Aunt Maude, a woman of few words, decided long ago that life is more pleasant if she lets Uncle Mort handle talkin’ for the two of ‘em.

Married to Mort for more than 75 years, she understands him to the degree that he can be understood and ignores the rest. A while back, her passing observation explained much about her hubby’s storehouse of opinions that fly headlong into the face of facts.

“It all goes back to the day of his birth,” Maude said. “Mort was delivered by an absent-minded doctor who held him up by his hands and spanked his face.”…

My aunt’s theory explains a great deal about Uncle Mort’s bent to challenge conventional wisdom at every turn. He’s never had any use for conventions, and precious little for wisdom.

Kinfolks claim that Mort “means well.” This comes across as a worn, throw-away expression — in the same harness with “his heart being in the right place.”…

These thoughts came to mind a few nights back when Mort called.

He sounded as excited as a Somali rebel who graduates as valedictorian at pirate school.

The “chase cut to,” he was breathless when he asked if I have a cutting edge, souped-up cell phone called an “E-Berry,” and if I did, to “get rid of it immediately.”…

I was as dumbfounded as the heavily-taxed guy who said he wished that whoever said “taxation without representation is tyranny could come back and see what it’s like with representation.”

What, in the name of Joe Biden, was my uncle talking about?

Immediately it occurred that I needed to reverse thought processes to line up with Uncle Mort’s brain waves….

His next statement explained much: “Our neighbor got one of those new-fangled phones, and he said that he’d received an alarming blackmail on his ‘E-Berry’.”

I thought about suggesting the possibility that yet again, he might be a victim of “backward recall.”

But I didn’t. I figured that trying to untangle his made-up mind would be as big a project as construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Further, I doubted that my countering that perhaps his neighbor’s “E-mail on his BlackBerry” would result in opening yet a larger can of worms….

It was apparent that Mort wanted to talk about more than “E-Berries.” No political party is conservative enough for him (his middle name is “Attila”). So probably I shouldn’t have mentioned VP Biden.

“I’ve wondered about him from the ‘git-go,’” the 96-year-old huffed. “The man may be charitable, but his giving record suggests otherwise. He’s claimed an annual average of $369 to charity in IRS filings for the past decade.”

Mort guessed the VP would have dropped that much into Salvation Army buckets. “Our preacher talked about church-giving last week,” he continued. “I guess his talkin’ about giving 10 percent of income figured on gross instead of net would have been wasted on Mr. Biden.”…

Remembering that Mort’s “fact-finding” and recall typically are “all sky west and crooked,” I considered interrupting. (It occurred to me to suggest that maybe decimal points were misplaced, and that Biden’s annual charitable giving might actually have been $3,690, or even $36,900.)

Thankfully, I didn’t. Whadda you know? Numerous “Googlings” of respected sources support Mort’s claim. (Broken down further, the figure represents less than one-half of one percent of income.)…

I reminded Mort that one’s stance on charity is a matter of choice and not a requisite for holding public office. “You still might want to write Mr. Biden a letter, telling him what you think,” I advised.

“Haven’t you heard what it’s gonna cost to mail a letter next month?” he questioned, adding that he had protested the new 44-cent rate to his postmaster.

“Government guys usually have warped answers, ready-made for dispensing,” Mort laughed. “When I asked him to verify that it’s really going to cost 44 cents to mail a letter from the thicket to Washington D.C., he said I was looking at it all wrong. He said that by the time it gets there, the cost will be only a penny a day.”…

Don Newbury is a speaker and author whose weekly column appears in 125 newspapers in six states. He welcomes comments and inquiries. Call him at (817) 447-3872, or send e-mail to His Web site is