May 14, 2015

An End to Improvisation in Thailand

by Stanley A. Weiss

BANGKOK — Fifty-five years ago, the king of Siam met the king of swing. With Cold War tensions ratcheting up, Thailand’s young monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, embarked on a month-long tour of the U.S. to highlight the strong ties between Washington and Bangkok. In California, Bhumibol and his family visited Disneyland and rubbed elbows with Elvis, Bob Hope, and Lucille Ball. In Washington, the king paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in an open limousine, received the Legion of Merit from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and addressed a joint session of Congress. On July 4 Gov. Nelson Rockefeller hosted the king at a lavish party in New York.

But perhaps the most memorable part of Bhumibol’s trip occurred the following afternoon, at the home of legendary jazz musician Benny Goodman. There, Bhumibol — a longtime lover of jazz and a talented composer and performer in his own right — participated in a two-hour jam session with Goodman, Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, and other jazz greats. At the end of the night, Goodman gifted Bhumibol with an appropriate scepter: a new saxophone.

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May 10, 2011

Ike’s Most Prescient Insight 50 Years Ago Went Unspoken

WASHINGTON—He was a West Point graduate, a four-star general, the hero of the allied assault on Adolf Hitler, and the first commander of NATO. During his eight-year presidency, he quadrupled America’s post-World War II military budget, increased the share of the federal budget spent on defense to more than 50 percent, ballooned America’s nuclear stockpile from 1,000 to 23,000 warheads, and oversaw a sitting army that was ten times larger than the military he first joined in 1911.

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