Author: cmgn616

Retail's In A Tough Situation – Cramer's Lightning Round (9/9/16)


Retail's In A Tough Situation – Cramer's Lightning Round (9/9/16)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Friday, September 9.

Bullish Calls

Cypress Semiconductor (NASDAQ:CY): It has $1 downside and $3 upside. Let it go down by $1 and then buy it.

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK): It’s a great company but it has room to decline before one can buy it.

Dynavax Technologies (NASDAQ:DVAX): It’s a speculative vaccine stock. Investors should buy it only if they understand the risk.

Bearish Calls

Cabela’s (NYSE:CAB): Retail is not the place to be in the current environment.

Ryerson Holding (NYSE:RYI): Cramer is not a fan of steel stocks that have run up already.

Acacia Communications (NASDAQ:ACIA): “This is a red hot stock in a red hot group. And what you do with this kind of stock is you let the whole market take it down to a level where it was before it reported that great quarter, and then you do pull the trigger.”


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The politics of an accident in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – (blog)


The politics of an accident in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – (blog)

The cooler evenings of September in the hills of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are a perfect time to sit out on the balcony and chat with family and friends over coffee and grapes.

On Saturday evening around 8pm, the Da’adoun family were doing just that in the town of Al Khadir, south of Bethlehem.

Yousef Da’adoun was smiling and laughing with family when his children and their friend Lama decided to go play outside. “Be careful I said to the girls.”

Still grieving he continues his tale.

Does the Israeli occupation fuel ‘extremism’

“We sat on the balcony when I heard a big boom and cars screech to a halt. There was screaming from below. I ran out onto the street.” What he saw will stay with him. His friend’s daughter, Lama, aged 6 was lying on the road.

A Palestinian driver, Ali Mousa, witnessed the accident.

“The Israeli settler got out of the car, and started shouting ‘what did I do! What did I do!'”

Ali isn’t sure whether the driver or another Israeli settler called the ambulance. Paramedics who arrived on the scene could do nothing. Lama was killed almost immediately.

The nearby settlements are illegal under international law and the settlers are governed under Israeli civil law whilsts Palestinians are subject to military law.

Nothing is simple here

Both Israeli and Palestinian authorities say the incident was an accident. Still, nothing is ever simple in these hills.

On Sunday I visit the family. A short distance away Israeli soldiers stand guard in full combat gear and with tear gas canister guns already loaded. After noon prayers young Palestinian guys mill around the family’s house.

Lama’s family indicate it was an accident but they fear the settler will not be brought to justice and will not face prosecution. Israeli police have released the settler and say his case is under investigation.

No one here thinks a prosecution is coming. For them this accident is yet another example of life under occupation where they feel the slightest transgression brings down a forceful Israeli reaction while any settler aggression or incident largely goes unpunished.

Source: Al Jazeera News

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Campaigner uses mix of shoe leather and technology – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Campaigner uses mix of shoe leather and technology – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Campaigner uses mix of shoe leather and technology

September 11, 2016 12:00 AM

With her braid trailing behind her, Ashley Sisca Klingensmith moves as fast as her Ford and her Nike sneakers will take her.

She raps on a door in Hempfield Township and waits only a few moments before she hangs a campaign leaflet on the knob. “I’m just going to hit ‘not home’ and try back another time,” she says as she punches a button on her iPad and heads back to the car she left running on the street.

She picks up Rhonda Holland, whom she had dropped off down the street to knock on some other doors, and the two head to another neighborhood. They are guided by an iPad app that calculates the quickest routes between stops and ensures they only knock on doors of people who match certain profiles. Today, they are after likely voters who haven’t made up their minds about Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race, and who are persuadable.

This is where old-fashioned shoe-leather campaigning meets modern technology.

Mrs. Klingensmith and Ms. Holland work for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed conservative political advocacy group that put down roots in Pennsylvania four years ago. Now that Republican incumbent Pat Toomey and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty are embroiled in one of the hottest Senate races in the country, AFP is capitalizing on the technological infrastructure it built.

President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign was one of the first to use digital analytics to identify persuadable voters, but analysts working with Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns refined the techniques and made such technology ubiquitous.

Ms. McGinty and other Democratic candidates are now benefiting from the infrastructure the Obama campaign created. Every candidate from Hillary Clinton through down-ticket local politicians are now using the database and collecting more information for it through their own interactions with voters. 

In Pennsylvania, Democratic operatives share that information across campaigns as part of a highly coordinated effort.

When canvassers knock on a door to ask for a vote for Ms. McGinty, they already know what kind of conversation will be most effective with them, an aide said. 

Ms. Clinton’s campaign uses the data in many ways, not just to target voter-to-voter efforts, aides said. Strategists analyze the aggregate to shape its mass messaging, too. It informs nearly every messaging decision the campaign makes. Her campaign also uses technology to collect data on campaign volunteers so it ensures it can deploy labor-intensive strategies in places that have the manpower to support them.

“With the stakes higher than ever, we’re utilizing the newest data-driven campaign technology to organize communities in every corner of the state,” said Corey Dukes, director of the Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania.

Persuading the persuadable

AFP staff members and volunteers have spent the last four years in Pennsylvania contributing to a database of information about every interaction with voters. They’ve done the same in 35 other states — all but the reddest of the red and the bluest of the blue, where they can’t make much of a difference.

Now they’re using that data to target efforts of staff members and volunteers who are relentlessly making phone calls and home visits. With each contact, they add to the database so every canvasser’s iPad shows information in real time, and volunteers are steered toward voters they have the best chance of persuading.

“We use the technology year in and year out — not just during election season — to push people on economic issues, to see where people stand, and to find people who are persuadable on the issues we care about,” said AFP spokesman Adam Nicholson. “People are more likely to change their minds by having actual conversations” than by watching TV ads.

The structure was created by i360, a Washington, D.C.-based tech company that provides analysis along with access to data it already has collected on voter registration, voting history, consumer attributes, demographic information and responses to other clients’ surveys. Together, the data allows analysts to predict the likelihood that a voter can be persuaded on particular issues and races.

Technology alone doesn’t win races, said Michael Palmer, founder of i360. He said you need good, well-trained staff and volunteers making connections with voters.

“The most effective campaign tool is still door-to-door, one-to-one voter interaction. What we are able to do is make that better and more efficient,” Mr. Palmer said. “With two months left [before Election Day], campaigns are trying to figure out the best use of their staff and volunteers. We want to make sure they’re not wasting even one door-knock on voters they aren’t going to be able to persuade.”

That’s how Mrs. Klingensmith trusts that every voter her iPad guides her to is someone she can persuade with the right approach.

“I trust the data so when I go up to a door it’s very intentional,” she said. “It’s a persuadable voter every time.”

As Election Day gets closer, campaigns will be more interested in targeting firm supporters than undecided voters.

“Candidates are not actually interested in pure turnout. It’s not about getting the most people to the polls; it’s about getting the most of their voters to the polls,” said Dickinson College political scientist Sarah Niebler. “If you’re going to spend the time knocking on doors, you want to target that effort to mobilize the votes you already have.”

For decades, candidates have been able to parse data to geographic areas by looking at precinct vote totals for previous elections. The growing sophistication of technology like i360’s now allows them to target individuals rather than wards and precincts, Ms. Niebler said.

No good time to knock

During a recent Westmoreland County canvass, Mrs. Klingensmith and Ms. Holland asked voters about the Senate race and about energy, which is a key issue in the race. After each interaction, they logged voters’ responses to questions about which candidate they support and about whether they are concerned that Ms. McGinty, as state environmental secretary, gave grants to energy companies.

Ms. Klingensmith knows the script by heart and runs through it — and its four leading questions on energy issues — in less than a minute. When she leaves, she reminds voters — the ones who support Mr. Toomey, anyway — to vote in November. Just as important, she logs survey responses.

The data she enters will inform future next door-knocking campaigns, ensuring, for example, that the next canvassers working on energy issues don’t waste time with voters unlikely to be persuaded to AFP’s side along with those who already are firmly in AFP’s camp and need no persuading.

“Ten years ago — even five years ago — it was all on paper. You would go door to door and you would ask your questions and you’d mark the answers on paper and take them back to campaign headquarters and you’d hope that somebody back there was actually using that paper in some way,” Mr. Nicholson said. “It took a lot of resources in the office doing data work instead of being out in the field having conversations with voters.”

It also meant a lot of wasted time using paper “walk lists” that provided little more than addresses and party affiliation, which could never be updated quickly enough to account for things like relocation. Canvassers wasted a lot of time.

In Ms. Klingensmith’s eyes, a wasted minute could be a lost vote.

“We have to be efficient. I can’t afford not to be. There are lots of people to talk to,” she says as she nearly jogged down Francis Murriman’s driveway in Hempfield Township.

“I’m very interested in politics so I have no problem talking” to canvassers, Mr. Murriman, a Greensburg attorney, said after she left. “I like our political system, and I enjoy watching it work.”

Not everyone is so welcoming.

It can be tough for canvassers to be persistent without being off-putting, which can sour a voter’s views toward a candidate.

“If a person comes on too strong it can backfire,” said Scott Dunn, a Radford University professor who studies political communication. “And there are going to be some people out there who are always going to be annoyed when somebody comes to their door no matter what.”

There’s no good time to knock.

“If you hit people at dinner time, they’re not going to be happy, if you go early they’re going to get mad, and if you go on the weekend, they’re not home. There’s no ideal time,” Ms. Holland said.

A “take rate” of 15 is good, Mrs. Klingensmith said, referring to the percentage of door knocks that result in a successful contact with the particular voter they are looking to speak with.

Once a voter answers the door, the likelihood of a canvasser making an impression is high. That’s what campaigns are counting on.

“Once they’ve opened the door, it’s a very personal interaction that they’re not going to forget about” Mr. Dunn said. “If the canvasser does a good job, you might actually think more closely about who you’re planning to vote for, and whether or not you’re going to vote.”

While mass media advertisements give campaigns better control of their message, those commercials are easily ignored and even more easily forgotten about, he said.

Searching for undecideds

Mrs. Klingensmith caught up with retirees Lucy and Charles Hastings just as they pulled into their garage on a recent afternoon.

She made it up the driveway before they could close the garage door. She introduced herself and asked Mrs. Hastings whom she supports in the Senate race.

“She doesn’t answer to that,” her husband said gruffly, still getting out of his car.

Mrs. Hastings answered nonetheless. Toomey, she said. “We’re Republicans.”

“Well, we’re definitely asking for your vote against Katie McGinty, and it sounds like you’re already there,” Mrs. Klingensmith said.

That means a shorter visit. AFP is more interested in persuadable voters than those already on their side or those firmly in the McGinty camp. She doesn’t need to argue her case here.

The Hastings said they are wary of campaign operatives like Mrs. Klingensmith, but in the end, they paused to answer her question.

A few minutes a different house, Mrs. Klingensmith finds just the kind of voter she’s looking for: an undecided one. Here, she spends a bit more time. Still, she speaks quickly to make her points about Ms. McGinty. (AFP stresses that it is not campaigning for Mr. Toomey, but rather against Ms. McGinty.) By the time she’s through, the woman says she’s starting to lean toward Mr. Toomey.

When she returns to the car, Ms. Holland, who was at another house, is already waiting. She has good news to report, too.

“He was undecided,” she says.

“That’s great,” Mrs. Klingensmith replies.

That means the technology is doing what it’s supposed to: lead canvassers to persuadable voters.

“Often, you talk to people and they have the same opinion as you but they don’t realize it. Doing this puts us in front of people to have these conversations,” said AFP state director Beth Anne Mumford.

Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: 73-996-9292, or @pgPoliTweets.

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The Politics of Nonviolence – Common Dreams (press release)


The Politics of Nonviolence – Common Dreams (press release)

What a summer! Like everyone else, I’m trying to make some sense of it, and figure out a thoughtful response. We’ve suffered through the mainstream media’s non-stop broadcast of the dirty politics of hatred, scape-goating, and war-mongering, particularly by Mr. Trump. We’ve undergone shootings by white police officers of unarmed African Americans, and even shootings of police, as well as massacres in Orlando and Nice, not to mention the daily U.S. massacres in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen. We’ve endured the long hot days of catastrophic climate change with its wind and rain and heat and fire breathing down our necks. We seem to hit a new rock bottom of despair every week, only to sink to new lows the following week.

For many, there’s not much hope to be had. Sure, you can vote, but don’t expect anything more than the same ol’ same ol’ politics of violence, which means, the politics of perpetual war, the politics of unparalleled corporate greed, the politics of death as a social methodology for the world. Democracy is fading. Fascism is growing. Behold, violence for the sheer sake of violence, the death of anonymous innocents around the globe, and millions of us who simply do not care.

“The worst time of my life,” my cousin Mary Anne said on the phone the other day. That was the sentiment of my friend and teacher, Father Daniel Berrigan as he died on April 30th. The country and the world seem to sink beyond our worst imaginings. What should we do? We can give in, give up, back down, lay down and surrender; or we can vote, as some do every four years, for the lesser of two evils (and so make our peace with evil); and/or we can dig in for the long haul, and mobilize against the politics of violence on behalf of a new politics of nonviolence.

That’s what I opt for. I want us to join the lineage of Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan, those who took a stand of hope in a time of no hope, and do what we can for a whole new world of peace beyond even our own imagining, to give our lives for a new nonviolent world we will not live to experience.

I think we need a whole new politics of nonviolence. We’ll never get it from our elected officials or party candidates, or their corporate sponsors, media backers or military promoters and generals, but we can find it among ourselves, in a new grassroots movement of active nonviolence that takes to the street on behalf of the disenfranchised and the earth in pursuit of a new world of peace. We can put our energies there, at the bottom, in a new kind of people power that might one day overcome our biggest obstacles.

“The states that are today nominally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian,” Mahatma Gandhi wrote long ago, “or, if they are to be truly democratic, they must become courageously nonviolent.” That’s the choice ahead of us. If we care about humanity and the earth, we have to become, in the words of our teacher Gandhi, “courageously nonviolent.”

We have to be the ones who advocate, demand, and mobilize for a new culture of nonviolence, a truly nonviolent democracy. We have to become the ones we are waiting for, as the saying goes. We have to become Gandhi, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr. We have to rise to the occasion and live in such a way as to deserve and create a new culture of peace and nonviolence, to make the impossible probable and inevitable and one day, actual.

After the horrors of the mass shooting in Orlando, it seemed clear to me that we needed political leaders with the courage to stand up to the NRA and say no to the insanity of gun violence and the easy purchase of an automatic rifle, but ones who recognize the consistency of saying no as well to perpetual war and nuclear weapons. Then, Civil Rights leader and Congressman John Lewis staged a sit in in the Congress–something that had never happened before. John exemplifies that bold, even outrageous, nonviolent action that we all need to engage in if we are to break beyond the same ol’ same ol’ politics of violence and war, with its contingencies of perpetual racism, sexism and classism. We see it happening these days among our courageous Native American sisters and brothers in North Dakota, resisting the evil oil companies’ latest pipeline.

All of us need to stand up or sit down in dramatic nonviolent action for the coming of a new culture of nonviolence, if we are to prevent fascism, stop the killing of thousands of poor people around the world, and resist the inevitability of nuclear war and catastrophic climate change.

These days, the question for me is: What are the politics of nonviolence? Nonviolence is a whole new way of life, but it is also a methodology of social change, a power at our disposal, a spiritual path, a way to relate to others, and a way of hope for the whole human race, despite the odds.

In the politics of nonviolence, first, we do everything within our power to withdraw our cooperation from the culture of violence and its politics. We refuse to be violent to ourselves or those we know or meet; we refuse to join the military or serve the military or make weapons or send our children off to war; we renounce the culture of war and greed in our daily lives. We turn off FOX news, but also CNN and the New York Times, and do not listen to the voices of war and politics-as-usual. In doing so, we help cut the underpinings of the culture of violence and shake up society so that it can hear a new alternative.

We side with the world’s poor, with the victims of U.S. warmaking, beginning with the children of Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, and we choose not to spend our lives making more money than we need to get by.

Instead, we try to be as nonviolent as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. We think through the social, economic, and political implications of nonviolence for ourselves and the world, and choose to spend our time and energy at the service of others and the whole world. We make the connections between our personal and interpersonal nonviolence, and the nonviolence we need for the world, for the earth, for a new future. And so, we learn to stand up publicly, fearlessly, and peacefully to proclaim the need for nonviolence in our local and national community, and the big vision of a new nonviolent world. What have we got to lose? What higher goal, more noble vision, more holy pursuit is there? In Jesus’ words, we’re welcoming the kingdom of God on earth, the coming of peace on earth.

We can do this. We can practice and proclaim the politics of nonviolence, despite the ever-present corporate media and its corporate politicians and warmakers. We can herald an entirely new kind of world if we join together in a new kind of political will, a global solidarity that insists that the days of war and empire are over, that every human being has the right not to live in poverty or war, or under the threat of terrorism, U.S. nuclear weapons, or catastrophic climate change.

We need to claim our power—the power of nonviolence–and get to work building a new kind of global grassroots movement of nonviolence that the world has never seen before, a movement that will undermine the global culture of violence and war and transform it into something beyond our imagining–a new culture of nonviolence, a new world without starvation, racism, sexism, torture, war, nuclear weapons or environmental destruction.

This month, my friends and I are organizing the third annual week of nonviolent action called “Campaign Nonviolence,” Sept 17-26th. As of today, we have almost 600 public actions and events planned across the U.S.A., in every state, where ordinary people will take to the streets, in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., to say no to war, drones, racism, police killings, mass incarceration, poverty, nuclear weapons, corporate greed, and environmental destruction, and for the coming of a new culture of justice, peace and nonviolence. You can join this growing grassroots movement by checking out: (There, you can read the detailed list and contact information for every single action and event.)

We’re also organizing the “Nonviolent Cities” project, where activists, civic leaders, religious communities and ordinary citizens are mobilizing to make their local city a “nonviolent city.” Nothing like this has ever been formally tried in U.S. history. This is a step forward in the tradition of grassroots organizing, and I hope everyone will consider taking this vision to their local community and city council. Right now, over thirty cities are pursuing this vision, from Fresno to Cincinnati to Chattanooga. (Visit for more details.)

In particular, I’m convinced that every religion is rooted nonviolence, including my own, Christianity. One cannot claim to be a follower of the nonviolent Jesus without practicing and espousing his lifelong nonviolence. If you support war, drones, executions, nuclear weapons, nationalism, corporate greed or environmental destruction, you betray the nonviolent Jesus and renounce your baptism. Christianity is a religion of nonviolence, and it’s time for nonviolent Christians to say so.

That’s what I teach in my new book, The Beatitudes of Peace. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed an entirely new vision of nonviolence, and the requirements of nonviolence for discipleship. “Offer no violent resistance to one who does evil,” he declares. “Love your enemies. Blessed are the peacemakers. Hunger and thirst for justice. Be as compassionate as God. Seek first the kingdom of God and God’s justice.”

This Spring, at a meeting at the Vatican, 80 of us proposed this vision to Pope Francis, and we continue to urge him to write a new encyclical on nonviolence, and finally do away with the politics of violence—the so called “just war theory”—and return to the way of Jesus. Last week, he announced that his January 1st New Year’s World Day of Peace message will be called “Nonviolence.” That’s the first time in the history of the Catholic Church that a formal church document will address the nonviolence of Jesus. This is hopeful!

A new life, vision and politics of nonviolence is dawning for us all. We can create a more nonviolent world if we organize a global grassroots movement of nonviolence and all do our part to hasten human nonviolence as the global norm. We want to bring nonviolence into the mainstream, so that more and more people refuse to harm or kill others, so that we can dismantle institutional violence, greed, racism, war and environmental destruction. More and more of us need to join this lifelong political campaign of nonviolence. This is how we learn to vote every day for the rest of our lives according to the way and wisdom of peace.

In such a time, it’s not enough to sit back and not kill. We all have to step up and step into the public arena to stop the killing. We need to connect all the issues, and name this systemic violence as a force of death upon us all, and give our lives to stop it. Whether we succeed or not, this surely is the ultimate moral, spiritual and even human stand to make. If we do nothing, the violence, terrorism, greed, racism, and environmental destruction will continue and worsen. Many more will die. If we all pitch in and do our part, in local, national and global grassroots movements, we can chip away at the system until it falls and a new more nonviolent, more democratic global community is welcomed.

Everything is political. Everything supports violence, unless we consciously, publicly, deliberately refuse to cooperate with such violence in whatever form it takes. If we choose not to be violent, but to live out the life, vision and politics of nonviolence, embodied in the likes of Gandhi and Dr. King, we can break new ground for justice and peace, or at least, hold close to our humanity in an inhuman time.

We can become nonviolent people. We can adopt the discipline of nonviolence. We can learn and accept the boundary lines of nonviolence and discover the freedom of not hurting, killing or bombing others. We can live out a new politics of nonviolence toward a future of nonviolence that might one day come true, even if we personally do not live to see it.

So, my fellow Americans, in this political season, vote for nonviolence. Give your life to resisting the culture of violence and death, and do your part to hasten a new world of justice and peace for every living human being. That’s the only politics worth pursuing—the politics of nonviolence

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The most powerful woman in GOP politics – Politico


The most powerful woman in GOP politics – Politico

A New York hedge fund heiress who co-owns a boutique cookie bakery has emerged as one of the most influential figures behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and arguably the conservative movement as a whole.

Leaning on the fortune amassed by her father, Rebekah Mercer has steered her family’s rapid rise over the course of just a few years from the conservative fringe to the white-hot center of the most dramatic election season in years. And no matter the results on Nov. 8, the Mercers are positioned to reshape the American right for years to come in their anti-establishment image.

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But the family’s rise, facilitated by an increasingly aggressive network of Mercer-backed institutions and operatives, has prompted worry within the GOP about an attempted takeover, and questions from across the political spectrum about what the Mercers intend to do with the influence they’ve purchased.

Efforts to deduce the family’s intentions have focused largely on the family patriarch, Robert Mercer, 70, a pioneer in quantitative trading. But Bob Mercer, as he’s known, is mostly only writing multimillion-dollar checks that fund the family’s political operation; it is his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, 42, who is running the operation, according to more than 15 personal and political associates of the family.

It is Rebekah Mercer, according to these sources, whose frustration with what she saw as the political ineffectiveness of the Koch brothers’ network led her to redirect Mercer money to build a rival operation.

It is Rebekah Mercer who directs a family foundation that, according to tax returns, has more than doubled its giving between 2011 and 2014, donating $34.6 million to 30 conservative nonprofits over which she holds varying degrees of sway — from the Government Accountability Institute, which produced “Clinton Cash,” a book that damaged Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, to the venerable Heritage Foundation, where she sits on the board.

It is the same Rebekah Mercer who urges campaigns and clients who want her father’s funding to hire a data firm owned largely by the family called Cambridge Analytica, which now counts Trump’s campaign among its clients.

And it is Rebekah Mercer whose meeting with Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, reportedly set the stage for the Mercers to switch their support to Donald Trump after the family’s first choice, Ted Cruz, dropped out of the race, rather than retreating to the sidelines as so many other big donors did.

Rebekah Mercer now sits at the nexus of Trump’s universe. So influential has she become that her conversation with Trump during an August fundraiser in the Hamptons has been widely credited with spurring the rookie candidate to shake up his campaign team by turning its leadership over to two of her closest confidants.

Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who has worked with Mercer on a pro-Cruz super PAC, became campaign manager, while the new job of campaign CEO went to Steve Bannon, a campaign novice who helped run both the Government Accountability Institute — which has received at least $2 million from the Mercer foundation — and Breitbart News, the intensely pro-Trump nationalist website in which the Mercers have invested. This month, Trump rounded out his newly reconfigured campaign leadership by bringing in yet another operative with whom Mercer has worked — David Bossie, who previously ran both an anti-Clinton super PAC that received $2 million from Bob Mercer in July and an anti-Clinton nonprofit called Citizens United that received $3.6 million from the Mercers’ foundation from 2012 through 2014.

Rebekah Mercer did not respond to requests for comment. Conway, Bannon and Bossie either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment. And most conservative insiders approached for this story were loath to speak on the record for fear it might jeopardize their chances of receiving funding from Mercer’s intensely private family. Mercer, some said, has scolded allies for calling attention to her — even when it’s been positive.

But granted anonymity, the professional and personal associates offer one overarching explanation for the Mercers’ otherwise eclectic series of political moves: Bob and Rebekah Mercer harbor a deep and abiding enmity toward the political establishment.

That context helps account for a surge in political investments that might otherwise come across as quixotic, wasteful or ideologically inconsistent. It explains their shift from Cruz (a socially conservative constitutionalist with a hawkish streak who benefited from $13.5 million from Mercer super PAC spending) to Trump (whose commitment to social and national security conservatism is uncertain but who has nonetheless benefited from $2 million from Bob Mercer and counting), as well as their support for failed long-shot congressional candidates such as Kelli Ward and Arthur Robinson.

“They see the establishment as a very real threat to freedom in America, and they see the need to defeat it,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center.

An operative who has worked with the Mercers said their enmity is especially pronounced toward the GOP establishment. “They want to blow things up and start from scratch,” said the operative, pointing to Breitbart News’ fawning coverage of the unsuccessful long-shot challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan in last month’s GOP primary in Wisconsin.

In all, a POLITICO analysis found that the Mercers have made $73.5 million in disclosed politically oriented donations since the Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United decision paved the way for unlimited political spending through super PACs and other nonprofits. Of that, $39 million came in donations to political candidates and committees from members of the family, and $34.6 million came from the family foundation to conservative nonprofits.

That tally doesn’t come close to approaching the combined spending of the Koch network, which expects to spend $750 million in the run-up to the 2016 election. But the Mercers’ spending does put them in league with donors like fellow New York hedge fund tycoon Paul Singer and members of the Ricketts family, who have become gravitational centers in conservative politics. And that’s even before considering the Mercers’ investments in Breitbart News and Cambridge Analytica, for-profit companies that don’t disclose investors but that could have a greater long-term impact on conservative politics than any given campaign or nonprofit group.

A conservative who travels in the same social circle as Rebekah Mercer described her motivations thusly: “This is about political power. This is about who controls the data and the narrative, and who ultimately is going to end up calling the shots.”

But Bozell, a longtime fixture of the GOP’s right flank who is widely seen as having been among the first to cultivate the Mercers as political donors about a decade ago, said he would advise them against trying to take over the conservative movement.

“They have become great sources of support, obviously, for the conservative movement,” said Bozell, whose Media Research Center has received more than $10 million from the Mercers’ foundation and included Rebekah Mercer on its board until at least 2014, according to tax documents filed by the MRC and the Mercers’ foundation. “But control? No.”

Bozell declined to discuss the family’s plans or Rebekah Mercer’s role in its political activism.

“I do know that she is brilliant,” he said. “She is thoughtful and she has got a keen analytical mind, which came right from her father, and my guess is that her father is very comfortable with her involvement, whatever that may be.”

Rebekah Mercer, who is known to friends as “Bekah,” is the middle of three daughters born to Bob and Diana Mercer and raised in suburban Westchester County, New York.

Described almost universally as intelligent and hard-working, Mercer graduated from Stanford in 1996 with a dual degree in biology and mathematics, then received a master’s in operations research from Stanford. She went to work on Wall Street as a trader, before retiring to raise the four children she had with her husband, Sylvain Mirochnikoff, a managing director at Morgan Stanley.

Associates describe the family as close-knit and culturally conservative but also known to spend lavishly on their wide-ranging hobbies.

Bob Mercer has commissioned a $2.7-million model train set and multiple massive yachts, including one with décor inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.

In 2006, Bekah Mercer and her sisters bought and took over the popular bakery Ruby et Violette in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of midtown Manhattan. The bakery later shuttered its storefront and now sells exclusively from a website that invites customers to “seduce someone” with its sweets. Bekah Mercer still features her ownership and management of the company prominently in her bios on the websites of the various Mercer-backed nonprofit groups on whose boards she sits.

While the three Mercer sisters worked together on the bakery, they had different interests outside of it.

The youngest daughter, Heather Sue Mercer, is a competitive poker player, like her father. Conservative operatives buzz about the family’s annual holiday parties at their Long Island estate, which feature blackjack and poker tables. The Mercers supply chips — free of charge — that can be redeemed at the end of the night for lavish prizes such as gold Rolexes, according to people who have attended.

The oldest daughter, Jennifer, or “Jenji,” Mercer shares her mother’s interest in horses. Bob Mercer built a lavish riding center in Florida and invested in a Colorado horse park and an international equestrian center in North Carolina featuring five arenas and 500 stables.

Bekah Mercer, associates say, is the member of the family who most shares Bob Mercer’s passion for politics.

Bob Mercer “supports each of his daughters’ efforts in their own individual areas of interest,” said a Republican strategist who has spent time with the family.

While Bob Mercer is known as quiet and difficult to engage, he “lights up when he’s with Rebekah and just becomes really alive,” said a donor who has spent time with the pair at political events.

The pair shifted their political engagement into high gear in 2010 after a few years of being significant — but not elite — players in conservative finance circles. That was the year that Bob Mercer became co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, one of the world’s most successful hedge funds.

The 2010 election cycle was the first after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision created a Wild West campaign-finance landscape. And Bob Mercer jumped right in, pouring $640,000 into a super PAC — one of the first — that funded attacks against Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, who had sponsored legislation that would have raised taxes on hedge funds. DeFazio nonetheless handily defeated his Republican challenger, Arthur Robinson, whose Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which stockpiles human urine for medical research and attacks the scientific consensus on climate change, has been the recipient of Mercer funding. (Robinson’s unsuccessful 2012 and 2014 challenges to DeFazio were also boosted by Mercer-funded attacks on DeFazio.)

In 2010, Bekah Mercer also joined the board of the Media Research Center, and, under her direction, the family’s foundation began escalating its grant writing. In 2011, it increased its donations to $7 million. Within three years, that figure was $18 million.

In 2011, Bob Mercer reportedly invested $10 million in Breitbart, and around 2013, as first reported by POLITICO, the family became the largest investor in Cambridge Analytica, the American spinoff of the British data analysis firm Strategic Communications Laboratories Group, or SCL. Bannon played a role in brokering that deal, according to two operatives familiar with it, and the company’s officials, with help from Bekah Mercer, began presenting Cambridge Analytica’s product as superior to both a Koch-backed data firm and that of an RNC-blessed data outfit.

It was around 2011 that the Mercers joined the network of donors spearheaded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, according to four operatives familiar with the family’s involvement in the network.

These sources said Bob and Bekah Mercer started attending the twice-a-year donor summits, convened by the Koch brothers, at which the brothers raised tens of millions of dollars for a Koch-controlled political and public policy network. Comprised of advocacy groups that don’t disclose their donors, as well as i360 and a super PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Koch network has in some ways, in terms of influence, rivaled the RNC. The Mercers began giving at least $1 million a year — and much more in some years — to the network, according to the operatives familiar with the family’s involvement.

At a summit in 2013 or 2014, Koch operatives bought a shipment of cookies from Ruby et Violette as welcome presents, which were left in donors’ rooms with notes thanking Bekah Mercer, according to two of the operatives familiar with the family’s involvement in the network. The move was seen a deft bit of donor maintenance intended to build good will with the Mercers, who, as the Koch operatives were aware, were branching out on their own even as they kept a foot in Koch world.

But by the beginning of the 2014 cycle, Bob Mercer was signaling that his middle daughter was taking charge of the family’s political portfolio, according to operatives who work with the family. They said it had become clear that Bekah Mercer strongly preferred investing in campaigns and causes over which she could exert control.

Bekah Mercer had grown increasingly frustrated with the Kochs’ approach. It is not as politically aggressive as she preferred and also much more supportive of trade and immigration, said operatives and donors familiar with the Mercers’ involvement with the Kochs. They said Bekah Mercer also questioned the effectiveness of the spending orchestrated by the Kochs’ operatives and bristled at what she perceived as their unwillingness to heed her advice.

Bekah and Bob Mercer stopped attending the Koch donor summits and dialed back their giving to the network, according to the operatives familiar with the family’s involvement in the network.

“Some people believe only they can achieve whatever goal it is, and I think she is in that camp,” said one Koch network donor who worked with Bekah Mercer. “And she wasn’t totally aligned with us. She’s much more populist.”

According to a Republican who advises her, Bekah Mercer has grown wary working with other political activists and operatives, in general. “She’s a very serious person. Very smart. Very dedicated to what she’s doing, and I think she feels that a lot of these people are taking advantage of her,” said the adviser. “She wants to have an impact, and she hasn’t found people she can trust.”

Indeed, while Bob Mercer finished 2014 as the sixth biggest donor of the cycle, with $8.4 million in disclosed donations, perhaps more significantly, by the end of the cycle, the Mercers were perceived within conservative politics as their own center of gravity, unmoored from — and in competition with — other major donors-backed networks and even the RNC, which Breitbart railed against.

Heading into the spring of 2015, Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign appeared to be the perfect proving ground for the Mercers’ fully operational political machine.

The Mercers had grown enamored with the Texan after meeting him at a gathering of the fiscal conservative outfit Club for Growth, to which Bob and Bekah Mercer have donated $2.3 million over the years.

For Bekah Mercer, even the Club, a leading supporter of many fiery Republican insurgents, sometimes proved too cozy with the establishment. After Joe Scarborough spoke at the group’s annual donor retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, in early 2013, Mercer stood up and confronted the MSNBC host, who had recently called Cruz a “carnival barker” on air. She told Scarborough she did not know who had invited him and pointed out that the Club was a big backer of the Texas senator, according to a person who was present. Scarborough did not respond to a request for comment.

Breitbart News was cranking out a stream of favorable Cruz stories, and both the Mercer-backed pro-Cruz super PAC, Keep the Promise I, and the Cruz campaign signed up Cambridge Analytica. And only hours after the Texas senator officially launched his campaign at the Christian university Liberty University, he and his wife appeared at Bekah Mercer’s extravagant Upper West Side apartment for a fundraiser.

But things started getting testy almost immediately. At the fundraiser, Bekah Mercer fumed about campaign manager Jeff Roe, who had chewed out Cambridge’s technicians for missing deadlines in building the campaign’s website, according to a person present at the fundraiser.

Mercer and Bannon continued to clash with Cruz aides, including Roe and campaign chairman Chad Sweet, in a series of conference calls about Cambridge’s performance and its billing practices, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations. Mercer was “infuriated” by a campaign official’s contention that rather than providing some secret sauce, Cambridge Analytica was merely using information that was publicly available, according to the people.

It didn’t take long for Mercer’s dissatisfaction with Cruz’s team to extend beyond the dispute over Cambridge. “She was down on the whole campaign,” said one Cruz adviser. “She thought the Iowa operation was terrible. She clashed repeatedly with Jeff Roe. She was very down on the ground game. She thought early on that [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker was eating our lunch.” Mercer also expressed her frustration that the campaign did not hire Iowa operative Chuck Laudner, a veteran of Rick Santorum’s successful caucus campaign, who instead went to work for Trump.

After each primary debate, aides to Cruz — a champion debater as an undergrad at Princeton — braced for Mercer’s withering critiques of his performance.

“Bekah kind of wore out her welcome on the campaign,” said one of the operatives who has worked with Mercer.

Mercer also clashed with mega-donor Toby Neugebauer, an energy investor, over control of the constellation of four pro-Cruz super PACs with variations of the Keep the Promise name, and tried to install controversial evangelical activist David Barton to help run them.

By January, Breitbart had soured on Cruz as well, and its coverage increasingly tilted toward Trump, at Cruz’s expense. Neither Sweet nor Cruz himself were able to persuade Mercer to intervene with Bannon. Instead, she and Conway told Cruz and his team that Breitbart was independent and there was nothing they could do to shape the coverage, according to two people familiar with the interactions.

After Cruz lost the South Carolina primary in February, the campaign stopped using Cambridge Analytica’s models, though it continued to work with its team of embedded data scientists, who had PhDs in the hard sciences and were viewed favorably at Cruz headquarters in Houston. For two weeks in April, as Cruz fought for his political life, Cambridge Analytica executives ordered the employees it had embedded at Cruz campaign headquarters to walk off the job over a contractual dispute, though some continued their work for the campaign in secret from home.

Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier disputed that Mercer expressed any discontent at the fundraiser and said: “Our campaign had a productive and positive relationship with Cambridge Analytica, and they performed important work for the campaign. Rebekah is a friend and we are thankful for her support during our campaign. She loves this country and she is willing to stand and fight for freedom.”

As the Cruz campaign succumbed to Trump, Republican mega-donors like Singer, the Ricketts family and the Kochs remained mostly on the sidelines, reluctant to make major investments in their party’s incendiary presumptive nominee. In that vacuum, Bekah Mercer set about building bridges to Trump’s campaign. The Mercers converted their pro-Cruz PAC into an anti-Clinton one, and Conway prepared to pass the reins to Bossie, who had worked with the Mercers on a conservative film-production venture.

“Rebekah’s a loyal Republican and is always going to support the nominee,” said a personal friend of the Mercer family, who maintained that Trump had been her second choice from the start.

But even as the Mercers lined up with Trump, the GOP nominee’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, seemed to be trying to keep them at arm’s length. “They had done everything they could to push themselves into Trump world and then had gotten pushed back out by Manafort,” said a Republican operative familiar with the situation.

Manafort had long questioned the effectiveness and costs of Cambridge Analytica, which had pitched the Trump campaign last year, to no avail. And when Mercer and Bossie urged that Conway be hired as Trump’s pollster, Manafort in mid-May hired his longtime associate Tony Fabrizio.

But ever-persistent, Mercer would prevail. In June, she met with Ivanka Trump at Trump Tower. Days later, Conway joined the campaign.

Then, in mid-August, as the campaign was buffeted by a storm of controversy surrounding Manafort’s ties to pro-Kremlin factions in Ukraine, Mercer met with Trump at the Hamptons fundraiser and recommended a leadership change. Soon after that, the campaign announced the hiring of Bannon as the campaign’s CEO and Conway’s elevation to campaign manager. And two days later, the campaign asked for and received Manafort’s resignation.

Most of the Mercer associates interviewed for this story predict that their influence won’t end with the Trump campaign.

“I don’t think it’s about Trump. Trump is just a vehicle,” said one operative who’s worked with Bekah and Bob Mercer. “It’s about wanting to be a player and wanting to beat Hillary, in that order. Because if you remember, they wanted to use Cruz as a vehicle before that. They do want to beat Hillary, but they also want to beat the Kochs and Paul Singer and the Ricketts,” said the operative, referring to other conservative mega-donors.

But how that influence manifests itself after 2016 is uncertain. Firebrand Iowa Rep. Steve King, who has received campaign donations from the Mercers and gotten to know them a bit through the conservative event circuit, suggested that Bekah Mercer’s views are a driving force in the activism she and her father engage in.

“They wouldn’t be the pair they are if it weren’t for Rebekah’s passionate commitment to the conservative cause,” said King, who — like the Mercers — supported Cruz’s presidential campaign in the primary, before throwing his support to Trump in the general.

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This Week in Political Money –


This Week in Political Money –

This Week in Political Money: The […]

Kellyanne Conway (left) and Steve Bannon (right) were appointed to leadership positions in the Trump campaign after Donald Trump met with billionaire Robert Mercer. Both Conway and Bannon have run projects funded by Mercer. (Photo credits: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

We’ll be posting this roundup each week leading up to Election Day. Share your thoughts about these must-read stories and always feel free to suggest your own in the comments section.

Last week, conservative activist David Bossie (head of the group Citizens United, which brought America the court case of the same name) stepped down as the head of the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Number 1 to join the Trump campaign, and into his shoes stepped Rebekah Mercer, daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. The elder Mercer is the main donor behind the fund, supplying tens of millions to back its anti-Clinton ads.

The Mercer family has been a growing force in Republican politics. Earlier this year they played a huge role in funding the unsuccessful Republican presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), pouring $13 million into a set of super PACs that aggressively backed his candidacy. Last month, the father-daughter duo met privately with Trump and suggested he put two of their longtime associates, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, in positions of power. Bannon headed the pro-Trump news website Breitbart, which the Mercers helped fund, and Conway ran one of the Mercer’s pro-Cruz super PACs.

Ironically, Mercer made his money at Renaissance Technologies, a company at which he remains co-CEO, but which was started by James Simons, who remains the board chair. While Mercer has donated more than $20 million to conservative causes this election cycle, Simons has donated more than $10 million to liberal ones.

The @FEC has no opinion on the existence of God. But if she wants to run for US president, she has to fill out her forms like anyone else.

—FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, via Twitter, on a Federal Elections Commission request asking that a candidate who filed to run for president under the name “God” confirm her or his identity.

Figures for presidential and congressional races from the Center for Responsive Politics; figures for state races from the National Institute of Money in State Politics. All figures as of Sept. 8.

The oil and gas industry has long been an ally of Republicans. But this year it has switched allegiances, supporting Clinton in an attempt to curry favor with the candidate that most projections predict will win the election — even as it continues to give 90 percent of its donations to Republicans down-ballot. The numbers in the chart below are based on figures published in a Wall Street Journal investigation and collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.

At New York magazine, Eric Levitz notes that oil and gas employees are so unenthused about Trump, they donated nearly as much to “Bernie ‘ban fracking now’ Sanders” as they did to his campaign.

$42 million

That’s the amount raised in August alone by two Republican political action committees, Senate Leadership Fund and One Nation, according to Politico. Both groups are closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and both are aimed at helping Republicans hold on to Congress. The figure indicates that after months of confusion about whether or not to support Donald Trump, Republican donors have now shrugged their shoulders and focused their firepower on defending the Senate.

Murray Energy and Southern Company

Last summer, 27 state attorneys general sued the Environmental Protection Agency to block President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan; they won a temporary victory in February, when the Supreme Court granted a stay, putting the implementation of the CPP on hold until legal challenges could work their way through the courts. Documents obtained by good-government watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy show that before the suit was filed, representatives of Murray Energy and Southern Company met with these state AGs at the Republican Attorneys General Association’s 2015 summit after making six-figure donations to RAGA. At ThinkProgress, Samantha Page notes that of the 21 AGs who attended the summit, only Idaho’s Lawrence Wasden didn’t join the suit opposing the CPP.

Lawmakers are invited to join lobbyists from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Sept. 23 in celebrating National Day, the country’s independence day, at the Saudi embassy. Saudi officials are putting pressure on lawmakers ahead of a House vote later this week on the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia if it is found guilty of funding the attackers. The bill passed the Senate five months ago on a voice vote without any opposition, even though the legislation is opposed by Obama. The kingdom has also enlisted former George W. Bush-appointed UN Ambassador John Bolton to appeal to lawmakers on its behalf. Bolton, incidentally, has his own super PAC.

  • A Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Bill? by Kathy Kiely,
  • Outside Spending Hits $137 Million in Key Senate Races: Report, by Kenneth P. Doyle, Bloomberg BNA
  • Kaine tops $1M in DC fundraiser, Politico “Influence” newsletter, Isaac Arnsdorf
  • Wall Street on Alert to Danger of Donating to Trump-Pence Ticket, by Simone Foxman, Saijel Kishan and Dakin Campbell, Bloomberg News
  • Greasing the Outstretched Palms of the Candidates, by Michael Winship,
  • A Climate of Cash in Votes on Global Warming, by Alec Goodwin, OpenSecrets via

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Ford Is A Buy For The Yield – Cramer's Lightning Round (9/8/16)


Ford Is A Buy For The Yield – Cramer's Lightning Round (9/8/16)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Thursday, September 8.

Bullish Call

Ford (NYSE:F): It is a fine stock with good yield and a great balance sheet. The company’s Chinese sales were good, but Cramer thinks the stock does not have a positive catalyst to rally.

Neutral Call

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF): At $6, it’s too late to sell it. There is no case to buy the stock either.

Bearish Calls

Brightcove (NASDAQ:BCOV): The company is making money, but the stock has run up a lot. This is not the price at which to buy.

Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRPT): “This is one of the highest-risk stocks in the world. It’s a binary stock; they either get approval or they don’t. If they get approval, the stock has still doubled from $28. And if they don’t get approval, the stock can get crushed. I think it’s way too risky for me.”

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO): Though it has worked its way up, Cramer thinks Pioneer (NYSE:PXD) and EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) are better picks. Investors who are willing to speculate should go for Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY).


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The Market Is Getting Treacherous – Cramer's Mad Money (9/8/16)


The Market Is Getting Treacherous – Cramer's Mad Money (9/8/16)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Thursday, September 8.

The reaction to the sharp drop in oil inventories shows the markets have a one-track mind. “When you have a market that decides only one thing is working, and it doesn’t bother with anything else, you have a market that is a lot more treacherous than it seems,” said Cramer. The 14.5M oil inventory decline last week was the largest since 1999.

It seems no one saw the inventory decline coming, and that people thought the price of oil would keep falling. The decline led investors to believe the oil supply thesis was overstated, and they ran to buy energy stocks, which had a good Thursday. The market’s one-track mind just favors one group and punishes the rest. “Lots of companies and sectors are laying down on the tracks, so to speak, almost in order to facilitate the smooth train ride for the oils,” he added.

For instance, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell 3% when the company reported it will stop reporting weekend sales for the iPhone 7, which is a great phone for Millennials, in Cramer’s opinion. The worst part was the market punishing retail stocks after weak numbers from Pier 1 (NYSE:PIR) and Tractor Supply (NASDAQ:TSCO).

This limited thinking is irrational and could prove treacherous for everyone.

CEO interview – Spark Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ONCE)

At a time when biotech is struggling, Spark Therapeutics has outperformed. It is a developmental-stage biotech that is focused on gene therapy, and the stock is up 30% for the year. Cramer interviewed CEO Jeff Marrazzo to learn more about the company’s retina therapy drug.

“Last year, we completed successfully a phase three clinical trial. It was a pivotal trial that was randomized and controlled for gene therapy in a genetic disease. That is a significant milestone, and we now are busy preparing and are near substantial completion of the first marketing authorization submission that we have put to the FDA,” said Marrazzo.

Almost 93% patients are regaining part of their vision with just one treatment. The response has been great, which is good news for other therapies as well.

Marrazzo also commented on the drug pricing issue, saying therapies that help patients gain lost functions and have long-term benefits should be rewarded. The system needs an overhaul to reimburse companies for their efforts.

Safety stocks

When safety stocks like General Mills (NYSE:GIS) guide down, it sends chills down investors’ spine. “This safety group may prove to be the most vulnerable out there at the moment, until the stocks come down to the point where their yields offer more support and the takeover chatter ends,” said Cramer.

Due to rising competition in the yogurt business, the company cut its guidance, which led to the stock falling by $3. “No names were mentioned by COO Jeff Harmening, but it looks like Danone’s (OTCQX:DANOY) in there taking share and taking no prisoners. And it could get even worse now that the French powerhouse has acquired WhiteWave (NYSE:WWAV),” said Cramer.

Even the safe Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) stock has fallen 16% in the last 2 months due to rising competition. This is a large decline for a food stock that has rallied in the past few years. Both the companies are moving in to the natural and organic space, as it has more growth. However, competition from private-label brands like TreeHouse (NYSE:THS) is making things difficult for them.

“The consumer has gotten even more frugal, while the supermarkets are trying to make as much as they can by pitting their suppliers against each other, and there has been unprecedented food price deflation,” said Cramer. “The deflation in food is the black hole that investors are just waking up to,” he added.

Investors who own stocks like Kellogg (NYSE:K), ConAgra (NYSE:CAG), Church & Dwight (NYSE:CHD), Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) and Clorox (NYSE:CLX) should be ready to sell. When these stocks fall enough to have support from their yields, one should buy into them.

Off the tape

Cramer went off the tape to review the privately held Blaze Pizza, which is a unique build-your-own pizza concept that lets consumers choose from over 40 fresh toppings and bakes their pizza in just three minutes. He interviewed President and COO Jim Mizes to know more.

Mizes said anyone can make a pizza, but only a chef can make a high-quality pizza like Blaze does. The company uses fresh ingredients and no artificial flavors. The combination of the ingredients used, speedy service and overall good experience makes Blaze a success.

Blaze Pizza is backed by basketball star LeBron James. “He saw what Blaze Pizza and what this category could be, so he started as an investor and then became a franchisee. And then he was so into Blaze that he came all in,” said Mizes.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

Petrobras (NYSE:PBR): With the real gaining strength, the stock was able to rally. Stay away, as the company is not in a good situation.

Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY): It had a good quarter, and Cramer likes the stock.

Pepsi (NYSE:PEP): The company has the best organic growth numbers in the food business, and this is a great stock to buy.

Costco (NASDAQ:COST): For Cramer’s trust, the target price to buy more is $150. Don’t give up on this one.

Hain Celestial (NASDAQ:HAIN): Stay away from this one, as it has accounting irregularities.


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Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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Excessive Competition Hurts Shareholders – Cramer's Mad Money (9/7/16)


Excessive Competition Hurts Shareholders – Cramer's Mad Money (9/7/16)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Wednesday, September 7.

Competition is good for consumers but not necessarily for shareholders. High competition leads to price cuts and shrinkage in margins that is not good news for shareholders. Wednesday was a day for stocks that saw reduced competition. “There is just enough competition among companies to keep their stock in check, but when the competition lessens, companies are instantly rewarded with stocks that rally, making it worthwhile to stick around to see what group will be the next one to soar,” said Cramer.

The airlines group rallied in 2014 after mergers left few big players in the market. They took advantage of price increases. In 2015 they started adding more capacity for greater market share which led to immense competition and price wars. The airlines group has been in pain since then. When Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) announced that it will reduce the rate of capacity increase to 4%, its stock rallied with pin action in other airline stocks.

There is little competition in the DRAM and flash semiconductor space. Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) announced better than expected results which led to a 12% rally in its stock. Cramer thinks Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) will gain from reduced competition as well. Many companies have given up making flash memory chips which has led to supply constraints. This gives the existing companies like SanDisk better margins.

Sprouts Farmers Market (NASDAQ:SFM) showed what happens with too much competition. It was expected to take share from Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) but the company mentioned it will have flat same-store sales. “A tremendous growth story with flat same-store sales is actually a no-growth story, with shareholders fleeing as if Sprouts sells nothing but Spam and Velveeta,” said Cramer.

Cramer thinks that stocks of Dave & Buster’s (NASDAQ:PLAY) and General Mills (NYSE:GIS) suffer from excessive competition. “One of the reasons why this market hasn’t been beaten to a pulp is that almost daily we hear a story of supply taken out of lessened competition,” he added.

CEO interview – Dave and Buster’s (PLAY)

Dave & Buster’s stock has done well since going public in 2014. Its stock declined 2% on Wednesday after it reported weaker than expected earnings. The company reported 1% same-store sales growth down from 10% last year. The management has maintained its full year guidance but cut the same-store sales growth expectation by 1%. Cramer interviewed CEO Stephen King to hear more about the last quarter.

King said that they are optimistic for the second half of the year. “We feel really good about our promotional lineup both from advertising and sports standpoint as well as some of the games we have coming up,” he added.

King said that cable and advertising has remained most effective for the company along with live sporting events. He also agreed that macroeconomic pressures have been hurting the casual dining space.

CEO interview – Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)

Cramer is a fan of Starbucks which has taken corporate social responsibility to a new level by doing good for society and its employees via various social programs. The company is connecting with its customers in unique ways. Cramer interviewed CEO Howard Schultz in the special segment.

“I think as Americans unfortunately, we have been witnessing the very worst of a terrible political season, which has been such hatred and vitriol and divisiveness. In view of that, so many Americans have been led to believe that the story of America is just that, when in fact I believe there are ordinary Americans doing extra-ordinary things,” said Schultz.

In the original content series called “Upstanders” by Starbucks, the company aims to highlight stories of humanity. “This is not about marketing, it’s not about PR. It’s certainly not a branded series. This is just sharing these kinds of stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and this is about citizenry. I think at a time in America we are witnessing such a dispirited level of divisiveness in terms of political situation, let’s find the true American story.”

Schultz said that Starbucks is not a tech company but they have invested heavily in technology and content to leverage customer experience in their stores. He also said that the company has lots of opportunities around the globe despite being a mature company, and opening one new store a day in China is just one of them.

Chipotle (NYSE:CMG)

If history is an indication, Bill Ackman is right about Chipotle. History shows that investors should buy stocks before the anniversary of health scare news to catch a bottom. “History is on Ackman’s side. Sometimes that is all that matters. I still believe that there will be a chance to get into this stock at a lower price, because the current quarter likely won’t be anything to write home about,” said Cramer.

Cramer thinks analysts will upgrade the numbers for Chipotle after it reports. “I said to buy Chipotle at $400, and I reiterate that statement. If it comes closer to that level, I think you should join Bill Ackman and invest in the stock of this once great and soon to be great again restaurant chain,” said Cramer.

Investors are focused on what Ackman has to say on the possible changes that management can make. Cramer thinks that Ackman will push Chipotle to go for the franchise model from its wholly-owned structure. It will be interesting to see how management takes that feedback as current management likes to keep tight control over its business.

Investors have more flexibility and hence Cramer thinks they can wait till Chipotle hits $400. “American people tend to forgive and forget. Soon Chipotle will be forgiven, the illnesses will be forgotten, and the stock will be ready to run, maybe not to the heights we saw before its 50% fall from grace, but certainly to levels that will make it worth betting on,” he concluded.

CEO interview – ResMed (NYSE:RMD)

ResMed is a medical device maker whose devices are used to treat breathing disorders like sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The company has invested in cloud technology recently with cloud based applications that help diagnose, manage and treat breathing disorders. Its stock is up 25% for the year. Cramer interviewed CEO Mick Farrell to find out what lies ahead.

“What we do across the spectrum is we take patients who are sick and in hospital and we put them in the home, and we take care of them in the home. We have portable respiratory devices and home respiratory devices that with sleep apnea literally help them breathe every night; give them the gift of breath,” said Farrell.

Farrell said that 89% of the patients with sleep apnea do not know about their condition. This means that there are tremendous growth opportunities for the company. He added that ResMed is also a leader in technology with over 2M connected devices that send data to physicians and patients to improve healthcare.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

Dow (NYSE:DOW) – DuPont (NYSE:DD) merger: Cramer’s trust owns Dow Chemical for the yield whereas DuPont has gone up a lot for the yield to be small.

J. M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM): Competition in that space is hurting their margins. It makes sense to buy at $140.

Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU): They are spending for the future and this is the right time to buy.


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Avid Technology Is A Buy – Cramer's Lightning Round (9/7/16)


Avid Technology Is A Buy – Cramer's Lightning Round (9/7/16)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Wednesday, September 7.

Bullish Calls

Disney (NYSE:DIS): The stock is acting terribly which makes it tough in the short term. Cramer remains a believer in the franchise for the long term.

Tech Data (NASDAQ:TECD): Tech Data is in a good situation and has European exposure. Cramer likes it.

Avid Technology (NASDAQ:AVID): Their technology is superior and Cramer thinks they should have got a takeover bid. If you want to go for the cloud, then Avid is the stock to buy.

IBM (NYSE:IBM): “I have liked IBM since it bottomed at $140. I am not pounding the table, but I do agree with you that it is an inexpensive stock with a good yield and I think it is going to have a decent quarter. But remember, there are many companies that think they are cloud kings. This is one of them.”

Cummins (NYSE:CMI): Cummins went down as Navistar got an investment from Volkswagen. Many people are saying negative things about Cummins but Cramer thinks Deutsche Bank is correct about the gross margins of Cummins and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT). Cramer likes both the stocks.

Bearish Calls

Corrections Corp of America (NYSE:CXW): They have a headline risk. Stay away.

Sage Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SAGE): The secondary offerings have worked as an opportunity in this industry but Cramer recommended not overstaying the welcome. He prefers companies with strong balance sheets that do not require raising capital.


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