When, exactly, did America turn into a nation of frightened, over-reactive sissies?

How is it the country that runs the most deadly military on the face of the earth can act like the Keystone Kops when a couple of navigation-challenged pilots in a single-engine Cessna wander off course?

Have we become such a country of cowards that the slightest, unexplained event can send us running from buildings and hiding in terror?

Apparently so. This week, the government of the most powerful nation in the world evacuated the White House and the Capitol because a private plane with two dimwits at the helm ventured into DC airspace.

Last month, a flight of geese spooked a radar operator in Washington and Secret Service agents rushed the President and Vice President to “secure locations.” It’s a sad state of affairs when terrorist geese can cause America to pee in its collective shorts.

The clockers and watchers who monitor the state of things in the world often talk abut the “mood of the country.” If America has a mood today, it’s a paranoid one, driven by fear, lunacy and outright cowardice.

Walk down any city street and watch what happens if a plane passes low overhead. People stop, cringe and look cautiously skyward, afraid some nutcase in a turban has hijacked another jet and is sending it crashing into a building.

Sit in a diner and watch people when a cable news network breaks into their regular programming to announce a shooting at a public place. Someone will surely ask: “Do you think terrorists did it?”

Osama bin Laden and his band of thugs did a lot more than kill 3,000 plus people on September 11, 2001. They turned this nation into a jittery pack of nervous nellies, with paranoid delusions fueled by fear mongering politicians who turn tragedy into vote-generating opportunity.

Fear of terrorism is more than the national mood: It’s big business, generating billions of dollars in revenue for security firms, defense contractors and others who suck on a public tit. It’s a golden opportunity to generate the kind of votes that keep Presidents in office, Senators and Representatives back for another term and Americans cowering like diaper-soiling children afraid of a boogeyman whose threat has been driven far out of proportion by those who profit most from its existence.

America is vulnerable because our efforts are wasted on political expendiency, not security. Our leaders pander to fear, not logic. We waste our resources, and American lives, half a world away on a war that had nothing to do with the attack on our nation while our enemies are free to regroup and plan anew.

When another terrorist attack comes, as it surely will, it won’t be from a Cessna flying in open skies into the waiting clutches of American fighter planes. It will come in a way we least expect it, exploiting a vulnerability we haven’t discovered and corrected because we were far too busy overreacting to perceived threats that didn’t exist.

Cowards make mistakes and when a nation like America is run, and controlled by, cowards, those missteps make it all to easy for our enemies to use those screwups to kill us.