A Gasbag by Any Other Name Remains a Waste of Money

Hey, did you know we spent over $2.7 billion dollars on some blimps the military wanted? No, I’m serious, I’m not making this up. And I haven’t been huffing helium from those blimps, either. I read this in the newspaper the other day. I didn’t know we had blimps! I saw a blimp pass overhead here the other day, but, alas, it was on its way to a football game and not valiantly defending us from the return of the Hindenburg. I was disappointed. I wanted to see what $2.7 billion dollars bought us besides an electronic sign for Sam’s Rent-To-Own and Tia Tania’s Taqueria. (Say, they’ve got some great carne asada there and salsa that isn’t made for weenies!)

See here, this flying cigar program is called JLENS. Yes, another U.S. military alphabet soup. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? These initials stand for: Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor The Hindenburg Best Price: $3.74 Buy New $5.75 (as of 08:30 EST - Details) System. Wh-a-a-a-at??!! Yeah, say that ten times fast. This blimp program has been going on for two decades now. I know, it sounds like something out of a “Get Smart” episode. “Would ya believe top-secret blimps protect America, 99?” “Max, I think you need to get some rest…”

The purpose of these bags of gas (the blimps, not Congress) is to defend the United States against cruise missiles. Wow, really? Yes! And also small aircraft that could get in under our radar. Hey, remember that guy that landed a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol some time back? Yeah, they asked the Pentagon, “How come JLENS didn’t sound the alarm?!” Some Pentagon general said JLENS wasn’t “operational that particular day…” Gee, why not? What, was it out playing golf with the President? Couldn’t they have found some other gasbag to do that? Was it on vacation? I didn’t know blimps needed days off, Congressional gasbags notwithstanding.

Not operational that day… After two decades. And $2.7 billion dollars. Ok, well, let’s be realistic. That’s $2.7 billion dollars they TOLD us about. It’s probably more like $22.7 billion dollars. For bags of gas. Man, these party balloons are costing us a fortune. We could get those from other clowns a lot cheaper. Probably tied into nifty animal shapes, too. Those will end up being 99 Billion Dollar Luftballons. Wow, and in that song it was a balloon that Zeppelin Best Price: $4.97 Buy New $6.49 (as of 12:20 EST - Details) started the Third World War when it showed up on NATO radar. The more life imitates art…

This is nothing new, of course. More taxpayer money vanishing into thin air—literally. Oh, I know, we’ve got to be ready for those inbound cruise missiles! Gee, how were we ready for them during the Cold War when that threat was actually semi-real? These gasbags only manifested after the Cold War was over. Again, not the Congressional gasbags, the blimps. Yet, the very day the blimp could have earned its salt, it was out to lunch. A guy in a home-brewed VTOL landed at the Capitol to cheers and amusement from those of us who saw the humor in it.

I don’t know, I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. Nothing the government does surprises me anymore. I’m no longer bound by the concept of disbelief. The government could say tomorrow that it spent $1.3 trillion dollars on anti-cruise missile trebuchets, catapults, and ballistas and I’ll just ask, “So…are they copying the old Roman and Medieval designs, or did we have to re-invent the wheel again, starting with the square prototype, as per frickin’ usual?” Hellu2019s Angels Best Price: $3.30 Buy New $9.95 (as of 09:40 EST - Details)

I’m sure these blimps will be great recruiting tools for the U.S. military. “Off we go! Into the wild, blue yonder! Off we go…around ten miles per hour in this blimp!” Hmmm…not quite the same panache, what? “I Want YOU For the U.S. Air Force Blimp Corps!” Sounds like an obesity issue to me. I knew the military was having problems with that, but still. Oh, I get it! This is American military genius! A blimp floats because it’s lighter than air and so are their heads! Well, assuming their heads are not elsewhere, one supposes.

Oh, well, whaddya gonna do? They have to defend the country from cruise missiles. Not to mention putting the budget on cruise control. I’m going to see if any puffed, cheese-flavored snacks come out of this to cash in on the fame. “JLENS Cheese Puffs! Lighter Than Air, Heavy on Flavor!” Maybe a patriotic action movie, too. “Blimps Of Glory”, you know, or maybe “The Light Stuff”. Maybe I could get a gig writing the script. “Mr. President, we have over 500 enemy cruise missiles inbound at this time. What are your orders?” “Man the blimps! All America is hoping that our Dirigible Shield Program has not been underfunded by unpatriotic wackos!”

Ok, yeah, blimps, right, I get it. It all makes so much sense to me now. How could I have doubted? Say, pass the JLENS puffs…