07
Jan 21

All Aboard the Pequod!

Like countless others, I frittered away the better part of Jan. 6 doomscrolling and watching television coverage of the horrifying events unfolding in our nation’s capital, where a mob of President Trump supporters and QAnon conspiracy theorists was incited to lay siege to the U.S. Capitol. For those trying to draw meaning from the experience, might I suggest consulting the literary classic Moby Dick, which simultaneously holds clues about QAnon’s origins and offers an apt allegory about a modern-day Captain Ahab and his ill-fated obsessions.

Many have speculated that Jim Watkins, the administrator of the online message board 8chan (a.k.a. 8kun), and/or his son Ron are in fact “Q,” the anonymous persona behind the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that President Trump is secretly working to save the world from a satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals.

Last year, as I was scrutinizing the computer networks that kept QAnon online, researcher Ron Guilmette pointed out a tantalizing utterance from Watkins the younger which adds tenuous credence to the notion that one or both of them is Q.

We’ll get to how the Great White Whale (the Capitol?) fits into this tale in a moment. But first, a bit of background. A person identified only as “Q” has for years built an impressive following for the far-right conspiracy movement by leaving periodic “Q drops,” cryptic messages that QAnon adherents spend much time and effort trying to decipher and relate to current events.

Researchers who have studied more than 5,000 Q drops are convinced that there are two distinct authors of these coded utterances. The leading theory is that those identities corresponded to the aforementioned father-and-son team responsible for operating 8chan.

Jim Watkins, 56, is the current owner of 8chan, a community perhaps now best known as a forum for violent extremists and mass shooters. Watkins is an American pig farmer based in the Philippines; Ron reportedly resides in Japan.

In the aftermath of back-to-back mass shootings on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4, 2019 in which a manifesto justifying one of the attacks was uploaded to 8chan, Cloudflare stopped providing their content delivery network to 8chan. Several other providers quickly followed suit, leaving 8chan offline for months before it found a haven at a notorious bulletproof hosting facility in Russia.

One reason Q watchers believe Ron and Jim Watkins may share authorship over the Q drops is that while 8chan was offline, the messages from Q ceased. The drops reappeared only months later when 8chan rebranded as 8kun.

CALL ME ISHMAEL

Here’s where the admittedly “Qonspiratorial” clue about the Watkins’ connection to Q comes in. On Aug. 5, 2019, Ron Watkins posted a Twitter message about 8chan’s ostracization which compared the community’s fate to that of the Pequod, the name of the doomed whaling ship in the Herman Melville classic “Moby Dick.”

“If we are still down in a few hours then maybe 8chan will just go clearnet and we can brave DDOS attacks like Ishmael on the Pequod,” Watkins the younger wrote.

Ishmael, the first-person narrator in the novel, is a somewhat disaffected American sailor who decides to try his hand at a whaling ship. Ishmael is a bit of a minor character in the book; very soon into the novel we are introduced to a much more interesting and enigmatic figure — a Polynesian harpooner by the name of Queequeg.

Apart from being a cannibal from the Pacific islands who has devoured many people, Queequeg is a pretty nice guy and shows Ismael the ropes of whaling life. Queequeg is covered head to toe in tattoos, which are described by the narrator as the work of a departed prophet and seer from the cannibal’s home island.

Like so many Q drops, Queequeg’s tattoos tell a mysterious tale, but we never quite learn what that full story is. Indeed, the artist who etched them into Queequeg’s body is long dead, and the cannibal himself can’t seem to explain what it all means.

Ishmael describes Queequeg’s mysterious markings in this passage:

“…a complete theory of the heavens and earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth; so that Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle to unfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whose mysteries not even himself could read, though his own live heart beat against them; and these mysteries were therefore destined in the end to moulder away with the living parchment whereon they were inscribed, and so be unsolved to the last.”

THE GREAT WHITE WHALE

It’s perhaps fitting then that one of the most recognizable figures from the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was a heavily-tattooed, spear-wielding QAnon leader who goes by the name “Q Shaman” (a.k.a. Jake Angeli).

“Q Shaman,” a.k.a. Jake Angeli, at a Black Lives Matter event in Arizona (left) and Wednesday, confronted by U.S. Capitol Police. Image: Twitter, @KelemenCari.

“Angeli’s presence at the riot, along with others wearing QAnon paraphernalia, comes as the conspiracy-theory movement has been responsible for the popularization of Trump’s voter-fraud conspiracy theories,” writes Rachel E. Greenspan for Yahoo! News.

“As Q has become increasingly hands-off, giving fewer and fewer messages to his devotees, QAnon leaders like Angeli have gained fame and power in the movement,” Greenspan wrote.

If somehow Moby Dick was indeed the inspiration for the “Q” identity in QAnon, yesterday’s events at The Capitol were the inexorable denouement of a presidential term that increasingly came to be defined by conspiracy theories. In a somewhat prescient Hartford Courant op-ed published in 2018, author Steven Almond observed that Trump’s presidency could be best understood through the lens of the Pequod’s Captain Ahab. To wit:

“Melville is offering a mythic account of how one man’s virile bombast ensnares everyone and everything it encounters. The setting is nautical, the language epic. But the tale, stripped to its ribs, is about the seductive power of the wounded male ego, how naturally a ship steered by men might tack to its vengeful course.”

“Trump’s presidency has been, in its way, a retelling of this epic. Whether we cast him as agent or principal hardly matters. What matters is that Americans have joined the quest. In rapture or disgust, we’ve turned away from the compass of self-governance and toward the mesmerizing drama of aggression on display, the masculine id unchained and all that it unchains within us. With every vitriolic tweet storm and demeaning comment, Trump strikes through the mask.”

EPILOGUE

If all of the above theorizing reads like yet another crackpot QAnon conspiracy, that may be the inevitable consequence of my spending far too much time going down this particular rabbit hole (and re-reading Moby Dick in the process!).

In any case, none of this is likely to matter to the diehard QAnon conspiracy theorists themselves, says Mike Rothschild, a writer who specializes in researching and debunking conspiracy theories.

“Even if Jim Watkins was revealed as owning the board or making the posts, it wouldn’t matter,” Rothschild said. “Anything that happens that disconfirms Q being an official in the military industrial complex is going to help fuel their persecution complex.”

Rothschild has been working hard on finishing his next book, “The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything,” which is due to be published in October 2021. Who’s printing the book? Ten points if you guessed Melville House, an independent publisher named after Herman Melville.

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204 comments

  1. So little here is objective. I disliked the man Trump, and his means of behavior. If he worked for me I’d fire him. He was loved by one group and hated by another. We need a President that does not work for one group, he works for all Americans. I will admit, he did a lot of good for all Americans and the world. However, the way he did it was pure stupid, and not worthy of the office of the President.

    In that respect, Biden was not elected affirmatively by most voters; the vote was mostly a rejection of Trump by voters, by having to vote for Biden to do so.

    I wish his supporters would see Trump’s flaws and not only his good qualities. I wish his haters would not only see his flaws, and then worse, act just a vile as he does (I read most of your posts above). I would fire you too. I hate that we have 2 much less competent people in the White House right now because Trump did not know how to act like a President. However, this too shall pass.

    • Good sentiment. But does come across as a fallacy of false equivalency.

      True, people voted for Biden in such numbers more so as a repudiation of Trump. But the same can be said for Trump’s 2016 win. So many people voted for Trump because they disliked or outright hated Hillary Clinton. The Obama/Biden ticket was the last time a popular vote was achieved by affirmation and not just disliking the opponent.

      Of course, that is the system we have. First Past the Post, Winner take all, and other rules of the system have forced into a bipolar situation we can’t escape. So maybe you should advocate for the abolition of the electoral college winner take all, and Ranked Choice or Approval voting. We need a system that rewards moderates and compromise instead of extremism.

      I happen to disagree about him doing good for ‘all’ Americans. Any good he has done was first and foremost only for his supporters. If it happened to also be good for people who didn’t support him, then that was few and far between. He never even tried to be a president for all Americans.

      True, he will not get credit for the good, but that’s what happens when a narcissist is in power. Craving such adulation 24/7 is a personality disorder that should NOT be rewarded.

      • Thanks for your reply. We do see things differently, and that is ok. We should understand why. We should work to seek the truth.

        Where we do agree (I think) is that the media amplifies the extremes and ignores the middle, the moderates, the people that are willing to work across the aisle to meet someone halfway. Media gives extremes a forum, and pans moderates. Moderates are boring, thus no media, wisdom is disdained, and both are vital to a country of a diverse people. Not extremes. Idea is: no media = no chance to be elected.

        The electoral college is not the issue. Media is. You will get GIGO on both. We need factual reporting, less sensationalism, the key issues, and we need news about inspiring people, the many who are in the middle and working hard, not if it bleeds, it leads. Then the electoral college or majority vote does not matter. Good people will seek office. And maybe most people will vote for them.

        • Ted,
          There are many many problems in the media. Not an easy problem to solve since it is vital that the press be free from regulation that might stifle freedom.
          The media landscape has changed drastically since the Internet. Now, EVERYONE is a member of the media by just having a blog, retweeting and reposting on social media, having a Youtube channel, etc. One big problem, as I see it, is that the distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of the press, is blurred away.
          Anyone can claim to be a journalist now. The barrier to entry is gone. And there is no longer consequence for lying.

          The “mainstream media” is being demonized more now. It is not that they are any more biased than they were before. Rather, they allowed more pundits and opinion pieces. So much so, that who can say where hard news ends and commentary begins.

          But here’s the kicker. The media has become a scapegoat. As problematic as they are… there are still a LOT of good journalists out there. Yes, everyone has bias, left or right. But the good ones still do “factual reporting” regardless of bias.
          – Look up mediabiasfactcheck and factualnews from the IFCN and Poynter Institute for journalism.
          Bias is NOT the same as factual reporting. Some have least bias, but it can never be zero. Quality journalism can still be found with some bias left-center, right-center, as long as factual reporting is high.

          The biggest problem, is that a prerequisite for a cult following (whether Nazism, Trumpism or Orwellian) is that trust in the media must be shattered. Once that is done… the people will HAVE TO get their information elsewhere. And when the cult leader has the biggest soapbox, it’ll be them and their sycophants.

          So although I have a healthy skepticism of the media… I recognize that cynicism and outright hatred of the media is not a natural occurrence, but rather fostered intentionally to brainwash masses.

        • Good people DO seek office. But they don’t often make it past the fundraising stage. Even if they do, the primary elections are designed to reward partisanship and sensationalism. If a good person isn’t also somehow a fundamentalist partisan during the primary, they aren’t even in the race.

          That is why it’s been common practices to pander to a base during primaries then pivot toward the center for general elections. The candidates successful at this political maneuvering are seen as fake and flip-floppers though. The candidates that are genuinely moderate, good and consistent in their values, simple don’t pass both election stages.
          The very system is designed to reward polar extremism and punish moderation. A self-fulfilling social darwinism if you will.

          Look up CGP Grey’s basic explanations on Approval voting and Ranked Choice voting and tell me what you think.

        • The past year, everybody on every side of just about every issue seems to feel that a) everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot and b) my current view of reality is the objective reality…. this is a path to destruction.

          However, the discourse from both of you above here is exactly what will bring us back from the brink. Respect our fellow humans, reconcile our differences, and put our own views to as much scrutiny as we put opposing views.

          • I think even the “everyone else is an idiot” is sustainable, as long as you all agree on the facts. If you can trace someone’s argument from factual foundation, regardless of whether you think to make the jump from C to D require idiocy, it provides a solid foundation upon which to have an argument, understand the motivations and desires of the other person (which not surprisingly are quite similar to your own) and understand where you diverge. If I understand your chain from A->B->C->D->E, even though I disagree with C->D and think it’s stupid, it makes sense and if I’m willing (not saying I’m the right one or not the idiot), I can try and convince you.

            But without common grounding in facts, it is incredibly hard to find any sense in someone else’s train of thought. And then the “that person is an idiot” become dangerous because that’s the end of discussion. Sure, you may still argue, but it’s from a place where you have no hope of actually resolving disagreement because you have no idea where it really is or where to begin. Your opponent necessarily becomes a caricature because you need to construct what seems to be a rational (to you) explanation for their train of thought/logic and that explanation is usually not charitable to the other person.

    • Ted from Houston: Newsflash….
      the President does work for you.
      Maybe not THIS president but that is what a sane one is supposed to do. Work for the People. And the Country. Not Wall Street and cronies.

    • “In that respect, Biden was not elected affirmatively by most voters; the vote was mostly a rejection of Trump by voters, by having to vote for Biden to do so.”

      *urhm*

      If I may set-aside the assertation that the majority actually *did* affirmatively cast their vote(s) in favour of Mssr. Biden/Mmes. Harris . . .

      Considering the inclinate polarity of the US voting populace–and that the assertions you make of ‘knowing’ said Group, inherently implies knowing each (and every) person in said Group–I must protest . . . too much 😉

      Regards, Andy “working my way-through the latest Ubiquity #fsck’up” Hurt

    • I for one am a Trump supporter. Do I agree with him 100% of the time, NO, 85% NO …….so you are thinking, “why do you support him”….On policies and his actions that have shown he backs up what he says. He is pro life. I’m a Christian so I am completely for that. He had 4 peace deals with the Middle East….name me 1 politician who has done that! He put through law to give our kids a curriculum to learn about our true history……The democrats aren’t going to do that. So before you go your little rant about how you would fire him, you may want to look at what he actually accomplished. I hated the way he put down other politicians……was it truth……probably but that isn’t how you act. So you are telling me that Obama and Biden are saints? Come on dude. You know this election was a fraud, everyone knows it.

      • You believe his branding, not his real accomplishments.
        That’s what he does, he’s a reality show host. He is all about branding and marketing characters.
        It’s like believing in the characters in pro wrestling.
        When a person grows up, they are supposed to stop believing in nonsense they see on TV.

        His accomplishments are NOT nearly as impressive as he says they are.
        The real problem is the ignorance of how government works (or doesn’t). Just as you wrote, “he put through law…”. NO, no he didn’t. Signing or vetoing laws is all he can do. He doesn’t write laws, he doesn’t sponsor them, he doesn’t sit in committees, he can’t debate them or vote on them. Congress does.

        So when Congress, as dysfunctional as they appear to be, passes a bill in both chambers… that is Congress’s achievement. The laws that passed that people agree are true accomplishments, are bipartisan bills that the president has no choice but to sign. When he tries to veto, it doesn’t even work, because they are broadly supported by Congress and they override him.

        I can name a bunch of other politicians who have accomplished way more, or show how each time he claimed a victory, it was actually a defeat (see border wall)… but you’d just deny and equivocate.

        The truth is that he’s a conman that convinced many people that he was different than lying politicians… but he is so much worse.
        The Big Lie is an apt comparison to Nazism. All politicians lie, but he doesn’t ever tell the truth. For him, everything must be exaggerated, twisted, spun, or an otherwise complete fabrication. That way, mindless followers will no longer be able to recognize objective reality, and he can then push the Big Lie, that he won the election in a landslide.

        Wake up sheep, you knew he was a wolf/snake when you took him in.

      • Some things are relative, and politics can absolutely have its opposing sides and grey areas. But evil and good are absolute. So, just look for the Nazis, and make your own decisions.
        As for abortions, they have been happening since the beginning of time.
        Focusing on the moral victory of making abortion illegal does nothing to impact the the number of abortions. If my true goal is a practical victory, making abortion unnecessary, I need to look at the policies and programs that result in an actual decrease in the number of abortions. Which political party supports education, women’s health and uplifting a women’s worth in society?

    • To Jammin….
      Put yourself in his shoes! How would you take it, to wake up every morning of your presidency to have you and your family attached daily. With lies, deceit, manipulations, threats and more. I’m not sure about you but I could only ‘turn the cheek’, so many times before I became belligerent and wanted the American people to know the truth.

      • Sorry… What?

        Are you attempting to cast Donald Trump and his family as innocent victims?

        He spent years claiming Obama wasn’t born in this country. Did you actually forget that?

        Trump gets attacked for things that he says and does. They are pretty horrific things and he deserves to be rebuked.

        Conservative Republicans have always agreed that he should stop tweeting so much. Even people who agree with all of his policies and ideology, also say that he talks too much nonsense.
        Political attacks that he receives, are his fault alone. He would not get attacked if he did not open his mouth and spew such vitriol.

    • Can’t have everything. Just remember, the devil speaks very eloquently and is quite charming.

    • Ted from Houston, did we read the same article? The article I read was about whom the author of the Q-drops might be. Your response is about politics. What happened here?

  2. Derrick Montplaisir

    That you can read Moby Dick on a lark is impressive. I’m not sure when next I shall read a tome written in the boring style.

  3. We all like to fantasize about going back in time to stop Hitler. But when was the right time?
    In the 40s, at the height of his power and with so many Nazi atrocities?
    In the 30s, when the Nazi party has already seized power and crushed all opposition?
    Or the 20s, when Hitler began to amass his followers and had just lead a failed coup attempt against the Democratic government?

    After decades of gaining more followers, his spell finally broke and millions of Germans had to answer for not only crimes committed, but also atrocities condoned. Listen to the interviews of those people after the war.

    The thing they regret the most,… Is that they did not recognize the evil for what it was, back when the simple act of not following, would have been enough to prevent it.

    • Trump was always fighting for the exact opposite of Hitler: freedom, life, liberty. He fought hard and to win. So do people in sports.
      Your association to Hitler is terribly false, ignorant and unworthy of further discussion.

      • You either don’t know Trump (just believe rhetoric) or don’t know Hitler. Probably both, so here’s some free schooling.

        For 2 decades, the people of German loved Hitler for many of his views and what he “claimed to fight for”.

        Hitler was a Nationalist first and foremost. White Nationalists and revisionists have a different memory of Hitler.

        Hitler was a fighter too. He rallied support on the idea of German “winning” and taking back what was stolen from them by the Allied nations during the first world war. He prioritized putting Germans back to work.
        They really did love him and he held great big rallies.

        It took a while for the fever for Nazism to break… as will MAGA fever. Only then did sacred Germany realize the extend of his lies.
        Both Hitler and Trump espoused fighting for their people and against the evil communists wanting to take away their freedom, life, and liberty.

        This ain’t a sport or a game. If you think so, you aren’t taking anything seriously.

        The association between 1920’s Hitler and 2020’s Trump is fair and appropriate.
        The problem is that you and others only know the very limited history of 1940’s Hitler. But it took a lot of incremental steps to get from the failed Putsch/Coup in Munich 1923 to the point when you started paying attention to WW2 history. 2 decades and a growth of Nationalism that went unchecked by a democratic republic until it was too late.

        The key to preventing another war, is recognizing the YOUNG demagogue before it festers and metastasizes into something that can’t be stopped without war. And like so many Germans… it is very difficult to recognize a cult of personality when you are inside it.

        • An excellent response! Thank you. Having heard too many otherwise seemingly reasonable folk invoke the Hitler about everything they disagree with except Mr Trump, I decided that this year (my 59th) is the time to up my knowledge of the early years far preceding the 40’s.

          I’ve believed there must be some clue in the society and culture that lay the groundwork for his broad acceptance. I enjoyed the popular novel by Eric Larson “In the Garden of the Beasts” based on experiences of the American Ambassador in the 30’s which illustrated that this thing didn’t happen overnight as one might think from the usual history covered in highschool.

          Reading through the newspaper archive online, though the mentions of AH go back into the 20’s, the coverage was spare until well into the 30’s. I’ve done some searching online for the best books on the period and am starting with the supposedly still well worth a read, grandaddy of them all “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” If you’ve got any suggestions for books helping with an understanding of how and why, the German’s were lulled into thinking Hitler was “the answer” by all means please recommend.

          Folk think one is full of hyperbole to mention Hitler in the same sentence with Trump, and for most it probably is, but as I see it, we the people…the Germans- the people, were primed for that path when they took it and I want to know what contributes to such a path. When I was growing up, with a dad who was a USNA grad and a mom who was a Navy Nurse during ww2, I’d hear folk say “We could never do as the German’s did” and even as a kid, I thought, wow they don’t know human nature very well do they. Anyway, pardon the ramble. I appreciate your posts here.
          The Manse Hen

          • On Tyranny
            Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
            By: Timothy Snyder

            Number one New York Times Best seller

            A historian of fascism offers a guide for surviving and resisting America’s turn towards authoritarianism.

            The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the 20th century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

          • Well said. Allow me to offer one correction: In the Garden of Beasts isn’t a novel. Those were real people and real events. It contains some speculation, if I remember correctly, but Erik Larson was doing his best to tell a true tale.

          • Yes, the Great Powers of the time mobilized their war machines, which inevitably led to them ‘cashing in’ by using them against each other (WW1) (surprise, surprise). The wounded Great Power (Germany) being in disarray (The Weimar Republic) and vulnerable to splintering – gave the charismatic Hitler his toehold. That was all the inspiration or motive needed by a failed artist. The failed artist blamed the ‘November Criminals’ (Germans who signed the armistice – aka ‘surrender terms’) found his footing and his scapegoats, built his power base and took over (Did I mention he was an immoral narcissist t’boot?). Those who hadn’t been intimidated initially to jump down the rabbit hole soon got lonely (and chilly) and followed.

        • Thank you, JamminJ…just thank you

        • Hitler was an addict. Your equivalency principle fails.

          • Addicted to what? Nationalism? Large rallies?
            His own self image.

            The comparison fits in so many ways.
            His followers won’t see it, won’t understand until the spell breaks. Also, just like millions of Germans.

      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Hall_Putsch

        Inciting a riot and coup.

        Years later he would burn the Reichstag and blame Antifa communists.

      • Nobody will never know the truth when they gleefully call for censorship. No speech should ever be banned; free speech is part of a free country. Bad ideas or comments need to be countered with good ideas only. Just like erasing history does not change it; it only causes people to more easily repeat mistakes in the past. Sadly the people cheering for free speech to be squashed are cheering for an evil thing. It is sad to see my fellow Americans not understand they are becoming the thing they profess to hate.

        • Ignorance of what is or is not free speech is the bigger problem.
          The Internet has apparently set a new standard for what is speech. People have gotten used to platforms like Twitter and Facebook and now take them for granted. Even worse, these entitled children think they have a “right” to use someone else’s property as a platform for speech. It is a privileged granted only by adherence to their policy.

          Twitter is NOT the “public square”. As much as we make the analogy… the US government has never purchased Twitter and declared it public space. We need to stop being so entitled. This comment section exists at the discretion of Brian Krebs. And Twitter exists at the discretion of it’s owners.

          Nobody is really saying free speech should be taken away. Nobody is suggesting that individuals cannot go outside and stand on a literal soapbox and start talking. They are even free to buy their own website and blog all day long.

    • Well said, and great “Food for Thought”

  4. Gees Brian, siting Yahoo News (or huffp0st) as if it’s a credible source bangs away at your credibility. But I won’t turn my back on your reputation and 11 years of outstanding investigative reporting. Please keep it up!

    • Although the article linked was to Yahoo.. Greenspan wrote the article for Business Insider. Yahoo really just aggregates from other sources. I hate that they don’t directly link to the original source, making it hard to cite directly… but at least the source is credible.

      Both YahooNews and Business Insider are Center-Left bias and rated as “High” for factual reporting. There are no Huffington Post citations in this article (which would be Left bias with ‘mixed” factual reporting).
      This is from the IFCN and Poynter Institute which are non-partisan media ratings.

      How about you actually verify the citations (without misspelling “citing” with an “s”)… before you accuse others.

  5. “The Lord of the Flies” is also relevant to the last 5 years. One of the most frightening possible paths of human behaviors I have ever read.

  6. It is difficult to make the case that the media is objective. Is it any surprise then that conspiracy theories abound?

    Donald Trump has been ridiculed more often than any president I can recall. The media demands that Donald Trump release his taxes, but refuses to ask how Joe Biden has made millions on a government salary. Was there any credible evidence of Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia, or the Presidential quid pro quo to help his re-election campaign? I can’t really say for sure, but it’s no wonder that his supporters feel insulted.

    Has Joe Biden had sketchy dealings with China, or a quid pro quo as Vice President when he threatened to withhold aid to the Ukraine unless they stopped investigating his family? Again, I can’t say.

    Why are the demonstrators in DC being presented so differently than the ones back in the Spring? They all couldn’t have been bad people. And the others couldn’t have all been good. Were there enough voting irregularities to change the outcome of the election? Is this all just a bunch of right-wing conspiracy theory? Again, I can’t really say. And it is not my place to do so.

    That is for you to decide.

    To me, it seems that the media has not presented each candidate equally or impartially. The dictionary defines fascism as an authority which suppresses opposing voices and viewpoints. I hear that word thrown around a lot by the media. It’s a funny sounding word, isn’t it? Fascism. LOL

    And when I was in grade school, we learned that a free and impartial press was critical to democracy — that’s why it’s the First Amendment. You can’t have any of the others without it.

    I still have faith that most people will make the correct choices, given fair and impartial information.

    • There are a lot of bad faith arguments and false equivalencies in your comment.

      First is your confusion between objectivity and factual reporting. They are NOT the same.
      No, the media hasn’t been objective. But that’s not new. Bias is always a factor. However, ‘factual reporting’ is a separate metric, and non-partisan organizations such as Poynter Institute for Journalism and the International Fact Checking Network rate bias and factual reporting as completely separate for good reason.

      Objectivity in media tries to reduce as much bias as possible but it can never be zero.
      Conspiracy theories are not excusable even when bias is clear. The NY Times and the Wall Street Journal have their Left-Right biases, more so with their editorials… but both have “high” factual reporting.

      One thing that “mixed” or “low” factual reporting media does that causes everyone to distrust them… is their use of QUESTION MARKS in a weak attempt to hide their accusations. Which is also insulting to the intelligence of the audience. It results in pandering to the uneducated.

      Freedom of the press is NOT the same as freedom of speech. With the internet and social media in particular… we now have the public being able to masquerade as the press. Journalism must be held to higher standards than, “gonna throw out these accusations, put a question mark at the end, and you decide”.
      That’s a tabloid, not news.

      When people make these legal allegations… it’s NOT for the court of public opinion to decide… it’s for the actual courts to decide. Real judges, in real courts of law… not some celebrity or viewers at home as if in some reality show format.

  7. There were a couple of thousand nuts protesting, with a harder core of a couple of hundred nuts that stormed the capital because they’re upset with events surrounding the election. Some of these nuts are into Qanon.

    This article takes this and runs with the loosest set of correlations I’ve ever read from Brian Krebs, with the crappiest citations from other news sources to boot.

    The article reads like it was farmed out to mini-me the intern. It doesn’t sound at all like the usual in-depth, well-verified information that Brian Krebs usually publishes. Considering the quality of this article, I’m surprised it didn’t include a connection to ancient aliens.

  8. Krebs, by using your highly respected cybercrime security website as your own biased political platform, you’ve just lost a lot of respect. I expected you to be more intelligent than that. smh

    • He is simply presenting a recap of the events of two days ago and then a possible correlation to Moby Dick. What about this is “politically biased”?

  9. I don’t understand how people get so bent out of shape when it comes to who’s running things. No matter what, some fundamental things are going to remain constant like one’s obligations to family, work, school, hobbies, etc…

    It seems to me that it really does not matter. I’ve always been doing what needs done day to day.

    Also, there is only one Q. He exists in the Star Trek universe and exists only to torment the crew of the Enterprise and is so obviously attracted to Captain Picard.

    In all seriousness, these Q-whatever people are ranking pretty high on the groups of morons leaderboard.

    • Just like most of the public doesn’t understand the value of their email account or computer…. they think it doesn’t matter.
      The government matters to a LOT of people in obvious ways, and matters to nearly everyone in other not so obvious ways.

      Anyone in the military, or with family in the military, has additional investment into what happens later this month.

  10. I am surprised to see how many people are complaining that this post is about politics and saying that Brian Krebs should stick to security. The events in Washington D.C. on January 6 are all about security. A mob attack on the seat of government while its elected officials are in the process of accepting votes in a national election is both an attack on that governmnet itself and a physical security issue. Look further.

    The attack on the Capitol was created and planned using the Internet and social media. The concerns about conspiracies that motivated the crowd were cultivated and grown on the Internet and social media. Security is not just about accounts and authentication. It is also about malicious access and system abuse.

    Brian usually writes about the security of what might be called controlled systems. It is gatekeeper security. What do we do about security on UNCONTROLLED systems? All systems have some control. I am speaking of systems that are open to the public — social media.

    There is a wonderful link on comment-page-2 that was provided by Tina Mouse. It’s a video of researcher Kate Starbird describing academic studies on disinformation by herself and others. The lecture may be a little dense for some of the commenters who think that Brian’s article is about ‘politics’. I take Starbird’s work as evidence of how thoroughly connected the QAnon issue is with the ‘safety’ security of open platforms. Protecting public Internet platforms from abuse while keeping them open to free speech may be the biggest security issue of our age.

    Starbird points out that what undermines open platforms as places where both reliable information and open discourse can thrive is much bigger than the presence of bots and troll accounts. Because the problem is not just cause (malicious actors) and effect (bad information), she says there is no simple way to engineer our way out of the problem. Facebooks’s effort to control “coordinated inauthentic behavior” is not enough. The role of “unwitting crowds” in disseminating information is a huge part of how conversations that are started by bad actors get their power.

    One aftermath of the attack on the Capitol is that my friends on the Left (I am a California guy and surrounded) are universally cheering Facebook, Twitter and other sites for suspending President Trump’s social media accounts. As a proponent of free speech I think that these actions set a chilling precedent. In particular, I find the thought of a single commercially motivated Puritan billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg becoming the leading censor of free speech in America, with the full support of the government and much of the population, terrifying.

    On both sides of the political spectrum, we need to stop listening to the “thought leaders” on each side who are driving us to demonize anyone with different opinions. In the end we all have much more in common than we are told. There are no magic political leaders. We need to do more thinking for ourselves, and to that end, listening. None of us comes without some bias.

    I do think Starbird’s work on disinformation is credible, despite the fact that she uses a MacBook. Normally Mac users should be automatically rejected for their leftist agendas.

  11. The BLM/Antifa scumbags have been using the Internet and social media for awhile. These communist groups have caused over a billion dollars of damage from rioting, looting and “peaceful protesting”. Where has been the analysis of where these scumbags have coordinating and using the Internet? It seems these scumbags are more a threat than any small amount of dumbasses with Qanon group. Is this focus on Qanon just a diversion from the scumbags of BLM/Antifa?

    I never heard of Qanon until the main stream media/Democrats started talking about this summer.

    • “Using the Internet”? Everyone does. It’s “how you use it”.
      Qanon is known for being able to organize solely through the Internet. Not like any other political movement which may use the internet in other ways. The Internet is weaponized by Qanon.

      BLM is a blanket term for the hundreds of separate groups. Similar to calling something the CRM (Civil Rights Movement) in the 1960’s.

      Antifa is a violent radical subset… similar to the Black Panthers.
      Antifa is not very organized, really herding cats.

      The problem is this idea that Antifa is “everywhere”. It is your own shadow. Everything that happens, is Antifa. And this latest conspiracy that Antifa was leading the charge into the Capitol PROVES that you are seeing Antifa as an illusion of your own making.

      Proud Boys has defined leadership, their names are known.
      Qanon has a leader, although anonymous for now.

      • Seems that Antifa is pretty well organized. NY just had a large group of hundreds antifa members carrying shields and wearing helmets marching through Midtown Manhattan. Doesn’t their chant’s of “Burn it down” seem to be inciting violence?

        https://twitter.com/nycantifa
        So when does Twitter remove this and all “followers” of the antifa cult?

        If it weren’t for double standards, Democrats would have no standards at all.

  12. I haven’t managed to wade through all of the replies here, but in case it wasn’t pointed out: jake angeli‘s ridiculous getup is surely to do with The Sons of Liberty, is it not? The tats are…well, just a record of his unbalanced personality, IMHO.

  13. You’ve disappointed me, Brian.

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time. Your posts are usually insightful, relevant and objective. Occasionally you make a subtle statement that shows a political viewpoint. I just look past it and keep reading.

    About half the country has a different political view than I do, some of them close friends and relatives. But I can respectfully agree, disagree or debate with them on other topics without bringing in politics.

    Lately your political focus has been increasing. This post went too far in that direction for me. I don’t care if you agree or disagree with me politically. But when you start using your cybersecurity blog as a platform to air your political views, I’m no longer interested in reading it. There are plenty of political blogs I can follow. But reading political rhetoric and flaming reader comments is not something I want to waste my time on.

    It’s your blog. You can say whatever you want. But just realize that half your readers may not agree with you politically. And even those that do may not be interested in reading about politics here.

    • This article is not inherently political. Qanon conspiracy theories are mostly right-wing, but there are some left-wing anti-vaxxer stuff there too. Covering these types of investigations into the deep recesses of the internet is not new for Krebs. Qanon is in his crosshairs because of investigations related to cybersecurity and nation-state threat actors.

      if you are seeing biased politics here and now, it’s because you either have not been paying attention, are disingenuous about being a longtime reader, or have shifted so far to the right yourself, that everything appears to be politically liberal.

      Yes, 40% of the country may have fallen underneath the spell of a megalomaniac narcissist. This happened in Germany too. And it has happened again here.

      Many people think they can exist in their own echo chamber without having to see the opinions of others. When a cult leader tells his followers to disregard all opposing political opinion and that all news media is fake… I can see how some would be triggered when a security blog that you thought was a safe space, seemed to betray you.

      Trump supporters are no better than the millions of Germans who blindly followed Hitler, before he committed atrocities. It took them decades before they realized and the spell was broken.
      Good people, but let astray by a big lie.
      Sorry, but this is the reality.

  14. Im with you JamminJ

  15. I guess I’ll deprecate Krebs from my daily security briefings until it also regains its mind and gets back on topic.

    • Many people think they can exist in their own echo chamber without having to see the opinions of others. When a cult leader tells his followers to disregard all opposing political opinion and that all news media is fake… I can see how some would be triggered when a security blog that you thought was a safe space, seemed to betray you.

      Bye

  16. Thanks Brian for your blog.

    Is there another example of an authoritarian figure from history other than Adolf Hitler that can serve as a reference to learn from? Hitler is too incendiary a name, and he had an anti-Semitic agenda that Trump doesn’t have. Personally, I think we can learn from what happened in Germany… and Trumpism will outlive Trump and his presidency, so we should pay attention.

    In any case, the point is about (mis)using information and how repeating lies, without consequences, leads eventually to insurrection, whether by design or accident. We need a better way of rating the quality of information on the Internet, and not relying on profit-seeking social media sites to make those determinations.

    • Yes Adolf Hitler is an incendiary name, but that’s the point.
      His followers need to feel shame. Like a jolt from a defibrillator, they need a glimpse into how millions of Germans felt after the war, when the spell was finally lifted.
      Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video making the same comparison is going viral right now.

      I happen to think the failed 1923 Munich Coup (Beer Hall Putsch) was a better comparison to 1/6, rather than the 1938 Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), precisely because it wasn’t focused on the antisemitism. But mostly because it was a literal failed coup to overthrow a democratic government.

      Back in 1923, there wasn’t an appetite for genocide of the Jewish people. Yes, ultra-nationalist blamed them for ruining their economy, jobs, and heritage. Sound familiar? The rhetoric was not so bold as the 1930’s just yet. But a lot can happen over 2 decades. It is incremental. Define “us vs. them”, scapegoat/blame them, dehumanize them, exterminate them.

      My biggest fear is that Trump is NOT the analogy of Hitler. But rather there is a younger, craftier person waiting for the power vacuum that Trumpism will elevate into power.
      THAT might be the person that will bring us all down. We must indeed pay close attention.

      Qanon does have a lot of antisemitic roots. As Brian has probably seen already. Not all followers believe every theory, because Qanon’s structure is more like a smorgasbord where people pick and choose which to believe. This makes it extremely easy to grow and gain followers.
      If you ever go down a rabbit hole into Qanon theories that are based on other theories… you’ll see why they label democrats a “cabal”. Concepts like globalization, and blood drinking of children, NWO, etc… are all based on antisemitism. Which is also why Neo-Nazi groups are immediately attracted.

      Trump must face swift and harsh penalty. We must aggressively shame those who have some conscience left to turn back. This way we can deter and stunt their growth. Because if not, when the next person rises as the leader, I don’t want them with an army at their back.

      • Your posts are full of the worst pseudo-intellectual tripe, and you clearly know nothing of history other than the chapter summaries. Your recounts of historical events and context are over generalized and mostly inaccurate other than in dates of occurance.

        You constantly state conjecture and opinion as fact with the thinnest of support, if any.

        My disgust with Trump’s behavior notwithstanding, watching a pseudo-intellectual in full bloom, substituting self-assured platitudes for rational arguments is far worse.

        Bye-bye.

        • You haven’t presented any argument against what I wrote. Just tried to call it pseudo-intellectual… either because you can’t understand big words, or it hit a bit too close to home, and you’re offended.

          Getting defensive is going to be the first of many steps for you.

      • Nice summary Mr. Jammin. Yes, Trump supporters need to feel shame. It wasn’t BLM. It wasn’t “Anti facists”. It was Trumpers and Qanon nuts. It was an attempted coup and Brian does a very nice job of outlining the facts. They are not in dispute no matter how much some the seditionists wish it were otherwise.

  17. JamminJ, CCP must be paying you good ever since that Solawinds hack?
    Q is nothing but a false conspiracy theory set up by the left to disparage Trump supporters. The fact Krebs lets you post all day long makes you the dictator of the comments section, an emperor of truth huh?

    • Free speech just like you.

      I bet you see antifa and communists everywhere you go. That is the delusional mind at work.

      Hitler also ranted and raved about communists lurking everywhere, undermining the German people.

  18. I do submit that the Donald Trump as observed in the White House is the same Donald Trump observed over time in the print media, TV, and elsewhere and is best characterized as one with an oversized ego and a penchant for bloviating and for the unconventional. So why the surprise over any of the last four years?

    I am not aware of his having embroiled our military in new conflicts. He strengthened ties with India, actually met with Kim Jong Un rather than pay him off, took a needed hard-line with China (honor your agreements and don’t steal our stuff), took a different course with Iran (still paying for UK/US post-WWII machinations) and continuing with pay-off. But then I only know what I read/see in the media.

    Had it not been for novel corona, I suspect he would have been re-elected.

    I was not familiar with QAnon but why another would believe that trip is beyond comprehension. His opponents want a beat-down humiliation. I would suggest for go that and let the clock run out on his term of office.

    • As a private citizen, as much as Trump was a celebrity… it is still a private life. He sued lots of people, and has been sued by many others. This still doesn’t give the type of transparency that is required by public officials. Tax returns a good example of what could not be observed by the public, but is ‘typically’ revealed for a president.

      But yes, many people who were surprised should not have been surprised. But of course, not that many people are surprised at all. Just still shocked that Republicans who did speak out against him before the 2016 election, have become spineless followers.

      I agree, if COVID never happened, Trump’s inherent advantages as an incumbent would likely have given him the win. Even unpopular presidents do well as an incumbent.

      “I am not aware of his having embroiled our military in new conflicts.”
      and “took a different course with Iran”
      Um… a bit of a contradiction. Just because it’s not a hot war yet, doesn’t mean the military isn’t now facing a different fight due to future retaliations with Iran. “He holds a grudge like Khomeini” is not just a Seinfeld joke… Iranians WILL attack us at some point. They are patient and don’t have a problem with waiting.

      His friendship with Kim Jong-Un has put our allies South Korea and Japan in MUCH worse situations, that the US will have to face for decades. China, yes an enemy that I agree deserves sanctions. We still don’t know if the trade war would have been worth it though, or if we will even win. The Chinese too, are patient enemies.

      Like Nixon creating the EPA, or even Hitler eliminating unemployment… Trump will have some footnotes of success to surprise school children.
      But, like them, his negative legacy will cast a dark shadow on any good he may have done in office. History will NOT be kind to him or his followers… and it is deserved.

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