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General Interest

HOT SEATS

The fabled rock & roll band, The Grateful Dead, used to be a dead end job for their keyboardists, literally. The three guys who filled that seat full time, Ron “Pig Pen” McKernan, Keith Godcheaux and Brent Mydland, all died young. After that, anyone approached for the job sort of told them “Well, gee, thanks guys, this is quite an honor and all, but… I don’t know, how about if I get back to you on that?” Wisely, the next series of keyboardists that worked with the band did so as featured guests for a tour or an album or so rather than as full fledged members of the band, and thus lived to tell the tale. There aren’t many jobs like that, but some.

Take this young punk Baitullah Mehsud, just named to be the new boss of all bosses of the Taliban Relious Gang, Pakistan Chapter. Even had his mug splashed all over international newspapers and video media outlets. Seems pretty full of himself. Only in his late 20’s, he already commands upwards of 2,000 Taliban soldiers, so perhaps his smug self confidence is somewhat justified, being a bit of a prodigy in murderous religious gang circles. Thing is, he’s probably not the sharpest dagger in the tent, no doubt unaware of the danger of being a gangster and having your photograph published far and wide. Odds are he’s too young to remember the career of John Gotti, the so-called Mafia “Dapper Don” who thought it was a good idea for a mob boss to live a high profile life.

Well, Gotti annoyed the crap out his fellow mobsters, people who, unlike Mr. Gotti, realized exactly what business they were in, the illegal sort, where keeping a low profile is one of the secrets to longevity, along with being a murderous son-of-a-bitch. Gotti’s paparazzi-loving, designer suit-wearing playboy lifestyle also caught the attention of the authorities, who pretty much kept him on trial for a dozen years on all sorts of serious criminal charges until they finally nailed him for murder and racketeering. He spent his final years getting beaten up by young prison punks in an underground prison that used to be a nuclear missile silo, where he finally wasted away and died of cancer. So much for being a high profile gangster.

Young Baitullah seems to have the murderous son-of-a-bitch part down pat, and quite a thick rap sheet to his credit. Unfortunately for him, his Gotti-like high profile pretty much has the undivided attention of the guys who operate the Robot Predator Drones that have been the bane of the Taliban Religious Gang in Pakistan. Predators are pilotless aircraft run from an office upstairs from a casino in Las Vegas by CIA computer geeks that have been killing a whole lot of high-ranking Taliban in Pakistan. As a matter of fact, Baitullah Mehsud has the CIA geeks to thank for his job since his boss was blown to smithereens by one of their robot planes a few weeks back. These things are so sophisticated they can detect a dime from a mile high and tell whether it’s heads or tails, or even whether it’s still warm from being in someone’s hand.

So, like the keyboard chair in the Grateful Dead or being the #2 man to Osama bin Laden (what have we killed, like thirty of those guys?), young Mr. Mehsud is in a hot seat. Who knows, maybe he’s just a big dope with a huge ego and a pea brain that the real Taliban Dons picked to be the advertised Taliban boss in order to take the heat off themselves. Or maybe he was a huge thorn in their sides, encroaching on other bosses’ turf and horning in on their music-banning, woman-enslaving action, and this is their way of having him whacked while still retaining the loyalty of his soldiers? Gangster bosses can be very treacherous and cunning, and religious gang bosses even more so.

So look for Baitullah Mehsud’s young handsome face to grace the front pages and lead news segments once again in the near future, accompanied by his obituary this time (and very likely a round of high-fives by the robot controllers in Vegas, followed by a romp in the casino for the geeks, maybe some Black Jack, Baccarat and lap dances all around). And somewhere in Pakistan there will be another young man offered the job of boss-of-all-bosses of the Taliban Religious Gang, Pakistan Chapter. And he will tell them: “Well, gee, thanks guys, this is quite an honor and all, but… I don’t know, how about if I get back to you on that? Mind if I just sit in as a featured guest for a while?”

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