Saturday, May 16, 2015

Meanwhile In Syria...

A gentle reminder: we have special operations forces on the ground in Syria and have for some time.  This week saw one of the larger and more successful raids on ISIS leaders including the death of a major player.

U.S. Special Operations forces staged an overnight ground raid in Syria early Saturday, killing what the Obama administration said was a senior Islamic State official and capturing his wife.

Delta Force troops, flying from Iraq aboard Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Ospreys, encountered almost immediate fire from militant forces when they touched down in al-Amr, near eastern Syrian oil fields that the Islamic State has tapped to generate income with black-market fuel sales.

In what a U.S. Defense official described as “close-quarters combat” against militants using women and children as human shields, about a dozen militants were killed. They included the target of what was originally designed as a capture operation, identified by the White House and the Pentagon as Abu Sayyaf, a Tunisian.

His wife, identified only as Umm Sayyaf, was said to have been captured and brought back to Iraq in one of the bullet-riddled U.S. aircraft that landed at dawn back in Iraq. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that no U.S. forces were killed or injured during the operation. No civilians were reported injured.

U.S. forces recovered laptops, cellphones, files and a number of archaeological artifacts and historic items, including an Assyrian Bible and antique coins, the Defense official said.

The soldiers also rescued a young woman, an Iraqi from the minority Yazidi sect, who was being held by the couple as a slave, according to statements issued by the White House and the Defense Department. Countless Yazidis have been executed or enslaved by the Islamic State as it has moved through their homeland in northern Iraq. Officials said they hoped to reunite her with her family.

The raid was only the second time U.S. Special Operations forces are known to have operated on the ground in Syria, and the first “direct action” mission by American forces there. Special operators conducted an unsuccessful mission last summer to rescue American hostages being held by the militants, who later executed them.

In and out, no civilian casualties, captured intel and freed a hostage.  Seems like some days our military really does bat 1.000.  But as far as our policies, go...well...that's been a mess for over a decade, now, hasn't it?

Supreme Overestimation

Looks like the GOP plan to take Obamacare hostage in case the Supreme Court sides with them on federal exchange subsidies has run into at least one Republican willing to shoot the hostage outright.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said Thursday that he does not support an idea backed by Senate Republican leadership to temporarily extend ObamaCare subsidies if the Supreme Court cripples the law.

“I don’t think that I would be able to be supportive of continuing the subsidies beyond what the court would allow,” Price told The Hill.

A plan from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to continue the subsidies until 2017 has been co-sponsored by Senate Republican leaders; Price becomes one of the most prominent Republicans to come out against the idea.

The idea behind the temporary continuation is that if the Supreme Court invalidates subsidies for around 7.5 million people in the case of King v. Burwell, the party does not want people to immediately lose their insurance. The extension is intended to give time for a Republican alternative to be put in place.

But Price wants to move sooner to a full Republican alternative instead of going to a temporary bridge option first.

On Wednesday, he reintroduced his Empowering Patients First Act, a plan he has also put forward in previous sessions of Congress. The bill would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with refundable, age-adjusted tax credits for buying insurance. It would give grants for high-risk pools as an insurance option for people with pre-existing conditions.

Price's plan would be a disaster, of course, and there's no way it would even pass.  But he finally has a plan, and that may be enough to convince the Supreme Court to stop any hand-wringing over people losing insurance.  Part of me wants to say this is just a negotiating tactic, but part of me says Price is definitely a Tea Party type who will be happy to destroy Obamacare and then believes that President Obama will be blamed when millions lose insurance, and that people will line up to thank the GOP for doing so.

Among Tea Party types, that's most certainly going to be the case.
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