Welcome, MSNBC viewers

Welcome, MSNBC viewers

: Here are the links I’m mentioning on the air this morning.

At 6:50a:

: Husayn at Democracy in Iraq has great comments on casting his ballot.

I am happy to report…no I am honored to report that I have cast my ballot in our election. It is such an amazing feeling to be able to have some control over the destiny of my nation, a feeling I have not known before! I was one of the first ones to report to our local voting station, and I placed my vote, my stained finger is proof… The terrorists have not scared us…. It will be a day forever remembered….

: Check out the Kurdistan Bloggers Union for pictures from the voting — and the celebration — in London.

At 7:50a:

: Read the emotional message of thanks to his fellow Iraqis from one of the original bloggers in Iraq, Alaa.

I bow in respect and awe to the men and women of our people who, armed only with faith and hope are going to the polls under the very real threats of being blown to pieces. These are the real braves; not the miserable creatures of hate who are attacking one of the noblest things that has ever happened to us. Have you ever seen anything like this? Iraq will be O.K. with so many brave people, it will certainly O.K.; I can say no more just now; I am just filled with pride and moved beyond words. People are turning up not only under the present threat to polling stations but also under future threats to themselves and their families; yet they are coming, and keep coming….

My condolences to the Great American people for the tragic recent losses of soldiers….

I myself have voted and so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance.

Salaam for now

: Ahmed at Life in Baghdad debated and agonized over whether he should vote — whether he should put safety and family or country first. This morning, he gave us his eloquent conclusion: “I did.”

bluefinger.jpgAt 8:50a:

: I’m going to focus on the great pictures by a U.S. security advisor named Ryan Stiles who — along with other civilian Americans — has been helping to ferry Iraqis to their polling places, since they cannot drive. Don’t miss Cigars in the Sand. Later, Ryan posts:

Well for tonight, I imagine it’s dodging the celebratory fire. I used to drive an SUV with a 9mm round hole in the hood, courtesy of some past celebration.

After that, its back to the hard task of capturing the momentum and translating it into real political access and choice. That road will be long and difficult — undoubtedly plagued by further violence and setbacks. Today is a new beginning, not an end.

But for right now, I’m gonna celebrate. Disney World, anyone?

At 10:54a:

I’m going to read from the wonderful posts of the blogging brothers from Iraq, Mohammed, Omar, and Ali. I was going to quote a bit of Mohammed and Omar’s post but it’s all too good, so here is their report in full:

The people have won.

We would love to share what we did this morning with the whole world, we can’t describe the feelings we’ve been through but we’ll try to share as much as we can with you.

We woke up this morning one hour before the alarm clock was supposed to ring. As a matter of fact, we barely slept at all last night out of excitement and anxiety.

The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted “vote for Allawi” less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said:

“You’re a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people’s choice. This is Iraq’s army, not Allawi’s”.

This was a good sign indeed and the young officer’s statement was met by applause from the people on the street.

The streets were completely empty except for the Iraqi and the coalition forces ‘ patrols, and of course kids seizing the chance to play soccer!

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.

We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn’t think of a scene more beautiful than that.

From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women’s turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!

Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren’t hearing these sounds at all.

I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn’t seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station’s location as she found out that her name wasn’t listed in this center.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq’s freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they’re not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked “The Model?”