Is the fix in on district attorney search?

CORRECTION -- 01/19/12 -- Vin Suprynowicz’s Jan. 15 column reported in error that former District Court Judge Don Chairez was the only one of seven applicants for the position of retiring District Attorney David Roger who had challenged Roger at the polls, losing a close race in 2010. In fact, senior Nevada Deputy Attorney General Patrick Ferguson, another of the seven applicants, challenged Roger unsuccessfully in 2006. Both challengers were eliminated by the County Commission’s screening committee when it narrowed the field to three finalists.

I see where the Clark County Commission received seven applications to replace District Attorney David Roger, who resigned the post just one year after telling voters he really, really wanted another four-year term.

The field was promptly thinned to three (instead of five, as ordered) by a seven-lawyer "screening committee" clearly not immune from political influence. Not even making this first cut was former deputy district attorney (and former elected District Court judge) Don Chairez, the only applicant who'd actually bothered to challenge Roger for the office, losing a close 2010 race by 20,000 votes out of nearly 500,000 cast.

Could that be because Chairez accused Roger of being soft on political corruption in the county, pointing out the only way crooked county commissioners ever go to jail in these parts is when the federals step in?

Could it be because Chairez made it clear he'd take a closer look at questionable police shootings, like those of Erik Scott and Trevon Cole?

Now that hands-off-the-cops David Roger has moved on -- to a job with the police union, surprise! -- we'll soon know, especially if the commission chooses the hand-picked candidate of that same police union (and of state Supreme Court Justice Mark Gibbons, who wrote an ethically unusual endorsement letter): Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Wolfson.

Ron Paul's victory

They say when you stand at the base of the great pyramid of Khufu and look up, you don't see a pyramid, at all. The proportions are so vast that the third dimension drops away. It appears you're simply gazing up at a new horizon.

Sometimes we get so close to things it's hard to see them with a proper perspective. I believe that happened to most of the newshounds in New Hampshire Tuesday night.

They've been following the inside baseball among the Republican presidential candidates for so long that they seemed to miss the obvious: Tuesday was the first time many Americans changed the channel and watched Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul speak for a few minutes.

And what a contrast they saw.

The candidate now widely referred to as the Mitt-bot checked his five-year itinerary and noted this was the night to deliver a scripted speech designed to convey the subtext: "Ignore these Republican also-rans who have now fallen by the wayside. As from tonight, this race is mano-a-mano -- me against Barack Obama."

Thus the "He passed ObamaCare; I'll repeal it" comparisons, which actually read much better on paper than they played out Tuesday night, with a candidate who never seemed to be able to settle on a challenge-and-response rhythm with his own cheering section.

I heard commentators say Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, sounded angry. In fact, what nags one about Romney is that he doesn't seem to be able to channel any recognizable emotion at all.

His "pace yourself for a five-year marathon" approach will likely prevail. It's just incapable of evoking any real enthusiasm, meaning Republicans will simply have to hope he's a good enough manager to oversee the launch of the biggest corporate downsizing in history, overcoming quite understandable qualms among the GOP rank and file that they haven't fared all that well with "Democrat Lite" candidates like John McCain. (The difference between Obamacare and RomneyCare is ...?)

Compare that with Paul's Tuesday night speech, which drew virtually no comment from the press.

Generally, any candidate who whines, "OK we lost; but our ideas got out there!" could be dismissed as pathetic.

Clearly Paul is not delusional enough to believe his 23 percent "beat" Romney's 39 percent in Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary. But he didn't sound the slightest bit disappointed or petulant as he declared the results a victory not for him, but for liberty. In fact, he sounded downright exuberant.

Paul doesn't seem to care that his grandpa voice is not ready for radio, that it sometimes goes too high and breaks. He's clearly having a ball, sticking with a message he didn't have to study and memorize up in the hotel room this afternoon (see Texas Gov. Rick Perry, trying to remember which three federal departments he supposedly wants to close).

Let everyone else in the field regurgitate their carefully pureed sound bites. Paul insists that without him, none of these guys would even be talking about the looming financial crisis brought on by the Federal Reserve, the debasement of the dollar and insane levels of spending and borrowing -- let alone our counterproductive and vastly expensive overseas adventures.

The paid-for pawns of the military-industrial hegemony -- both pundit and politician -- claim Paul would leave us defenseless. On Tuesday the former Air Force officer, who often polls best among actual members of the military, knocked that out of the park, insisting:

"If we tell people we think we should spend less on the military, they say, 'Oh, that means you want to cut defense.' No, if you cut the military-industrial complex, you cut war profiteering, but you don't take one penny out of national defense.

"I sort of have to chuckle when they describe you and me as being 'dangerous,' " Paul went on. "That's one thing (about which) they're telling the truth, because we are dangerous to the status quo of this country. And we will remain a danger to the Federal Reserve system. ...

"Just think: This is the first presidential campaign that the subject ever came up since the Federal Reserve was started. So ... because of what is happening, it will remain a dominant issue. There's no way they're going to put it to bed, because they have destroyed our money. It's worldwide. There's a financial crisis going on. And it's only sound money and personal liberty that can solve the crisis. ...

"You have to stop the inflation, because that's what destroys the middle class. ... That's why the wealthy got their bailouts and the middle class shrunk and they lost their jobs and they lost their houses. ...

"We have to cut the spending. This is why I have made a token suggestion in the first year in office: We would cut at least $1 trillion from the budget. ...

"If you are a true humanitarian," Paul concluded, "you have to fight and argue the case for free markets, sound money, property rights, contract rights, no use of force, and a sensible foreign policy."

His "irate minority" is "going to continue to grow by leaps and bounds," Paul vows. "And we will restore freedom to this country."

If somebody else on the campaign trail has charted that bold a course back to more freedom and less government, if someone else on the campaign trail in the past quarter-century has sounded that unscripted yet inspirational, I must have missed it.

Vin Suprynowicz, assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, is author of "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The Black Arrow."