With all the recent rain, last week's rock slide in the Ocoee was no surprise, and neither was the reaction: A few people shouting that we need to build Corridor K and build it now. They're asking for a new billion-dollar highway through your public lands, and east Tennessee's most precious forests, mountains, and streams.
But ignore those environmental costs for a moment and focus on the financial. Tennessee doesn't have $1 billion to replace a 9-mile stretch of highway that carries fewer than 7,000 vehicles a day. Even if we did, TDOT says a bypass couldn't be built for another 12 to 25 years. Want Corridor K for your commute? You'll be retired before it opens to traffic.
But Tennessee does have enough money to fix the existing highway. Before a federal earmark ran out, Tennessee accumulated over $270 million, enough to fix the road's safety problems and, according to TDOT, to mitigate all significant rockfall hazards. TDOT recently committed $10 million in state funds to make some small improvements. That's a fine start, but let's use our federal money to fix the road now, instead of waiting for a bypass that may never happen.
MELANIE MAYES, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed your article of July 30 on atheists.
I have always referred to myself as a non-believer, never having liked the word atheist. It sounds too medieval, like an antihistamine or something.
While being raised in he Baptist church, the doubting started at the age of 17 after reading on other religions as well as evolution. Family and friends wanted to know how I could question Christianity and the Bible. My reply was always the same. "The Bible is a good book, but cannot be totally believed. You say evolution only a theory by one person (not true). On the other hand, the Bible was written over hundreds of years by hundreds of people. If nothing else, read Greek, Roman and Norse mythology. They're no more nor less provable than the christian Bible. In fact, Aesop's Fables provide a wealth of stories based on good logic.
Over the last 50 years, I have asked but a half-dozen questions of Christians concerning their beliefs, from devout lay persons to ministers, some with doctorates. Never have these questions been answered with any satisfaction.
In my many decades of observing the political scene, I have never seen a more incoherent foreign policy than that displayed in the present administration's relations with Syria. It is a farrago of missteps, about-faces, misplaced machismo, and contradiction among the president and his advisers.
The people who have the right to be most disappointed are Obama's ideological followers. He has totally repudiated the principles on which he campaigned in 2008: He promised he would end ground combat overseas save when attacked, bring the troops home, close Gitmo, stop being the world's policeman and the world's yenta. In short he would repeal the belief in American exceptionalism. It must be disconcerting for these followers to see Obama don the uniform and rattle the saber. Barack "Old Fuss and Feathers" Obama is about as comfortable in this role as Michael Dukakis was in his cameo as a tank driver.
What we are seeing is the gradual revelation of what animates President Obama. It is not ideology, though that is the foundation. It is sheer political expedience in every situation.
STEVEN W. SHRADER