|1.||grinding their axes and sharpening their pencils|
Pretending or appearing to be busy while doing nothing.
The inability to accomplish a task due to laziness, incompetence, political posturing, lack of ability, stubbornness or other reason that has no relation to the problem at hand.
Worthless posturing, yelling and fighting among politicians that comes to nothing when they are done.
Congress spend 8 months grinding their axes and sharpening their pencils and were only able to reduce the national debt by $10.