Inside Obama’s DSCC fundraiser in Portola Valley

Again, here’s the pool report I just filed to the White House:

From the Palo Alto event, POTUS’ motorcade made its way back out to Highway 101 South, to Oregon Expressway, to Page Mill Road, to Interstate 280 North, to Alpine Road, to Los Trancos Road. Finally, it proceeded up the vineyard-lined private drive to the palatial home of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems, and his wife, Neeru. POTUS arrived at 7:32 p.m. Pacific Time.

Reporters were ushered into the house at 7:54 p.m. as Khosla addressed the crowd of only a few dozen who’d paid $32,400 each for this DSCC fundraising dinner. Khosla said he met Obama while he was a senator and found him “amazingly adept” at energy issues. POTUS took the microphone at 7:56 p.m.

POTUS thanked the Khoslas “and these beasts” – their large, shaggy dogs – for hosting the event. “These two could eat Bo,” he said, gesturing toward the canines. He acknowledged the presence of DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Obama again described his visit this morning to the Mooresville, N.C., middle school which has vastly improved its performance by moving to a laptop-based, high-tech teaching system. “The passion that young people now have for learning… because of that, the school has transformed itself.” The administration’s new goal is that within five years, all schools will have broadband and wireless access to transform the nation’s educational system “and save money in the process,” he said.

Silicon Valley knows of this transformation better than anywhere else, he said, and now the question is how to engage the rest of the nation, how to make sure everyone has access to the resources for success.

After an extraordinary economic crisis, things are getting better, he said. Referencing his meeting Friday with the president of China, “when you look at the challenges they face and the challenges we face, I’ll take our challenges any day of the week,” but we have to make our government work again.

Government has an important role to play from education to regulatory structure that encourages clean energy and protection of intellectual property, and if we get that part of it right, nothing can stop us, the president said.

“From my perspective, that’s what it means to be a Democrat… that’s what leads us to believe in this democratic ideal,” he said. “So in order for us to accomplish that, we’re going to need to have a Democratic Senate.”

Democrats have no monopoly on wisdom, he reiterated, and he’ll continue to reach out across the aisle in search of Republican cooperation. “But on too much of the big stuff, what we see coming out of the other party is an interest in winning elections or in obstruction, not enough interest in solving problems. Too often what we see is the notion that compromise is a dirty word. And sometimes what we see is the denial of science, around climate change for example.”

He remains optimistic, he said, because of the kids he saw in North Carolina and the businesses he sees in Silicon Valley. “But I’m going to need your help to make that happen… and if you’re willing to engage and be involved and stay committed… then I think we’ll succeed.”

POTUS finished speaking at 8:07 p.m. Reporters were ushered out before he started taking questions from the crowd.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • MichaelB

    Obama is right about Democrats having no monopoly on wisdom.

    Why “compromise” with someone (Obama) whose policies have a poor record of success, are fiscally unsustainable and/or restrict economic growth?

    What “problems” are we solving by expanding unemployment benefits/relaxing regulations when it comes to welfare reform?

    If you add the people out of work with those who have stopped looking for it how are “things getting better”?

  • Elwood

    The Keystone Komics protesting the pipeline are the typical enviro idiots.

    The Canadian tar sands oil is coming and in some cases is already here. It will come either in a pipeline or by rail.

    The pipeline is safer and more economical.

  • JohnW


    “The pipeline is safer and more economical (than rail).”

    I’m no expert on the subject. But, considering the Exxon tar sands pipeline spill in Arkansas and the Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan, I wonder if the above statement is accurate.

    Safer? I know rail accidents happen, but have there been any rail and truck spills of tar sands oil in the U.S. so far?

    How does the damage and cleanup cost of a pipeline spill factor into the economic equation?

    Which does more damage, a spill along a rail line over land that is used only for tracks; or a spill over an aquifer in Nebraska or into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan or a spill that caused the evacuation of 22 homes in Arkansas?

  • Elwood

    “A review of safety and accident statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation for the extensive network of existing U.S. pipelines—including many linked to Canada—clearly show that, in addition to enjoying a substantial cost advantage, pipelines result in fewer fatalities, injuries, and environmental damage than road and rail.”


  • JohnW


    Interesting link. Thanks. I’m truly open minded on Keystone. But the DOT statistics don’t really speak to the questions about pipelines for transporting tar sands heavy crude.

    Of course truck accidents and train wrecks cause more injuries and fatalities than pipelines. But it’s the wrecks, not the oil that causes those injuries. I will agree that the truck statistics look pretty ugly.

    The question is not just how many accidents. It’s what happens when the accidents do occur. As the major pipeline spills in Michigan and Arkansas prove, a regular oil spill is, environmentally speaking, a day at the beach (albeit with sludge) compared with a tar sands pipeline spill. That’s partly due to the “heavy” in heavy crude, but also due to the toxic stuff that accompanies the oil to make it move through the pipeline. The statistics would be of little comfort to Nebraska and nearby states that depend on the Ogallala Aquifer in the event of a major spill.

  • Elwood

    ” toxic stuff that accompanies the oil to make it move through the pipeline.”

    Please elaborate.

    First I’ve heard of that.

    ” It’s what happens when the accidents do occur.”

    And there will be many more if the oil is moved by rail or truck.

  • JohnW

    “Please elaborate.”

    Dilutants used to reduce the viscosity so the sludge can move through the pipeline are undisclosed.

    Michigan spill was 1 million gallons, biggest on land spill in history. Arkansas was a “mere” 500,000 gallons. Keystone would cross the Ogallala Acquifer along with the Missouri, Yellowstone and Red Rivers.

    Among the 30 hazmat chemicals analyzed in the Arkansas spill: benezene, toluene, ethylbenzene, n-hexane and xylenes.

    No, I didn’t well in chemistry and know nothing of the above. But benezene and ethylbenzene are associated with cancer and reproductive effects. n-hexane is associated with nervous system damage and such effects as numbness, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headaches and fatigue.

  • Elwood

    “Among the 30 hazmat chemicals analyzed in the Arkansas spill: benezene, toluene, ethylbenzene, n-hexane and xylenes.”

    John, I think a tiny bit of research would reveal that those chemicals are found in all crude and in its byproducts.

    That’s why your gas pump has that Prop. 65 warning that “this product is known to contain tetra ethyl methyl bad ****!”

  • JohnW


    Perhaps! I don’t know.

    As previously stated, I’m open-minded about Keystone. However, the fact that we had two huge spills in less than three years doesn’t add to my confidence level.