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Yes, this market is just plain awful, Jim Cramer admitted to his Mad Money viewers Thursday. But over the long haul, the best way to make money, Cramer said, is by believing, not disbelieving, by owning stocks, not renting them, and by engaging when times get tough, not running and hiding.

Has Cramer become hopelessly optimistic? Over the short-term, perhaps, but the long-term trend for stocks is always higher.

You can make a fair and rational bear case for just about every stock right now. Apple  (AAPL) -  could suffer from lockdowns in China more than expected. Nvidia  (NVDA) -  could suffer from a slowdown in gaming. Costco  (COST) -  could easily go the way of its rivals Target  (TGT) -  and Walmart  (WMT) - .

But after the smoke clears, Apple has always been a long-term winner. Nvidia survived the bitcoin mining slowdown, and it can surely survive a gaming slowdown. And Costco has always reinvented itself and come out ahead of its peers.

That's why Cramer said investors need to have conviction and not simply sell everything and go home. Over the long run, taking the pain and staying invested is the only way to succeed.

Executive Decision: Constellation Energy

In his first "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation Energy  (CEG) , the power generator that accounts for a full 10% of our country's clean energy production.

Dominguez said that Constellation generates more clean energy than the next two utilities combined, thanks to its 23 nuclear facilities and hydro power plants.

The energy business has always been about balancing supply and demand, and renewable energy just can't deliver power 24 hours a day. That's what makes the next generation of smaller, modular nuclear reactors so exciting. They can meet America's needs in a clean, safe manner. Our government needs to only get behind the new technology, Dominguez said, and help offset the initial construction costs

When asked about safety, Dominguez admitted that nuclear accidents have an outsized impact on public perception. Nuclear is still the safest form of energy today, and the next generation of reactors will only improve on that record.

Outlook for Defense Contractors

No one likes being a war profiteer, but the war in Ukraine has fundamentally changed the outlook for America's defense contractors. The impact of the war extends deep into Europe, and beyond, and countries like Germany realize they need to dramatically step up their defense efforts. And it will take years for the defense industry to rebuild the stockpiles that have been flowing into Ukraine for the past three months.

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Cramer recommended four defense companies. The first two were Lockheed Martin  (LMT) -  and Raytheon Technologies  (RTX) - , which manufacture the Javelin anti-tank system. The U.S. has already sent 5,500 Javelins to Ukraine, but our production is only 2,100 per year. Raytheon also makes the Stinger missile system, while Lockheed is the leader in aviation with the F-35 fighter jet.

Next is AeroVironment  (AVAV) - , makers of the Switchblade drone. The U.S. has sent 700 to Ukraine so far and the company is ramping up increased production.

Finally, Cramer said Northrop Grumman  (NOC) -  is also a name that should be on your defense contractor shopping list.

Executive Decision: Palo Alto Networks

For his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also spoke with Nikesh Arora, chairman and CEO of Palo Alto Networks  (PANW) - , the cybersecurity company with shares off 30% from their highs despite strong earnings and raised forecasts.

Arora said Palo Alto grew by 40% this quarter, thanks to their investments in the cloud, firewalls and artificial intelligence. The company continues to take market share and just delivered their best quarter in four years. 

Cybersecurity remains of utmost importance to every company, Arora added, and no company can afford the economic chaos attacks could cause in our country. That's why Palo Alto is expanding their "zero trust" model to "zero trust, zero exceptions," because every facet of an organization needs to be equally secure.

Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on SoFi Technologies  (SOFI) - , DraftKings  (DKNG) -  and Cloudflare  (NET) - .

Cramer was bearish on PLBY Group  (PLBY) -  and Alibaba  (BABA) - .

We Can't Wait For Small Hikes

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer implored the Federal Reserve to get tough on inflation and take decisive action to stomp out our rampant inflation. Our economy can't wait for a series of smaller interest rate hikes.

The Fed could raise rates by a full 100 basis points tomorrow, Cramer said, and the markets would immediately respond and the pain would be over quickly. Small moves have yet to make a difference in housing, autos or retail. It's time to bring out the big guns.

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