To visit Martin's writing website, press here.

September 24, 2010

The Bush League Defense

There is this to be said in my defense. Almost anyone who can trace their ancestry back to the colonial period in American history is related to some presidents. The Bush family is related to just about everybody: fourteen other presidents (inc. Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt), Winston Churchill, Princess Diana Spencer and John Kerry. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans who are distant relatives of the ex-pres (including Barack Obama). Oh wait, that makes me some extreme distant relative to George’s successor too. I feel better now. (Though I'm tiring of everyone yelling, “Barry, clean up the mess FASTER!!!”)

In case you need a good cry, I found this list on a site about presidential jokes:

George W. Bush Resume

Past Work Experience:
* Ran for congress and lost.
* Produced a Hollywood slasher B movie (The Hitcher).
* Bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas; company went bankrupt shortly after all Bush stock sold.
* Bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. Biggest move: traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox.
* With father's help (and his name) was elected Governor of Texas.

Accomplishments in Previous Positions:
* Changed pollution laws for power and oil companies and made Texas the most polluted state in the Union.
* Replaced Los Angeles with Houston as the most smog-ridden city in America.
* Cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas government to the tune of billions in borrowed money.
* Set record for most executions by any governor in American history.
* Became president after losing the popular vote by over 500,000 votes, with the help of his father's appointments to the Supreme Court.

Accomplishments As President:
* Attacked and took over two countries.
* Spent the surplus and bankrupted the treasury.
* Shattered record for biggest annual deficit in history.
* Set economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
* Set all-time record for biggest drop in the history of the stock market.
* First president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.
* First president in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
* First year in office set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in U.S. history.
* After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
* Set the record for most campaign fundraising trips, more than any other president in U.S. history.
* In first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their jobs.
* Cut unemployment benefits for more out of work Americans than any president in U.S. history.
* Set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
* Appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in U.S. history.
* Set the record for fewest press conferences of any president since the advent of television.
* Signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any president in U.S. history.
* Presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.
* Presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history and refused to use the national reserves as past presidents have.
* Cut healthcare benefits for war veterans.
* Set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.
* Dissolved more international treaties than any president in U.S. history.
* Ran the most secretive and unaccountable presidency of any in U.S. history.
* Appointed members of cabinet that are the richest of any administration in U.S. history (the 'poorest' multimillionaire, Condoleezza Rice, has an Exxon oil tanker named after her).
* First president in U.S. history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously go bankrupt.
* Presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in the history of the world.
* First president in U.S. history to order a U.S. attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation.
* Created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States.
* Set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any president in U.S. history.
* First president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the human rights commission.
* First president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the elections monitoring board.
* Removed more checks and balances, and had the least amount of congressional oversight of any presidential administration in U.S. history.
* Rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.
* Withdrew from the World Court of Law.
* Refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. prisoners of war and by default no longer abided by the Geneva Conventions.
* First president in U.S. history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. elections).
* All-time U.S. (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations.
* Biggest lifetime campaign contributor presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).
* Spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in U.S. history.
* First president in U.S. history to unilaterally attack a sovereign nation against the will of the United Nations and the world community.
* First president to run and hide when the U.S. came under attack (and then lied saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1)
* First U.S. president to establish a secret shadow government.
* Took the biggest world sympathy for the U.S. after 9/11, and in less than a year made the U.S. the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in U.S. and world history).
* With a policy of 'disengagement' created the most hostile Israeli-Palestine relations in at least 30 years.
* First U.S. president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view his presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.
* First U.S. president in history to have the people of South Korea more threatened by the U.S. than their immediate neighbor, North Korea.
* Changed U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
* Set all-time record for number of administration appointees who violated U.S. law by not selling huge investments in corporations bidding for government contracts.
* Failed to fulfill pledge to get Osama Bin Laden 'dead or alive.'
* Failed to capture the anthrax killer who tried to murder the leaders of our country at the United States Capital building. After 18 months no leads and zero suspects.
* In the 18 months following the 9/11 attacks successfully prevented any public investigation into the biggest security failure in the history of the United States.
* Removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in U.S. history.
* In a little over two years created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided the U.S. has ever been since the Civil War.
* Entered office with the strongest economy in U.S. history and in less than two years turned every single economic category indicator straight down.

Records and References:
* At least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).
* AWOL from National Guard and deserted the military during a time of war.
* Refused to take drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.
* All records of tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to father's library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
* All records of any SEC investigations into his insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
* All minutes of meetings for any public corporation he served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
* Any records or minutes from meetings he (or VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.
* For personal references please speak to daddy or uncle James Baker (they can be reached at their offices of the Carlyle Group for war-profiteering.)

You can tell this list is out-dated, and you might contest a point or two (or add others), but the big picture remains: What, Me Worry?

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Did you hear that Soupy Sales died?
Jeff: Yeah, a year ago.
Mutt: Oowah! Hit me like a cream pie.
Jeff: Well, old comics never die, they just keep gagging.
Mutt: Old printers never die, they're just not the type.
Jeff: Old cooks never die, they just get deranged.
Mutt: Old photographers never die, they just stop developing.
Jeff: Old seers never die, they just lose their vision.
Mutt: Old cleaning people never die, they just kick the bucket.
Jeff: Old bosses never die, much as you want them to.
Mutt: Old electricians never die, they just lose contact.
Jeff: Old limbo dancers never die, they just go under.
Mutt: Old preachers never die, they just ramble on, and on, and on, and on....

September 17, 2010

Dropping Names on my Foote

Dropping Names on My Foote by Earl Martin Pedersen, Dec. 2005

John Foote, an Englishman from Royston, Hertfordshire, England, and my oldest documented ancestor, was born in 1530. He married Helen Warren and had a son named Robert Foote (1552-1607), who married Joane Brooke, and they had a son named Nathaniel Foote (1593-1644). After his apprenticeship in the grocery business, Nathaniel married Elizabeth Deming in 1615. Her brother was John Deming, a magistrate of the Colony of Connecticut and signer of the Charter. Nathaniel and Elizabeth, probably with John Deming, sailed from London to Boston sometime between 1630 and 1633 to start a new life in Wethersfield, Conn. There Nathaniel farmed and was appointed a delegate to the Court. He was the first cousin of Sir Thomas Foote, Sheriff of London in 1649 and Lord Mayor of London in 1650. Nathaniel Foote is nicknamed “The Settler” because he is our first US ancestor. This is where the story really begins to get interesting.

Nathaniel and Elizabeth had two sons and five daughters. Their first son was also named Nathaniel (1619-1655) and his kid sister was named Rebecca Foote (1634-1701). Remember her. Nathaniel Foote jr. married Elizabeth Smith, and they had a son named Daniel Foote (1652-?). Daniel married Sarah, and they had a boy named Jehiel Foote (1687-1740). Jehiel married Susannah, and one of their nine children was George Foote (1721-1755). George Foote married Hannah Hurd, and they had John Foote (1754-1826), who witnessed the Revolution. John Foote married Ruth Searl in 1775, and they had a son named Adoniram Foote, born in Arlington, Vermont in 1780, who died in Turin, New York in 1866.

Adoniram Foote’s second wife was Emily Brainerd, whose brother Lawrence was an ardent abolitionist. His house in Vermont was the last stop on the Underground Railroad to Canada. Hon. Lawrence Brainerd presided over the first convention of the Republican Party in 1854 nominating John C. Frèmont, who won only 16 states. (Abraham Lincoln was the second Republican candidate for the Presidency. He won.) Adoniram and Emily had a son named Norman Brainerd Foote (1820-1900). Norman married Maria Mills in 1848, and their first son was Frederick Norman Foote (1852-1941). Frederick Foote married Nora French Thompson, and they moved from New York to Texas to Minnesota and then to Seattle, Washington. They had ten children, among them Gertrude May Foote (1891-1977), my grandmother. By the way, Frederick Foote’s brother John was the first graduate of Boston (University) School of Theology, which later graduated Dr. Ralph Martin Pedersen jr. (Dad) and his classmate Dr. Martin Luther King jr.

In the meantime, Nathaniel Foote junior’s sister Rebecca Foote, daughter of “The Settler,” married Lt. Philip Smith and they had a daughter also named Rebecca, who married George Stillmen. George and Rebecca had a daughter named Anna Stillmen who married a man named Hezekiah May. They had a daughter named Elizabeth May, and she married David Newcomb. Their daughter, Lydia Newcomb, married Timothy Bush. Lydia and Timothy Bush had a son, Obadiah Bush (1797-1851), who married Harriet Smith. Their son, the Reverend James Bush (1825-1889), married Harriet Fay, and they had a son named Samuel Prescott Bush (1863-1948). Sam married Flora Sheldon, and they named their son Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895-1972), who married Dorothy Walker. Now, Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy Walker had a son too, and his name is George Herbert Walker Bush (b. 1924), 41st President of the United States. George married Barbara Pierce, and they had a son named George Walker Bush (b. 1946), who later married Laura Lane Welch and became the 43rd President of the United States. That makes “Dubya” and myself cousins ten generations removed.

Other branches of the Foote family tree lead to Roxanna Foote (1775-1816), wife of Lyman Beecher and mother of Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (Stowe) and Henry Ward Beecher, three of the most famous Americans of their time. William Howard Taft, the 27th President, is a descendant of Nathaniel Foote senior’s sister Mary, as is Richard Milhouse Nixon, the 37th US President. Coincidentally, Nixon’s boyhood barber in Whittier, CA was Jesse Elvin Strahl (my maternal grandfather). Finally, Mary Foote’s daughter Elizabeth Hewes married Ralph Hemenway, a direct ancestor of Nobel Prize-winning novelist, Ernest Hemingway.

My main sources for these incomplete notes were: Don Pedersen’s High School Genealogy Project, the Foote Family Association of America website:, Paul Foote’s site at, and Ernest Hemingway’s genealogy at

Now you know everything.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Do you believe any of that?
Jeff: That Pedersen’s related to the four worst presidents in American history?
Mutt: Wasn’t he supposed to be Norwegian?
Jeff: Definitely all a pack of lies. We teached him good.
Mutt: You mean, ‘we teached him well’.
Jeff: Oh sorry.
Mutt: Now that I think about it, there’s a joke about four presidents.
Jeff: Be my guest.
Mutt: Four United States Presidents got caught up in a tornado and off they whirled to the land of Oz. They finally made it to the Emerald City and went to find the Great Wizard, who asked: "What brings the four of you before the great Wizard of Oz?"
Jimmy Carter stepped forward timidly: "I've come for some courage."
"No Problem," said the Wizard. "Who's next?"
Richard Nixon stepped forward, and said: "Well, I think I need a heart."
"Done," says the Wizard. "Who comes next before the Great and Powerful Oz?"
Up stepped Bush and said: "The American people say that I need a brain."
"No problem," said the Wizard. "Consider it done."
Then there is a great silence in the hall.
Jeff: Yeah, and?
Mutt: Bill Clinton is just standing there, looking around, but he doesn't say a word. Irritated, the Wizard finally asks, "Well, what do you want?"
Clinton answers, "Is Dorothy here?"
Jeff: Not bad, not bad ... um, not good either.
Mutt: Wit happens.

September 16, 2010

Still Babbling After All Of One Year

It’s been a year since I started blogging. How’s it going? Worth abiding? (The Dude abides, you know) Well, I’ve gotten around 2,000 reads or presumed reads (the counter came late), a few comments, several hits from unexpected places like Luxemburg, Japan and India (real true friends?).

I’ve learned that controversy pays, even fake controversy. Mutt and Jeff feel underappreciated, though. I’ve learned that when you need a break from real writing, blog. I got a lot more hits after I posted a list that includes names of pretty girls. I wish I had more ‘followers’.

I thought that the Sunset Intersection blog would lead people to my musical page: Martin’s Moan and Drone, but that hasn’t happened. Could it be the name? I thought people would scold me for using borrowed images; that hasn’t happened either. All in all, I’ve had fun. I’ll keep going.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Is he going to threaten retirement every year?
Jeff: I betcha.
Mutt: What do we get out of it?
Jeff: Peanuts.
Mutt: Let’s go on strike then.
Jeff: You mean not eat the peanuts?
Mutt: No, we just won’t be funny anymore.
Jeff: Funny?
Mutt: You know, like this: One frog croaks to the other, "Time's fun when you're having flies!"
Jeff: That’s funny?
Mutt: Well.
Jeff: What is the difference between a frog and a cat?
Mutt: I’m too ashamed to ask.
Jeff: A frog croaks all the time, a cat only nine times.
Mutt: You’re right, we get what we deserve.
Jeff: Peanuts. Told ya.

September 10, 2010

The Norsky Beat

Does it mean anything at all to be a Norse-American? Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, North Dakota or Wisconsin? Most of us don’t speak the language or observe the customs or know the history. Most of us have never been to the homeland (or Lake Wobegon). And my own ethnic roots intertwine with German, Dutch, and English.

Of all the Norwegians on Earth, about half live in Norway, half in the United States, a few got lost. “With the exception of Ireland, no single country contributed a larger percentage of its population to the United States than Norway.” The second wave finally made it (ref. to Leif Ericson’s trip to N. America in 1000 a.d. and Norwegian immigration in the 1800’s-early 1900’s).

That’s an interesting list over there, huh? McGyver, Matt Dillon, Mr. Phelps, Hercules, Starsky, or was it Hutch? Hutch probably. Anyway, nothing to say, some immense TV heroes, so I’m in good Norski (correct spelling?) company. And the female company isn’t too shabby: Marilyn, Jennifer, Renée, Melanie, Liv, and did I say Paris? (I ain’t sayin’ I saw the videos, and I ain’t sayin’ I didn’t.)

Enough silliness. Oh, did I forget the other squareheads (scandies, vikes, olafs)? One stood on the Moon, one crossed the Atlantic, one Chronicled the Martians, one flew the Jefferson Airplane.

I’m impressed. I’d call my ethnic group’s contributions ‘distinguished’. And there are many more not on my list. Yeah but, what does it mean? What passes from the roots to the tree?

Is my character Scandinavian or just my name? Those roots are stronger than you think. When I was in Africa a friend asked me: “Is it true that there are black-skinned people living in America? Who are they?” But every African-American who’s traveled back has the same experience: Recognition. Returning home after generations. Once I flew to Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and everyone on the plane had my hair! My people.

So if I’m not smiling, if I don’t speak much, if I keep my thoughts to myself (not much fun to argue with), if I don’t go for showy sentimentality, I’m hyper-critical, moralistic, melancholy, conscientious, competent, pragmatic, creative and conservative—am I those? sort of—it’s because I silently but impatiently await Recognition.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Glad I’m not some herring choker.
Jeff: You’re telling me. No sense of humor in those doom-and-gloomers.
Mutt: Met a nice blonde Swedish lass once.
Jeff: Stacked I imagine.
Mutt: Didn’t notice.
Jeff: I noticed a herring who for many years swam along with a friendly whale. He showed up one day without his companion. When asked where the whale was, the herring replied, "How would I know? Am I my blubber's kipper?”
Mutt: Back to my Swede please. There was once a wise man who loved a beautiful maiden, but she lived in a marsh where his car always got stuck and, besides, her father had a gun, so he never did get close enough to tell her of his passion. However, she had a more energetic suitor who purchased amphibious tires for his car and, when her father was asleep, speedily carried her off.
Jeff: Yeah, so?
Mutt: Treads rush in where wise men fear to fool.
Jeff: Third strike. Grab some pine, meat.