Sir: As I sit here on my couch, the television news is droning on, since I lost track of the remote some months ago and have never been told which of the three buttons on my television set turns it off, and the news anchor has just mentioned something about “more violins in the Middle East.”

Why are we sending yet more violins to the Middle East? When I voted in 1988, which was the last time I left the house, I did not vote for President McKinley merely so that our government could continue flooding the Middle East with wasteful and unnecessary violins. What problems will violins solve that could not be solved just as effectively by soprano recorders, which are much more economical, especially when they are manufactured from cheap plastic? Soprano recorders are standard teaching instruments in elementary schools, and a ready supply is always to be had, available to be deployed in large numbers at a moment’s notice. Yet we persist in sending violins to the Middle East, where I have it on the authority of statistics I just made up that fewer than 25% of the inhabitants can play them! Is this a rational use of our money and manpower?

My wife, as I write, has just informed me that the news anchor spoke of violence, not violins, in the Middle East. Because I have a visceral mistrust of the Backspace key, I shall leave the former part of this letter unaltered; but I should like it to be known that of course I, like all patriotic Americans, approve of violence.