He takes his appearances before black audiences as an almost Pavlovian cue to race-bait, so if there’s any real news here it’s that he got through the speech without accusing Bush of having blown up the levees or used the CIA to flood the ghettos with crack.

Give him time, though. He might be saving that for next year’s MLK Day speech.

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has suggested that the slow recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — which has prevented many black former residents from returning — is part of a plan to change the racial makeup and political leadership of his and other cities.

“Ladies and gentlemen, what happened in New Orleans could happen anywhere,” Nagin said at a dinner sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group for newspapers that target black readers. “They are studying this model of natural disasters, dispersing the community and changing the electoral process in that community.”

Referring to [Lt. Gov. Mitch] Landrieu, who is white, as “the golden boy,” Nagin suggested his chance at reelection in the mayoral race had seemed slim because “they dispersed all of our people across 44 states with one-way tickets.”

Redistricting by hurricane, in other words. Which makes this only the second-craziest Katrina-related racial conspiracy theory. Don’t ever change, Ray.