The thing about natural disasters happening to other people is that it gets you thinking about what to do if it happens to you.

For example, saturated with news reports of Hurricane Irene last weekend, my wife and I discussed how prepared we are. She talked about the location of our Red Cross emergency backpacks and buying more bottled water. I brought up the necessity of stockpiling frozen pizzas that could be cooked over an open fire.

Nothing's wrong with using someone else's misfortune to prepare your family for disaster, especially here in earthquake country. We'd be crazy not to. Call it a reminder, label it a wake-up call, say it's a dose of reality.

But is it a warning?

Voice from above

The word "warning" is a conscious precautionary statement, essentially saying, "Don't let this happen to you." Natural disasters are not conscious precautionary statements. If my child or spouse died because of what someone else thinks is merely a "warning" to others, I'd be pretty angry. Especially at a politician suggesting that a natural disaster has anything to do with politics.

Which brings us to presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The Minnesota congresswoman, a leader of the Tea Party, told Floridians on Sunday that Hurricane Irene and last week's earthquake on the East Coast were messages from God, warning politicians to start listening to God when God says that Americans want less governmental spending, which -- coincidentally -- just happens to be Michele Bachmann's message.

This is not a partisan point, just a question: Wouldn't it be less messy to tell us through a burning bush or a horizon-to-horizon-sized billboard?

I don't like delving into matters of politics or religion, mostly because I'm always right, which makes people who are wrong mad. Bachmann claimed Monday that she was just kidding. Which, of course, means she wasn't, but realized she said something dumb, but doesn't know how to explain herself. If she was joking ... well, gosh. Who doesn't love a good laugh when it involves natural disasters and human suffering?

Not making sense

So making the logical assumption she wasn't kidding, I have to ask: If God really wants governments to spend less, why cause billions of dollars in damages requiring government assistance that will further run up the debt? Can't God just tell us in a booming voice through the clouds?

I'm not necessarily a devout Christian. However, if I were, and Michele Bachmann said Hurricane Irene was God sending me a message, I'd be pretty puzzled. Especially because she said this giant hurricane enveloping several entire states and causing unspeakable damage was a message to politicians. Politicians, therefore, must be pretty important.

I'm not mocking Christians or Tea Partyers. I'm mocking political opportunism. I'm mocking the idea that politicians are so void of ideas they have to play the God card. Or any card. I'm mocking the arrogance of politicians who will publicly say God is on their side in a budget stalemate, when God obviously has better things to do -- like worrying about what features the next iPhone will have now that Steve Jobs has stepped down.

People are already afraid, even without natural disasters. Throwing the supposed wrath of God on top of the pile is loathsome, especially if it's to garner votes. If God sides one way or another -- and really wants us to know -- I'm sure they could find some time for Him to address a joint session of Congress.

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Facebook, www.facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks. Read his blog, "Insert Foot," at www.ibabuzz.com/