(CNN) – Legendary singer Etta James said she was only trying to be funny when she said Beyonce is “gonna get her ass whupped” and that President Obama has “big ears.”
James, who first made the comments at a concert in Seattle last week, told the Daily News on Friday that she continued the insults because the crowd was laughing. She said that her jokes were “not from a vicious place.”
"I didn't really mean anything," James told the Daily News. "Even as a little child, I've always had that comedian kind of attitude. That's probably what went into it."
(CNN) – As the Senate debates spending measures in President Obama’s stimulus bill, a non-partisan group launched a million-dollar ad campaign Wednesday to urge the new administration to create a task force to tackle rising entitlements costs.
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an institution dedicated to fighting wasteful government spending, printed ads in the Washington Post and Roll Call on Wednesday calling the current financial crisis “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“We must also focus on a much larger yet less visible threat: the $56 trillion in liabilities and unfunded retirement and health care obligations (that’s $483,000 per U.S. household), and the dangerous reliance on foreign lenders, that threaten our ship of state,” says the ad.
The group is asking Obama to appoint a bipartisan task force to deal with the current financial crisis and to fix structural problems with the economy overall. Congressional Democrats like Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Republicans like Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio and Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia will join the group’s president and CEO David Walker for a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday to talk about the mission and ad campaign.
A spokeswoman for the foundation said the group is planning to spend a minimum of a million dollars on the ad campaign launched Wednesday, which will include an ad in the New York Times this week as well as television spots in the near future.
(CNN) – Newly minted Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele announced his transition team Tuesday. The group is dominated by RNC members who backed the new leader during the election.
Steele also chose former rival Saul Anuzis, who endorsed him after withdrawing from the race, to be a part of the team. The group will start concentrating on gubernatorial and local elections right away, along with recruiting new candidates, building volunteer networks and forging relationships with local parties, according to a press release.
Co-chairs of Steele transition team include:
Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis
Mississippi National Committeeman Henry Barbour
Illinois National Committeeman Pat Brady
Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer
Michigan National Committeewoman Holly Hughes
Northern Mariana Islands National Committeeman Bo Palacios
California National Committeeman Shawn Steel
Maryland National Committeeman Joyce Tehres
Oregon GOP Chairman Bo Tiernan
(CNN) – Democrats and Republicans may cross party lines to join colleagues in rooting for their favorite teams at President Obama’s Super Bowl party on Sunday night.
Obama invited several members of Congress, including a few Republicans, to the White House residence on Sunday night to chow down on chips and dip and watch the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the daily press briefing on Friday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this is a way of “bringing people together.”
“He'll have more members of Congress over here Sunday to watch the Super Bowl and, again, reach out to and get to know in a better way members on both sides of the aisle to see where we can work in concert to improve the lives of the American people,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs joked that his deputy, Bill Burton, would provide seven-layer dip. But he said there’s no wagering allowed at this party.
Full list after the jump
(CNN) – There's a new face in President Obama's kitchen cabinet.
Sam Kass, the Obamas' personal chef in Chicago, was hired as part of the new White House kitchen staff. Kass will work under executive chef Cristeta Comerford, who has worked for both former Presidents Bush and Clinton.
Kass, a Chicago native, received his formal culinary training in Europe and traveled and cooked around the world.
When Kass, 28, returned to the United States, he founded Inevitable Table, a private chef service that provides personal shoppers to buy healthy food from local farmers and sends chefs to cook meals for kids or private parties. According to its web site, the business aims to "promote a healthy lifestyle that focuses on the quality and flavor of food to encourage good eating habits."
(CNN) –- President Obama will take his first foreign trip as commander in chief to Canada next month, his press secretary announced Wednesday.
“Canada is a vitally important ally and the president looks forward to the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Harper and visit our neighbor to the north,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said during Wednesday’s press briefing.
Obama will head to Canada on February 19. Gibbs did not announce any further details about the president’s itinerary.
Former President Bush took his first international trip to Mexico, but many U.S. presidents have started their terms with a visit to Canada.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's Joe Biden's home states ball, but it could be any giant prom or wedding party.
The ball is one of six official galas in the Washington Convention Center on Inauguration night. There's nothing here representing Biden's home states of Delaware and Pennsylvania, but hundreds of revelers were still enjoying themselves, noshing on pasta italiano and crudite.
Lots of people got tickets from friends or coworkers, but if you had to dish out the $150 for a way in, you still had to pay $12 for a glass of champagne. And don't expect Dom Perignon, either. But the dance floor is packed listening to the 11-piece James Gerard Orchestra playing classics like "My Girl," "The Way You Look Tonight" (Sinatra version), "Brick House" and "I Will Survive."
(CNN) – In his final Democratic weekly radio/web address on Saturday before being sworn in as president, President-elect Barack Obama acknowledged President George W. Bush for helping to make the transition smooth between the two administrations.
“Here at home, transitions also remind us that what we hold in common as Americans far outweighs our political differences,” Obama said. “Throughout the current transition, President Bush and his Administration have extended the hand of cooperation, and provided invaluable assistance to my team as we prepare to hit the ground running on January 20.
Although the two leaders don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of issues, Obama has repeatedly praised his predecessor for making the transfer of power as easy as possible. In an interview with CNN’s John King on Friday, Obama said they have been able to have “disagreements politically and yet treat each other civilly.”
In the address, Obama said even through the United States is currently dealing with a war and a faltering economy, transitions of power have happened in the past during difficult times and they have consistently been “peaceful and orderly.”
(CNN) – The day before he kicks off a four-day marathon of Inauguration-related events in the nation’s capital, President-elect Barack Obama will head to Ohio to tout his economic recovery plan.
Friday, Obama will travel to Bedford Heights, Ohio to tour Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company, a company that uses only American made items to manufacture parts used to construct wind turbines. He will meet with workers on the factory floor to discuss his economic stimulus proposals, officially known as the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan."
Obama has said his economic stimulus plan aims to save or create three to four million American jobs overall. His plan would also try to create a half million jobs by investing in clean energy, like wind power.
The president-elect and his economic team have been meeting with members of Congress about the plan for days, but a final solution is still in the works.
This will be Obama’s last trip to Ohio as president-elect. The next day, Obama will travel from Philadelphia to Washington, DC to kick-off Inauguration weekend.
Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, is in Israel. (Getty Images/Israeli GPO)
(CNN) – ‘Joe the Plumber’ Wurzelbacher told a group of journalists covering the conflict in Israel and Gaza that he didn’t think the media should be allowed to report on war.
“I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting,” Wurzelbacher said. “You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, ‘well, look at this atrocity,’ well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.”
Wurzelbacher arrived in Israel on Sunday to start a 10-day assignment for pjtv.com, a Web site run by the conservative media outlet Pajamas Media. The plumber-turned-foreign correspondent said he wanted to cover Israel’s side of the conflict, because he thought the media was slanting the story to make it look like “Israel’s being bad.”
In his first day as a reporter, Wurzelbacher described the hardships of daily life in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.
“I’m sure they’re taking quick showers, I know I would,” Wurzelbacher said. “So you can’t plan your day, you can’t take a picnic.“