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has kept a list of the world's worst abusers of religious rights. As the most recent report notes, it has never lacked for material. Persecutions of people of faith are rising across the globe. Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are "authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion." The 8 worst countries: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.
MARKET WATCH: Stocks fall across the board after Wal-Mart's disappointing results. Dow sheds 166 points. Wal-Mart tumbles 2.4%.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, under fire for deadly waiting times at VA hospitals, is a wounded veteran himself. How many times was Secretary Shinseki wounded in battle?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNN Politics: On the comeback trail with help from the Clintons… It's a large district in and around Philadelphia. It's not a swing seat; it's a safe Democratic stronghold—not a nail biter. But in this midterm election, the 13th Congressional District race has attracted some national attention and some rock star fundraisers: Bill and Hillary Clinton. – Gloria Borger, Kevin Bohn and Brian Rokus
Leading Drudge: NYT Shock Memo: 'Our Journalism Advantage Shrinking'… A 96-page internal New York Times report, sent to top executives last month by a committee led by the publisher’s son and obtained by BuzzFeed, paints a dark picture of a newsroom struggling more dramatically than is immediately visible to adjust to the digital world, a newsroom that is hampered primarily by its own storied culture. – Myles Tanzer from Buzzfeed
Leading HuffPo: Net Neutrality One Step Closer To Death… U.S. telecommunications regulators on Thursday formally proposed new "net neutrality" rules that may let Internet service providers charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has come under fire from consumer advocates and technology companies for proposing to allow some "commercially reasonable" deals in which content companies could pay broadband providers to prioritize traffic on their networks. – Reuters via Huffington Post
Leading Politico: The big biz of spying on little kids… The NSA has nothing on the education tech startup known as Knewton. The data analytics firm has peered into the brains of more than 4 million students across the country. By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke and every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch — and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday. – Stephanie Simon
Leading NY Times: At 9/11 Museum, a Promise to Never Forget… President Obama on Thursday toured the museum commemorating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and declared a resolve to never let terrorists shatter the spirit of America. – Peter Baker
Leading CNN Money: GM's recall total hits 10 million… The recall nightmare at General Motors just won't end. General Motors has recalled another 3 million autos, bringing the troubled automaker's total for the year to about 10 million. – Chris Isidore
Gut Check Flashback… Hillary Clinton at an event in March: "I am impressed by the new CEO of GM, who was dealt a very bad hand."
The political bites of the day
– What does Condoleezza Rice think about the 2016 field? –
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE RICE IN AN INTERVIEW WITH OZY...
On Jeb Bush: "I think Jeb would be fantastic. … First of all, nobody, Jeb hasn't said whether he will run. He's a friend. I hope he does, frankly."
On Ted Cruz: "While I don't agree with Ted Cruz on everything, he's energetic. He's working hard. He loves his country. And from time to time when I disagree, I'll tell him."
On Marco Rubio: "Marco Rubio is also a fantastic young presence in the party. Great background. Speaks volumes to the American Dream. Speaks volumes to who we are as Americas, which is that we are not of a particular ethnicity, or nationality or religion. We are every color, shape and size."
On Hillary Clinton: "First, Secretary Clinton obviously hasn't decided what she's going to do. I have a lot of respect for her. … I'm a committed Republican. I'll continue to fight for that party, and I'll fight for that nominee."
– Thank you Idaho –
HARLEY BROWN, A POLITICAL NEWCOMER WHO IS RUNNING FOR THE REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL NOMINATION IN IDAHO, DESCRIBED HIS POLITICAL STYLE DURING WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S DEBATE: "As it says on my motor cycle club, 'Hey, diddle, diddle, right up the middle,' that is my style."
– Come on America… –
SETH MEYERS ON HIS NBC LATE NIGHT TALL SHOW: "According to a new survey, 55% of Americans think that they are smarter than the average American. Said the average American, ‘55%, that's almost half.’”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Mark Preston (@PrestonCNN)
cnn's Michelle Jaconi, @mjaconicnn, delivering the keynote speech at the google event for media. http://instagram.com/p/oBRTMGPtgy/
Paul Steinhauser (@psteinhauserCNN)
New Quinnipiac 2016 poll in Ohio indicates Clinton still ahead of potential GOP opponents, but her lead has shrunk http://cnn.it/1lj9RK8
Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel)
Carlyle CEO David Rubenstein predicts Jeb-Hillary 2016 but "I thought Carter was going to get reelected, so my ability to predict is modest"
Henry C.J. Jackson (@hjacksonAP)
Strong 2016 reporting in this @sppeoples piece - Business execs skeptical of Christie's chances (from @AP) http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268743/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=XWc1gF2n …
Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg)
You too could have a private lunch with Bill and Hillary Clinton! For a price. http://washex.am/1v9UmLk
Louisiana subsidizes Duck Dynasty, now Bobby Jindal will be part of the season premiere – http://bit.ly/RUMa2n
Timothy P Carney (@TPCarney)
Yes, Jindal personally benefits from his state's subsidies to Duck Dynasty–but he tried to curb those subsidies http://www.nola.com/movies/index.ssf/2013/03/louisiana_film_leaders_says_ji.html …
Jim Roberts (@nycjim)
#Turkey rescuers find body of miner clutching note to his son. Heartbreaking. http://bit.ly/1iP7BY9 pic.twitter.com/xK2p7tmT8x
Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand)
My new @TIME OpEd on our effort to support student activists in fight to end campus sexual assault: http://ti.me/1hO37kU Because #1is2Many
"Antonio Banderas may be cast as Pope Francis in biopic" http://feedly.com/e/q043JXhc
Callie Schweitzer (@cschweitz)
All the junk food you love is pricier this year http://j.mp/RSHF8m
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
After attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, Eric Shinseki was commissioned as a second lieutenant and served two combat tours with the 9th and 25th Infantry Divisions in Vietnam.
During his years of service, Shinseki was wounded three times, including when a mortar round hit him in the shoulder and chest and when a helicopter crash broke the future VA secretary's jaw and arm.
It was in April 1970, however, that Shinseki stepped on a landline in Vietnam and had part of his right foot blown off. Despite the injury, Shinseki remained in the service and earned two Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars for his time serving in Vietnam.
In an interview with PBS, Shinseki was asked why he stayed in the service after his third injury.
"The reason I stayed on active duty at the time I did was because I had the utmost respect for the young American soldier I encountered in a place called Vietnam," he said. "And even though we came back to a country that wasn't quite sure that we did great work there, that young soldier did everything we asked of him and her and never complained. And I just thought that I could not serve in a better organization–that's why I stayed."
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