This is an absurd romp through the land of Linux wireless device drivers trying to get Kali to connect to a wireless network on Mac hardware.
What it boiled down to?
1. Not using the on-board Broadcom wireless card in the MacBook Pro, because it had a proprietary driver. Not using the USB wireless dongle from Airlink because it also had a proprietary driver.
2. Using a USB wireless dongle from Panda Wireless, which sells Kali-friendly hardware
wicd network manager. This worked like a dream.