PM Note: Enter Scrooge, The Fiscal Cliff Playbill, Supreme Stall on Gay Marriage

AP: Cabinet Shuffle Could Come Next Week - "President Barack Obama could name his next defense secretary in December, far sooner than expected and perhaps in a high-powered package announcement with his choice for secretary of state, several senior administration officials tell The Associated Press."-

Supreme Head Scratcher - Court Surprises Watchers, Does Nothing (yet) on Gay Marriage - Ariane de Vogue's report -

Fiscal State of Play - Jon Karl reports: Washington took a step closer to the dreaded "fiscal cliff" today with campaign-style sniping replacing negotiations and the speaker of the House declaring talks have reached "a stalemate." "There's a stalemate," Speaker of the House John Boehner told reporters. "Let's not kid ourselves."

Added Boehner, R-Ohio: "Right now, we are almost nowhere." The public posturing matches what is going on behind the scenes. Talks appear to have reached a standstill - deadlocked on the big three issues: taxes, entitlement spending and the debt ceiling.

A key senator told ABC News chances were "slim" that an agreement would be reached before the so-called fiscal cliff results in across-the-board tax hikes on Jan. 1.

"That's sort of like the lump of coal you get for Christmas," President Obama said at a campaign-style visit to a toy manufacturing facility in Hatfield, Pa. "That's a scrooge Christmas." The Dem proposal that made Mitch McConnell laugh out loud:

  • $1.6 trillion in tax increases
  • $50 billion in new stimulus spending
  • $400 billion in unspecified Medicare cuts over 10 years
  • A virtually unlimited ability for the government to borrow money

Fiscal Cliff Playbill - With fiscal cliff drama unfolding in Washington like a repertory production, here is an insiders' guide to the cast of characters and the roles they'll play in the negotiations to avert automatic spending cuts and tax hikes by the end of the year.

An idiot's guide to who you need to paying attention to in the fiscal cliff drama -

Barack Obama as the Man With the Mandate John Boehner as the Man With the Other Mandate Tom Cole and Dick Durbin as the Unwelcome Ambassadors Eric Cantor as the Stickler Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi as the Pugilists

More from Chris Good -

Could Outgoing Republicans Hold Keys to 'Fiscal Cliff'?-The outlook for reaching some sort of bipartisan agreement on the so-called "fiscal cliff" before the Dec. 31 deadline is looking increasingly grim. Shortly after noon today, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, appeared before the cameras to say the talks had reached a "stalemate." (Elizabeth Hartfield)

Obama Warns Of 'Scrooge Christmas' Without Fiscal Cliff Deal- President Obama today accused Republicans of putting Americans at risk of a "Scrooge Christmas" if they fail to extend middle class tax cuts, telling workers in Pennsylvania that a tax increase would be like a "lump of coal." (Mary Bruce and Matthew Larotonda)

Tom Cole: Who Is the Republican Congressman Making Waves in 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations?-Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) made headlines this week when suggested that his Republican colleagues should join with President Obama on a quick "fiscal cliff" fix by voting to extend the Bush tax-rates for everyone but the highest income earners, and leaving the rest of the debate for later. (Elizabeth Hartfield)

Hispanic women are having fewer babies - Univision's Emily Deruy on Pew analysis - While women in general are having fewer babies now than in previous years, foreign and U.S.-born Latinas had larger birth rate declines from 2007 to 2010 than any other group, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.