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utopia billionaire escape ship

This article was first published in Alternet

What happens when Americans plunder America and leave it broken, destitute and seething mad? Where do these fabulously wealthy Americans go with their loot, if America isn’t a safe, secure, or even desirable place to spend their riches? What if they lose faith in their gated communities, because those plush gated communities are surrounded by millions of pissed-off Americans stripped of their entitlements, and who now want in?

We finally have the answer, and you’re not going to like it: a new fleet of castles that float in the oceans. The super-wealthy are already building their first floating castle, a billion-dollar-plus luxury liner that offers permanent multimillion-dollar housing with the best protection of all: moats made of oceans, keeping the land-based Americans they’ve plundered at a safe distance.

The first such floating castle has been christened the “Utopia“–the South Korean firm Samsung has been contracted to build the $1.1 billion ship, due to be launched in 2013. Already orders are coming in to buy one of the Utopia’s 200 or so mansions for sale--which range in price from about $4 million for the smallest condos to over $26 million for 6,600 square-foot “estates.” The largest mansion is a whopping 40,000 square feet, and sells for $160 million.

It’s the first of its kind to offer permanent housing units to buyers, and there’ll be plenty on board the Utopia for the global elite inhabitants to keep themselves entertained: an outdoor movie theater, casino, miniature golf course, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and a water park for the elites’ heirs (featuring a “Lazy River,” rock-climbing wall and water slides). At nearly 1,000 feet, the Utopia is almost as long as a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

utopia ad2

The floating castle is a longtime dream of libertarian oligarchs — a place where they can live their lives in peace free from the teeming masses of starving losers and indebted parasites and their tax demands. Since they’ve grown so rich off of America, they have enough spare change to fund projects like the Seasteading Institute, run by Milton Friedman’s grandson, Patri Friedman, and financed by the bizarre right-wing PayPal founder, Peter Thiel. It couldn’t have come a moment sooner for Milton Friedman’s grandson, who was best known until recently for running a grotesque advice blog for married swingers, PUA4LTR (Pick Up Advice For Long-Term Relationships). Actually, Patri Friedman ran that pick-up advice blog with his wife–the two of them are apparent big-time cyber-swingers, apparently–posting blog entries saying things like “Why Should Husbands Become PUAs? Because otherwise, your wife will talk like those wives on the blog My Husband Is Annoying.”

Both Thiel and Milton Friedman’s grandson see democracy as the enemy–last year, Thiel wrote “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible” at about the same time that Milton Friedman’s grandson proclaimed, “Democracy is not the answer.” Both published their anti-democracy proclamations in the same billionaire-Koch-family-funded outlet, Cato Unbound, one of the oldest billionaire-fed libertarian welfare dispensaries. Friedman’s answer for Thiel’s democracy problem is to build offshore libertarian pod-fortresses where the libertarian way rules. It’s probably better for everyone if Milton Friedman’s grandson and Peter Thiel leave us forever for their libertarian ocean lair–Thiel believes that America went down the tubes ever since it gave women the right to vote, and he was outed as the sponsor of accused felon James O’Keefe’s smear videos that brought ACORN to ruin.

libertarian sea-pods

Genius at work: Various designs for billionaire-libertarian escape pods

While Thiel and Friedman are busy cooking up their libertarian dystopia, the Frontier Group investment firm — an offshoot of the Carlyle Group — has already entered the realization phase with the Utopia floating castle. Frontier Group, was founded by some of the same big names from the notorious Carlyle Group–the private equity firm that brought together right-wing oligarchs like George H. W. Bush and other top American officials with their billionaire pals in Saudi Arabia like the Bin Laden family, who together raked in enormous profits thanks to the War on Terror that their kids Dubya and Osama launched.

While neither Bush nor the Bin Ladens are principals in the Frontier Group, its founding director, Frank Carlucci, is a name they know well, and you should too. Carlucci ran the Carlyle Group as its chairman from 1989 through 2005, right around the time that the wars started going undeniably bad, and floating castles started to look like a viable plan. But Carlucci’s past is much weirder and scarier than most of us care to know: whether it’s his strangely timed appearances in some of the ugliest assassinations and coups in modern history, or serving as Carter’s number two man in the CIA, and Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, if Frank Carlucci (nicknamed “Creepy Carlucci” and “Spooky Frank”) is the founding director of a firm that’s building floating castles, it’s a bad sign for those of us left behind.

I’ll get into Carlucci’s partners in the Frontier Group in a moment, but first, let’s reacquaint ourselves with Frank Carlucci. From an early age, Carlucci learned the importance of getting to know the right people in the right places. He studied at Princeton in the mid-1950s, where as luck should have it, Carlucci roomed with Donald Rumsfeld. Both Carlucci and Rumsfeld shared a passion for Greco-Roman wrestling at Princeton, and both went on to serve in the Navy after Princeton. Their paths would split and merge several times over the next few decades, even as they remained close personal friends throughout their lives. In the late 1950s, Carlucci briefly served as an executive at a lingerie manufacturer, Jantzen (the Victoria’s Secret of its day), but quickly left to join the State Department.

At age 30 Carlucci was named vice consul of the U.S. embassy in the Congo–just in time for the colony’s independence from Belgium. Of all the European colonies in Africa, Congo suffered perhaps the worst, at least that we know about: the Belgians exterminated up to 10 million Congolese between 1885 and 1908, and introduced the now-widespread punishment of hacking off Africans’ forearms to scare everyone into submission. All of this was done in order to strip the Congo of its lucrative rubber, ivory, and later, precious metals, as quickly as possible, and send the riches back to Belgium.

Naturally the Belgians didn’t want to let go of their colony, so they held out until 1960, when the Congo finally was granted independence and democratic elections. Unfortunately for the Congo, America didn’t like way they voted–so two months after Patrice Lumumba was elected president, he was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup, taken out into the jungle, murdered, chopped into little pieces with a hacksaw, and then dissolved in sulfuric acid by Belgian goons and their local collaborators. Carlucci has been accused of green-lighting Lumumba’s assassination by multiple investigative reporters.

The dictator who replaced Lumumba was a CIA asset named Joseph Mobutu–the notorious dictator who brought the Congo to ruin after embezzling more than any dictator in Africa. Mobutu was finally deposed in 1997, but the wars since then have claimed roughly six million lives, the bloodiest conflicts since World War II.

After his success in Congo, it was all uphill for Carlucci: he moved to the Brazil embassy just in time for the military coup in 1964, then went to Washington to serve as deputy to his buddy Donald Rumsfeld in Nixon’s Office of Economic Opportunity, where the young Dick Cheney was making his name. The first thing they did upon taking control of the OEO was conduct a purge of “subversives” firing up to a quarter of the staff. In 1974, Carlucci was named ambassador to Portugal just in time for the overthrow of the dictatorship–Carlucci saw to it that the communists who led the overthrow were themselves overthrown by IMF-friendly “moderate” socialists, and a few years later, he was back in Washington serving as the number two man in the CIA under Carter.

Once that agency was sufficiently gutted, he moved on to other forms of destruction: In 1974, Carlucci was named ambassador to Portugal just in time for the overthrow of the dictatorship–Carlucci saw to it that the Communists who led the overthrow were themselves overthrown by IMF-friendly “moderate” socialists, and a few years later, he was back in Washington DC serving as the number two man in the CIA under Carter. In 1981, Reagan named him deputy Defense Secretary; Carlucci left in 1983 to head up Sears World Trade, a trading company involved in shady arms deals that was once described by Fortune magazine as a front for US intelligence ops. Once that collapsed, Carlucci moved back to the Reagan Administration as National Security Advisor and then Defense Secretary.

In 1989, Carlucci left to become chairman of the fledging Carlyle Group, which subsequently morphed into the monster we remember it by: using its highly paid A-list of public officials to lobby big government for lucrative contracts, profiting off of privatized rest stops and unnecessary arms contracts, leaving the public to foot the bill while guys like Carlucci run around preaching the benefits of private enterprise.


Creepy Carlucci

Carlucci may be the scariest of the Frontier Group bunch building the floating castles, but he’s among his kind. Other Carlyle Group directors who joined Carlucci at Frontier include David Robb, who headed up Carlyle’s investments in defense and aerospace; Sanford McDonnell, the former CEO of McDonnell Douglass and onetime head of the Boy Scouts of America; and Norman Augustine, another ex-president of the Boy Scouts, another Princeton alum, and former board director at the scandal-plagued Riggs bank.

Riggs bank became one of those dark unsolved mysteries of the Bush-Cheney War on Terror. After the attacks on 9/11, the FBI discovered that Saudi government officials used accounts at Riggs bank to wire funds to at least two known associates of the Saudi hijackers who crashed Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Riggs was also implicated in the Britain-Saudi $3 billion bribery scandal, in which British Aerospace bribes were wired through Riggs accounts to Saudi officials in return for lucrative contracts. One of Riggs bank’s top executives was Jonathan Bush, the brother of George H. W. Bush, after Riggs bought out Jonathan Bush’s bank in 1997, and appointed him as a director. In 2005, with Riggs embroiled in investigations and scandals–Riggs pled guilty to money laundering Augusto Pinochet’s stolen funds, and the funds of various Equatorial Guinea officials– it was taken over by PNC bank, with the approval of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan. Even after the Washington Post revealed that Riggs’ billionaire chairman flew Greenspan’s wife, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, on the Riggs company jet.

But the weirdest of all the Frontier Group directors has to be founding director Danny Pang. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pang embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from his private equity firm PEMGroup. Pang claimed he was investing money in “Dead Peasants Insurance” (life insurance policies for people considered likely to die), but in secret, Pang confided to PEMGroup’s ex-president that he ran it as a Ponzi scheme. That sparked a fresh FBI investigation into Danny Pang’s crimes–which led back to the unsolved murder of his wife, Janie Louise Pang, a 33-year-old ex-stripper who was shot to death execution style in their Irvine, California home in 1997, the same year Pang was accused of embezzling three million dollars from another fund he worked at. There was plenty of reason to suspect Danny Pang of murdering his wife: he beat her so often (breaking her nose on one occasion) that police were called in on at least four occasions before her murder. She’d had him tailed by a private detective who discovered Danny holding hands with another woman shortly before she was murdered. Danny had known ties to the Taiwanese Triad mob, he took the fifth and refused to cooperate in the murder trial, and reportedly threatened Janie’s friends after her murder, demanding to know what Janie told them about his business activities.

Janie Louise Pang

Janie Louise Pang

Here is a description of Janie Louise Pang’s murder, from the L.A. Times:

According to the family maid and two of Pang’s children, a clean-cut man with a pencil-thin mustache arrived at the door asking for her husband. The pair talked casually for a couple of minutes, until the man drew a semiautomatic pistol. Pang began running and the maid, terrified, spirited Pang’s children out the back door. Within minutes, the killer caught up with Pang, who tried to hide in her bedroom closet. The killer fired several .380-caliber rounds and left her to bleed to death as she lay in a fetal position.

Somehow, the trial ended with a hung jury, and Danny Pang went on to join Frank Carlucci and the Boy Scouts presidents to start building the world’s first billion-dollar floating castle to spirit away all that stolen money in luxury. But Pang was apparently too careless for them. He was outted last spring in the Wall Street Journal, and you can probably guess what happens to guys like Pang who become a liability to the right-wing oligarchy: In September 2009, Danny Pang was found dead of unknown causes in his Newport Beach home.

Danny Pang

Danny Pang

After a three-month investigation, Pang’s death was ruled a suicide:

John C. Hiserodt, a private forensic pathologist in Cypress, Calif., reviewed the toxicology report released by the coroner. He said it showed that Mr. Pang had roughly five times the typical fatal levels of both oxycodone and hydrocodone in his blood, plus the equivalent still in his stomach of about 30 oxycodone pills of 10 milligrams apiece. “You don’t get this level of drug accidentally,” he said. “It’s pretty clearly a suicide.”

Indeed. Meanwhile, plans to launch the Utopia are moving ahead on schedule.

This article was first published in Alternet

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

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Add your own

  • 1. Reb  |  July 25th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    LMAO!!!! These inbred mongrels hate one another and can you imagine the hell on earth they have created for themselves by thinking all will be rosy when they are stuck out in the middle of the ocean with people they can’t even trust?

    From all reports they are all perverts/pedophiles and will soon run out of fresh meat so they will begin to use the children of the other elite, you know, the real forbidden. I know I would rather be dead than to face life living among the dreggs of humanity and watching them grow more demented every passing day. Could these loonies even get any crazier?

    OMG, what if there should be a delay in their next botox delivery. Imagine that brood of aged bitches when their faces start dropping like a bunch of bloodhounds. Most of the so-called men may well begin to jump overboard than face that sight every morning or perhaps they will toss the old hags overboard. At any rate they are not filled with love, compassion or loyalty to anyone so these ships of luxury and escape might become fodder for the next series of ‘who done it’ mysteries but the setting will be billion dollar castles instead of the old spooky mansion. They will all most likely go rip roaring insane from paranoia their kind of lives bring about.

    Hey, goofballs! Enjoy your adventure at sea, just watch your back and keep one eye open at night. Your wife, best friend, child or even your spirtual guide may be your worst enemy.

    This kinda reminds me of the title of an old old movie The Ship of Fools.

  • 2. ricpic  |  August 10th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    The rich get the best twats!

  • 3. zhubajie  |  August 14th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    “The rich get the best twats!”

    What, do you think these floating puke tubs are going to pull into Hong Kong and Patthaya so the *bosses* can go carousing? If they do, they’ll end up robbed and killed, or at best, poxed, by cleverer poorer people than themselves!

  • 4. mentos  |  August 22nd, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    To the person who mentioned Ayn Rand. She would have never supported such insanity. The point of the philosophy of objectivism is that there is a supreme moral code and that there are objective truths in this world. At least 50% (an conservative estimate) of the billionaires in this world came to be billionaires not through their own intelligence, but through luck and opportunity. Once again Ayn Rand would not support this.

    Carlucci is a human parasite who does not abide by even a single aspect of objectivism. It is disgusting to even imagine people who come into wealth through manipulation, fear mongering, and murder.

    That said, their are objective truths in this world and one of them is that Carrluci and the rest of those rag tag billionaires (at least most of them) are evil.

  • 5. crazy inventor  |  August 29th, 2010 at 11:44 pm


    “Think of a modern invention. 0% chance it was invented by someone who posts anonymous comments.”

    I’m an inventor and post anonymously. Most of my inventions are illegal however (phone boxes, cable TV descramblers, transmitters mainly) so it goes without saying notoriety is undesirable.

    A few legal designs you might have seen however are smart fans and audio power amps based around OP amps.

    As far as these floating mind prisons go, notice what amenities they offer – all things and activities I have no interest in at all – being one of the “lower IQ underclass” in a world where intelligence is measured by standardized test scores and value of a person measured by money. This sort of framing is the only real advantange “the rich” have over us – and only to the extent that people accept it (which I do not)

  • 6. Bumsfi  |  February 25th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Wow, that’s surpremely awesome. I hope if I become multi-millionaire someday I can buy a house on one of those. Thanks for telling me about these.

  • 7. Jim  |  June 22nd, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I’m all for a Rich Man’s Floating Fortress. That puts ’em all in one place so that Divine Justice can send them all to Hell at once.

    Even Divine Justice needs some mortal support to make it happen. All we need is an old Soviet-era boat that’s still in service in some 3rd world navy. I’ll put up a big contribution towards buying and outfitting it.

    I’d be honored to be a crewman who will make that fateful voyage to finally dispense long-overdue Justice. Not only to the elites but to the very ideas that enabled them to destroy centuries of hard-won progress.

  • 8. James Smith  |  October 25th, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    It isn’t as if any rational person still believes the USA is a free country. Think about it. No-warrant wire taps, indefinite detention of citizens without charges, approval of rendition of prisoners and torture, stop and frisk without probable cause, search and seizure without a warrant, no-knock entry, confiscation and destruction of cameras that might have been used to film police acting illegally, police brutality, police shootings that go without investigation, managed news, and the civil-rights destroying “Patriot” Act.

    Acts of police behaving illegally, with shootings, Tasers, and unwarranted violence now appear almost daily. Rarely are these offenses punished. Most often “an investigation” is claimed, but soon forgotten.


In addition, the USA, with 5% of the world population, has 25% of all of the prisoners in the world. That means the USA has the most people in prison of any nation in history. Even by percentage of residents incarcerated, not just sheer numbers. USA is # 1!

 Does any of that sound like a free country?

    As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about communism, “It’s like slicing sausage. First they out off a small slice. That isn’t worth fighting over. Then they take another small slice that isn’t worth fighting over. Then another and another. Finally, all you have left is the string and that isn’t worth fighting over, either.

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